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Daily News Blog

07
Jan

Time for a Green New Deal to Accelerate the Organic Transition

(Beyond Pesticides, January 7, 2019) As the dust settles on the final Farm Bill, which passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last month, it is clear that neither the substance nor the process on a range of issues meet the urgent need to address key sustainability issues that put the future in peril.

We must not allow this Farm Bill to be the final word on a number of critical environmental issues facing the nation and world. That is why it is absolutely critical that we get to work immediately, with the new Congress, to set a new course that transforms the institutions of government that are holding back the urgently needed transition to a green economy.

Tell your Senators and Representative to support a Green New Deal that restructures food and agriculture programs.

On the Farm Bill, our victories were mostly measured in terms of what we were able to remove from the Farm Billnot the standard of achievement that we need to face critical environmental threats.

 The good. Our major victory in the Farm Bill does not move us forward, but simply protects the status quo of our democracy—protecting the power of states and local government to adopt pesticide restrictions that are more stringent than the federal government. With your help and the help of a broad network of local officials nationwide, we were able to stop a preemption provision from being inserted in the federal pesticide law. Although the victory was in defeating this provision, the chemical industry has awakened a new front in the pesticide reform movement. As a result of this provision, there is new momentum to reassert the rights of local governments and repeal state-level preemption of municipalities. Other environmental setbacks to the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and farmworker protection were taken out of the final bill. So, thank you to all who participated in this important process.

The bad. We were unable to remove an amendment to organic law that introduces confusion on the mandate to sunset all synthetics used in organic agricultural production and processing, forcing the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and USDA to reassess the science and necessity of these inputs with the most rigorous scrutiny by requiring a super-majority vote of the board every five years to allow continued use of these synthetics—the same standard used when synthetics are initially petitioned. The growth of organic is essential to solving our key environmental challenges, from the dramatic decline in biodiversity to global climate change. Nothing should be done to undercut the integrity of the organic standard setting process. Additionally, new language in the organic law allows farmer, handler, and retailer positions on the NOSB to be filled by employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers, making the decision making process less robust.

The ugly. The Farm Bill sets policy on food and farm issues for the next five years and should not be the result of backroom negotiations in Congress, as it was this round. Important and controversial issues deserve public hearings in which all members of Congress and the public can participate, and all perspectives can be heard.

More on organic. There were some “wins” for organic in continued funding for programs important to organic production and research, and necessary improvements to oversight and enforcement of organic imports.

New leadership. Increasing support is being shown for a proposal by U.S. Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to form a House Select Committee for a Green New Deal that addresses economic and environmental reforms while ensuring a functioning democracy. A Green New Deal  provides a framework for supporting agriculture that helps farmers, consumers, and the environment by advancing organic agriculture. In the words of commentator and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, “Everybody does better when everybody does better.” We need new food and farm policy that benefits all farmers and consumers.

Tell your Senators and Representative to support a Green New Deal that restructures food and agriculture programs.

Letter to U.S. Representatives, including newly-elected members:

I am writing to urge you to support the proposal by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to form a House Select Committee for a Green New Deal that addresses economic and environmental reforms while ensuring a functioning democracy. A Green New Deal provides a framework for supporting agriculture that helps farmers, consumers, and the environment. In the words of commentator and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, “Everybody does better when everybody does better.” We need new food and farm policy that benefits all farmers and consumers.

In the wake of a disappointing Farm Bill vote, following an even more disappointing undemocratic process, it is evident that the process of creating food and farm policy every five years in the backrooms of Congressional agriculture committees fails to move the country forward in a way that is needed for farmers, farm communities, the national economy, and the environment. Food and agriculture policy needs to be guided by a vision for the future where everybody does better–where policies are not viewed in terms of trade-offs, but synergy benefiting all.

Please support the formation of a House Select Committee for a Green New Deal.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Letter to U.S. Senators:

I am writing to urge you to support hearings in the Senate on a Green New Deal that addresses economic and environmental reforms while ensuring a functioning democracy. A Green New Deal provides a framework for supporting agriculture that helps farmers, consumers, and the environment. In the words of commentator and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, “Everybody does better when everybody does better.” We need new food and farm policy that benefits all farmers and consumers.

In the wake of a disappointing Farm Bill vote, following an even more disappointing undemocratic process, it is evident that the process of creating food and farm policy every five years in the backrooms of Congressional agriculture committees fails to move the country forward in a way that is needed for farmers, farm communities, the national economy, and the environment. Food and agriculture policy needs to be guided by a vision for the future where everybody does better–where policies are not viewed in terms of trade-offs, but synergy benefiting all.

Please support hearings on a Green New Deal.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

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  • Archives

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