It’s all happening!
South Carolina’s General Assembly went home shortly after authorizing $40 million for farmers harmed in last years’ flooding. The North Carolina General Assembly is still hard at work with a number of bills that stand to affect farmers, and Congress may yet interfere in USDA’s effort to make rules related to animal welfare in the National Organic Program.
Needless to say, CFSA’s Policy Team has been hard at work this month keeping up with all that policy and sorting through all the food and ag news to bring you the most interesting tidbits we can find. We hope you’ll enjoy the articles we’ve gathered for you to help you stay up to date on the latest in food and farming.
Enjoy the peaches and blueberries, and we’ll catch you all again next month (when we hope to have a plate of corn on the cob to sustain us as we write!)
All the best,
Rochelle Sparko, CFSA’s Policy Director
June’s Buzz-Worthy Sustainable Agriculture News
Check out this interview with Michael Pollan. The Policy Team is eating it up (get it?!); Pollan explains how public policy and government oversight is the best way to ensure enforceable change to our food system. We couldn’t agree more, and invite you to make a difference by telling policy makers about the food and farming policies that matter to you.
Last month, Governor Haley vetoed legislation to allocate $40million to assist farmers damaged by last fall’s flooding.Within two days, the South Carolina General Assembly overrode her veto by wide, bipartisan margins in both the House and Senate. Commission members have been appointed and have already met for the first time; learn more about who’s eligible for aid, how to apply, and who serves on the Commission here.
With the rapid spread of suburban development, how do we preserve the farmland that grows the local, organic food we love? In New York’s Hudson Valley, where the real estate market is booming, land trusts provide one way to ensure that development and farms can coexist. Land trusts set aside family farmland for long term preservation. The Carolinas have our share of organizations dedicated to preserving farmland in this way, too, and CFSA supports their efforts to preserve working farmland for future generations.
(note that you’ll need to provide your email address to read this article)
The superbug to top all superbugs has been found in the US three times already this year; in a woman in Pennsylvania, a pig in Illinois, and a pig in South Carolina. The superbug survives a course of Colistin – the strongest antibiotic there is. Providing animals with adequate space and appropriate food is healthier, and enables farmers to raise livestock without feeding them preventative doses of antibiotics, a practice believed to increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics. This is one of the many reasons CFSA’s policy team works on policies that support and encourage organic agriculture and pasture-based systems, which limits the use of and need for antibiotics in livestock.
For a bee growing up in the Triangle, food options are endless- with trash cans filled with half-drunk lattes and soda- you might assume that urban bees might choose some of these sweeter options over pollen and nectar. What do you think bees prefer? Make your choice and then read about this research from NC State to find out what the data show! At CFSA we ‘heart’ bees, which is why we work to protect pollinators, including partnering with Toxic Free NC to raise awareness about federal efforts to protect bees and to influence pollinator protection strategies at the state level.
Local and organic products at farmers’ markets are almost always competitively priced with their counterparts at retail stores, a new study by the US Department of Agriculture finds. Studies like this one help support our cause at CFSA- promoting local, sustainable and organic agriculture. We know that every dollar invested at a farmers’ market is a dollar invested in a local farmer, in the local food system, and the local economy. That’s why we work diligently to build up our local food systems, train and support local and organic farmers, and increase the access of fresh, local, nutritious food in the Carolinas.
The numbers don’t lie- consumers want organic, and they want it bad. Organic hit a new record in sales this year, reaching $43.3 billion, up 11% from last year’s record level. Even with this steep rise in sales, demand far outpaces supply. Increasing organic production in the Carolinas is part of our mission at CFSA. We support public policies that help farmers produce healthy, nutritious, clean food with fewer toxic chemicals, while supporting soil and water health on their farms. Through our resources and training programs, consultation for transitioning farmers, and policy efforts, CFSA is helping grow the organic industry in the Carolinas.
Bayer recently offered to purchase Monsanto. Monsanto declined the offer, but it sounds like negotiations to unite the two agrichemical giants continue. Why should you pay attention to this possible merger? Further consolidation in the industry stands to reduce farmers’ power, decrease their options when it comes to plant varieties, and leave us paying higher prices for food. CFSA hopes that policy-makers are keeping a close eye on these negotiations. We should be moving toward resilience, not consolidation at a time of climate change and increased pest and disease pressure made possible given international trade.
The NC House passed a bill that may give permits to some farmers in the state to legally grow industrial hemp in the state by next spring. CFSA’s Policy Team is keeping a close eye on this bill and hopes to see small, mid-scale and organic farmers take advantage of this new opportunity, should it become law later this year!
Everyone wants to visit Hawaii; now some of us may want to farm there. Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the union to offer tax incentives to organic farmers to offset the cost of organic certification. While the federal government reimburses farmers for part of the annual cost of organic certification, those funds don’t cover the entire amount. What do you all think? Is this a good way to encourage more farms to go organic? Email me!
Have you heard? USDA’s certified organic label may soon come with some guarantees about the welfare of the animals raised on organic farms. USDA is accepting public comment about its proposed organic animal welfare rule until July 13, 2016 and CFSA is hard at work on a template you can use. However, there’s already been one attempt by Congress to stop USDA from moving ahead with the rule-making process, and there may be another this month. Check out this article to learn all about how this rider in an appropriations bill could keep you from being heard.