The Buzz – January 2016

 The Buzz

Continuing the Fight For A Better Food System

There is a lot that concerns us about industrial agriculture: damages to the environment, threats to human health, the degradation to rural communities, harm to workers and animal welfare. At CFSA, we are leveling the playing field for local & organic farms by shedding light on where your food comes from and how it was grown. We firmly believe that the system can be changed for the better – but only by passionate people who understand how the system works.

That’s why we’re launching this new eNewsletter, The Buzz – to keep you informed and primed to take action for a food system that is good for consumers, good for farmers and farmworkers, and good for the land.

Each month, we’ll compile timely articles on food and agriculture that are generating some buzz – and add insight and commentary on why we think they are important. Think of it as your ag-gregator for the news you need to be a local food leader.

Count me in!  I want to receive the Buzz.

Rochelle Sparko, CFSA’s Policy Director

P.S. We hope you love the new Buzz.  Let me know what you think by emailing me!

Also, please share this with your friends who care about food and farms and ask them to subscribe.  We need to get a buzz going!


January’s must-read news stories in sustainable agriculture and local food


Vilsack calls opposing sides of GMO labeling debate to table

In late 2015, it looked like Congress might pass a weak, voluntary GMO labeling law. It didn’t happen, and the head of USDA is now trying to broker a deal between the pro and anti-labeling factions. The meetings are pretty secretive, and the sides are very far apart. If anything comes of these meetings, CFSA will be among the first to let you know.


Campbell Soup Backs GMO Labeling

Vermont’s law compelling food companies to label foods containing genetically engineered ingredients is going to go into effect this summer, and this has many food companies and their lobbyists freaking out. Most food companies and their lobbyists are trying to replace state-level laws requiring labels with a weak, voluntary, federal standard. Campbell bucked the trend and is now supporting a mandatory, federal labeling regime.


Public Comments Flood in as FDA Considers What Foods Are Natural

What is a natural food? The federal government is asking as it considers which food should be allowed to declare themselves natural. CFSA will be letting FDA know what we think, paying special attention to the possible impact on organic farmers.


Groups Line Up Behind Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Before DC was slammed by winter storms, the Senate’s Agriculture committee reauthorized the Child Nutrition Act. The bill includes millions more to expand Farm to School, something CFSA has been advocating for for a long time! The bill is expected to pass the Senate soon, but so far no hearing is scheduled in the House.


Industrial Hemp on the Slow Road To Reality in NC

A head of the NC House Ag Committee may want to take another look at the legislation that cleared a path for industrial hemp production in North Carolina. CFSA’s Policy Team will keep you posted about any hemp-related developments.


EPA Says Pesticide Harms Bees In Some Cases

EPA’s research is in! The upshot? The relationship between pollinators and a particular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids is complicated.


We Need A Green Revolution

What if our government invested in agriculture research the way it did in the 1940s? Could we reduce antibiotic use in animal agriculture? Maybe we could breed drought tolerant plants. This NY Times opinion piece makes an argument for more government investment in agricultural research. Hear, hear.


The World Eats Cheap Bacon at the Expense of North Carolina’s Rural Poor

This long article delves deeply into the impact confinement hog farms in eastern North Carolina have on their neighbors. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of hog farming, current industry practices, its environmental impact, and particularly how all of it plays out in rural communities, this is the article for you. 


Has the Organic Movement Left Black Farmers Behind

This article considers why there are so few black-owned certified organic farms in the southeast?  The article quotes Natasha Bowens, an author who has spoken at CFSA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference. It also mentions USDA’s efforts to get more minority farmers elected to county FSA Boards, an effort that CFSA has been working on, too.


Animal Welfare, Whistleblower Groups Sue over NC Workplace Bill

CFSA supports transparency in the food system and so do our members.  We fought hard against a North Carolina law that will let employers sue employees if employees document unsafe or illegal conditions at work. The law went into effect on January 1, 2016 and a number of organizations sued claiming that the law is unconstitutional.


Antibiotic Use On Farm Is Up, Despite Promises to Kick The Drugs

Confinement farms use antibiotics not only to treat sick animals, but also to keep animals from getting sick and to encourage them to gain weight. All those antibiotics on farms are contributing to resistant bacteria in people. And 2014 saw yet another increase in on-farm use of antibiotics, even though we know using them this way is making antibiotics less effective for people. Yet another reason to consider eating organic and pasture raised meats.

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