What. A. Year. | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

What. A. Year.

Kristin Schafer's picture
Inspired plant

What an extraordinary year it's been.

Throughout 2020, communities have shown up for each other in amazing ways — from mutual aid for frontline communities hardest hit by the many crises, to fierce and creative organizing for long-term change and record-breaking civic engagement around the election. 

This challenging year also made it very clear that we really do need deep changes to our food system, now. We're looking forward to the year ahead, as we focus in on the hard work of building a healthy, resilient food and farming system. As 2020 clearly illustrated, this work is more urgent and important than ever. Here are just a few examples of many:

  • Farmworkers across the country were recognized as the “essential workers” they've always been during the pandemic, yet denied protective equipment and time off to quarantine if exposed. Farmworker advocates (with support from PAN) demanded both — but there's still far to go before even basic worker protections are achieved nationwide. 
  • As industrial-scale distribution systems failed across the country and put food workers at risk of COVID-19 infection, people looked to local farmers for fresh fruits and vegetables. Many community-scale farmers responded to meet this need, including farmers of color who hadn’t previously been connected directly to consumers.
  • The uprising for racial justice in cities and small communities across the country opened a much-needed conversation about how Black farmers have been marginalized in this country for generations.

PAN is proud to be part of all of these efforts to build a new food system that’s rooted in justice, and we hope you’ll join us in the important work ahead. 

The year ahead

I’m excited to share that early next year we’ll be launching a new project broadening our state policy work. With coalition partners, we’re building policy toolkits based on wins in our "key states" of Iowa, Minnesota, California and Hawai'i — like the Farmer Equity Act, chlorpyrifos bans, pesticide buffer zones, pollinator protections and more. We’ll share these resources and strategies with partners in other states who are also working to build healthier, more equitable food systems, broadening our impact to statehouses, farms and communities across the country.

We’ll also be building support for the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act, the new federal bill that will greatly strengthen our national pesticide rules and phase out many of the most toxic pesticides. We know Bayer/Monsanto and the other pesticide corporations will do all they can to stop this bill from becoming law, and we’re ready for the fight.

We’ll also continue to show that farmers here in the U.S. and around the world can and are producing food without dangerous chemicals.

Centering farmer voices

Late last month, I sat in on an early morning webinar organized by my longtime friend and colleague Marcia Ishii, PAN's senior scientist who heads up our international network's working group on agroecology. Hundreds of people from around the globe tuned in to hear stories of four innovative women farmers from different regions of the world who have shifted away from reliance on pesticides and are farming in ways that build, rather than deplete, the ecological systems upon which we all depend.

It was truly inspiring. Our Board member Patti Naylor of Iowa was one of the farmer panelists, and highlighted the opportunity before us:

 We must continue to educate our friends and neighbors to grow this movement, so that all of our agriculture can be agroecological.”

This too is part of the work we do at PAN. Transforming our food system takes persistence and perseverance, and we hope you’ll consider a generous year-end gift to support our efforts as we move with determination into the year ahead

We so appreciate the PAN community. Our generous supporters make our work possible — thank you!

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Kristin Schafer
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Kristin Schafer's picture

Kristin Schafer is PAN's Executive Director. With training in international policy and social change strategies, Kristin has been at PAN for over 20 years. Before taking on the Executive Director role, she was PAN's program and policy director. She has been lead author on several PAN reports, with a particular emphasis on children's health. She serves on the Policy Committee of the Children's Environmental Health Network. Follow @KristinAtPAN