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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Farm Bill' Category


20
May

House Republican Farm Bill Draft Would Cripple Pesticide Restrictions, Advocates Say

(Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2024)  (Beyond Pesticides, May 20, 2024) The Republican Farm Bill draft in the U.S. House of Representatives, released on Friday, May 17, is a broad attack on pesticide restrictions and the right to sue chemical manufacturers and allied users of pesticides when harmed. “This legislation is a complete nonstarter for the millions of people who want stronger pesticide restrictions, democratic decision making on toxic chemicals in communities, and the right to sue manufacturers and pesticide users when harmed and misled on the hazards of pesticides,” said Jay Feldman, executive director. “We vehemently oppose this Republican legislation with the understanding and experience—bridging farmers, medical practitioners, land managers, local policy makers, and families—that we can and must transition to safe practices and products that protect our health, biodiversity, and climate,” Mr. Feldman continued. The Farm Bill attack takes place on many critical fronts. The draft legislation: 1. Takes away the right to sue for failure to warn when harmed by pesticides. The language says: “prohibit. . .a court from directly or indirectly imposing or continuing in effect any requirements for, or penalize or hold liable any entity for failing to comply with requirements with respect to, labeling or […]

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14
May

Multiple Studies Demonstrate the Importance of Strengthening Organic in the Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, May 14, 2024) As research continues to emerge on the value of organic farming, U.S. Congress debates its future as Farm Bill negotiations have been stalled for months. Recent studies published within the past few months show the significance of organic agriculture’s support of fungal and microbial life, which is essential to soil health. Meanwhile, last week the Democrat-led Senate and Republican-led House of Representatives presented their respective visions to amend the 2024 Farm Bill. The office of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released an initial Senate framework for the (now 2024) Farm Bill. At the same time, U.S. Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA), chair of the House Agriculture Committee, released an outline of the House version, then followed up with more details. While the Senate Democratic proposal includes more robust support for expanding and strengthening organic product supply chains and domestic production, the House Republican support for organic land management principles and practices demonstrates that the Farm Bill could recognize, across the political spectrum, its economic, ecological, and public health benefits in the United States. Despite this, a growing coalition of advocates is alerting the public and members of Congress that the […]

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23
Jan

Crusade for Local Democracy; The Saga of State Preemption Continues Into 2024

(Beyond Pesticides, January 23, 2024) Earlier this month, a coalition of over 140 local and state elected officials from over 30 states sent a letter to ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees to reject the proposed Agricultural Labeling Uniformity Act (H.R. 4288), which would preempt local governments’ authority to protect their constituents from toxic pesticides. Members of Congress are negotiating language in the Farm Bill that would preempt local and state authority to restrict pesticides. “We write to express our strong opposition to any efforts to limit longstanding state and local authority to protect people, animals, and the environment by regulating pesticides,” says the signatories. “As Congress considers legislation related to agriculture, including the reauthorization of the Farm Bill and Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills, we urge you to ensure that state, county, and local governments retain the right to protect their communities and set policies that best suit our local needs.” The question of local rights to adopt more stringent restrictions on pesticide use has historically been left to the states. However, after the U.S. Supreme Court (Wisconsin v. Mortier, 1991) affirmed the rights of local communities under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), […]

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09
Nov

Protection of Children from Pesticides under Threat in Farm Bill Negotiations, Data Shows

(Beyond Pesticides, November 9, 2023) Two-hundred-foot pesticide spray “buffer zones” around 4,028 U.S. elementary schools contiguous to crop fields—according to data evaluated by Environmental Working Group—are threatened by potential Farm Bill amendments now under consideration. Legislative language, if adopted, would take away (preempt) the authority of states and local jurisdictions to protect children and restrict agricultural pesticides used near schools. Pesticide drift is a widespread problem throughout the U.S. that has attracted national attention in recent years because of crop damage caused by the weed killer dicamba in numerous midwestern states. In the face of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to mitigate drift hazards, states enact limits on when and how pesticides can be used, establish buffer zones around application sites, and in some cases, ban uses. In 2018, Arkansas banned dicamba use from mid-April through the end of October (and survived a Monsanto challenge to the ban. For a historical perspective on the drift issue, see Getting the Drift on Pesticide Trespass. Children, in particular, face unique risks from pesticide and toxic chemical exposures. Due to their smaller body size, they absorb a higher relative amount of pesticides through the food they consume and the air they breathe. Additionally, children’s developing […]

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23
Oct

Don’t Get Comfortable: Government Shutdown Exacerbates Food Safety Threats

(Beyond Pesticides, October 23, 2023) As the immediate threat of a government shutdown has temporarily subsided, concerns are mounting over the potential threats to food safety in the United States if the government shuts down in mid-November. Experts are warning that a shutdown could jeopardize critical food safety inspections and oversight. A partial government shutdown in 2019 disrupted federal oversight of food monitoring for various pathogens and pesticides, as labs were shuttered, with agency employees furloughed. See Beyond Pesticide’s reporting about food safety risks during the last government shutdown. However, it should be noted that residues of pesticides in food continue to raise concerns about safety of food grown in chemical-intensive (conventional) farming operations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) contingency plans dictate that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) continue its regulatory inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products, as mandated by law. However, it is important to note that the FSIS will operate with a reduced workforce, with a portion of employees deemed “essential personnel” for food safety operations. Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is also preparing for a potential shutdown. According to HHS’s contingency […]

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17
Jul

Grassroots Power, Democratic Process, and Organic—Pillars of Transformative Change—under Threat

(Beyond Pesticides, July 17, 2023) Students of environmental policy quickly learn that the most meaningful change to protect health and the environment begins with action in local communities. The challenge now is to preserve the rights of communities under federal law to restrict pesticides and advance local protections through the adoption of eco- and health-friendly, organic land management practices. As is known from history, with the leadership of local communities, the states and the federal government will follow. History of Action in Communities and States Major actions on the banning or restricting of specific pesticides over the last seven decades—from DDT (in Michigan and Wisconsin), 2,4,5-T [1/2 of Agent Orange] (in Oregon [read A Bitter Fog]), to chlordane (New York)—began with calls from the grassroots about dying wildlife to elevated cancer and miscarriage rates and other diseases. But, these chemical incidents (which continue to today with similar campaigns, but different chemical names like glyphosate, imidacloprid (neonicotinoids), and others), launched broader community-based efforts to curtail overall pesticide use—stop drift, runoff and other nontarget exposure—and require organic-compatible practices. Tracing the history—from Mendocino County, CA to Lincoln County, OR, to Casey, WI (upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court), to Montgomery County, MD, to […]

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10
Jul

Take Action: Pro-Pesticide Lobby Attacks Local Democratic Process to Protect Health and Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, July 10, 2023) [Editor’s note to readers: The local, democratic decision-making process to adopt restrictions on pesticide use, now under attack in Congress, has historically been critical to the protection of health and the environment when federal and state governments have failed in their responsibility. This local democratic right has not only protected communities where action is taken, but it has driven state and federal policy to do better—to do what is required in a society that cares about a sustainable future. While federal and state pesticide policy sets a floor on minimum protections and rights, there is nothing more important than nurturing the local democratic process to increase and strengthen protections that elude government agencies that are unduly influenced by the powerful chemical industry. As we face existential crises of health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency resulting from gridlock in legislative bodies that ignore the scientific facts documenting harm and solutions that are within our grasp, there is nothing more important than empowering local communities to embrace meaningful changes that eliminate pesticides and adopt organic land management practices. These changes embrace nature and ecosystem services. While the federal regulatory process is skewed toward assumptions of […]

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08
May

Take Action: Local Authority to Restrict Pesticides under Threat of Federal Preemption in Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, May 8, 2023) The Farm Bill in Congress covers many areas—ranging from the supplemental nutritional assistance program (SNAP) to trade—and the pesticide industry would like to insert a provision that takes away (preempts) local authority to restrict pesticide use—which would undercut the local democratic process to protect public health and safety. Even if communities are not now regulating toxic pesticides, we do not want to close the door on future action, as communities take on petrochemical pesticide and fertilizer use that is contributing to health threats, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency.    Part 1: Tell your local officials to sign onto a letter opposing the preemption language. Part 2: Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to support communities by opposing anti-democratic preemption language in the 2023 Farm Bill.  As Congress drafts the 2023 Farm Bill, there is an opportunity for many topics—good and bad—to be introduced. Dating back to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, which addressed threats posed by the Great Depression and drought, the Farm Bill is an omnibus bill passed every five years. It is designed to secure a sufficient food supply, establish fair food prices for both farmers and consumers, and protect […]

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24
Apr

Call for Farm Bill with Organic, Restoration and Resilience without Petrochemicals, and Native Ecosystem Support

(Beyond Pesticides, April 24, 2023) It is well-known that trees and other plants help fight climate change by sequestering carbon in their wood and roots—especially when they are allowed to grow continuously. However, plants help in other ways as well.  Plants—especially trees—also moderate the climate through their participation in the water cycle. And when the weather is hot and dry, they hold the soil, preventing dust bowl conditions. In the 1930’s, the U.S. Forest Service, Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Works Progress Administration, together with local farmers, planted more than 220 million trees, developing 18,000 miles of windbreaks on the Great Plains. Unfortunately, those windbreaks are now endangered by the same economic impetus that helped create the Dust Bowl—making more room for economically valuable crops.  Tell your U.S. Representative and Senators to address climate change in the Farm Bill by incorporating a large-scale, national transition to certified organic agriculture and restoration and resilience strategies that prohibit the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilizers. Tell Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack to implement the NOSB recommendation to remove incentives to convert native ecosystems to organic farms.    Organic farming helps resist climate change in several ways. Regenerative organic farming sequesters carbon in the soil. Organic […]

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11
Jan

Common Home Fumigation Pesticide Associated with Increased Greenhouse Gas Emissions

(Beyond Pesticides, January 11, 2022) A study finds that the pesticide sulfuryl fluoride, used for insect (i.e., termites, bedbugs, cockroaches, etc.) fumigation treatments, increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the report, “Termite Fumigation in California Is Fueling the Rise of a Rare Greenhouse Gas.” Not only do most sulfuryl fluoride emissions in the U.S. occur in California, but a majority of global emissions also occur in California. When the use of methyl bromide for agricultural and structural fumigation was phased-out under the Montreal Protocol, sulfuryl fluoride became a replacement for fumigation treatments. However, researchers have identified concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride in the atmosphere due to the chemical’s long half-life and greenhouse warming potential (GWP). The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 does not list sulfuryl fluoride emissions as a GHG risk. Therefore, the researchers note, “This work emphasizes the importance of considering [sulfuryl fluoride] SO2F2 in state and national greenhouse gas inventories and emissions reduction strategies.” Researchers employed geostatistical inverse model (GIM)—commonly used to estimate GHG fluxes—alongside atmospheric measurements of sulfuryl fluoride to estimate emissions throughout the United States. Using programmable flask packages (PFPs), researchers examined atmospheric observational data from towers, observatories, and aircraft, measuring concentrations of sulfuryl fluoride via gas chromatography-mass […]

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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 Bill—not 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 […]

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19
Dec

Analysis: Wins and Losses in the Farm Bill—Time for a Green New Deal

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2018) As the dust still settles on the final Farm Bill, which passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives last week, 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 and public health 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. On the Farm Bill, our victories were mostly measured in terms of what we were able to remove from the legislation—not 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 […]

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01
Oct

Take Action: Let Towns Keep the Right to Restrict Pesticides in Their Communities

(Beyond Pesticides, October 1, 2018) Last year, pesticide manufacturers tried to undo local pesticide ordinances in a large state-by-state lobbying effort. That failed. Now they are trying to get Congress to undo these local rules in one fell swoop through an amendment in the Farm Bill. In 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of local governments to restrict pesticides. The chemical industry’s attempt to take away the power of local governments to regulate the use of pesticides was wrong then and it is wrong now –more so, given the current weakening of federal pesticide programs. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper! The fight to defend the authority of local governments to protect people and the environment has been ongoing for decades. Against a backdrop of decades of pro-pesticide lobbying to limit local authority to restrict pesticide use in our communities and despite industry’s success, there has been nationwide action at the local level. In most states, local authority, under state law, is limited to restrictions on public property, and seven states have affirmed the right of localities to restrict pesticides on all land within its jurisdiction. Because of effective efforts across the state of Maine, […]

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13
Sep

Over 60 Local Officials Call on Congress to Protect Local Authority to Restrict Toxic Pesticides in the Farm Bill

(Beyond Pesticides, September 13, 2018) House proposal would wipe out communities’ power to restrict pesticides. In an effort to protect the rights of communities nationwide, over 60 local officials from across the country sent a letter to Congress today opposing a farm bill provision that takes away local governments’ authority to restrict hazardous pesticides. The signatories are urging the farm bill conference committee to reject a “poison pill” rider that will preempt local governments, making the entire legislation unacceptable. Section 9101 of the House version of the farm bill will institute federal preemption of local pesticide policies, a move that will overturn a decades-old Supreme Court decision and prevent communities from adopting protective laws that meet the needs of their residents or unique local environment. The letter urges the conference committee to reach an agreement on a final 2018 farm bill that does not include this rider. It was signed by over 60 local officials in 39 communities from 15 different states, ranging from North Miami, FL to South Euclid, OH, West Hollywood, CA and Maui, HI. The County Council of Montgomery County, MD, which passed a landmark policy on toxic pesticides, also sent a letter to the farm bill conference committee. […]

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05
Sep

House GOP Seeks to Scuttle Playground Bans on Glyphosate

(Beyond Pesticides, September 5, 2018) Local Limits on Spraying Monsanto’s Toxic Weed Killer in Parks, Playgrounds, and Schoolyards. More than 50 city and county ordinances banning the use of the toxic weed killer glyphosate on local playgrounds, parks and schoolyards could be overturned by a provision championed by House Republicans in their version of the farm bill, a Beyond Pesticides and EWG analysis found. A four-page provision tucked away in the 748-page farm bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in June would likely preempt local governments from adopting their own pesticide regulations, including ordinances that prohibit the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, in parks and playgrounds. Beyond Pesticides found that 58 local ordinances ban the use of glyphosate. Overall, 155 local ordinances that regulate the use of toxic chemicals in parks and playgrounds could be preempted by Sec. 9101 of the House’s farm bill. Glyphosate is classified by the state of California as a chemical known to cause cancer, and as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Earlier this month, a San Francisco jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million to a school groundskeeper who said years of working with Roundup caused his terminal cancer. […]

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24
Aug

Tell House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to Stop Congress from Trampling the Right of Communities to Restrict Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, August 24, 2018)  We must stop the adoption of a law that will prevent local communities from restricting pesticides. Request that Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi lead the effort to protect a basic principle of local democratic decision making, especially in light of inadequate federal environmental and health protections. As a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee between the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Rep. Pelosi can stop this provision, which was unanimously rejected by Democrats in the House and is not in the Senate Farm Bill. Tell Nancy Pelosi to stand up for democracy, public health, and environmental protection in the Farm Bill! In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.2 (the Farm Bill) with a provision that prohibits local governments from restricting pesticide use on private property within their jurisdictions. Existing local laws in two states, Maine and Maryland, will be overturned with final passage of this law. In those 43 states that forbid local pesticide laws by state law, future reconsideration of such state prohibitions would be foreclosed —a squelching of local authority pushed by the chemical and pest management industries. The fight to defend the authority of local governments to […]

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27
Jun

Clean Up the Farm Bill, Protect Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2018) Farm Bill Headed for a Showdown on Key Environmental, Public Health, and Organic Issues With a flawed bipartisan Farm Bill expected to sail through the U.S. Senate this week, we need to turn our attention to the upcoming House-Senate Conference Committee that will attempt to resolve differences between the Republican House bill (with no support from Democrats) and the Senate bill. Despite some advances in the Senate Farm Bill for the organic market, including boosts to organic research funding, some provisions to address fraudulent imports, some enhanced conservation programs, and maintaining certification cost-share programs, the Senate bill contains troubling language affecting organic standard setting that could open the door to more damaging provisions in the House bill. It’s like fixing up a house while allowing the foundation to crumble. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to protect organic in the Farm Bill, remove any changes to the organic standard setting process, and uphold environmental protections. Beyond Pesticides opposes any provisions in the Farm Bill that amend the standard setting procedures of the federal organic law and believes that no improvements are worth the damage that can be done to the standard setting process and public […]

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26
Jun

House Passes Farm Bill with Provisions that Weaken Organic, Poison Waterways and Harm Endangered Species

(Beyond Pesticides, June 26, 2018) On June 21, 2018, the controversial 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2) narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives 213 to 211 with provisions that will eliminate federal review of pesticide impacts on endangered species, undermine organic standards, and ease requirements regarding releases of pesticides into waterways. In May, the bill failed to pass when it got caught in the debate over immigration reform, but now this dangerous bill is much closer to becoming a major threat to the environment. The bill, H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, is a major win for the pesticide industry, which spent $43 million on lobbying this Congressional season, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. At the forefront are provisions that weaken the organic standards and the elimination of the requirement that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) assess pesticide impacts on endangered species before U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves a pesticide for use. The bill also exempts those applying pesticides to lakes, streams, and rivers from having a permit under the Clean Water Act. This will allow indiscriminate contamination of waterways in spite of reports that pesticides are detected frequently and at environmentally relevant […]

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29
May

Take Action: Help Defeat the Farm Bill –Unless Dramatic Changes Are Made

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2018) The Farm Bill is beginning to move in the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and your voice is critically needed to help stop provisions that are harmful to health and the environment. Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative that they should vote against the Farm Bill unless harmful provisions to health and the environment are removed. In addition to sending this urgent action on the Farm Bill, consider reaching out to your U.S. Senators and Representative when they return to your state for the Memorial Day holiday. If you’re part of a group, ask for a meeting. If you see them at an event or in town, let them know how important it is to keep the dangerous provisions listed below out of the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2, reported favorably out of the House Agriculture Committee, is stalled, after being defeated on the floor over unrelated immigration legislation. The House bill is a direct attack on organic standard setting, the authority of local governments to restrict toxic pesticides, and the protection of farmworkers, endangered species, and the environment. Without public outcry, it is likely […]

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27
Nov

Take Action: Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act!

(Beyond Pesticides, November 27, 2017) Congress is working on the 2018 Farm Bill, which will determine how $956 billion of our tax money will be spent over the coming years in shaping our food system. This year, U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced a bill that, if passed, will implement many of the food policy reforms that sustainable agriculture policy advocates have long supported. Ask Your Congressional Delegation to Support the Food and Farm Act! The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Don Beyer (D-VA), is a result of a two-year conversation, “Sing Your Own Farm Bill,” in which the U.S. Representative engaged a diverse group of farmers, ranchers, fiscal hawks, food and agriculture policy experts, environmentalists, animal welfare advocates, and others to brainstorm ideas for shaping future farm and food policy. According to Farm Forward, factory farms receive approximately $4 billion in annual benefits under the current Farm Bill –which result in many negative impacts, such as: •    Diet-Related Disease – A diet high in food commodities subsidized by the Farm Bill is linked to a greater probability of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. •    Climate Change –The top five factory-farm mega-corporations […]

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