Greenhorns! It’s no secret that the National Young Farmers Coalition goes to Herculean efforts for young farmers across the country, from fighting lobbyists from big ag to make sure the farm bill addresses the needs of small farmers to advocating their chaps off for farmer student loan forgiveness programs. Now, it’s time to help them help you!
This year, like they do every five years, NYFC conducts their National Young Farmers survey in order to understand and elevate the issues that matter most to young farmers and aspiring farmers. The result of this survey help to define the organization’s policy goals and agenda. Since they launched the survey website a couple of weeks ago, a couple of thousand farmers have taken the survey, but they still need 3,000 more respondents to reach their goal of 5,000. Let’s go!
Young farmers and ranchers – what are the issues that matter most to you? What policy changes could help your business succeed? Take the National Young Farmers Survey today and let the nation know that FarmersCount! www.youngfarmers.org/survey
Last week the Rodale Institute announced that it was launching the Organic Farmers’ Association, headed up by Elizabeth Kucinich, Board Policy Chair for Rodale Institute.
From the regional organic farmer associations to the Organic Trade Association to NYFC to your humble Greenhorns here, there sure are a lot of associations composed of or supposedly representing farmers. So maybe you’re asking, do we really need another one?
Well, first thing to consider here is that there is actually no national organization that represents only organic farmers. The second thing to consider might be the recent failures to pass adequate GMO labeling legislation in congress. We’re wondering if the entry of another national player might change the field of agricultural policy. Does this mark a shift in the organic/sustainable ag movement in which organic farmers more seriously set their sights on federal policy?
Use the comments section to weight in! And maybe consider joining.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to bring organic farmers’ voices and their experience with agriculture to policymakers in Washington, D.C.,” said Kucinich. “Policymakers have not yet grasped the significance of organic agriculture for resilient, reliable, non-toxic food production, and its ability to mitigate climate change while restoring our nation’s soil health. We have an opportunity to benefit organic farmers, while positively impacting our nation’s health and mitigating our climate crisis.”
This just in from the Organic Consumers Association newsletter:
|DARK Act Comeback?
Everybody loves a Comeback Kid—unless that “kid” is the DARK Act.
In March, the Senate voted down the DARK Act, the bill that would Deny Americans our Right to Know about GMOs.
Since then, Monsanto and its front groups, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) have been using their power, influence and, most of all, money to ram some version of the DARK Act through Congress before Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law takes effect on July 1.
Reliable sources say that the DARK Act will soon be up for another vote.
Last time, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) didn’t have the votes to pass his bill to take away states’ rights to label GMOs. Many of those who voted against the bill were pro-GMO Senators who take campaign contributions (and their talking points) from companies like Monsanto. But realizing they would take a lot of heat from their constituents, they voted no in the hope that a more palatable “compromise” bill might come along.
The Senators who voted against the DARK Act last time could easily flip their votes to support a “compromise” (capitulation) to block Vermont’s law and replace it with a weak federal standard, because of—what else?—pressure from the big corporations who profit from toxic pesticides and GMO foods.
TAKE ACTION: Stop the DARK Act Comeback! Tell your Senators: Protect Vermont’s GMO labeling law.
Dial 888-897-0174 to tell your Senators to vote against any compromise that would block or delay Vermont’s bill from taking effect.
Help us protect Vermont’s GMO labeling law
In 13:22 gloriously-illustrated minutes, Berkeley professor Ananya Roy takes our assumptions about welfare and poverty to task.
Time to pay attention. You can stream the debate here: https://youtu.be/RVHmox70vbI
One thing we noticed: ZERO mention food, farmers, or agriculture – not in the context of public health or climate change.
We are also not sure why CNN
isn’t hosting a easy-to-find full length debate video and lively comment section! The media prefers to offer you the soundbytes – instead of the discussion (“the debate in 2 minutes”), but don’t fall for this.
Watch the whole thing, FORM YOUR OWN OPINION.
(Oh, our opinion you ask? Well, you can really learn just as much from the CNN moderated questions (or lack thereof) as you can from the answers from the candidates. We might, for instance, scold CNN for the lack of framework to really discuss the urgency of climate change (Anderson Cooper: “we will get to climate change and environmental issues later . . .”). If it weren’t for Bernie Sanders, I’m not sure when the debate would have turned to ecology at all. )
Before it was over, the Salmonella outbreak of 2008-2009 infected hundreds of people, killed nine, and was traced to peanut butter from the Peanut Butter Corporation of America. Seven years later, the CEO of the company, Stewart Parnell, has been sentenced to 29 years in prison for his role in the outbreak. Parnell, his brother, and another executive of PCA knew about Salmonela contamination in their peanut butter and still continued to ship it to consumers. In an email to a plant manager awaiting Salmonella tests, Parnell wrote, “Just ship it anyway.”
The CEO was found guilty of a whopping total of 72 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and other federal charges and his sentence is the most severe punishment ever given to anyone in a food illness outbreak in this country. Personally, we have to ask, nine people died and he only got 29 years?! That’s only nine more years than this guy got.
This. Conversation. We think it’s the one the whole country should be having. (Get money out of politics. It’s a no brainer.)
Seeing as the the USDA’s worker-training about pesticide safety still (very necessarily) includes the above image and instructions, we couldn’t welcome these development more.
The new revisions to EPA standards “give farmworkers health protections under the law similar to those already afforded to workers in other industries.” You can read the full list of revisions on the EPA fact sheet, some highlights include:
- children under 18 are no longer allowed to handle pesticides
- mandatory yearly training for farm workers about pesticides (as opposed to every five years)
- equirement to provide more than one way for farmworkers and their representatives to gain access to pesticide application information and safety data sheets – centrally-posted, or by requesting records
- mandatory record-keeping of pesticide application
Great! But if news of the revisions leaves you feeling… I don’t know… a little angry about what they imply about conditions for workers on industrial farms, The United Farmworkers have a number of ongoing actions and campaigns to improve health, life, immigration, and economic conditions for workers on American farms.
Their reaction to the updated standards? “Is it ever too late to do the right thing? It’s been a long time coming, but it has come today.”
On one hand you have an established order that, while quick to conjure its Populist origins, appears threatened by the kind of grassroots change it once championed. On the other, a contingent of rogue Grangers—progressives decidedly less interested in nostalgia than their national counterpart—attempting to breathe new life into an aging system that doesn’t seem to want the CPR.
The Grange, once a longstanding institution in American rural and agrarian communities, stands poised for a revival after decades of increasing obsolescence– expect that it’s at war with itself.
In a captivating article feature on In These Times, John Collins takes on the history of The Grange, the recent polemical schism between the California Grange and the national organization, and Grange Future— an initiative co-founded by the Greenhorns.