Picture of Asha Sharma

Asha Sharma

California Updates: March 2022

As California is one of the states in which PAN does on-the-ground campaign work, we send out regular updates on PAN’s and partners’ work in California and beyond — from pesticide-related science to opportunities to take action. If you’d like to receive these updates via email, sign up here.

Hi California Supporters,

I hope you have been enjoying the warmer days and watching farms and gardens around you come back to life as much as I have! As many farmers have begun seeding their crops for the upcoming growing season, we’ve been busy seeding ideas for our next year of campaign work. More on that to come!

In the meantime, we’d love to share some updates:

The California legislative session picks up speed

Our state legislative session began in January with a flurry of budget and bill proposals. With our partners, we recently sent a letter to the California legislature asking for funding in the state budget for critical sustainable and equitable agriculture investments. Some of our recommendations were:

  • $125 million for farmworker housing and improvements
  • $15 million to support transition to organic farming for small-scale and underserved producers
  • $2 million for biological pest control strategies

Pesticides, climate and agriculture

We’re continuing to push the state to recognize pesticide reduction and ecologically-based agricultural systems as climate mitigation and adaptation solutions in California.

This winter, we were successful in leading the state to include organic agriculture in their climate models under the state plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, (the Scoping Plan). However, many of the state’s climate plans and strategies still exclude concrete pesticide reduction targets and strategies.

I recently wrote a blog on this important topic; you’ll find a short excerpt below and the full post here. It features four incredible farmers throughout the state who are using ecological practices — showing that a more climate-friendly and just agricultural system in California is possible.

After joining PAN last spring, I spent a lot of time getting up to speed on the policy landscape in California. I initially felt overwhelmed by the state’s many regulatory strategies and plans to reduce or adapt to climate change. However, I quickly realized one glaring oversight – every single strategy excludes concrete reductions in chemical pesticide use as a means to mitigate and adapt to climate change. And that’s a huge problem. Without decreased pesticide dependency and increased ecological pest management, California will fail to meet its climate goals, with the impacts of climate change and pesticide use continuing to fall disproportionately on people of color.

What I’ve been reading and listening to:

Green Dreamer Podcast interview with farmer and activist Karen Washington on food security, justice, and sovereignty. Washington encourages listeners to think through the underlying social determinants that create inequities for people of color in our food and agricultural systems.

The Civil Eats article “Farmworkers Bear the Brunt of California’s Housing Crisis” describes the challenges farmworkers face in securing affordable and safe housing, and why we need much more state investments to combat this crisis.

Ok, one more Civil Eats article! This one covers the importance of offering organic food in school meals in California. We’ve been supporting this effort led by partners like NRDC, who have this great blog on the topic too.

Thank you for continuing to support our work! Your contributions and voice help build the movement we need to truly achieve social, climate, and ecological justice in our food and farming systems.

In solidarity,

Asha Sharma
Organizing Co-Director, California

ahsa sharma

Picture of Asha Sharma

Asha Sharma

Asha has a decade of experience as an environmental and agricultural justice campaigner, organizer and researcher. She is passionate about agroecology and supporting food-growing communities in building power. Her previous work at the Union of Concerned Scientists and Mighty Earth resulted in dozens of agricultural and food companies improving their conservation and human rights standards and practices. She received her M.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis and her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Texas at Arlington. Asha is from Dallas, Texas and currently lives in Berkeley, California. In her free time, she loves to cook, garden and hike with her dog Frankie.

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