This action alert concerns a Friends of the Earth campaign-- endorsed by farmers-- to oppose the carbon markets proposals contained in the Senate's Growing Climate Solutions Act.
There is an organizational sign-on letter. If you are part of an organization concerned about climate change and/or agricultural policy, please have your organization sign on. The sign-on period is open until Friday, 9/25. >> Go to the Sign on Letter.
Otherwise, contact your congressional delegation by phone or email.
From the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: "[On June 4,] Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) introduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bill that would create a certification program through USDA to facilitate farmer participation in voluntary carbon markets. Although farmers should be incentivized to adopt practices that boost resilience and sequester carbon, carbon markets have a failed and wasteful track record compared to public investments in proven conservation programs. This bill would tee up a framework incentivizing false solutions to climate change that benefits private companies over farmers." Read full article.
New York organic farmer Elizabeth Henderson, member of Northeast Organic Farming Association-NY: “As a farmer, I reject solutions like carbon markets that leave power in the hands of the same corporations that have led us to the current farm crisis. We need public policy that incentivizes soil health, encouraging farmers to implement ecological systems based in healthy soils practices and the ecosystem services that come with them, like reducing erosion, building farm resilience to climate extremes, and increasing soil carbon.”
From Patti Naylor, Iowa Regenerative Farmer: "I also encourage everyone to sign on to this letter. As a farmer in Iowa, I can see that this bill will not help farmers struggling with volatile prices on the free market, will not reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions, and will only benefit the corporations that are supporting this false solution. Two other organizations that have spoken out against the bill are National Family Farm Coalition and Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy."
From Friends of the Earth:
Friends if the Earth is circulating this in partnership with Climate Justice Alliance, Food and Water Watch and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. We currently have over 200 signatories including: the National Family Farmers Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network, Family Farm Defenders, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Californians for Pesticide Reform, Fair World Project, Farmworker Association of Florida, Northeast Organic Farming Association, Organic Consumers Association, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, among others.
I want to state upfront that we support efforts to help farmers transition to ecologically regenerative agriculture. We support expanding conservation programs that will pay farmers to do so.
We oppose the Growing Climate Solutions Act for many reasons. This bill would facilitate participation in soil carbon markets. Carbon markets have been historically gamed to benefit polluters while failing to meaningfully reduce carbon emissions. By allowing polluters to buy the right to pollute, they have exacerbated pollution hotspots, which disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color due to their proximity to large industrial polluters.
From the agricultural perspective, soil carbon markets will, in all likelihood, predominantly benefit the largest producers. In addition, the bill’s corporate backers (the likes of which include Bayer, Syngenta and Corteva), will almost certainly require farmers to participate in chemically intensive no-till systems to generate credits.
More information on why this is a false solution:
- For more information and an example of how agrichemical companies would benefit from this bill, please see a blog from my colleague Jason about Bayer’s Carbon Initiative, which would likely be endorsed under the Growing Climate Solutions Act.
- For more information on Friends of the Earth’s opposition to this bill, please see this factsheet.
- Please feel free to reach out to my colleague Jason Davidson (cc’d) with any questions.
Example of true solutions:
We believe there are far better policies to support farmers in adopting regenerative practices--including increased funding for conservation, research, extension, local food economies, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer, just transition and conservation compliance programs (providing TA and requiring healthy soil practices in exchange for generous subsidies).
Information on the bill and its House companion is available through govtrack.us:
Poor enforcement of the National Organic Standards by USDA, especially having to do with bulk grain imports, and widely reported on in the media, has led to a critical level of consumer distrust in the National Organic Program (USDA Organic). Now USDA has published a proposed rule to address this crisis and a public comment period is open.
See these two articles for background:
Lax enforcement hurts compliant organic producers by diminishing the trust of their consumers and by having fraudulent products sold on the market in place of their compliant products. It hurts consumers by potentially exposing them to pesticide residues from foods they believe to be organic but are not.
"US organic grain farmers have suffered in the face of prolonged USDA inaction, falling victim to the mounting crisis of cheap, fraudulent organic grain pouring into the country from overseas. Agronomists have estimated that one bulk cargo ship of grain may be equal to the annual production of 50 to 80 US certified organic farms. Many producers have become disenchanted, telling Cornucopia that they are competing in what feels like a rigged market, and despondent about what they perceive as the passive attitude of government regulators." --Cornucopia Institute
Organic farmers and organic farming support organizations have succeeded in a years-long effort to get USDA to confront the fraud issue and now the USDA has published a proposed rule "to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products." Some of these organizations include the Organic Farmers Association, the Organic Trade Association, the National Organic Coalition, among others.
A public comment period on the proposed rule is now open. The comment period closes at 11:59 pm Eastern on October 5, 2020.
Please consider writing a comment in support of the proposed rule. The National Organic Coalition has information and "talking points" that make it easy for you to draft your own informed comment in support of greater enforcement of the organic standards. National Organic Coalition talking points.
The Senate is back in session in Washington DC and they need to hear from you about these bills (the first one also has an on-line petition you can sign).
Yes, not many, hardly any, decent bills are getting past the senate's great black hole where good bills disappear into an alternative universe, but that doesn't mean we should be silent. Please let our politicians know we are watching and we care.
Editor, Inland FoodWise Online
Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020
New pesticide regulations would fix "broken and outdated" system at the EPA, sponsors say
Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting
Mr. UDALL (for himself, Ms. WARREN, Mr. BOOKER, and Mr. SANDERS) introduced the following bill;https://investigatemidwest.org/2020/08/26/new-pesticide-regulations-would-fix-broken-and-outdated-system-at-the-epa-sponsors-say/
Each year, farmers across the United States spray millions of pounds of pesticides that are linked to brain damage in children, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine issues and the decline of insect and bird populations.
A new bill introduced in Congress earlier this month could change that.
Called the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act of 2020, the bill provides a framework for fixing what sponsors Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colorado) dub America’s “broken and outdated” pesticide regulatory system.
Under the Federal Insecticide, Rodenticide and Fungicide Act, the nation’s top law regulating pesticides, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has significant latitude in approving which chemicals can be sprayed, Udall said.
...The bill would close loopholes in the bill and would trigger full safety reviews of pesticides banned in the European Union or Canada. More than 70 different pesticides banned in Europe are allowed to be sprayed in the United States, according to the bill....The bill would also ban the organophosphate and neonicotinoid classes of insecticides and paraquat, a widely used herbicide that is highly toxic and linked to Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, the legislation increases protections for farmworkers.
Center for Biological Diversity has an online petition:
Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:
Washington, DC, August 26, 2020 – Today, Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC-12) introduced The Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (Local Farmer Act) H.R. 8096 to provide meaningful support to farmers, ranchers, and critical local and regional food systems businesses.
In the face of ongoing pandemic impacts, local and regional food systems – including farmers markets, food hubs, and farmers and ranchers selling locally – have generated rapid innovations and business model pivots and proven to be one of the most resilient, effective ways to get healthy food to families in need. But they’ve done so largely without federal support, and thousands of farmers continue to report significantly increased expenses and reduced sales.
“Farmers and ranchers have been under intense stress and market uncertainty for months during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and Representative Adams recognizes that Congress must step up to help,” said Eric Deeble, Policy Director. “This bill offers the need for more effective, targeted aid that meets the real needs of the producers and local food businesses working hard to feed their communities right now.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has distributed billions in aid, but the program has left out thousands of producers, including farmers and ranchers who market locally, regionally or direct to consumers and especially Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) producers. CFAP payments are based on national, wholesale prices that do not always reflect the real value of crops sold by farmers directly to the customers. The Local and Regional Farmer and Market Support Act (Local Farmer Act) would address this concern by providing direct payments to local and regional food producers based on their historic revenue, and help their local markets as they both cope with the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Local Farmer Act would:
- Create an alternative coronavirus relief payment program for farmers that sell in local and regional markets based on their historic revenue, rather than price loss
- Provide emergency response grants for farmers markets and local food enterprises to implement public health protections and coronavirus-smart marketing practices. Farmers markets have struggled with increased cost and decreased revenue, and enterprises like food hubs have contented with major market losses as school and institutional food services have halted. The Local Farmer Act includes $25 million for emergency grants through the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program for farmers market operators and local food enterprises.
- Provide emergency response grants to direct marketing farmers to help them respond to shifting markets and adopt new socially-distant practices and sales models. In the wake of the pandemic, many producers need help to maintain or rebuild markets that have been severely impacted by the pandemic. The Local Farmer Act includes $25 million for emergency grants through the Value Added Producer Grant Program to assist producers’ efforts to adapt to new market environments.
- Advance equity by prioritizing funding for BIPOC farmers and low-income communities of color and requiring data reporting from USDA for accountability.
- Provide expanded outreach and technical assistance resources for organizations serving BIPOC farmers and ranchers. So that every historically underserved farmer can learn about, understand, and apply successfully for COVID-19 relief payments and emergency grants, the Local Farmer Act includes $50 million to support outreach and technical assistance through the Sec. 2501 program.
Additional program details are available in the attached two-page bill summary.
Keep Food Safe from Glyphosate Act
Rosa DeLauro, Sponsor. Representative for Connecticut's 3rd congressional district. Democrat.
Press release from Environmental Working Group:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2019
WASHINGTON – Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced legislation today to dramatically limit American children’s exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, in food. The bill would not only ban late-harvest spraying of glyphosate on oats but also require the federal government to test foods popular with children for the herbicide, which has been linked to cancer.
Key provisions in DeLauro’s bill include:
- Prohibiting the spraying of glyphosate as a pre-harvest drying agent on oats.
- Lowering by 300-fold the permissible level of glyphosate residues on oats, restoring the legally allowed level to just 0.1 parts per million, or ppm.
- Requiring the Department of Agriculture to regularly test fruits, vegetables and other foods routinely fed to infants and children for glyphosate residues.
The most widely used pesticide in the U.S., glyphosate is mostly used as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans. But it is also increasingly sprayed on oats and other grains just before harvest as a drying agent, or desiccant. Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out uniformly so that it can be harvested sooner. This makes harvesting easier but also increases the likelihood that the pesticide makes it into foods.
“We applaud Rep. DeLauro for once again advocating on behalf of children’s health,” said Colin O’Neil, EWG’s legislative director. “No parent should worry whether feeding their children healthy oat-based foods will also expose them to a chemical linked to cancer. We know farmers can harvest oats without glyphosate, and to protect kids’ health, this needlessly risky practice must stop.”
O’Neil explained that in the past two decades, the Environmental Protection Agency has increased the level of glyphosate residue allowed on oats from 0.1 ppm to 30 ppm, largely to accommodate Canadian oat farmers who use it. The lax policy has resulted in the contamination of oat-based foods with the carcinogenic weedkiller.
Last year, independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG found glyphosate residues in popular oat-based foods marketed to children, such as Cheerios and Quaker oatmeal. Almost three-fourths of the samples tested had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.
Requiring USDA to regularly test fruits, vegetables and other foods routinely fed to children for glyphosate residues will give parents and consumers vital information about potential pathways of exposure to the weedkiller, O’Neil said.
“It is shocking that USDA’s annual pesticide residue survey fails to include the most widely used pesticide in America,” he said. “Parents deserve to know how much of the food they buy and feed their children could potentially be contaminated with a highly toxic chemical listed by the state of California as a substance known to cause cancer. DeLauro’s bill is an important first step toward providing that information for consumers.”