CA: Food Freedom Resolution Passes in Santa Cruz County
SCLO Granger Jessica Beckett's New Role with CCOF
Congratulations to Jessica Beckett in her new role as Outreach and Policy Specialist for CCOF. She will be
focused on member education, outreach, and policy advocacy for organic on the national stage.
SCLO Grange President Damian Parr Picked for Faculty Position at UCSC
Dr. Parr's new title will be Research & Education Coordinator, Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS)
CalCAN's "Farming for the Future: California Climate & Agriculture Summit" on Feb. 21, 2013 at the UC Davis Conference Center.
SCLO Granger Jessica Beckett, Coordinator/Organizer
If you are concerned with climate change challenges and opportunities for California agriculture and want to hear more about current policies, science and practices related to sustainable agriculture and climate change, plan on attending CalCAN's "Farming for the Future: California Climate & Agriculture Summit" on Feb. 21, 2013 at the UC Davis Conference Center. This summit includes presentations from farmers and ranchers, agency staff, farm advisers, policymakers and advocates. There will also be a farm tour on Feb. 20 to the UC Davis Russell Ranch research center, the UC Davis Student Farm, and organic walnut farm Sierra Orchards.
For a complete list of speakers and topics and more information about the summit, please see http://calclimateag.org/calcan-summit-2013/.
2012 CA State Grange Convention a Smashing Success
Willitts, CA - Despite a concerted effort by the National Grange to dissuade and scare CA Community Granges from attending the 2102 CSG Convention at the Little Lake Grange in Willitts, there was a near record turn out of Granges (41%). Guess Grangers do not like to be told what they cannot do. Among the many highlights, SCLO Grange President and CSG Executive Committee member Damian Parr made a presentation on the progress of the CSG Farm Ag School project. Long time SCLO Granger Takashi Yogi was elected to the CSG Executive Committee as well, and Springfield Grange Master Alan Hicks was nominated to join the board of the CSG Foundation.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Santa Cruz County first in U.S. to pass resolution towards ending use of methyl iodide
Santa Cruz, CA – This morning, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution calling on Governor Brown to cancel the approval to use the pesticide methyl iodide in agriculture.
“There’s no question that methyl iodide is a highly toxic chemical, and yet it has been approved for use as a pesticide on our fields,” said County Supervisor Mark Stone, author of the resolution. “Given the complexity of soil fumigation and the human propensity for error, the question now is whether the level of risk to our community members and to our natural resources is truly ‘acceptable.’ And right now, that risk outweighs potential benefits.”
A diverse coalition of residents from Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz County Against Methyl Iodide, enlisted the support of Supervisor Stone after the state approved methyl iodide in December 2010. The group is part of statewide organizing efforts urging Governor Brown to revoke the permitted use of the chemical in agriculture and to help California offer safe alternatives for farmers. Methyl iodide is a fumigant that causes cancer, late-term miscarriages, fetal death, thyroid diseases and could permanently contaminate groundwater.
Scientists who use methyl iodide for cancer research have referred to it as "one of the most dangerous chemicals on earth." Experts cite health care and lost labor costs for farm workers and neighboring communities, as well as future costs to clean up contaminated local water supplies.
Strawberries are the principal crop dependent on soil fumigants in the state of California. Other crops grown with soil fumigants include tomatoes, chilies, stone fruits, citrus, nursery plants, and flowers. Sara Bassler, a local activist, explains the threat: “California produces over 80% of the nation’s strawberries, and the cities of Watsonville and Salinas account for almost half of the state's strawberry acreage. Santa Cruz County is a major target for use of methyl iodide. Governor Brown must act to protect us. We are asking him to do so.”
Alternatives in use by organic farmers and in Europe include crop rotation, bio-fumigants like broccoli and mustard plants, steam sterilization, soil solarization and integrated pest management strategies. Says strawberry farmer Jim Cochran of Swanton Berry Farms, “farmers need safe options to use in their fields” and tools to help them transition away from the use of toxic fumigants.
Supervisor Stone emphasized the state’s imperative to protect people and the environment: “The State has an obligation to protect both the health of its citizens and the environment. For this reason, we are asking the governor to re-evaluate the decision to register methyl iodide as a soil fumigant in the State of California, and to ensure that adequate funding is directed toward the research and development of non-toxic fumigant alternatives.”
By Pete Kennedy, Esq. | September 28, 2011 Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Newsletter
On September 12 the Board of Supervisors of Santa Cruz County, California adopted a “Resolution Recognizing the Rights of Individuals to Grow and Consume Their Own Food and to Enter into Private Contracts with Other Individuals to Board Animals for Food”. The resolution was adopted in response to warning letters sent by county district attorneys and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to several California farmers operating shareholder dairies. The effort to pass the resolution was led by farmers Mali McGee and Dustin Jenson.
In a letter to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, supporters of the resolution stated that “while it is legitimate for government to see that producers are following the law in order to ensure the highest level of food safety for the public, there must be a distinction made between those farmers engaging in direct commerce with the public as in the case of a farmer's market or grocery story and those individuals choosing to take part in a private herd share or community garden share.”
The resolution itself proclaims that the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors “supports, endorses and encourages the recognition of the right and freedom of people to raise their own food, including food derived from agricultural animals, for the enjoyment of themselves and their families, either by their own investment and labor or through the assistance of others through contractual arrangements.”
Even though the resolution is not law, it is still part of a growing response at the local level to overreach by state and federal governments in regulating private contracts between farms and those wanting to obtain food outside commercial channels. State agencies are being co-opted by agreements between the state and federal government on food regulation. These cooperative agreements involve the state agency ceding their regulatory powers to the feds and pushing the federal agenda. Implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) promises more of the same.
Courts and legislatures have failed for the most part to recognize the distinction between public and private in the areas of food production and distribution. Through county and city ordinances, the local food movement is claiming the right to opt out of the government sanctioned food system as well as the right to be left alone. As the Santa Cruz resolution points out, there is no local, state or federal law barring any person from raising their own food for use by themselves and their families; government needs to recognize that an individual has the right to raise their own food by contracting with someone to grow or produce food using that individual’s property. Those without either the land, time, knowledge, or skills to raise their own food should not be treated differently under the law for contracting the use of their property to someone else to raise food for them. Government power should not extend to interfering with private contractual arrangements.
The Santa Cruz resolution will hopefully be another of many similar actions across the country in the move towards a time when people have greater autonomy in choosing the foods they want to consumer and the food producers they want to patronize--obtaining the food of their choice from the source of their choice.
SCLO Granger Ken Dickerson Named Executive Director, EcoFarm
With the departure of Poppy Davis, Ken Dickerson (known to his homies as "Kenji") has been chosen to fill the position of Executive Director of the Ecological Farming Association (EcoFarm). Kenji is a long time member and past president of the SCLO Grange. Davis left EcoFarm to become the leader of the Small Farmer and Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program at the newly created Office of Advocacy and Outreach at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. EcoFarm nurtures healthy and just farms, food systems, communities and environment by bringing people together for education, alliance building and advocacy.