Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Bayer fined for endangering farmworkers

EPA recently fined Bayer CropSciences $53,000 for endangering the lives of farmworkers with pesticide exposure in their Puerto Rican research and nursery operations. While this is a tiny drop in Bayer's multi-million dollar budget, we do take it as an encouraging sign.

The good news: When rules are enforced — in this case, the federal Worker Protection Standards (WPS) — employers are held accountable for protecting workers from exposure to hazardous pesticides. The less good news: Enforcement actions like this one are all too rare, and the WPS itself is old, inadequate and in serious need of an upgrade.

Margaret Reeves
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Thanking farmworkers

A bountiful table surrounded by friends and family — that's how many of us celebrate Thanksgiving. So it makes sense that this week we pause and give thanks to the many people who make the celebration possible.

From the farmers who grow the food, to the workers who package and process it, to the millions of farmworkers who work extraordinarily hard to cultivate and harvest the crops that sustain us all, those all along the food chain deserve our thanks — and our support.

Margaret Reeves
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Mexico puts hold on GE corn

Mexico is known across the globe as the “birthplace of corn.” It’s home to thousands of types of traditional maize, as well as teoesinte, the grass ancestor of any and all corn varieties. Corn is also a cornerstone of food traditions in Mexico, from tortillas to tamales to pozole.

That’s why last week’s announcement from a federal judge that all field trials of genetically engineered (GE) corn are suspended in Mexico is very, very big news.

Margaret Reeves
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Pesticide drifts miles from Florida fields

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released compelling findings from a study on the air-borne movement (aka "drift") of the pesticide endosulfan in Florida.

Researchers found that this soon-to-be-banned persistent pesticide traveled miles from tomato fields where it was applied, and that drift levels jumped significantly during spray season. More details on the study are outlined below, but first consider this: with USDA stepping into the ring to document pesticide drift, is it possible that EPA and USDA might actually look at pesticide use and regulations together? Now that would be interesting news indeed.

Margaret Reeves
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Let's get the Farm Bill right — and quickly

I just called my legislators on Capitol Hill to tell them how important it is to get a fair Food and Farm Bill passed, and soon. I told them we need policies that support farmers who are working to protect vital resources — soil, water, pollinators — and that provide access for everyone to good quality food.

It's pretty clear that Congress needs some pressure on this one. They were on the hook to pass a new Farm Bill in 2012 — and they didn’t. Instead, we’ve seen two failed attempts, followed by a terrible last-minute extension of the 2008 Farm Bill that left many of the best programs for small, family farmers on the cutting room floor. We're working with partners across the country to press legislators to get it right this time, and you can help.

Margaret Reeves
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Real change this Labor Day

Far too many of the United State's 80 million workers still don't receive fair wages or adequate workplace protections. This Labor Day, people across the country — in the streets and in Washington D.C. — are joining the call for better labor practices.

In his speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington this week, President Obama noted: "For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate." Workplace protection policies for many, including farmworkers, have also remained stagnate — and wholly insufficient. Change is long overdue.

Margaret Reeves
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We need a good Farm Bill — now

Last month, the House passed a Farm Bill stripped of the program that provides assistance for those who can't afford food. But this country needs a fair food and farm policy, for everyone. And we need it now.

As legislators are wrestling with how to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill, PAN joins more than 300 organizations around the country calling on Congress to pass a full and fair Farm Bill — before the old one expires on September 30.

Margaret Reeves
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Farmworker voices reach Capitol Hill

Today farmworkers from across the country are showing up on Capitol Hill to demand rules that protect them and their families from harmful pesticides. We urge leaders in Washington to listen carefully — and then do the right thing.

EPA has been promising to strengthen existing rules for the past 13 years, but the reality in the fields remains the same: farmworkers regularly face harmful exposures to pesticides. An estimated 10,000-20,000 are poisoned each year, and countless more suffer long term health harms. With today's fly-in, more than a dozen farmworkers from several states will put faces and stories to these numbers for lawmakers, and deliver a simple message: Enough is enough.

Margaret Reeves
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Farm Bill flop. What’s next?

Here we go again. After the 2012 fiasco in which Congress failed to pass a Farm Bill at the 11th hour, the Senate rallied early this month to pass its version of the national food and farming legislation — which is up for debate and renewal every five years.

Ten days later, the Farm Bill died again when the House failed to pass its own version of the 2013 bill. It’s not clear exactly what’s up next. But we're rolling up our sleeves — again — to press for the best legislation possible, and we fully hope and expect that Congress will pass a Farm Bill this year. 

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A better food & farm future

News about Farm Bill deliberations can feel wonky and distant, but the debates and decisions lawmakers are making right now on Capitol Hill matter — a lot.

The House is voting this week on the Farm Bill. Today, they are debating amendments that have made it through the first round. Your representative needs to know that you support key conservation programs, including coordinated federal action on the dramatic honey bee declines reported by beekeepers across the country. Please pick up the phone and call today — you'll find talking points and a phone number below. It's easy, and it will make a difference.

Margaret Reeves
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