Minnesota PAN Updates
Zoe Hollomon

Zoe Hollomon

Minnesota Updates: Building strong coalitions

Hello from the PAN Minnesota Team!

Warm greetings to you this fall, when many of us are going to be spending time with our families and friends. As we feel the comfort of friendship and closeness of kinship, let’s remember that our affinity for human compassion has no boundaries or borders. We can choose not to let the economic interests of global industries and corporations override our sense of humanity. We can stand up for each other — and we must.

Over the past several months, we have been working with our local and national partners to move issues of farmer equity and environmental justice forward.

Coalitions for transformative Farm Bill

In July and August, we worked with RAFI – USA (Rural Advancement Foundation International) to move over $350k to grassroots and BIPOC-led organizations doing Climate Equity work in local communities in the Midwest and across the country.  We also teamed up with the Union of Concerned Scientists, the HEAL Food Alliance, Rural Coalition, La Semilla Food Center, Climate Justice Alliance, National Black Food & Justice Alliance, and others as part of the Transformational Farm Bill Campaign.  This coalition was able to distribute over $2.3 million to BIPOC farmer and environmental justice organizations doing Farm Bill organizing.

In mid-October, we organized with the Midwest Farmers of Color Collective, the Union of Concerned Scientists and other partners to hold an online farm bill training.  This event targeted farmers and environmental justice activists of color to talk about our nation’s largest policy on food, agriculture, health and environment. Guest speakers Ricardo Salvador (Union of Concerned Scientists), Vanessa Polanco (National Young Farmers Coalition), and Billy Hackett (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) shared history about the Farm Bill and discussed how coalitions can use marker bills to move our issues through the legislative process.  This, in turn, helps us to connect with our representatives about our issues and requests. This is the first of many Farm Bill-focused trainings that the Midwest Farmers of Color will host to fight to get federal policy to live up to what our communities need and deserve.

If you are interested, I encourage you to check out this recording of the training.

farmers speaking with government officials in Minnesota

Farmers speaking with government officials in Minnesota

Building relationships for our communities

In November, we hosted a powerful listening panel, Grounding Policy in the Voices of Farmers, with the Midwest Farmers of Color Collective, the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association, and other partners, at the Emerging Farmers Conference. Our listening panel included Congressional Representatives for Minnesota (US Senator Smith’s office, US Senator Klobuchar’s office and US Representative Craig’s office), Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner, Thom Petersen, State Executive Director for the USDA, Whitney Place, and Mary Xiong of Governor Waltz’s office.

Attending farmers brought up many issues including land access, climate equity, language access and representation in program development.  There was also discussion about the need for direct funding to marginalized farmers, discrimination in agricultural lending, pesticide reliant agriculture & public health, and much more. All participants agreed that strong relationships will work best to get the things our communities and under-resourced farmers need from the government.

farm policy listening session in Minnesota

Farm policy listening session in Minnesota

Calling for accountability from government officials

And finally, we are working with the Minnesota Environmental Partnership to gather signatures calling for regulatory action and accountability from the governor and the state commissioners in the Departments of Health, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, as well as the Pollution Control Agency. We are concerned that state agencies are compromising our health and the future of our children by giving in to international mining conglomerates, big agricultural interests and other polluting corporations. We encourage you to sign this letter, requesting a meeting with our government officials.

I’d like to close with a beautiful poem by Aurora Levins Morales, the Puerto Rican poet and activist:

Summons

Last night I dreamed
ten thousand grandmothers
from the twelve hundred corners of the earth
walked out into the gap
one breath deep
between the bullet and the flesh
between the bomb and the family.

They told me we cannot wait for
governments.
There are no peacekeepers boarding planes.
There are no leaders who dare to say
every life is precious, so it will have to be us.

They said we will cup our hands around each heart.
We will sing the earth’s song, the song of water,
a song so beautiful that vengeance will turn to weeping.
The mourners will embrace, and grief replace
every impulse toward harm.
Ten thousand is not enough, they said,
so, we have sent this dream, like a flock of doves
into the sleep of the world.  Wake up. Put on your shoes.

You who are reading this, I am bringing bandages
and a bag of scented guavas from my trees. I think
I remember the tune. Meet me at the corner.

Let’s go.

Be well,

Zoe Hollomon, Organizing Co-Director, Minnesota

US court removes chlorpyrifos ban

In early November, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed EPA’s ban on the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, an insecticide associated with serious neurological damage in humans, with children being most at risk. The partial ban, which applied only to food tolerances, was the result of a final ruling in August 2021 and had been in effect for nearly two years — since February 2022.

In rolling back this ruling, the 8th Circuit Court will open the market for chlorpyrifos to be used in food production starting in 2024 — which will continue until the EPA reinstates the ban.

PAN is encouraging the EPA to stand up to this ruling and put the ban back in place.  Please consider joining us in telling the EPA to reinstate the ban.

Global recognition of chlorpyrifos as dangerous pollutant

At the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (POPRC) this October in Rome, experts from 31 countries and five regions of the world recommended that chlorpyrifos be moved forward to the risk management evaluation stage for listing under the Stockholm Convention. The Stockholm Convention provides a global ban on identified persistent organic pollutants (POPs).  This puts chlorpyrifos one step away from being identified as a POP and included under the global ban.

A chlorpyrifos story

PAN’s Communications Manager, Rob Faux, also operates a small-scale, diversified farm in Iowa.  He shares his own story of how the dangers of chlorpyrifos moved from a vague possibility to a reality in his own life.

The story recognizes that it can be difficult to fully appreciate and understand the dangers chlorpyrifos can pose until people experience it for themselves.  We are sharing it with you today — “hoping you will understand without going through this process of discovery by exposure.

Take Action!

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned EPA’s ban of chlorpyrifos, a dangerous neurotoxic pesticide which can cause permanent harm to the developing brains of children.

At the time of the ban, EPA Administrator Michael Regan called it an “overdue step to protect public health,” and vowed that “EPA will follow the science and put health and safety first.”

Join us! Demand that chlorpyrifos be kept out of food production. Urge EPA Administrator Regan to keep his vow to protect children and farmworkers from exposure to chlorpyrifos.

Zoe Hollomon

Zoe Hollomon

Zoe Hollomon grew up in Buffalo, NY and comes from a long line of powerful women and freedom fighters. She is an organizer with over 18 years of experience in Food and Environmental Justice organizing and community-based planning and policy, working with communities across New York State and Minnesota. In 2017 she helped start the Twin Cities Good Food Purchasing Policy Coalition, and co-founded the Midwest Farmers of Color Collective in early 2020. Zoe received her B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from Cornell University in 2001 and her M.S. in Community Economic Development in 2007. She brings her organizing experience and networks with youth, farmers of color, labor, and urban and rural communities to her work with PAN. Zoe lives in Minneapolis and is a coop partner of Rootsprings, a Farm & Retreat Center for BIPOC/ LGBT health & healing.

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