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.
Greetings from the PAN Minnesota team!
I’m keeping this note short today as our work is really moving here in Minnesota — see more below! I hope you have been doing well, and that you kicked off this week by celebrating International Indigenous People’s Day (August 9). If you missed it, that’s ok — we should really be learning about and supporting Indigenous peoples and cultures every day, all year long. To get started, learn about the land you are on. I also recently attended the amazing Ninga Izhichige Nibi Onji / I Will Do It For The Water exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute for Art and encourage you to do the same. The exhibit brings together art, images, words, and works by the community of “water walkers who have criss-crossed Turtle Island to bring healing to the waters.” The exhibit is open through September 12. Thank you as always for being in this work with us! Now, on to the updates.
Zoe Hollomon, PAN Minnesota Organizer
Toxic Taters water testing
It has probably been a while since you’ve heard about the Toxic Taters Coalition and their work, but we have an exciting update for you! The grassroots organization and PAN partner has a rich history, from community education around pesticide exposure, to the campaign to get McDonald’s to stop purchasing potatoes from growers contaminating Minnesota communities with pesticides, to recording levels of pesticide drift in these communities. The coalition has a new Coordinator, Tanya RedRoad (Meet Tanya here!) and is collaborating with other local groups to hold three free water testing clinics next week. The clinics will help communities better understand what’s in their drinking water. Find more details here and email Toxic Taters with any questions.
Line 3 and wild rice: The latest update on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline — which is disrupting and degrading Indigenous land and livelihoods — may be a bit surprising. The current drought has taken our water levels down dramatically, and municipalities have ordered water usage limitations. At the same time, corporate giant Enbridge has been allowed to pump up to five billion gallons of groundwater during construction of the pipeline. In response, White Earth Nation has launched a lawsuit under the Rights of Nature, against the MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the failure to protect wild rice, a sacred food staple and relative of the Anishinaabe people.
If it seems strange to file a lawsuit on behalf of a crop, consider the vast public resources, in the tens of billions of dollars, in our Farm Bill that go to protect commodity crops like feed corn and soy, which also carry heavy environmental and public health costs. Learn more about the lawsuit here.
USDA BIPOC debt relief challenged: When Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act in March, they included $4 billion in debt relief specifically for farmers and ranchers of color, due to decades of discrimination in USDA programs, disproportionate COVID-19 impacts, and the failure of the U.S. government to ensure adequate funding reached farmers of color in other relief efforts.
However, in June, federal judges in Wisconsin and Florida issued a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the USDA from moving forward with this program. Lawsuits against USDA have now cropped up in 12 states, including Minnesota. This is a huge blow to the administration’s efforts to remedy the USDA’s well-documented history of discrimination against farmers of color — and will adversely impact the ability of farmers of color to continue to farm, and hold on to their land. Please join us in standing up for racial equity in our food and farming system by encouraging USDA to provide debt relief, support for land access, support for agroecology, and greater representation for farmers of color in USDA policy and programs.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently signed a letter of intent to formalize a partnership with CropLife International, 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. Sign on today to tell FAO to stop this #ToxicAlliance!