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Pesticide Action Network

Minnesota Updates: August 2020

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

State updates

Sending solidarity and care to Kenosha: On Sunday, police officers in Kenosha, WI, shot multiple rounds into the back of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black man attempting to break up a fight. Blake’s three children were onsite waiting for him in the car. My heart is with Blake’s family and the whole community of Kenosha, where protesters demanding justice are facing much of the same militarized violence we saw here in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd in May. We felt echoes of that last night when the National Guard and full police force were once again activated in Minneapolis over protests after another Black man was killed in a confusing incident while police officers were present. With communities hurting and distrust of police at an all-time high, it feels like we’ve reached a breaking point. Our responsibility to reimagine public safety, demilitarize police departments, and reckon with a legacy of racist violence in this country can’t come soon enough.

And in our food system work at PAN, we know that dismantling racial injustice and exploitation must be central to everything we do. Standing up for racial justice is one of the most important steps we can take to make our food system work for all of us — and it certainly isn’t right now.

RDO’s backdoor dealings: For decades now, we’ve seen potato giant R. D. Offut (RDO) — one of the largest ag operations in the U.S. and largest leasers of land in Minnesota — toying with the health of residents in the Pineland Sands region of the state, all while trying to wash its hands of any accountability. In the latest (and most sinister?) development, RDO struck up a deal with farmer Tim Nolte in Sebeka, MN, to get irrigation permits approved by the MN Department of Natural Resources that would have triggered environmental review for a massive expansion by the corporation. Nolte has claimed to be unconnected to RDO. But unfortunately, RDO didn’t cover their tracks well enough, and recent documents show that the mortgage holder on Nolte’s farm is none other than a company controlled by current RDO farms president. We’ll keep you updated as information becomes available. It could be another nailbiter as grassroots community groups stand up to one of the most powerful agribusiness groups in the country.

The postal service in danger: Defunding the postal service is a direct threat to rural communities in Minnesota and across the country — where residents rely on the USPS for everything from life-saving medicine to supplies to money orders for those without access to reliable banking. And this isn’t just an issue now — we’ve seen social services like the USPS, education, and healthcare defunded consistently in rural areas for years. Read more here.

Nationwide updates

Sweeping pesticide law reform: On August 4, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced proposed legislation — the “Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act”, or (PACTPA). This bill would overhaul U.S. pesticide rules, ultimately mandating new rules to protect people and the environment.

Each year the United States uses over one billion pounds of pesticides — nearly a fifth of worldwide usage — and pesticide use levels continue to increase. The current law governing U.S. pesticide regulations, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) contains provisions that prioritize pesticide industry interests above the health and safety of people and our environment. PACTPA addresses many of FIFRA’s shortcomings, and would prohibit the use of old stockpiles of banned pesticides, require listing of inert ingredients on all pesticide products, and provide significant protections for frontline communities that bear the brunt of pesticide exposure. Read more here.

Latest science

Treated seeds are toxic: We know that neonic-treated seeds are toxic for pollinators — and an increasing stack of research shows that they likely provide zero benefit in yield for farmers. A 2020 report from Cornell University found that “90% of field tests showed no increase in corn yields from seeds treated with neonics, compared with chemical alternatives or untreated seed.” Similar results were found for soy. The science is clear — and we’re grateful to see researchers across the country adding their data to the pile. Yet despite study after study, treated seeds are still widely used by farmers. Why? Regulatory action has been continually blocked by corporate lobbyists, and many farmers don’t have access to a reliable supply of untreated seeds.

Upcoming events

USDA Listening Session for Local Food Producers: Urban Farmers
Are you an urban farmer with thoughts on crop insurance? You’re not alone — and if our farm policies were written by and for real farmers, and not corporations, we’d be in much better shape. Share your thoughts with decisionmakers at this listening session.

CFAP Webinar
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) application deadline is September 11. Join this webinar with the U of M to learn more about how you can apply for these funds as a producer.

Take action

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill, the Delivering for America Act, to allocate $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), while restricting recent operational changes that have hindered USPS services across the country.

Urge your Senator to pass the Delivering for America Act, today. We must save the USPS.

Take Action

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Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network is dedicated to advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide. Follow @pesticideaction

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