Your voice has an impact!
Please read about the issues below and contact your Representatives and Senators.
The 2014 Farm Bill opened the door for the creation of an Organic Research and Promotion Program, a.k.a. an organic check-off. This check-off would create a pool of money to fund research as well as collective promotion of organic products.
The Organic Trade Association submitted a proposal, referred to as GRO Organic (Generic Research and Promotion Order for Organic), to the USDA in May. MOSES has submitted an alternative partial proposal.
Highlights from MOSES’ partial proposal:
- Improvement of the definition of research to one that goes beyond consumer information and focuses on the improvement of farm production systems.
- Funds for this now agriculturally focused research must be increased from the proposed 25% for all types of research to 65% for this agriculturally focused research.
- Transparency of Promotion Board activities including public attendance at the in person meetings and transcripts of the meetings posted on the internet.
Read Organic community debates check-off program in the Organic Broadcaster.
Opposition to an industry-wide check-off: A group of organic farmers and stakeholders opposes the creation of a check-off. They’ve created the website No Organic Check-off. Here’s a summary of their concerns:
- This will be just another Tax on farmers either directly or indirectly when processors pass the cost down.
- Want to promote the benefits of Organic? You can’t in a check-off. Even something as simple and accurate as “Organic is the Gold Standard,” will not be allowed by USDA.
- The Check-off system is fundamentally broken for farmers – the federally mandated check-off programs have restrictive guidelines, heavy bureaucracy, lack of accountability and cost of administration.
- Check-off programs have a history of using check-off funds inappropriately, with poor representation of farmer priorities in granting of research dollars.
Commodity check-off programs that are successful see a decline of family farmers in business.
- Promoting organic sales now will not increase organic acreage in the US but will increase lower priced organic imports.
What can you do?
Read about all sides of this issue and consider how it will impact your farm/business.
When the USDA opens the comment period on a final check-off proposal, be ready to comment! We’ll let you know when the comment period is open.
EPA Comment Period on Pesticides and Bees
Comment period closed August 25, 2015.
The EPA is seeking comment on a proposal to adopt mandatory pesticide label restrictions to protect managed bees under contract pollination services from foliar application of pesticides that are acutely toxic to bees on a contact exposure basis.
These label restrictions would prohibit applications of pesticide products, which are acutely toxic to bees, during bloom when bees are known to be present under contract. EPA is also seeking comment on a proposal to rely on efforts made by states and tribes to reduce pesticide exposures through development of locally-based measures, specifically through managed pollinator protection plans.
Enhancing Agricultural Coexistence
Comment period closed May 11, 2015.
Read Harriet Behar’s Inside Organics blog:
“GMOs, organic: ‘Coexistence’ in the belly of the beast.”
Highlights from MOSES’ comments to USDA on coexistence:
- The management and economic burden of GMO “coexistence” currently falls only on the nonGMO farmer, who needs to avoid contamination and create large buffer zones, which leads to some crop loss.
- The nonGMO farmer should not be asked to find and discuss planting protocols with whomever is managing the neighboring land; the majority of farmland is managed by renters who use a variety of custom operators.
- Asking GMO farmers to follow voluntary planting protocols has been shown to be ineffective. There needs to be some enforcement.
- GMO crops can damage non-target species such as monarch butterflies, pollinators, and aquatic ecosystems by loss of habitat and/or the insecticides present in GMO crops & residues.
- We need a regulatory framework that places the burden of contamination prevention on the USDA and the biotechnology industry. NonGMO farmers cannot control the weather and other aspects of farming that may lead to unintentional contamination.
- Farmers cannot guarantee a planting date, due to variables such as weather, equipment breaking down, fertilizer or seeds not arriving on time, or lack of time in a day.
- The stacking of numerous insecticides in one seed to deal with resistance, along with the introduction of 2, 4-D herbicide-resistant corn and soybean, are proof that the more this technology is introduced into our environment, the less effective it becomes. This will lead to the need for more toxic materials to deal with a growing number of resistant weeds and insects.
2,4-D-ready Corn and Soy
Comment period is closed.
Despite pressure to block it from more than 60 members of Congress and half a million citizens, Dow AgriScience’s Enlist Duo™ program—herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans genetically engineered to tolerate the Enlist Duo combo of 2,4-D and glyphosate—has been approved. A 30-foot buffer zone is required around fields being sprayed.
Note: It’s allowed currently in 15 states—Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin
Associated Press story, “EPA approves new weed killer for engineered crops”
USDA news release on “Measures to Help Farmers Diversify Weed Control Efforts”
Read about farmers concerns regarding 2,4-D in the July|August Organic Broadcaster.
Reasons for concern:
- 2,4-D has been linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, and reproductive problems. Children, in particular, are extremely vulnerable to 2,4-D exposure.
- 2,4-D is much more harmful to plant life than RoundUp (glyphosate). Specialty crops (like grapes, tomatoes, beans and sweet corn) and non-GE soy and cotton are extremely sensitive to 2,4-D.
- 2,4-D was the primary ingredient in Agent Orange, the defoliant used in the Vietnam War.
- Both spray and volatilization drift can devastate adjacent ecosystems, yards and home gardens.
- Industry tests show that 2,4-D is contaminated with dioxins—often referred to as the most toxic substance known to science. Dioxin contamination in the rivers and soil around Dow Chemical’s headquarters in Midland, Michigan is the highest ever found by the EPA, and has been linked to increased breast cancer rates in the contaminated areas.
- Dow Chemical is calling GE 2,4-D corn and soy the solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds. GE crop systems caused the “superweeds” in the first place. Like Roundup before it, 2,4-D is only a temporary solution that will require more and more toxic chemicals leaching into our environment and food supply.
- The Organic Center’s agricultural scientist Charles Benbrook projects that widespread planting of Dow’s Enlist corn alone could trigger as much as a 30-fold increase in use of 2,4-D, from an estimated 4.2 million pounds at present to over 100 million pounds by 2019.
MOSES’ comments to USDA-APHIS March 2014