Public influence and participation is a critical part in advocating for a sustainable food system that serves people and planet. We’ve seen firsthand how public support for smart policies that protect our environment, create economic opportunities for farmers and make our food production more sustainable makes a difference. Learn more about how you can support our work and make your voice be heard on big issues.
Current Actions and Opportunities
Take Action: Tell Senate to Not Block Animal Welfare in Organic
The USDA NOP recently published regulations that provide better living conditions, including more access to the outdoors, for animals raised for organic meat and poultry, and for organic egg production.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to debate the Agriculture bill on Thursday, May 19, 2016, including the proposed new rule by the NOP. According to Agri-Pulse, “a draft amendment would bar [the] USDA from finalizing the rule unless an independent study verified that it wouldn’t increase organic food prices significantly or disrupted farming operations.”
It is deeply concerning to entertain any precedent for a rider that would take away the NOP’s ability to establish and enforce its own rules, especially when the agency has followed its own rulemaking process, which includes opportunity for public comment and input from its Advisory Board — the NOSB. In addition, the proposed rule has been in debate and put out for public feedback for more than six years, starting in 2009. The proposed rules provide much-needed clarity and specificity for the sector regarding these practices and help meet consumers expectations of the label.
To contact your senator, please visit this action alert for contact info and messaging.
To see joint letter from Oregon Tilth, Farm Aid, Consumers Union and many more, please download here.Take Action >>
Public Comment Period for Proposed Rule on Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Open
The proposed rule would clarify existing USDA organic regulations related to livestock and poultry production requirements, thereby ensuring consistency among organic producers and protecting the integrity of the USDA organic seal. You can see an updated version of the Proposed Rule Questions and Answers document here.
Comments will be accepted through June 13, 2016.Visit the USDA for more >>
NOSB Spring Meeting 2016
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is the advisory board to the National Organic Program (NOP). The NOSB is responsible for making recommendations for allowed and prohibited substances but they also advise on other aspects of implementing the NOP. The board holds two meetings a year that are open to the public and accepts written and oral comments to inform decision-making and recommendations regarding policies, standards and issues within the organic movement.
Oregon Tilth continues to participate in the rulemaking process by submitting public comments in our capacity as an educator and mission-driven certifier. The following are written comments submitted for the Spring 2016 NOSB Meeting to be held in Washington, D.C. on April 25-27, 2016.For more visit our Resource Library (Comments posted on April 19th) >>
Tell the EPA to Protect Bees from Pesticides
Bee numbers continue to decline at an unprecedented rate. Within just the last year more than 42 percent of managed honeybee colonies were lost. With one in three bites of food depending on bee pollination, this rate is unsustainable for both the beekeeping industry and our food supply. The research is clear, and it’s no longer a mystery why bees are dying: The use of toxic insecticides called neonicotinoids (neonics) is having a devastating impact on both wild pollinators and managed honeybees. These chemicals are systemic and persistent, meaning once applied they make the entire plant poisonous to bees, and they can remain in the environment for months or even years.
EPA, through the president’s National Pollinator Health Strategy, has acknowledged that pesticides are a problem. The agency has stopped allowing any new neonic products and proposed slight changes to the labels of these pesticides. But while EPA says it’s continuing to study how these pesticides hurt bees, products still remain on the market, and “temporary pesticide free zones” won’t do enough to address persistent and systemic neonics.
Bees need real protections from toxic pesticides now. It’s time for EPA to get serious about protecting bees by suspending neonics all together as the agency continues to gather data.
Please join us in calling on EPA to “Save Our Bees” by suspending bee-toxic neonic pesticides.Sign the TakePart and Beyond Pesticides Petition >>
FY 17 Appropriations Request to Senator Merkley
On February 19, Oregon Tilth, Friends of Family Farmers, the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides and The Xerces Society – all members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition – sent a joint request letter to ranking member on the Senate Ag Appropriations subcommittee, Senator Merkley, who has demonstrated strong support for diverse, sustainable, family farm operations in Oregon. The request included:
- Outreach and technical assistance for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers
- Expanded funds for the Food Safety Outreach program
- Full funding for Farm Bill conservation programs
- Expanded funding for the Sustainable Agriculture and Research Program
and additional appropriations for technology transfer for rural areas, value-added producer grants and FSA farm loans.Read the FY2017 Appropriations Request Letter >>
On February 8, Oregon Tilth offered written testimony to the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness regarding HB 4122. The testimony outlined the adverse impact insufficient oversight of GE crops has on all farmers, such as:
- In May 2013, the discovery of unapproved GE wheat in eastern Oregon caused Japan and South Korea to temporarily suspend soft white wheat imports from the Pacific Northwest.
- In August 2013, GE alfalfa was confirmed to have contaminated non-GE alfalfa grown in Washington State and resulted in the hay being rejected by a broker for export market. The USDA said it would not investigate the incident.
- In December 2014, the Chinese government blacklisted several hay exporters from exporting to China. Many container loads of hay shipped to China have been turned away after GE-contaminated alfalfa was detected in the loads.
The testimony goes on to outline how in the absence of effective federal or statewide policy to control GE crops, the Oregon Legislature should reestablish the ability of local communities to address their unique needs.Read the Testimony >>
Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization
On January 20, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to send their draft Child Nutrition Act reauthorization on to the full Senate, and it includes 10 million dollars a year – doubled funding! – for farm to school grants nationwide, along with a host of fixes that will help the grant program work better for schools and farmers. Please consider sending an appreciation to senators who helped champion this issue and encourage the full Senate to move this action forward.