Margaret Reeves's blog | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Margaret Reeves's blog

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Best safety net for farmers? Healthy soil.

Farmers across the country are seeing the impacts of climate change first hand. Crop losses to drought, floods, heat waves, insects and diseases made headlines throughout the year.

We hear Congress plans to improve crop insurance programs in recognition of these hardships, as negotiations for the 2012 Food and Farm Bill move ahead. But to really reduce risks, they should go one step further: tie crop insurance payments with an obligation to create healthy soil. 

Margaret Reeves
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Global harms of industrial ag: We know enough.

Last month global experts released yet another report linking industrial agriculture with the dramatic degradation of soil, water and other natural resources currently threatening our ability to feed ourselves.

Just how much evidence do we need? I posit that like the banking crisis, the causes of the food production crisis are actually quite clear. A very few large and powerful beneficiaries of the current system (and their lackeys) continue to vociferously defend the status quo, while ample data show that it simply doesn't work. Meanwhile, growing numbers of farmers around the globe demonstrate viable, safer and necessary alternatives.

Margaret Reeves
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Food & Farm Bill: What now?

With last month’s death of the congressional Super Committee, so too died the 2011 Food and Farm Bill proposal that was folded into those fast-track talks. So what happens next?

A mixed bag of disappointments and glimmers of hope, the 2011 proposal now enters into the more normal process of policy development. Because of the tireless efforts of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition members and many organizations around the country, this starting point for the 2012/13 Food and Farm Bill does contain some elements of our priorities — namely, support for conservation, local food, beginning farmers and organics.

Margaret Reeves
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Safer fields for farmworkers long overdue

Today, PAN and our partners at Earthjustice and Farmworker Justice filed a legal petition demanding that EPA act quickly to better protect farmworkers from hazardous pesticides. These much needed changes would be the first improvements in farmworker protection rules since 1995. The move is long overdue.

Margaret Reeves
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Secret Food & Farm Bill down to the wire

Update on the crazy, secret Food and Farm Bill: The House and Senate Agriculture committees failed (at least by the time of preparing this blog post) to get their Food and Farm Bill proposals to the congressional Super Committee so now our ONLY opportunity to influence this unprecedented secret process is to target the Super Committee members themselves.

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Crazy, secret Food & Farm Bill

Things are moving fast, furiously and secretively in Washington, DC with the entirely undemocratic development of the 2012 Food and Farm Bill — an approximately $300 billion, tax dollar-funded set of programs covering everything from farm support programs and renewable energy research to food stamps and conservation initiatives.

It is expected that the 12-member congressional Super Committee will receive a Food and Farm Bill proposal this week from the chair and ranking member of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and then decide to accept or reject it within a week's time. That's four individuals — referred to as the Big 4 — making huge decisions that affect us all, and with virtually no public input!

Margaret Reeves
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Harvesting Change: Celebrating Food Day with Farmworkers

I was thrilled to participate in the recent TEDx conference, Harvesting Change, magnificently organized by Bon Appetit Management Company Foundation.

The presentations throughout the event focused on three key areas: the hidden, unconscionable treatment of farmworkers in the US system of industrial agriculture; movement building for social change; and the role of money in fomenting, or hampering, positive change.

Margaret Reeves
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Californians unite for better food policy!

Communities around the world celebrate World Food Day during the month of October, as they have for decades. This year, on October 24th, we here in the U.S. will mark U.S. food day. At the same time (and continuing into next year) the U.S. government is gearing up to write the 2012 Food and Farm Bill — an omnibus package of federal farm and food legislation that directs billions of taxpayer dollars. PAN is organizing with partners to leverage some of this energy to get California lawmakers aligned behind a better Food and Farm Bill.

If you’re in California, join us in telling our elected officialsby October 24 — how you want your tax dollars spent. If you’re elsewhere in the U.S., go to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website to find how you can link to similar efforts in your state.

Margaret Reeves
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Organic farming better for bottom line

There is nothing “niche” about the recent story on the economics of organic farming in the Agronomy Journal.

The journal reports on an 18-year study demonstrating that organic crop rotation is consistently more profitable than conventional corn and soybean production, even when organic price premiums are cut by half. That is very good news for both organic producers and the agricultural economies in which they operate.

Margaret Reeves
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RoundUp hurts the crops it’s supposed to help

A new study supports earlier findings that Monsanto’s biggest selling weedkiller may actually be harming crop production by increasing the incidence of fungal root disease. This could be why the "RoundUp-ready" corn and soybeans that Monsanto has engineered to be used with the herbicide have failed to deliver promised yields.

Add this to recent stories of RoundUp’s ubiquitous presence, concerns of serious health effects such as birth defects, and the creation of superweeds (as RoundUp resistance spreads from engineered crops to weeds) — you'd think this would be the final nail in RoundUp’s coffin, right? Not quite, but we're keeping the pressure on.

Margaret Reeves

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