A self-sustaining and resilient farm is one that welcomes diversity. Diversity in the products it offers and the enterprises it undertakes. Diversity in the soil. Diversity in the plant and animal life. Diversity in the people that work to keep living farms living.
This year, at the Genuine Faux Farm, we experienced an extremely late killing frost in May and a windstorm in August. Both events set back some of our crops, and yet we have had success with others. Because we embrace the diversity that we are so fond of promoting, our farm has been able to survive during times of adversity. In a very real way, diversity is a significant part of our insurance program and is key to our resilience.
Unfortunately, our predominant system of agriculture in Iowa makes it difficult for small-scale, diversified farms to thrive. Instead, large-scale operations, monocrop fields, animal confinement facilities, and chemical-based solutions to agricultural challenges are favored. This is why it is often difficult for me to fully celebrate when something positive happens. Yet, we do have something to celebrate.
Because of persistent efforts by PAN and partnering organizations, and thanks to your willingness to join us by signing on to our actions, contacting your elected officials, and donating to fund our work, we are all able to celebrate the removal of chlorpyrifos as an insecticide for food-production crops.
Yes, I am pleased that there is something positive to report. But, I admit to holding back. A chlorpyrifos ban is reactive, rather than proactive. It was a long and difficult battle to ban a product that has been known to adversely affect childhood brain development. Given the threat to our children, the end result should not have been so hard to reach.
I believe we are better than this and I am challenging you (and me) to do better.
Let’s make it a priority to move to healthy, diverse, and resilient farms and communities now.
Communications Associate for PAN
Owner/Operator, Genuine Faux Farm, Tripoli, IA
EPA’s chlorpyrifos decision
There have been some questions regarding the scope of EPA’s decision to limit the use of chlorpyrifos, a broad-spectrum pesticide that has long been known to harm children's brain development. The August 18 decision to ban the pesticide was specifically made for crops raised to create food products.
The EPA accomplished this by revoking tolerance levels for residual amounts of chlorpyrifos in food crops. It is our understanding that this includes animal-based food products, so feed cannot have residual traces of this pesticide that may be passed on through the food chain.
EPA hasn’t yet proposed the cancellation of registrations, which is different from crop tolerance levels. Non-food uses of chlorpyrifos for crops such as ethanol corn, seed and sod crops, flowers, or ornamental plants, could continue. All of the registrations for chlorpyrifos use are currently under review separate from the tolerance revocation.
If you would like a more detailed description, our organizer in Minnesota, Zoe Hollomon, provided them in a recent Minnesota News.
An Iowa MacArthur Fellowship recipient
We are celebrating the award of a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship to Iowa State University faculty member, Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore, for her work to help build sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.
Some of her research has promoted the use of prairie strips in agricultural land to address concerns in water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat. Her team’s research has shown that strips of native prairie in agricultural fields can reduce soil loss and limit nitrogen and phosphorus runoff by having roots in the ground.
If you are interested, I recommend that you take a look at some of the research that Dr. Schulte Moore has already been involved in.
"No Spray" signs available
The Iowa Organic Association (IOA) will have Organic Farm No Spray signs for folks to pick up during this year’s winter conferences. Alternatively, they can mail them to you if you can't make it to one of these events (Iowa Organic Conference, IOA Annual Meeting, Practical Farmers of Iowa, MOSES Conference).
IOA is giving folks an opportunity to pre-order signs before Oct 24 at a reduced cost.
- Plastic 10x14 = $10 each
- Aluminum 10x14 = $20 each
Add $5 to each sign ordered after Oct 24th and be prepared to pay for shipping if you need the signs mailed to you.
You can take this link to pre-order.
Lawsuit against “Big 4” meat packers
A federal judge has issued an order to allow a class action lawsuit against JBS, Tyson, National Beef, and Cargill to go forward. The National Farmers Union (parent organization for the Iowa Farmers Union) is among the plaintiffs. At issue is the allegation that the four largest beef packers in the United States conspired to suppress the price of cattle while increasing the price of beef.
"Our cattle farmers have been at the mercy of a small handful of processors," said Iowa Farmers Union President Aaron Lehman. "Farmer profitability in the cattle sector disappeared as a result. At the same time, consumers have only experienced higher prices and less transparency about the food they eat."
This case is now two and half years old and is progressing to the discovery phase.
This is another example of how our agricultural system is skewed towards large-scale, impersonal corporations and away from small-scale, diverse farming and food-producing operations. It is just another example of how corporate capture of our food system fails to work for us.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently signed a letter of intent to formalize a partnership with CropLife International. CropLife is the global trade association representing all of the largest agrochemical, pesticide, and seed companies. This alliance would be dangerous for the future of our global food systems.