In early February, a mighty group of Iowa farmers congregated at the Iowa state capitol to participate in the Iowa Farmers Union (IFU) annual Food and Farm Lobby Day. A carload of my farmer friends and I were thrilled to have the chance to speak with our legislators about the obstacles that beginning farmers so often face in our current system of agriculture.
As Scott Pruitt takes over as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, it's clearer than ever that our federal decisionmakers won't be stepping up to protect communities — or our food system — from pesticides anytime soon. It's that much more important therefore for state and local leaders to do their part. Here in Minnesota, decisionmakers are beginning some important steps to protect pollinators from pesticides, and we're fighting to make those changes powerful models for the rest of the country.
Lately scientific evidence seems to matter a lot less than it used to. It's not that evidence hasn't been ignored by policymakers in the past. But there are some unique things happening under the new administration that seem to directly and fundamentally challenge the value of science. Across the country, scientists are responding by standing up and speaking out.
Last fall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rubberstamped Monsanto’s newest formulation of the herbicide dicamba for use on the corporation’s genetically engineered (GE), dicamba-resistant soybean and cotton seeds.
Rational and just immigration policies are central to a healthy and functioning U.S. food system. Unfortunately, the new administration seems determined to push us in the opposite direction.
In the midst of a barrage of hurried and unorthodox executive orders in the first weeks of the new administration, two orders passed beneath the President’s pen concerning immigration. Both are bad for farmworkers, the food system and our country.
With dizzying speed, the new administration has set to work rolling back years of progress on public health protections, climate change, civil liberties and women's rights. They've moved to muzzle our public agencies and launch an all out war on science, a free press, indigenous lands, religious freedom, immigrants and the value of facts.
All of this in week one.
The Trump administration's nominees to lead key federal agencies have been characterized by strong ties to the industries they'll be tasked with regulating, a historic disregard for science and the public interest and an astounding lack of diversity. The nomination of Sonny Perdue to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is no exception.
After 15 long years of research and public input, the Environmental Protection Agnecy (EPA) finalized urgently needed improvements to the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) on September, 2015. With the political landscape now in flux, the agency is facing strong push-back from Big Ag representatives on these new farmworker protections.
Our children's health is not negotiable. This is the message we need to send federal officials — loud and clear — as President Obama's EPA takes final comments on their proposal to withdraw almost all remaining uses of the brain-harming insecticide chlorpyrifos.
Ag ban long overdue
It's already taken much too long for the agency to do the right thing. Way back in 2001, science indicating that chlorpyrifos harms children's developing nervous system was strong enough to warrant agency action to ban all household uses of the chemical.
First steps are meaningful, depending on context. When my now 15-month-old took her first steps earlier this year, we celebrated her progress. It was a major milestone in her early life. But Hawai’i regulators don’t deserve the same kudos for their recent announcement intended to quell concerns about pesticide use on the islands.