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Protecting our Environmental Resources
Updated: 22 hours 35 min ago

Fight for Farm Bill not over

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 10:33

Support family farmers and veteran farmers, NOT large conglomerates.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition:

Last week, we got one of the best anniversary gifts we could ask for – family farmers and grassroots advocates heard our call to action and defeated the toxic House Farm Bill! In the entire history of the farm bill, last week marked only the second time in history that a farm bill failed on the House floor.

Now THAT’s people power in action! The fight isn’t over yet, however. The House is scheduled to re-vote on their version of the farm bill by June 22, after they take up the controversial Goodlatte-McCaul immigration bill – legislation that fails to ensure fair wages, working conditions, or a path to citizenship for current or future agricultural workers. Together we can and must stop the toxic House farm bill AND the anti-immigrant Goodlatte-McCaul bill. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is committed to this fight, and committed to representing the millions of American farmers, agricultural workers, and families whose lives will be dramatically affected by the outcome of our next farm bill. Donate to support our work, join the fight for an equitable, pro-farmer 2018 Farm Bill today! Here are five provisions in the House farm bill that would weaken pesticide protections:
  1. Preempting Local Pesticide Restrictions – Section 9101 would prevent cities, counties and communities from restricting certain uses of pesticides even if they deem restrictions necessary for protecting children’s health or the environment. For example, this provision would prevent a city or county from restricting chlorpyrifos – an insecticide so dangerous it was slated to be banned by the Environmental Protection Agency – from being sprayed near schools or hospitals. ​
  2. Reversing Course on Endangered Species Protections – Section 9111 would allow the EPA to approve pesticides without going through the current consultation process with expert wildlife agencies to assess to how they would impact hundreds of threatened or endangered species, as currently required under the Endangered Species Act.
  3. Rolling Back Clean Water Act Protections – Sections 9117 and 9118 would allow farmers to spray pesticides into water – including drinking water sources – without obtaining a permit under the Clean Water Act, as currently required by law.
  4. Allowing New Pesticide Approvals Without Finalizing Safety Rules – Section 9119 reauthorizes the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, which provides funding for EPA pesticide reviews, without finalizing rules designed to protect farmers and farmworkers, as Sen. Tom Udall and others have rightly demanded.
  5. Weakening Restrictions on Methyl Bromide – Section 9121 would weaken restrictions on methyl bromide, a highly toxic fumigant that is being phased out because it depletes the ozone layer.
  6. Helps the big get bigger and rich get richer

Over the last three decades, American agriculture has become increasingly consolidated. As of 2015, a majority of our food (51 percent) came from farms with over $1 million in annual sales – up 20 percent since 1991. Federal policy has historically contributed to this consolidation – as well as to the homogeneity and inequity caused by consolidation – by directing disproportionate resources toward the largest and wealthiest agribusiness operations. Sadly, the House Agriculture Committee’s draft farm bill chooses to expand access to unlimited subsidies for mega-farms instead of acting as a champion for America’s small-medium scale, beginning, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

The bill includes a litany of bonuses for mega-farms, but perhaps the most egregious is the attempt to throw out a 30-year old rule preventing corporations from receiving unlimited commodity payments. Lucrative loopholes in the bill for the largest, wealthiest agribusiness operations would allow:

  • Most corporate farms to receive multiple payments, rather than being limited to a single payment under a single payment cap, which is currently the case.
  • Mega-farms to more easily reorganize as “family farms,” thereby increasing farm subsidy payments to a single farm by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
  • Unlimited subsidies and no accountability to taxpayers by removing payment limitations from marketing loan gains and loan deficiency payments.
  • An exemption for partnerships, joint ventures, LLCs, and Subchapter S corporations from the adjusted gross income means-testing provision that makes any person or legal entity with an average adjusted gross income exceeding $900,000 (effectively $1.8 million for many couples) ineligible for commodity or conservation payments.
    1. Cripples conservation programs

    Healthy soil, clean water, fresh air, and thriving wildlife habitats – these are just some of the many benefits of the farm bill’s voluntary conservation programs. Farmers and ranchers know that conservation practices directly contribute to the long-term sustainability and profitability of their operations, and financial and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can help them put those practices into action. Voluntary conservation programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) are incredibly popular because they provide producers with the tools and resources they need to be effective stewards.

    Despite the fact that CSP and EQIP are so popular, they regularly have to turn away half of qualified applicants due to lack of funds. Instead of increasing support for these crucial programs, however, the House bill cuts the farm bill conservation title by nearly $1 billion and cuts funding for working lands conservation programs by nearly $5 billion over 10 years. The bill also:

    • Eliminates the funding and authority for CSP, the nation’s largest conservation program and only comprehensive conservation program offered through USDA.
    • Rolls CSP into EQIP, but jettisons the most important defining features of the program.
    • Fails to provide the authority and funding for USDA to measure, evaluate, and report on conservation outcomes associated with conservation programs, as included in the bipartisan Healthy Fields and Farm Economies Act, missing an important opportunity to improve program accountability and transparency.
    • Weakens a host of environmental protections provided by the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act.The nutrition provisions of the House farm bill would, if enacted, increase food insecurity and hardship for more than 1 million low-income households (over 2 million people). These individuals and families would lose in part or in whole the benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).4. Less Local FoodThe House bill, instead, would torpedo the progress that has been made in helping farmers connect to new and fast-growing markets for local and regional food, value-added products, and organic agriculture, by:
    • The steady growth of consumer interest in local and regional foods has helped to swiftly transform the “farm to fork” food system from niche industry into a serious economic driver. According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, more than 167,000 U.S. farms sold locally produced food through direct marketing practices (e.g., farmers markets) in 2015, resulting in $8.7 billion in revenue. Sales approaching $10 billion is certainly impressive, but it is only a fraction of what could be achieved if Congress chose to support this growth through the 2018 Farm Bill.
    • The House Committee’s bill includes provisions for new requirements and restrictions that are untested, costly, and devastating for low-income families. Not only will these provisions throw millions of Americans into food insecurity, they will also take dollars from the pockets of the local farmers who rely on sales from SNAP customers at farmers markets and other direct market venues. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, each year SNAP participants spend more than $19.4 million at farmers markets; that’s a very significant part of the local food and farm economy that would be harmed by the provisions of this bill.
    • 3. More hungry and food insecure families
    • Failing to renew mandatory funding for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, which helps rural Americans access capital and business training services.
    • Failing to renew mandatory funding for the Value Added Producer Grants Program, as mentioned above.
    • Eliminating all mandatory funding and baseline for the Rural Energy for America Program, which helps farmers and other rural businesses increase their sustainability and reduce their energy bills by producing their own renewable energy.With the average age of the American farmer approaching 60 years and increasing numbers of producers retiring without succession plans for their land or operations in place, we are on the verge of a nationwide farmer shortage if measures are not taken to help onboard the next generation of American producers. The House bill makes a few steps in the right direction on beginning farmer and rancher issues, but still falls far short of what is needed. The bill:
    • 6. Uncertain future for beginning farmers and ranchers
    • Reauthorizes the popular Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, but fails to provide the program with permanent funding that would ensure support for new farmer training and outreach in every state.
    • Raises loan limits on guaranteed loans to $1.75 million, which will increase access to credit for larger, wealthier operations and decrease access for beginners and small and mid-sized farms.
    • Provides no funding for Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Accounts, which would provide asset building and financial literacy services.Farmers of color have historically experienced widespread discrimination and gaps in access, both within the agriculture industry generally, and in terms of accessing USDA programs and resources specifically. In order to correct some of these historical inequities and attempt to level the playing field for all farmers, Congress created the Outreach and Technical Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers (Section 2501) program in the 1990 Farm Bill. For over 20 years, Section 2501 has served as the only farm bill program dedicated to addressing the specific needs of minority farmers, and in the 2014 Farm Bill it was expanded to also serve military veterans.8. Public research and seed breeding falls behindThe House farm bill fails to provide farmers and researchers with the tools and resources necessary to bring our nation’s public breeding and research into the 21st century by:
    • Farmers, like most other professions, rely on research to develop best practices and grow sustainable businesses. Though the terms “agricultural research” and “seed breeding” can sometimes conjure science fiction-esque images, there is nothing more natural and traditional than farmers developing and testing seeds that are well suited to a particular climate and growing style. Where once America’s public research and seed breeding programs were robust, however, today we are quickly falling behind countries like China when it comes to our investment in agricultural research. Without public seed breeding and research programs, family farmers are forced to rely on expensive, private options that may not have sustainability and regional-adaptability on their priorities list.
    • Even though the mission of Section 2501 was expanded in the last farm bill – and the need for the program is stronger than ever – funds for the program were also cut in half in the very same bill. Sadly, the House bill does nothing to increase funding for the program, and actually expands the program’s mission even further by adding a new programmatic priority.
    • 7. No closer to equity for farmers of color
    • Not providing targeted funding for much-needed public breeding research.
    • Not increasing coordination across USDA research agencies, which would increase outreach and identify gaps and overlaps in public plant breeding research.
    • Not improving the status, staffing, and funding for the USDA Office of the Chief Scientist, leaving it under-resourced and lagging other federal research agencies.Combined with commodity subsidy programs, the federal crop insurance program makes up a significant portion of the federal farm bill – for instance, in fiscal year 2018 these two are projected to make up roughly 75 percent ($17 billion) of the farm program portion of the bill. While the price tag is hefty, the benefits are also significant – when the program works as intended, it provides a crucial safety net for America’s farmers. Unfortunately, however, the federal crop insurance program is far from efficient or fair. The program spends billions of taxpayer dollars each year, yet persistently fails to address the needs of many producers (e.g., beginning farmers, diversified and organic farmers, smaller-scale farm operations), while also allowing other producers (e.g., the largest and wealthiest commodity crop businesses) to leverage their crop insurance subsidies as a way to grow bigger and gobble up scarce farmland.
    • While the House’s farm bill does include an important improvement extending crop insurance discounts for a subset of beginning farmers, it largely fails to increase program access, equity, environmental improvement, and accountability. The bill:
    • 9. No Risk Management Improvements for Farmers
    • Fails to include the innovative proposal within the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act that would make it easier for new farmers to access revenue-based crop insurance policies through the Non-insured Disaster Assistance Program.
    • Eliminates the Risk Management Education Partnership program, which helps educate farmers on mitigating production, financial, and other risk on their farms.
    • Fails to remove barriers to conservation activities, which discourage farmers from engaging in regenerative practices such as cover cropping.
    • Fails to include common sense limits on crop insurance premium subsidies, or a means-tested subsidy reduction for high-earning participants.In 2010, Congress passed legislation that would become the first real overhaul of our federal food safety policies since 1938: the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FSMA gave the Food and Drug Administration broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods. In 2016, FDA finalized a series of complex rules based on FSMA and governing food safety across farms and other food producing operations.
    • With so many farmers and food processors struggling to understand and comply with both the FSMA rules and increasingly common food safety requirements from private buyers, we had hoped to see a House draft farm bill that would prioritize food safety training, outreach, and assistance. Instead, however, the bill:
    • 10. Food safety support takes a back seat
    • Fails to provide mandatory funding for or improve access to the Food Safety Outreach Program.
    • Fails to include the proposed Food Safety Cost-share Program, which would support specialty crop producers in accessing new markets and complying with FSMA.
    • Requires no actionable deliverables (only a report) from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on how to better conduct training and outreach to small and very small meat processors.
Categories: Food and Farming

Sonoma County GSA: Groundwater basin re-prioritization and Implications

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 10:23

Read this as good news. High priority basins mean closer watch on over pumping our aquifers. The watershed starts on the hillsides amnd not just basins!~

As reported to yesterday, the Department of Water Resources, DWR, just released the draft prioritization of groundwater basins as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, SGMA.

THE SANTA ROSA PLAIN BASIN status has been re-prioritized from a MEDIUM PRIORITY basin of concern to a HIGH PRIORITY basin of concern now requiring preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) and a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA). The NAPA SUB BASIN has been similarly re-prioritized.  

As reported, the WILSON GROVE, ALEXANDER VALLEY and DRY CREEK VALLEY have been added to Sonoma County’s MEDIUM PRIORITY basins.  

Again, all these re-prioritized basins NOW REQUIRE preparation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) and a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA).

The North Coast Stream Flow Coalition (through the Institute for Conservation Advocacy Research and Education, ICARE) along with its collaborative partners (Clean Water Action (Jennifer Clary), Union of Concerned Scientists and Nature Conservancy) have been working diligently on this issue since 2015 by working closely with DWR, making comments on the regs and BMPs, and providing factual information about undesirable results, such as land subsidence, surface water depletion, salt water intrusion, decline in water quality, wells going dry etc.

Categories: Food and Farming

North Bay Organizing Project new publication “Regeneration”: Rights of Nature

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:47

Please scroll down for Spanish version of this article.

Article 2: Rights of Nature

Author: George Beeler & Jennifer Schallert

 

Under the current system of law in almost every country, nature (i.e., the elements of the natural world that include plants, animals, ecosystems) is considered property that is subject to ownership. This treatment of nature as property confers upon the owner the right to destroy nature associated with that property. The phrase “the rights of nature,” identifies ecosystems and natural communities not as merely property that can be owned and manipulated, but as entities that have an independent right to exist and flourish. Laws recognizing the rights of nature thus transform the status of natural communities and ecosystems from things to be owned, into rights-bearing entities with privileges that can be enforced by people, governments, and communities.

 

The same system that treats nature as a commodity also treats human beings as commodities to be exploited. The extreme extraction of natural resources from the Earth mirrors the way labor is extracted from workers to maximize profit. Such exploitative methods translate to unsustainable agricultural practices that are not in the best interest of our community. For example, monocrops and monocultures can require high levels of pesticides and produce poor quality soils, displacing people and existing ecosystems at the cost of diverse ecologies and cultures. Diversity is our best defense against unforeseen change, and the richness it brings to our economies and communities must be prioritized and protected.

We as people have become so out of balance with our extractive economies that we view the Earth as a resource that can be taken from or polluted, without limit or consequence. Extractive economies produce pollution and waste without considering the value of natural commodities like clean air, unpolluted waterways, and biodiversity. Modern science mirrors what has long been known by indigenous peoples: that an interconnected view of local ecological systems can restore the planet back to a healthy balance.

 

With this growing understanding that we are intricately connected to our local ecosystem comes a deep responsibility to protect nature. As we engage in the long recovery from the devastating fires in Sonoma County, we believe it is imperative to reframe our relationship with the natural world, and by extension, to one another.

 

The suffering and destruction from the catastrophic wildfires and extreme weather in our county is just the beginning. The blind, extractive profit motive by a few is ruining the environment for us all. We can both ignore the signs of distress and freeze up from fear, or we can accept these messages from our Earth and change our ways. Many people in Sonoma County are waking up to the threats affecting nature and are taking action. The boldest action so far is the NBOP Rights of Nature work aimed at restoring and protecting the environment for a better life for all of us now and for future generations.  

 

Artículo 2: Derechos de la naturalezaAutor: George Beeler & Jennifer Schallert

Bajo el sistema legal actual en casi todos los países, la naturaleza (es decir, los elementos del mundo natural que incluyen plantas, animales, ecosistemas) se considera propiedad sujeta a propiedad. Este tratamiento de la naturaleza como propiedad confiere al propietario el derecho a destruir la naturaleza asociada con esa propiedad. La frase “los derechos de la naturaleza” identifica a los ecosistemas y las comunidades naturales no como meras propiedades que pueden ser poseídas y manipuladas, sino como entidades que tienen un derecho independiente a existir y florecer. Las leyes que reconocen los derechos de la naturaleza transforman así el estado de las comunidades naturales y los ecosistemas de las cosas que se poseen, en entidades con derechos que tienen privilegios que pueden ser aplicados por las personas, los gobiernos y las comunidades.

El mismo sistema que trata a la naturaleza como una mercancía también trata a los seres humanos como mercancías para ser explotados. La extracción extrema de los recursos naturales de la Tierra refleja la forma en que se extrae la mano de obra de los trabajadores para maximizar los beneficios. Dichos métodos de explotación se traducen en prácticas agrícolas insostenibles que no redundan en el mejor interés de nuestra comunidad. Por ejemplo, los monocultivos y monocultivos pueden requerir altos niveles de pesticidas y producir suelos de mala calidad, desplazando a las personas y los ecosistemas existentes a costa de diversas culturas y ecologías.

 

La diversidad es nuestra mejor defensa contra los cambios imprevistos, y la riqueza que aporta a nuestras economías y comunidades debe ser priorizada y protegida. Nosotros, como personas, nos hemos vuelto tan desequilibrados con nuestras economías extractivas que consideramos que la Tierra es un recurso que puede ser tomado o contaminado, sin límites ni consecuencias. Las economías extractivas producen contaminación y desechos sin considerar el valor de los productos naturales como el aire limpio, las vías fluviales no contaminadas y la biodiversidad. La ciencia moderna refleja lo que los pueblos indígenas conocen desde hace mucho tiempo: que una visión interconectada de los sistemas ecológicos locales puede devolver al planeta a un equilibrio saludable. Con esta creciente comprensión de que estamos intrincadamente conectados a nuestro ecosistema local, surge la gran responsabilidad de proteger la naturaleza. A medida que nos involucramos en la larga recuperación de los devastadores incendios en el condado de Sonoma, creemos que es imperativo replantear nuestra relación con el mundo natural y, por extensión, el uno con el otro.

 

El sufrimiento y la destrucción de los catastróficos incendios forestales y el clima extremo en nuestro condado es solo el comienzo. El beneficio ciego y extractivo de unos pocos está arruinando el medio ambiente para todos nosotros. Ambos podemos ignorar los signos de angustia y congelarnos ante el miedo, o podemos aceptar estos mensajes desde nuestra Tierra y cambiar nuestros caminos. Muchas personas en el condado de Sonoma están despertando a las amenazas que afectan a la naturaleza y están tomando medidas. La acción más atrevida hasta ahora es el trabajo de NBOP Derechos de la Naturaleza, cuyo objetivo es restaurar y proteger el medio ambiente para una vida mejor para todos nosotros ahora y para las generaciones futuras.

 

 

Categories: Food and Farming

Monsanto Papers and trial mid June

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 09:32
The Monsanto Papers The first trial in the Roundup litigation is set for June 18, 2018 in the Superior Court for the County of San Francisco. …first plaintiff is from Benicia California. With preregistration you can hear the trial, see below. https://usrtk.org/pesticides/mdl-monsanto-glyphosate-cancer-case-key-documents-analysis/

The Monsanto Papers

More than 400 lawsuits are pending against Monsanto Co. in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that Monsanto covered up the risks. The cases have been combined for handling as multidistrict litigation (MDL) under Judge Vince Chhabria. The lead case is 3:16-md-02741-VC.

On March 13th, 2017, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled — over Monsanto’s objections — that certain documents obtained by plaintiffs through discovery could be unsealed. The documents listed below include discovery materials, transcripts of court proceedings, depositions and other case-related items.

Recent updates in the federal MDL:

Parties, attorneys and journalists may listen to case management conferences and hearings by telephone—but may not participate—using the CourtCall remote court appearance service. Advance registration is required. This can be done online (journalists select “other” from the drop-down menu) or by calling CourtCall at (866) 582-6878 no later than noon on the day before the case management conference.

Additionally, thousands of other plaintiffs have made similar claims against Monsanto in state courts. Plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate the total number of plaintiffs at approximately 4,000. The first trial in the Roundup litigation is set for June 18, 2018 in the Superior Court for the County of San Francisco. Documents pertaining to that case as well as others are also included below in the middle column.  An expert admissibility and summary judgment hearing was held May 10 in San Francisco County Superior Court. Details regarding the time and location of the trial can be found here: (STATE CASE) Dewayne Johnson V. Monsanto trial date set

European Parliament Joint Committee hearing on the Monsanto Papers took place in October 2017. Information from Carey Gillam’s presentation, “Revelations from the Monsanto Papers.”

Categories: Food and Farming

What’s on my food?

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 09:52
Here is a handy guide sponsored by Pesticide to help you decide what is your healthiest option. What’s on my food? Pesticides :: A Public Problem

Whats On My Food? 2.5

Whats On My Food? now tracks bee-toxic pesticide residues alongside the ones with human health implications — and has updated government toxicology data. Other updates include a widget and more intuitive graphics.

Note: Our residue data now includes the 2012 datasets, USDA’s latest as of May, 2014.

Pesticides
…on our food, even after washing;
…in our bodies, for years;
…& in our environment, traveling many miles on wind, water and dust.

What’s On My Food? is a searchable database designed to make the public problem of pesticide exposure visible and more understandable.

How does this tool work? We link pesticide food residue data with the toxicology for each chemical, making this information easily searchable for the first time.pesticides are a public health problem requiring public engagement to solve.

Use the tool, share it with others: we built it to help move the public conversation about pesticides into an arena where you don’t have to be an expert to participate.

At Pesticide Action Network (PAN), we believe that pesticides are a public health problem requiring public engagement to solve. We want you to have the information you need to take action based on a solid understanding of the issues. What’s On My Food? builds on PAN’s more than 30-year tradition of making pesticide science accessible.

Find Out :: What’s on your food? Asparagus has never appeared on the top 10 pesticide list. You’ll be surprised what pesticides are on asparagus….. Click on link by food or pesticide

search by food

…or Search by Pesticide »
Categories: Food and Farming

Colorado’s Merrily Mazza headlines Oregon Community Rights Tour

Mon, 05/21/2018 - 09:12
CELDF: Communities’ protecting the environment: “What do you do when local and state elected officials will not protect your community? When you realize our legal and governing structures are designed to support and perpetuate these harms, rather than stop them?” Colorado’s Merrily Mazza headlines Oregon Community Rights Tour May 22, 2018 — May 24, 2018 what’s Happening? Medford and North Bend, OR, are threatened by liquid-natural-gas export pipelines feeding into the proposed Jordan Cove export terminal. Eugene residents are living with the costs of pesticides contaminating their air, soil, and water.

What do you do when local and state elected officials will not protect your community? When you realize our legal and governing structures are designed to support and perpetuate these harms, rather than stop them?

You do something to change it. Colorado’s Merrily Mazza has been on the frontline of Community Rights since 2014. Her work to advance rights and protect against fossil fuel harms is ongoing, challenging the Colorado oil and gas industry as it expands across the state. She brings her powerful Community Rights message as an activist, a Lafayette City Council member, and as a grandmother, to Oregon counties.

when?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, May 23rd, 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 24th, 7:00 p.m.

where?

Medford Public Library
North Bend Public Library
Eugene First United Methodist Church

join us!

For more information, contact cooscommons@gmail.com.

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Categories: Food and Farming

Yes on Napa County Measure C, protect the watershed

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 11:14

 

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The health of our watershed is key to our water supply. With the valley floor being essentially planted out in wine grapes, developers are clear-cutting oak trees on the hillsides that surround the valley, in the areas zoned AW – Agricultural Watershed. Deforestation of watershed oak woodlands and around streams and wetlands increases soil erosion, decreases year-round water availability, and reduces water quality.

The Watershed and Oak Woodland Protection Committee collaborated with the Napa Valley Vintners to create a ballot initiative that protects the watershed woodlands and streams from harmful development. That initiative qualified for the June 2018 ballot.

The initiative does three things that are vital to our water and watershed: It establishes “no-cut” water quality buffer zones along streams and wetlands where forests cannot be disturbed. It strengthens the current requirements for replacing the value of destroyed trees. And it establishes a limit on oak woodlands that can be taken from our County’s watershed areas. Measure C protects the water and the environment for every Napa resident, current and future, for every business operating in Napa, including grape growers and vintners. Read more and take action: https://www.protectnapawatersheds.org

MeasureC-ImpartialAnalysis(2)

Categories: Food and Farming

NapaVision 2050: Follow the Money: Who is funding No on Measure D? Who is funding Bill Dodd?

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 11:10
Helicopters for the rich to avoid traffic snarls? NapaVision 2050 says no way…… NapaVision 2050: Follow the Money: Who is funding No on Measure D? Who is funding Bill Dodd?

The Bill Dodd/ Palmaz Connection:

Christopher Palmaz has already taken over 1200 hours of Napa County Planning Department time on his private heliport application, which has been turned down by the Planning Commission (4-1) and the Airport Land Use Commission (6-1). He has appealed the decision to the Board of Supervisors to be heard in July, after the June 5 vote on Measure D.

Meanwhile, since April 24, 2018, the Palmaz family has donated $116,000 to “Committee for a Responsible Napa County– No on MEASURE D, 2018”. They also contributed $15,780 to Bill Dodd’s senate campaign since 2015 as of late last year.

The Donations to Committee for a Responsible Napa County– No on MEASURE D, 2018:

Christian Palmaz, $10,000, April 24, 2018. No on D 497 Filed Apr 25.

Cedar Knoll Vineyards, $10,000, April 26, 2018. Cedar Knoll Vineyards is owned by Palmaz Family.No on D 497 Filed Apr 26 2018.

Amalia B. Palmaz, $20,000, May 2, 2018. No on D 497 Filed May 2.

Bluebonnet Foods LP, $15,000, May 4, 2018. Bluebonnet Foods was founded and owned by Amalia and Florencia of the Palmaz Family.No on D 497 Filed May 4 2018.

Jessica Palmaz, $15,000, May 7, 2018. No on D 497 Filed May 7 2018.

Julio Palmaz, $10,000, May 10, 2018. No on D 497 Filed May 15 2018 No on Measure D 497 Filed May 10 2018.

Amalia B. Palmaz, $26,000, May 14, 2018. No on D 497 Filed May 15 2018.

The other large contribution to “Committee for a Responsible Napa County– No on MEASURE D, 2018” was by:

Professional Helicopter Pilots Association, $1000. April 20, 2018. No on D 497 Filed Apr 20.

Our appreciation to research by Debby Fortune, James Hinton, and Steve Donoviel.

Categories: Food and Farming

PD letter to the editor: Pesticide Risks

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 10:54

Pesticide risks

EDITOR: Thanks for your coverage of groundwater in Sonoma County and providing a general description of groundwater quantity, including areas of depletion because of excessive pumping by vineyards and other uses.

Another important water-quality topic is pesticide occurrence in groundwater. According to data from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, hundreds of pesticides were used in the county from 1995-2015, including 1,3 dichloropropene, glyphosate (Roundup) and methyl bromide. These were applied in quantities of more than a million pounds.

State of California concentration of pesticide use for Sonoma County.

There hasn’t been a health risk assessment from using groundwater where these pesticides have been and are applied in Sonoma County because few samples have been collected and analyzed. Even though the cost is high, at least selected wells should be sampled for pesticides to determine if they occur in groundwater, and at what concentrations.

Data from such sampling could help determine if there is a health risk from the occurrence of pesticides in Sonoma County groundwater. It isn’t wise to ignore this potential health risk because many of the pesticides applied are known carcinogens.

According to a January 2018 report by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, the childhood cancer rate in Sonoma County is the fourth-highest in California, and cancer was the leading cause of death in all age groups.

MARC SYLVESTER

Categories: Food and Farming

Pebble Mine, it’s back……

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 12:42

When Lisa Murkowski, R, Alaska refused to vote for the repeal of Obamacare, Secretary of the Interior Zinke did tell her there would be consequences. Now the Secretary is pushing to open Bristol Bay to the world’s top polluters threatening the last large wild salmon runs, wildlife and Alaska’s way of life.

Now environmental groups are sounding the alarm over this zombie project……it is Not dead but being revived. .Audubon action alert , click here to be part of the public comments against this disaster in the making. The NRDC article below gives a great over view.

Crushing Alaska’s Pebble Mine A massive open-pit mine above Bristol Bay would rip apart the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery—which is why NRDC has been waging a multiyear battle to stop it. June 02, 2016 Nicole Greenfield <img typeof=”foaf:Image” src=”https://assets.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/styles/full_content/public/media-uploads/wlds30_pict0454_2400.jpg?itok=Ln_6Wddi” width=”634″ height=”457″ alt=”” /> friendsofbristolbay/Flickr

About 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, lies 40,000 square miles of wild tundra and wetlands. Crisscrossed by rivers and dotted with lakes, the upper Bristol Bay watershed is reachable only by plane, and as a consequence, it remains virtually pristine. Its many waterways support subsistence hunters, fishing tourism, and a diverse array of wildlife. Along with grizzly bears and bald eagles, the area boasts the world’s most productive salmon run, where an incredible 30 million to 50 million fish return every summer to spawn. With its $1.5 billion sustainable commercial fishery, Bristol Bay supplies half of all sockeye salmon on the global market.

Sounds like the wrong kind of place for a highly polluting mine, right? But foreign companies have been eyeing the gold and copper deposits under Bristol Bay’s watershed and scheming to build a massive mine there for more than a decade. NRDC and a broad coalition of Alaska natives, sportsmen, conservationists, jewelers, and other concerned citizens have been fighting to keep Bristol Bay wild and productive—and they’ve been winning.

Exploratory drilling at Pebble Mine first came about in 2002, when Northern Dynasty Minerals, a small Canadian company, proposed the project on 186 square miles of Alaska state land for which it held the mineral rights. Lacking mining experience of its own, Northern Dynasty sought help. So three of the world’s largest companies—Anglo American, Mitsubishi, and Rio Tinto—quickly jumped on board, all eager for a piece of the estimated $350 billion worth of precious metals beneath the landscape. Joining forces as the Pebble Limited Partnership, the four companies started planning what could be, at two miles wide and 2,000 feet deep, the largest open-pit mine in North America.

Why so big? Due to the region’s remote location and the low-grade quality of its minerals, making a buck wasn’t going to come easy. To extract just one pound of ore, the miners would have to sift through 99 pounds of rock. Pebble Mine would be worth the investment only if it were made as big as possible, turning a terrible idea into something even worse.

The chemicals used to separate the gold and copper deposits from the rest of the rock would create an unimaginable amount of toxic waste. Earthen dams as tall as 740 feet would be required to contain about 10 billion tons of mine tailings and keep it from the surrounding environment—in perpetuity. It’s no secret that dams leak, especially in wet and earthquake-prone regions like Bristol Bay. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the mine would have the potential to destroy 94 miles of streams and 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. It would also remove an extra 35 billion gallons of water from salmon habitat every year.

And that’s only the mine itself. The necessary infrastructure—roads, a major power plant, and a new deep-water port (adjacent to Cook Inlet, where belugas are currently fighting for survival) would also take their toll, bringing noise, water, and air pollution to the extended region and laying a solid foundation for other mining companies to move right in and set up shop. There are no two ways about it: Pebble Mine would destroy Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery and devastate the livelihoods of the people and communities that depend on it.

<img typeof=”foaf:Image” src=”https://assets.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/styles/full_content/public/media-uploads/wlds30_dsc08442.jpg?itok=suGpYG85″ width=”634″ height=”422″ alt=”” /> Emma Forsberg/Flickr

“It’s just the worst place in the world to build a mine like this,” says Taryn Kiekow Heimer, a senior policy analyst for NRDC’s Marine Mammal Protection project. “When you tell people about the resources, the salmon, the incredibly rich indigenous culture that relies on the fish up there—it’s not just an environmental battle; it’s a human rights battle.”

Although local and statewide opposition to Pebble Mine is strong—more than 80 percent and 62 percent, respectively—the state of Alaska, renowned for its pro-development perspective, has thrown its support behind the $6 billion project. That fact, however, has hardly daunted the coalition of native Alaskan tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, environmental groups (including NRDC and its members), and others who are fighting a relentless—and wildly successful—campaign to persuade the Pebble Partnership to abandon its plans for Bristol Bay. After facing years of coalition advocacy—including petitioning, attending shareholder meetings, and advertising in major publications like the New York Times and The London Financial Times—Pebble’s three major investors fled the project. Mitsubishi bowed out in 2011, Anglo American left in 2013, and Rio Tinto divested in 2014, donating all its shares in Northern Dynasty Minerals to two Alaskan charitable foundations.

While the coalition went after the money behind Pebble Mine, it also targeted the permitting process for the project, calling on the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay. (Section 404(c) of the act allows the EPA to prohibit, restrict, or deny permits if a project would have an “unacceptable adverse impact” on the environment.) That strategy worked, too. The agency went above and beyond the call of the petition, undertaking a four-year scientific study that was peer-reviewed twice and revised three times in response to public comments. As the coalition expected, the agency found that “the infrastructure necessary to mine the Pebble deposit jeopardizes the long‐term health and sustainability of the Bristol Bay ecosystem” in its July 2014 “proposed determination” under Section 404(c).

“The uniqueness of the watershed, the need for pristine water to support salmon, and the potential [development] of North America’s largest open-pit mine warrants a closer look,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at the time. Northern Dynasty Minerals, now the sole member of the once formidable Pebble Limited Partnership, responded aggressively by filing three lawsuits, one of which has put the EPA’s review on temporary hold. So after a decade of reckless plans to rip apart Bristol Bay’s ecosystem, the Pebble Mine project is hanging on by a thread. But the coalition remains vigilant.

“People mistakenly believe that with all the great successes we’ve had in this campaign, the project is dead—and it’s not,” Heimer says. “We keep putting nails in the coffin, but not quite enough to kill the zombie inside.” Stay tuned.

 

Categories: Food and Farming

House Farm Bill Defeated

Sat, 05/19/2018 - 12:20
Thanks to everyone for taking action to stop this egregious bill. It takes a village! “As it stood, H.R. 2 would have gone down in history as the most anti-family farm and anti-environment farm bill of all time. The bill sought to unravel critical conservation, local food, business development, and organic agriculture programs with long track records of success. H.R. 2 also would have created a multitude of new loopholes, allowing unlimited, unchecked taxpayer subsidies for the wealthiest mega-farms. These provisions would have led to consolidation in the countryside, and further exacerbated the challenges that beginning farmers and small and mid-sized family farms face every day.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Reana Kovalcik
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
202-547-5754, rkovalcik@sustainableagriculture.net

House Farm Bill Defeated
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition committed to continuing fight for a better bill 

Washington, DC, May 18, 2018 – Today, the House failed to secure a sufficient number of votes to pass its version of the 2018 Farm Bill – the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2). It is fitting that this bill, which was full of loopholes and handouts for America’s wealthiest mega-farms, failed on the same day that the Government Accountability Office issued a report showing that existing commodity subsidy limitations are not sufficiently protecting taxpayers against subsidy abuses. In response to the failure of the bill in the House, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) issued the following comment:

The voices of family farmers and the sustainable agriculture community have been heard. Countless calls, emails, and even in person visits were made in the last week by Americans who were deeply troubled by the House’s flawed farm bill. Across the country, NSAC’s diverse membership sounded the alarm about the disastrous provisions included in this toxic bill, and we are grateful that their efforts were successful in defeating it. As an organization responsible for developing and helping to implement some of our nation’s most successful sustainable agriculture programs and policies, we remain committed to these efforts and to getting a farm bill done before the current bill expires in September 2018.

Stopping H.R. 2 was an absolute imperative for family farmers, rural communities, and for everyone who eats or enjoys the benefit of our nation’s natural resources. The House farm bill was deeply flawed, and would have undermined decades of collaborative work by farmers and advocates to advance sustainable farm and food systems in the U.S. We strongly urge the House Agriculture Committee to immediately go back to the drawing board and develop a bill of which all Americans can be proud.

As it stood, H.R. 2 would have gone down in history as the most anti-family farm and anti-environment farm bill of all time. The bill sought to unravel critical conservation, local food, business development, and organic agriculture programs with long track records of success. H.R. 2 also would have created a multitude of new loopholes, allowing unlimited, unchecked taxpayer subsidies for the wealthiest mega-farms. These provisions would have led to consolidation in the countryside, and further exacerbated the challenges that beginning farmers and small and mid-sized family farms face every day.

While we are pleased that the House adopted an important amendment to advance the evaluation of conservation outcomes and defeated another amendment that would have further undermined the development of value-added agricultural businesses, the most important thing that happened in the House today was the defeat of this toxic bill.

Throughout the remainder of this process, NSAC remains committed to working with members of Congress in both chambers to pass a strong, bipartisan bill that works for small and mid-sized family farmers, strengthens rural communities, and protects our shared natural resources.

Categories: Food and Farming

Sierra Club: Stop Clearcutting California

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 10:01

A Great Day In Sacramento April 12!

By Penny Sarvis

“I was inspired by the experience of meeting our representatives and elated with having been a part of such a knowledgeable and passionate group of activists.”

On Thursday, April 12, our partner Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch took our cause to the State Capitol. The Stop Clearcutting California Campaign is launching a series of visits, designed to find allies among the legislators and establish relationships that might yield new laws or changes in existing laws. The first day was a big success!

Our intrepid crew included 15 people. We visited 15 legislative offices, talking with aides about the clearcutting situation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and especially its impacts upon carbon emissions and climate change. We presented folders of information, complete with ground level and aerial photos of the devastation we see around us, and also photos of the beautiful, diverse forest that can be maintained through selective logging.

We did not know what to expect in this foray to the legislature. The people we spoke to ranged from not realizing clearcutting was happening to being quite aware and open to challenging the practice. Now it is up to us to pursue these relationships and determine our “ask” – the initial change we want to see happen and believe is achievable. We will be planning a series of visits with legislators and their aids in their Capitol and in-district offices. Let us know if you want to participate.

The legislators we met with include Assemblymembers Kevin Mullin, Kevin McCarty, Monique Limon, Evan Low, Susan Eggman, Al Muratsuchi, Cecilia Agular-Curry, David Chiu, Marc Berman, and Senators Mark Stone, Jerry Hill, Bill Monning, Jeff Stone, Jim Beall and Ben Hueso. If any of these are your representatives, it would be a big help to contact them to support our message of the need to stop clearcutting.

Penny Sarvis is a member of the Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch and participated in Lobby Day.

 

Categories: Food and Farming

Is Napa growing too much wine? Residents seek to preserve treasured land | Environment | The Guardian

Fri, 05/18/2018 - 09:57
“Napa’s oaks have become a flashpoint in the story of wine’s takeover. Ninety-five per cent of those on the valley floor have been felled, the vast majority replaced by grapes. Now developers are eyeing the surrounding hillsides. “With great success came great money and outsiders,” explains James Conaway, a journalist and author who has been covering Napa since the 1980s. He describes the valley of 30 years ago as egalitarian and idealistic, a mixed agricultural community that raised wine alongside livestock and fruit trees. “Now it’s monoculture with a vengeance. Hundreds of miles of steel trellising holding up the vines from one end of the valley to the next. It has an industrial sheen.”

 

Is Napa growing too much wine? Residents seek to preserve treasured land | Environment | The Guardian

This Land is Your Land

Is Napa growing too much wine? Residents seek to preserve treasured land

Industry insiders and local environmentalists fear agricultural development has become untenable, threatening the valley’s future

by in Napa Valley

The rise of Napa began with an upset. Warren Winiarski would know – his wine, a cabernet sauvignon, was a firm underdog at a legendary 1976 blind tasting in Paris, which pitted the best of France against the little-known California region.

His winery, Stag’s Leap, shocked the wine world by taking top honors. “It broke the glass ceiling that France had imposed on everyone,” he recalls. “People’s aspirations were liberated.”

Today Winiarski, 89, is speaking not of liberation, but of limits. A growing coalition of industry veterans and longtime residents fear that Napa has become a victim of its own success, pointing to the ecological transformation of the valley floor from dense oak woodland to a sea of vine-wrapped trellises. And they are posing a thorny question: has a unique agricultural region reached a tipping point at which agriculture itself becomes the threat?

“We’re not thinking ahead,” says Winiarski. “What’s at stake is a national treasure.”

Against this backdrop, a local environmental initiative has sparked fierce debate. The effort, known as Measure C, would cap the amount of oak woodland that could be cleared for future vineyards – in effect limiting the growth of some of the world’s most famous wine brands.

Napa Valley is small, just 30 miles long and five miles wide. Nearly 500 wineries now call this slim stretch home; it welcomes 3.5 million visitors a year. Global recognition has attracted big beverage companies. Tourists have clogged the narrow two-lane roads. Wealthy “lifestyle vintners” have scooped up second homes and attempted to build private helicopter pads.

Pinterest Warren Winiarski, a wine maker and supporter of Measure C. Photograph: Courtesy of Warren Winiarski

“With great success came great money and outsiders,” explains James Conaway, a journalist and author who has been covering Napa since the 1980s. He describes the valley of 30 years ago as egalitarian and idealistic, a mixed agricultural community that raised wine alongside livestock and fruit trees. “Now it’s monoculture with a vengeance. Hundreds of miles of steel trellising holding up the vines from one end of the valley to the next. It has an industrial sheen.”

Through the windows at Winiarski’s hilltop home, the transformation can be surveyed with ease. Vineyards stretch in all directions, rows of green as orderly as soldiers. The Silverado Trail, a famous wine tasting route, cuts a path to the west. To the east lie hills covered in oaks – trees that, Winariski points out, once carpeted the valley floor.

Napa’s oaks have become a flashpoint in the story of wine’s takeover. Ninety-five per cent of those on the valley floor have been felled, the vasty majority replaced by grapes. Now developers are eyeing the surrounding hillsides.

Napa county has California’s densest concentration of oak woodland, thanks to the rich foliage that still carpets the hills. While much of it is privately owned and not public land in the classic sense, the woods are regarded as a public resource – a place of recreation and biodiversity, a vital part of the valley’s watershed and a fierce point of pride. But more than a third sits on potentially agriculturally productive soil – a 2010 management plan estimated that by 2030, up to 3,065 acres of mixed woodland would be lost due to vineyard development.

“Forests are the best negative emissions technology we have,” says Jim Wilson, a former brewing quality manager at Anheuser-Busch and a leader in the band of grassroots activists behind Measure C. “Should Napa’s wine industry get a pass?”

The measure is the culmination of years-long battle – one that’s involved knocking on doors, gathering thousands of signatures, and fighting an opposition which, according to a private newsletter seen by the Guardian, plans to spend nearly $1m to defeat it. Wilson’s side, by contrast, has raised just over $160,000. The effort has consumed his life, but then, Napa is his life.

“I was born here in 1955,” Wilson says. “I raised a family on my wife’s ranch.” Their home – a patchwork of steep hills, creeks and woodlands on the county’s east side – is wild and uncultivated. During a walk beneath the oaks on a recent morning, his love for the forest is palpable.

“When you take forest out, you negatively impact carbon sequestration,” he explains. The trees play a crucial role in capturing rain and replenishing groundwater, he said, while their root systems prevent soil erosion.

Voters will decide on the proposal by 5 June, but the campaign has sharply divided the wine community. Veteran vintners like Winiarski have gone against the industry trade groups, who are united in their opposition. The Napa Valley Vintners, a key trade body, initially supported the measure but later pulled a surprise U-turn. Wilson and his co-organizers say pressure from powerful industry figures turned the tide. The Vintners declined to comment on the reversal, but an official statement said the majority of its members “conveyed opposition”.

Has wine gone bad? 

“This decision does not change our longstanding commitment to promoting, protecting and enhancing the Napa Valley and to upholding its goals of advocating for the local wine industry while preserving this special place for future generations,” it added.

Ryan Klobas, the policy director for the Napa Valley Farm Bureau, warns the measure is “full of unintended consequences” and calls its proposed regulation too complicated for voters to grasp. “You’re asking everyone to become a technical expert overnight. This is an issue better left to the board of supervisors.”

Pinterest Julio Soriano, an activist supporting Measure C. Photograph: Hardy Wilson

But longtime residents such as Ginny Simms – an environmental advocate who served on the county’s board of supervisors in the 1970s – believe corporate greed is at the root. Napa today is a multibillion-dollar industry, where global beverage companies such as Treasury Wine Estates, Gallo and Constellation – which own brands such as Corona and Svedka vodka – have acquired smaller wineries for their portfolios.

“The real issue here is power,” says Simms, 90. “Opponents want to run the county in a way that is favorable to the expansion of all wineries and wine events. Which leaves the people of Napa voiceless.”

Despite the talk of pushing back against power, some worry more regulation would actually favor the wealthy by boosting the price of the little free land that remains. Don Clark is a mid-sized grape grower and vineyard manager from Texas, who came to Napa in 1994 and was lucky to buy affordable land.

“We may have been the last generation who could come here as a young farmer,” he says. “The barriers to entry are almost impossible now.” Startup costs have soared – Clark’s last vineyard development client spent half a million dollars on various legal, consultation and county fees, as well as archeological and environmental studies, he says.

Clark and others point to a landmark 1968 ordinance known as the Agriculture Preserve – the first of its kind in the US – which deemed agriculture the “highest and best” use of Napa’s land. Measure C therefore undercuts a fundamental right to farm, these opponents argue.

But proponents say the measure is born of love, not reproach, for the wine world, and is simply about responsible farming. “Something’s very wrong with the way we are thinking about our resources,” Winiarski says. “They are finite. And yet we go on with development as though we could do that indefinitely.”

Categories: Food and Farming

Napa’s Measure C

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 09:25
Driving to Napa last weekend, we noticed all the No on C signs were on vineyards. Having big money to propagandize this well written measure by means of out right false narratives, despite the court ruling, is a sign that facts don’t matter to the NO crowd, only the wine industry profits matter.  “Although these opponents had to pay to rewrite the argument for the voter pamphlet, they continue to use these false and misleading statements in their public campaign to defeat Measure C.”

Napa’s Measure C

EDITOR: Thumbs down for the May 6 article regarding the vote to protect watershed and oak woodlands in Napa County (“Fighting for the future”).

One thing that Staff Writer Bill Swindell conveniently left out is that the opponents of Measure C were successfully sued for making five misleading and false statements in the voter pamphlet.

Although these opponents had to pay to rewrite the argument for the voter pamphlet, they continue to use these false and misleading statements in their public campaign to defeat Measure C.

It is also these same prevaricators who want the voters in Napa to believe that they “are not technically experienced to address these issues.” I don’t know about anyone else, but it sounds like Donald Trumpstyle mumbo-jumbo politics to me. Measure C is a well-written, well-thought-out initiative, and it should be passed.

There are several groups and coalitions in Sonoma County working to protect the same natural resources so vital to preserving the integrity of our beloved county. Environmental protection and preservation isn’t a wasteful concept. It is a necessity, both for our and future generations.

I applaud the efforts of these groups and the proponents of Measure C. It is in everyone’s best interest that Measure C pass in Napa.

CHRISTINA MEYER

Rohnert Park

Categories: Food and Farming

Pilot Study Shows Consumers Should Be Concerned About So-Called ‘Safe’ Levels of Glyphosate-Based Weedkillers

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 09:13
“This new pilot study confirms what many responsible scientists have been saying all along: There is no such thing as ‘safe’ levels when it comes to glyphosate, especially when it comes to children.” Pilot Study Shows Consumers Should Be Concerned About So-Called ‘Safe’ Levels of Glyphosate-Based Weedkillers

May 16, 2018

CONTACT:

Organic Consumers Association: Katherine Paul, katherine@organicconsumers.org, 207.653.3090

FINLAND, Minnesota –  The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today issued the following statement on the announcement by the Global Glyphosate Study that preliminary test results of a single-dose study on glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) in rats, using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidelines for “safe levels” produced adverse health effects in rats.

International Director Ronnie Cummins said:

“For years, the U.S. EPA has dismissed consumer concerns about glyphosate-based weedkillers in their drinking water and in their food, claiming that exposure to the chemical at low levels is harmless. This new pilot study confirms what many responsible scientists have been saying all along: There is no such thing as ‘safe’ levels when it comes to glyphosate, especially when it comes to children.

“In fact, the EPA established what it calls ‘safe’ levels without having any scientific evidence to back up its claim because, until now, have been no comprehensive publicly available peer-reviewed studies of the potential health impact of glyphosate exposure at or lower than the EPA’s guidelines.

“This new study confirms that consumers should be alarmed when products such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream test positive for glyphosate at any level—despite corporations’ claims that these levels are ‘harmless.’

“OCA looks forward to the completion of the full Global Glyphosate Study and will continue to test food products for glyphosate and warn consumers when food products test positive for this toxic chemical, no matter how small the amount.”

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action. Visit: https://www.organicconsumers.org 

Categories: Food and Farming

Do you have forested property in Sonoma County you want to sell for conservation?

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:34

Do you have forested property in Sonoma County you want to sell for conservation?

Grant Johnson is looking for a parcel with second growth redwood forest to purchase and conserve.  See his message in the string below.  Grant is a professional photographer who has done nature work for years including fantastic pictures he provided for use in promoting the Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area (now the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument).  If anyone knows of a threatened parcel in need of a conservation buyer, please let him know.  Thanks very much. See below.

Thanks for passing my work along to interested parties, I’ve received acknowledgement from Ariel and Caitlin Cornwall.

I wanted to let you know that I’m selling my commercial property in San Francisco and want to become a conservation buyer of redwood property.  I was in negotiation to purchase a 260 acre timber ranch near Mendocino which just failed to complete, so I’m still looking.  I’ve been in touch with both Sonoma and Mendocino county Land Trusts.  Steve Miller of the Mendocino Land Trust has been sending me prospects.  I’m looking for a ranch property with good second growth redwood forest and some riparian ecosystem (old growth would be most desirable but very hard to find).  I’ve got $3-4M to spend and I want to be able to live on the property. If you hear of anything that might qualify please keep me in mind.

I looked at Felta Creek but the owner is asking way too much and the forest is just marginal, no old growth and small second growth.

Thanks, Grant

grant@grantjohnson.net

 

Categories: Food and Farming

‘This Is a Big Deal’: Fearing ‘Public Relations Nightmare,’ Pruitt’s EPA Blocked Release of a Major Water Contamination Study

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:26

These contaminants due to the fire,  are now in our water? If your head is in the sand, you know what’s showing……

 

‘This Is a Big Deal’: Fearing ‘Public Relations Nightmare,’ Pruitt’s EPA Blocked Release of a Major Water Contamination Study

Journalists, members of Congress, environmental and public health advocates, and water experts are all calling on the Trump administration to “immediately” release the report

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer

Fearing a “public relations nightmare,” President Donald Trump’s White House and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the reign of administrator Scott Pruitt, blocked the release of a major water contamination story, according to emails obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists and reported on by Politico.

News of the Trump administration’s interference with a federal study on “a nationwide water-contamination crisis” infuriated reporters, politicians, experts, and advocates for public health and the environment. Friends of the Earth tweeted, “Scott Pruitt is more worried about journalists than poisoning millions of Americans.”

“There’s a lot of bleak news today, but this is important,” journalist Mariah Blake said Monday, pointing to the Politico report.

The chemicals that were under review are PFOA and PFOS, which, as Politico notes, “have long been used in products like Teflon and firefighting foam”—as well as by the Department of Defense, when it conducts exercises at U.S. bases—despite the fact that they “have been linked with thyroid defects, problems in pregnancy, and certain cancers, even at low levels of exposure.”

The study, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), reportedly shows that these chemicals are dangerous to human health at far lower levels than previously known or diclosed by the EPA, and have “contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants, and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia.”

One email sent by a White House aide to a staffer who oversees environmental issues at the Office of Budget and Management said:

The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge. …The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.

“Soon after the Trump White House raised concerns about the impending study,” Politico reports, “EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson reached out to his HHS counterpart, as well as senior officials in charge of the agency overseeing the assessment to discuss coordinating work among HHS, EPA, and the Pentagon.” However, according to HHS, there are no plans to publicly release the study.

“Only Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration would consider reducing drinking water contamination for the American people to be a ‘nightmare,'” remarked Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group.

“This is a big deal,” oceanographer Jamie Collins said of the study and efforts to block its release.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who was raised in and now represents Flint, Michigan—which has been poisoned by a water crisis created by state-mandated austerity measures—responded with a letter to Trump-appointed HHS Secretary Alex Azar, demanding that he “immediately” release the study.

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Categories: Food and Farming

Groups say no to bad Farm Bill HR2

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 10:29
HR2, deemed the worst farm bill by any standards has more groups calling foul. It is to be voted on next week but was pulled before due to the corporate give away, water & pesticide pollution issues, food stamps and more.

May 14, 2018

Dear Members of Congress:

The undersigned organizations, representing millions of people across the country who care about clean water, write to urge you to protect our nation’s water supplies through robust and effective support for conservation programs and policies as you are writing the 2018 Farm Bill. The next Farm Bill should further efforts to reduce the threat nutrient pollution poses to clean water and ensure farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to be leading stewards of our shared water resources.

Conservation practices can go a long way toward protecting our water sources, and Farm Bill conservation programs offer an opportunity to give producers the financial and technical assistance needed to put those practices in place. Cover crops, conservation tillage practices, buffer strips, manure and livestock management, wetland restoration, and conservation crop rotations are just a few examples of water-friendly practices that help protect water at the source, usually at a lower cost than that incurred by downstream communities, water utilities, and rate payers to clean polluted water. That is why it is crucial to write a strong Farm Bill for conservation.

We ask that as you consider the next Farm Bill, you support the following priorities for a water-friendly 2018 Farm Bill:

Funding: Increase funding for the conservation title to support critical working lands, partnership, and easement programs that help to reduce nutrient pollution, protect source water, and protect water quality and availability.

Conservation Compliance: Protect the linkage between basic conservation requirements and crop insurance and ensure that Sodsaver and Swampbuster provisions stay in place to keep soil out of our waterways and protect wetlands that provide critical water storage and filtration functions.

Access: Increase access, through funding, technical assistance, and outreach, to Farm Bill conservation and related programs that put conservation tools in the hands of the people and communities who need them most.

Targeting: Encourage greater targeting of funds towards areas that need it the most and towards conservation practices that are most effective at protecting drinking water sources and water quality in the places where it is most threatened.

Conservation Outcomes: Improve measurement, reporting, and evaluation of conservation program outcomes to provide data on the impact of conservation programs and practices on water quality outcomes.

Crop Insurance and Water Quality: Create incentives for, and eliminate barriers to, water-friendly agricultural practices within the Federal Crop Insurance Program.

The next Farm Bill must invest in clean water by ensuring that farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to be conservation leaders and protect our nation’s shared water resources. To do so, we believe the next Farm Bill must reflect these shared principles and invest in clean water.

Additionally, we urge you to reject any attempts to add anti-environmental provisions to the Farm Bill, as it must not serve as a vehicle for changes that run counter to the goal of protecting and enhancing our shared water resources.

Thank you,

21st Century Youth Leadership Movement

AFGE LOCAL 3354

AFGE- Local 3354

Alliance for the Great Lakes

American Rivers

American Society of Landscape Architects

American Sustainable Business Council

Bluestem Communications

Clean Water Action

Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc.

Concerned Citizens of Big Bay

Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County

Connecticut Food System Alliance

Conservation Minnesota

Cottage House Inc.

Earthjustice

Ecology Center

Endangered Habitats League

Endangered Species Coalition

Environment America

Environment Erie

Environment Iowa

Environment Minnesota

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Environmental Law & Policy Center

Environmental Working Group

Fairland Farmers Market

Family Farm Defenders

Farms Not Arms

Freshwater Future

Friends of Pool 2

Friends of Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Mississippi River

Friends of the St. Joe River Association

Genesee County Hispanic Latino Collaborative

Genesee Valley Audubon Socirty

Great Rivers Habitat Alliance

GreenLatinos

Hartford Food System, Inc

Headwaters Chapter Izaak Walton League

Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition

Hip Hop Caucus

Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters – USA-JPIC

Hoosier Environmental Council

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society

IHM Sisters Justice, Peace and Sustainability Office

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Northflow LLC

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Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project

Operation Spring Plant, Inc

Oregon Environmental Council

Peace Roots Alliance

PennEnvironment

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Pointes Protection Association

PUSH Buffalo

Religious Coalition for the Great Lakes

River Raisin Institute

Rural Advancement Fund of the National Sharecropper, Inc

Rural Coalition

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Save EPA

Save Lake Superior Association

Save Our Sky Blue Waters

Save The Dunes Conservation Fund, INC.

Save The River / Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper

Sierra Club

Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester Global Environment Committee

Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education, Inc.

Superior Rivers Watershed Association

Sustainable Agriculture of Louisville

Sustainable Resource Alliance

Tennessee Clean Water Network

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The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc.

Tierra del Sol Housing Corporation

Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition

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Virginia Conservation Network

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West Michigan Environmental Action Council

Wisconsin Metro Audubon Society

Wisconsin Trout Unlimited

WISPIRG

Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve

 

Categories: Food and Farming

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: North Coast County Supervisors Plotting Russian River Water Grab

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 10:16

 

Will Parrish wrote an article in the Bohemian about the 1,100 unpermitted draws on the Russian River. What would do without Eel River water?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: North Coast County Supervisors Plotting Russian River Water Grab

 

May 14, 2018 PRESS RELEASE: Friends of the Eel River
North Coast Supervisors plotting Russian River water grab.

This is a very important uncovering of an initiative so far being conducted mostly behind closed doors, with multiple governments, agencies and organizations regarding the future of PG&E’s Potter Valley Project.

It is critical that any proposals for public ownership, partnership, management, public-private partnerships, or other relationship with a proposed future for PG&E’s Potter Valley Project be fully conducted in public. To date, the Eel Russian River Commission and other public agencies have dismally failed to do that.

It is vital that any such discussions and proposals allow the public and ratepayers to be fully aware of the high costs, financial liabilities and risks to the public, to our North Coast salmon and steelhead, to the future reliability of water supplies, and to our environment that are intrinsically connected to the Potter Valley Project.  These costs and liabilities are easily well above $100M, and much greater with dam failure, as evidenced in the avoidable tragedies of Oroville Dam.

As PG&E continues their quest to divest themselves of the liabilities, obligations and costs of the Potter Valley Project, public understanding and informed participation is of the essence for our ratepayers and our government.

 FOER PR on Eel River Dams Scheme.pdf

PotterValleyProject.pdf Meeting Transcripts.pdf
Categories: Food and Farming

Vacation Rentals

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 10:39
Earth to Sonoma County Supervisors: we have a negative vacancy rate, people living in trailers waiting for housing, and you are touting 30,000 new homes to be built while allowing vacation rentals to take even more chances for housing from our neighbors after the fire, for tourists. Is this governing or pandering? Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals

EDITOR: I recently received a courtesy notice from the county informing me that it had approved another vacation rental in my neighborhood. That means four of the six homes on this rural Guerneville road have gone from family dwellings to vacation rentals. I am saddened, even angry, but not surprised. A few months ago, when I peeked in at the open house for this dwelling, I heard the Realtors recommending it as a vacation rental. Meanwhile, our county officials talk about providing more housing for residents, while they are busy giving carte blanche to out-of-town investors who are only interested in taking whatever they can from our struggling communities. Who elects our county officials? Who pays their salaries? The local residents or Bay Area speculators? When I moved to this neighborhood, every home was either owner-occupied or a long-term rental, with a few used as vacation homes by families who owned them. Now, with this unchecked wave of vacation rental madness, there are fewer and fewer places for residents to rent or buy. Apparently our county supervisors don’t have any interest in putting the brakes to this hemorrhaging of housing stock. LOIS PEARLMAN

Categories: Food and Farming

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