Hello! Zoe here bringing you an update from your PAN team. The first few months of this year have flown by – I haven’t been able to be out at the farm much, and I miss its effect on me. Being there reminds me that I am, and we are, nature. As many of you know, I co-lead the Midwest Farmers of Color Collective and we just had a wonderful convening, where we talked a lot about seeding our cultural foods and organizing – and ‘tis the season!
If there was ever a time to come out of the starting gate sprinting, it’s now! With almost one-third new members in the state legislature, and the DFL (Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party) leading the House and the Senate, there’s lots of activity and momentum to push through anti-environment and anti-equity strongholds and reframe how this state supports restorative food and agriculture. It’s also a Farm Bill year, and with so much on the line for our ecosystems around racial and social equity, we’re also taking priorities from our core constituents to the nation’s capital. Here’s a rundown of our work lately.
Zoe Hollomon, Organizing Co-Director, Minnesota
Local control and more
In partnership with our pollinator coalition, we are championing several bills to give local control to municipalities to make decisions about what pesticides are used in their neighborhoods (SF608 / HF1130), prohibit harmful and unnecessary lawn and garden uses of neonics (SF1915), develop a regulatory program for treated seeds (SF1718), and prohibit uses of systemic insecticides and seed treatments on Department of Natural Resources (DNR) -managed lands. (SF835 / HF921). There’s also legislation to sustain the successful Lawns to Legumes Program, fund a general pollinator account, create and maintain habitat along state highways, and prohibit PFAS aka “forever chemicals,” in pesticides.
Take Action: Many of the pollinator bills we’re working on need to be heard in the Senate Agriculture committee to move forward. You can help by connecting with Senate Agriculture Chair Aric Putnam (651-296-6455) and your own senator, to share why you care about this issue. If you’re interested in providing written or verbal testimony on any of these initiatives, contact Erin Rupp at Pollinate Minnesota.
The Midwest Farmers of Color Collective is working with the Land Stewardship Project to advocate for funding for the Down Payment Assistance Grants Bill (HF1057 / SF1575), authored by House Rep. and Ag Committee Chair, Samantha Vang, to assist first-time buyers and emerging and BIPOC farmers in accessing land, a critical first step in creating equity for farming and land stewardship.
Take action: Contact Senate Agriculture Chair Aric Putnam (651-296-6455) and your own senator in support of the Down Payment Assistance Grants Bill and other state funding for access to land for farmers of color and emerging farmers. If you’re interested in providing written or verbal testimony, contact Amanda Koehler at Land Stewardship Project.
Stronger agency oversight
Since the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) Community Advisory Committee was abolished in 2015, agency decisions have become increasingly opaque, the public has had fewer opportunities to make their voices heard, and corporate interests are being held up by the MPCA. Bills to reinstate a community board at MPCA have been introduced in the state House and Senate by Rep. Kristi Pursell (DFL – Northfield), Vice Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. Foung Hawj (DFL – St. Paul), Chair of the Senate Environment, Climate, and Legacy Committee.
- Take just two minutes to email your state legislators to urge them to support the bill. Add a personal message to make it even more effective!
- If timing allows, attend one or more hearings in-person! Packing a hearing room is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate public demand for a legislative proposal. For more information contact Amanda Koehler at Land Stewardship Project.
Farmers for climate justice!
I’ll be flying to D.C. this week with Midwest Farmers of Color Collective and Land Stewardship Project, to meet up with our partners at the HEAL Food Alliance for the Farmers for Climate Action Rally for Resilience. We’ll join farmers, farmworkers and allies to demand that our elected officials make climate change a priority in the 2023 Farm Bill. We’ll be telling our MN members of Congress, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and Representatives Brad Finstad and Angie Craig, who serve on the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, that it’s time to make big shifts and align our resources with our desired outcomes for a life affirming future, not corporate profits.
In case you missed it:
Have you read our new report, Pesticides and Climate Change: A Vicious Cycle? You can also watch the recordings of our two-part webinar launch, where report authors Organizing Co-Director Asha Sharma and Senior Scientist Margaret Reeves shared key findings of the groundbreaking report, and guest speakers Rob Faux, Nayamin Martinez, and Jeanette Acosta discussed solutions.
Have a minute?
Each month, progressive action network and phone company CREDO designates three causes to donate to – and this month, PAN has been chosen! But we need your help. Can you take a minute to vote for PAN? The more votes we get, the greater our share of funding. Your vote would support healthy communities, climate justice, and farming practices that nourish our people and environment.
Thank you for helping us make the most of this opportunity!