Iowa Updates: May 2020 | Pesticide Action Network
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Iowa Updates: May 2020

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As Iowa is one of the states in which PAN does on-the-ground campaign work, we send out regular updates on PAN's and partners' work in Iowa and beyond — from pesticide-related science to opportunities to take action. If you'd like to receive these updates via email, sign up here.

State updates

June 2 primaries: I was raised to understand that I had both the privilege and the responsibility to participate positively in the processes that maintain our government and direct its function. At a time when so much seems to be out of our control, we have many opportunities to have an impact and do something that makes a difference. If you are eligible to vote, I encourage you to join me as we consider candidates for our elected offices in our state primaries to be held on Tuesday, June 2.

The primaries in Iowa are part of the selection process within the two major political parties to determine who will represent each party in the general election. Those who wish to vote in the primary are required to register for one of the two parties to participate. You may change your party registration at any time and selecting a party does not restrict who you might vote for in the general election.

Learn about candidates: The Iowa Secretary of State maintains a list of those who have filed to be eligible to run for Federal and State of Iowa offices in the upcoming primary. All of our federal offices (both the Senate and the House) are being sought by multiple persons and several of our state seats also have competition within the respective political parties.

Secure your absentee ballot and vote: All requests to receive an absentee ballot must be received by your county auditor by Friday, May 22 at 5 PM CDT. If you did not receive a request form in the mail, you can download one from the Secretary of State’s website. This same location provides a lookup so you can find contact information for each of Iowa’s county auditors.

At the capitol: The Iowa legislative session, suspended since March 16, is scheduled to resume on June 3rd. At this point, the agenda has not been made public with respect to the continuation of the 2020 session. It is presumed that the state budget will take priority, but it is not known whether the process for active bills will be continued at this time. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.

Nationwide updates

New USDA rules abdicate responsibility to regulate GE: On May 18, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a revised set of rules for the federal regulation of genetically engineered (GE) organisms. The USDA has significantly reduced its regulatory responsibility and will allow industry developers to “self-determine” whether or not their engineered plant products should be subjected to review and an environmental risk assessment. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Pesticide Action Network Senior Scientist, issued the following statement in response to the rule release:

“We’ve already seen how GE seeds engineered to resist herbicides like glyphosate, 2,4-D, and dicamba, are driving widespread pesticide drift that is damaging crops, destroying farm businesses and wreaking havoc across the country. By abdicating the last of its responsibility to protect the public good in favor of corporate profit, USDA is encouraging a flood of new, untested genetically engineered organisms into our rural landscapes, putting farmers, ecosystems and our food supply at risk.”

Latest science

EPA stops atrazine water monitoring: Until recently, EPA required that Syngenta, the maker of the herbicide atrazine, conduct monitoring of the chemical in Iowa’s community water systems and watersheds. But in late April, the corporation requested to halt this ecological monitoring of atrazine citing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. EPA has granted this request for the year 2020, with the assumption that the program will resume in 2021.

Iowa has a long history of atrazine use, and there has been some monitoring and testing in water supplies in the past, but this has declined in recent years. EPA found in a 2016 Ecological Risk Assessment that atrazine negatively impacts aquatic plant communities and poses “potential chronic risk to fish, amphibians and aquatic invertebrates.” Research has shown that Iowa’s state tree, the Bur Oak, may be suffering from Oak Tatters due to the combined use of atrazine and acetochlor, commonly used as a pre-emergent for corn during the leaf-unfold stage for these trees. Despite their own assessment and plan to reduce atrazine in aquatic ecosystems, EPA announced in November 2019 that it was increasing the level of concern for atrazine in aquatic ecosystems, allowing more atrazine in our waterways.

Upcoming Events

The last of a series of “Regenerative Agriculture Lunch and Learns” sponsored by the Iowa Farmers Union (IFU) will feature Seth Watkins as he talks about Returning Livestock to Pasture on Thursday, May 28 at 12:30PM.

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) will be hosting a Virtual Meet-up for Beginning Farmers Thursday, May 21 at 1 PM. The purpose of the event is to create a supportive space for new and beginning farmers to share and connect during these times of uncertainty.

Iowa Organic Association (IOA) is a sponsor for PFI’s Virtual Field Day: Live Roller-Crimper and Weed Zapper Demonstration Tuesday, June 2 at 2 PM. This event highlights a couple of alternative tools for weed control.

Women Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) is hosting a virtual skill-sharing workshop, led by WFAN members titled Growing Community Resilience on Wednesday, June 3 at 4 PM.

Practical Farmers of Iowa will continue its series of Strategies for Strange Times Virtual Farmer Meet-ups which meet every Friday afternoon starting at 1PM. Various PFI farmer members are called upon to share their approaches as they adapt to changing conditions.

The Center for Rural Affairs, Iowa Environmental Council and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa will host a webinar covering the Best Practices for County Solar Siting Ordinances in Iowa on Friday, May 22 at 1:30 PM.

Take action

Food chain workers are among those with the least protection in our workforce. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re risking their well-being to keep our food system going without adequate systems to provide for their health, safety and financial well-being. Sign the petition to urge Congress to compel OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect food workers from COVID-19.

Join us and demand stronger workplace health and safety protections for food workers.

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