The challenges and the promise of Spring
Spring in Iowa seems to like sneaking in and out of the room when we’re not looking. Veterans of several Iowa Aprils weren’t fooled by the early warmth, even if they were like me — beginning to feel hopeful that we wouldn’t have to worry about the poultry water freezing. However, things will warm up again and those apple trees will soon be in bloom.
In addition to the temperature roller coaster, the month of April finds us balancing the promise that Spring always brings with the trepidation we might feel with all of the uncertainty in our lives and the world we live in. We are concerned for our friends in Minnesota, and we grieve for the needless loss of human life. It should be clear to all of us that Black folks and people of color must deal with societal and systemic roadblocks that I, as a white male, am not subjected to. While things feel like they are flying apart, we must adhere to the promise of Spring and embrace the diversity of all people and adjust or replace our systems so that they are inclusive and equitable.
On the farm, we have started our early crops and the first batch of chicks have arrived. We look forward with anticipation to the first asparagus harvest and the day that we put our first succession of broccoli into the ground. Along with that comes the perpetual worry that the prevailing agricultural systems in our state will continue as they have without regard for the safety and well-being of others. We must work together to make changes that will take the reins of farming from the hands of agribusiness and put them firmly back with those who will be stewards of the land.
As the Iowa legislative session comes to a close, we are tempted to feel that our efforts this year were not rewarded. But, we find ourselves hopeful for the future as we continue to make connections with our elected officials in the legislature and the State Capitol. Behind the efforts of our organizer, Carmen Black, we continue to grow a coalition of people and organizations who are willing to advance the vision of what Iowa could and should be. Once again, we have reasons to hope and persist in our efforts, despite the challenges.
On a personal level, I will also be looking at balancing struggle with hope for the future. I will have my left kidney and the cancerous mass it holds removed on April 28. I am fortunate that this was detected early and that we have the means and opportunity to address the problem. As I make myself ready to deal with discomfort, I hold the promise of recovery in front of me and I am working to build up my resolve and energy to move forward.
I see a parallel in all of these things. We have identified issues and recognize that they are real problems that will have dire consequences if we do not address them. We have also been given the gift of recognition that something must be done — even if the process will be uncomfortable. It is up to us to find the energy and dedication to make these necessary changes so we can all benefit from the promise of Spring.
Please take a moment and view some events and resources I have selected for you and placed below. If you find value in our Iowa News, please share with someone you know and encourage them to sign up with Pesticide Action Network.
State legislative updates
Supporting small and mid-size meat processing in Iowa
Our friends at Iowa Organic Association, Iowa Farmers Union, and Practical Farmers of Iowa have been promoting a bill to address the lack of meat processing facilities that serve smaller, diversified operations in the state.
This bill would create a state fund and program that would make financial assistance available to expand access to small-scale meat processing. It would also create a task force that would investigate the creation of an artisanal butchery program or promote workforce development initiatives to meet local and regional processing needs.
The current shortage of smaller processing facilities prevents small, diversified farms from fulfilling the current, and growing, demand for locally produced meats. Many producers are reporting that there are no open processing slots until the end of 2022!
The bill (HJ 857/SJ 878) was passed by the House and is now in the Senate, but appears to be stalled. Your call or email to your senator, sharing your support and urging them to do the same could make a difference.
PAN launches new Pesticide Info site
PAN is proud to announce that we have completed our redesign of the Pesticide Info site and it is now available for use to all who have interest!
Pesticide Info brings together a diverse array of information on pesticides from many sources, providing human toxicity, ecotoxicity, regulatory information, and more for over 15,000 pesticides. Ultimately, Pesticide Info facilitates public access to critically important data. Please share pesticideinfo.org with all those you know that might be able to use this tool.
Our food and science
Research continues to find more evidence that our children are adversely affected by the pesticides we fail to treat as dangerous tools that require careful and cautious use. This recent study suggests that residential exposure to pesticide application, can increase the risk of childhood central nervous system tumors.
Upcoming Events and Opportunities
Are you wondering what you will do for lunch the next few days? Here are a few suggestions:
Iowa Learning Farms will host Kathleen Delate as she discusses the Benefits of Organic Farming on Soil and Water Quality. The webinar begins at noon on April 21st.
The Iowa Farmers Union continues to offer Lunch and Learn events, featuring Dr. J Arbuckle on the Perspectives of the Iowa Farmer on Climate Change. You can join the event on April 22 at 12:30 pm.
Iowa farmer George Naylor will be among those speaking on Disparity to Parity: Balancing the Scales on April 23 from noon to 1:30pm
Mexico’s phaseout of the herbicide glyphosate (aka “Roundup”) and the genetically engineered corn that goes with it is under attack by CropLife America, pesticide corporations, and other U.S. agribusiness interests. Our partners at PAN Mexico are asking for our support.
Please sign on today to urge U.S. officials to resist industry efforts to undermine Mexico’s ban!