Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Reality-checking the Farm Bill in CA

In the next couple weeks the House Agriculture Committee will negotiate its version of the 2012 Food and Farm Bill, following last week’s passage of the Senate’s decent version of the bill. In preparation, we took one of the House Ag Committee decision-makers (Fresno's Rep. Jim Costa) on a tour to make real what's at stake in this bill. 

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Senate passes good Farm Bill!

After three rapid-fire days with votes on 73 amendments and big budget cuts, the Senate passed what is probably the best Farm Bill we could have hoped for. Huge thanks for all the calls, letters and meetings with elected officials delivered by a large and diverse number of individuals and groups across the country, including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).

PAN stands with the other ten members of NSAC’s California Farm Bill Caucus to celebrate this success and gear-up for the House Farm Bill negotiations, coming up just after the 4th of July.   

Margaret Reeves
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Senate Farm Bill voting underway — call now!

The Senate has one more day to vote on key Farm Bill amendments. Yesterday, Day 1 of the complex voting process, was generally a good day — thanks to the hard work of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and many groups and individuals across the country. Let’s aim for more good news today!

Today’s vote includes the Chamblish amendment on conservation compliance. This amendment (#2438) would protect our natural resources by requiring recipients of crop insurance subsidies (i.e. our tax dollars) to use practices that protect natural resources. Please call your senator now, and urge them to vote YES on the Chamblish amendment.

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Supporting healthy-food farming

What does the federal Farm Bill have to do with a healthy diet? More than you'd think, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

To get more fresh produce into our diets we need to reverse the policies that put up barriers — rather than provide incentives — for farmers to produce the fresh fruits and vegetables so urgently needed in the diets of most of us in the U.S.

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Dear Senate: Taxpayer dollars should reward farm stewards

Farmers who protect their soil using organic or other sustainable methods often encounter hurdles that other farmers do not. Current policies provide disproportionately little support for such farming practices depite the clear benefits — for the soil, the environment, human health and economic growth.

This week the U.S. Senate will have a chance to partially correct this by supporting Food and Farm Bill amendments that link crop insurance to sound farming practices. We know that good stewardship builds diverse agroecosystems that are inherently less risky than conventional sytems. Less risk with greater protection of soil and other natural resources? That's where I want my tax dollars to go.

Margaret Reeves
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Pesticides & Parkinson’s: Connection clearer than ever

This kind of evidence can't be ignored. Scientists report that the risk of Parkinson’s Disease is significantly greater for individuals with a history of exposure to pesticides. They reached this conclusion after reviewing data from six decades of research.

The results were strongest for exposure to weedkillers and insecticides; not so strong for those pesticides designed to kill disease-causing fungi. And the risk was greatest when exposure was associated with work activities, such as applying pesticides in the field.

Margaret Reeves
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Pesticide data on the chopping block

This week PAN joined farmworkers and farmworker advocates in urging Congress to protect a small, unsung program that’s vital to the health and safety of the nation's nearly two million farmworkers: pesticide recordkeeping.

USDA's Pesticide Recordkeeping Program is on the congressional chopping block, though it has long served as an essential tool for the proper identification, treatment and ultimately, prevention of pesticide-related illnesses that are far too common among U.S. farmworkers.

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Farming for the future

Today, March 19, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) released its platform for the 2012 Farm Bill — Farming for the Future: A Sustainable Agriculture Agenda for the 2012 Food and Farm Bill.

This powerful document lays out a vision of agriculture where safe, nutritious and affordable food is produced by a legion of diverse family farmers. These farmers make a decent living pursuing their trade while sustaining the environment and contributing to the strength of their communities. I hope decisionmakers in Congress are paying attention.

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French scientists say fewer pesticides needed

A new study by French scientists demonstrates that pesticide use can be dramatically reduced — maybe even by half — without impacting crop yields or farm income.

And the French government is acting on the findings, pledging to cut chemical inputs in the country's agricultural fields in half by 2018. Why not, if it means spending less while maintaining yields and reducing risks of exposure to hazardous pesticides? Any responsible government would do the same.

Margaret Reeves

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