Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tell the FDA You Won't Eat GMO Salmon!

photo: Wild caught salmon. Courtesy Marinkovich family

Keep the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) from ruling to approve engineered (GMO) salmon as the first animal manufactured for human consumption. Click here to sign the petition demanding the FDA halt approval for GMO salmon.

AquaBounty Technologies created the salmon by artificially combining growth hormone genes from a Pacific salmon with DNA from an eelpout. This keeps the fish growing year round, in crowded inland tanks.

The FDA doesn't do its own testing of genetically engineered animals. It relies on information provided by the company that wants approval — just like they did in their oversight of the egg industry which produced the largest salmonella outbreak in U.S. history last month. Unlike traditional methods breeding, in lab-created GMO “transgenic” animal breeding, genes are from different species, or can be from plants.
The mechanics of gene addition is imprecise. Scientists cannot predict or control where lab-added genes mechanically 'fired' into cells will attach along DNA strands, so genes added in this way often interfere with the normal functions of DNA, creating unwanted mutation. Release of virtually all research information is controlled by GMO patent holders; researchers must sign a release before beginning any research; resulting information on GMO risks has been heavily suppressed. Risks that are known include damage to organs, including stomach, liver and kidneys, severe allergies, adverse hormonal changes and antibiotic resistance.

Because genetically engineered salmon can be classified as a "drug" by the FDA, due to their laboratory origins, instead of food, there's little focus on the potential dangers of people consuming modified salmon. It's not enough that raising salmon in crowded factory fish farms contaminates our food with antibiotics and other chemicals. Now the FDA would be adding additional unknown risks of GMO salmon to the mix.

Aside from the health risks, the risks posed by release of these salmon into waterways, even contained (which has never been proved secure), to wild salmon stocks and biodiversity in general, are staggering, not to mention the danger posed to tribal peoples with salmon traditions, and commercial fishing families and the economies they are a part of.
Read more about GMO's here.
Thank you to Food Democracy Now, Food and Water Watch, and CREDO for portions of this post.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


"Both will profit at the expense of small-scale African farmers."
Or Go to SeattleGlobalJustice.Org. Contact info for the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation here, (the Gates Foundation makes it clear they are under no obligation to review or respond to your correspondence to their address).

"Last week, a financial website published the Gates Foundation’s investment portfolio, including 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated worth of $23.1 million purchased in the second quarter of 2010. Prominent links include high-level [Gates] Foundation staff members who were once senior officials for Monsanto, such as Rob Horsch, formerly Monsanto Vice President of International Development Partnerships and current Senior Program Officer of the Gates Agricultural Development Program.
Monsanto has already negatively impacted agriculture in African countries. For example, in South Africa in 2009, Monsanto’s genetically modified maize failed to produce kernels, and hundreds of farmers were devastated. Some farmers suffered up to an 80% crop failure.
Transnational corporations like Monsanto have been key collaborators with the Foundation and AGRA’s grantees in promoting the spread of industrial agriculture on the continent. This model of production relies on expensive inputs such as chemical fertilizers, genetically
modified seeds, and herbicides. Though this package represents enticing market development opportunities for the private sector, many civil society organizations contend it will lead to further displacement of farmers from the land, an actual increase in hunger, and migration to already swollen cities unable to provide employment opportunities.
In a 2008 report initiated by the World Bank and the UN, the international Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), promotes alternative solutions to the problems of hunger and poverty that emphasize their social and
economic roots. The IAASTD concluded that small-scale agroecological farming is more suitable for the third world than the industrial agricultural model favored by Gates and Monsanto. In a summary of the key findings of IAASTD, the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) emphasizes the report’s warning that “continued reliance on simplistic technological fixes—including transgenic crops—will not reduce persistent hunger and poverty and could exacerbate environmental problems and worsen social inequity.” Furthermore, PANNA explains, “The Assessment’s 21 key findings suggest that small-scale agroecological farming may offer one of the best means to feed the
hungry while protecting the planet.” (Excerpted from press release Aug 25/2010 -
AGRA-Watch - Links, italics, and bold font added by Land & Sea)
Press release posted by irresistable fleet of bicycles/the Greenhorns :

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Supreme Court Rules 7-1 GMO Alfalfa Is "Regulated Item" - Planting of Genetically Modified Alfalfa Still Illegal - Monsanto Spins That as Victory.

Information from an editorial by the Center for Food Safety's Andew Kimbrell 6/21/10:
It should be no surprise that Monsanto's PR machine is working hard to spin the truth in this morning's decision in the first-ever Supreme Court case on genetically engineered crops (Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms).
The Supreme Court ruled that an injunction against planting was unnecessary since, under lower courts' rulings, Roundup Ready Alfalfa became a regulated item and illegal to plant. In other words, the injunction was "overkill' because The Center for Food Safety's victory in lower federal court determined that USDA violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other environmental laws when it approved Roundup Ready alfalfa. The court felt that voiding the USDA's decision to make the crop legally available for sale was enough.

The journal Sustainable Business News also makes the same points in their story, here .

Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now, quoted in Food Safety news, states: "Reports in the mainstream media have been wildly misleading. This ruling is a serious defeat for Monsanto. Not only is it still illegal to sell or plant GMO alfalfa until the USDA issues guidance, but the Supreme Court also ruled that 'environmental harm' now includes genetic contamination, something that could undermine biotech crops in future court cases.
The issue is still very much alive and now lands on Vilsack's desk at the USDA," said Murphy, in an email to Food Safety News. "Make no mistake about it, the future of organics is at stake."

The article goes on to state:
"The agency [USDA] issued a brief statement after the ruling yesterday: "APHIS [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA] is carefully reviewing the Supreme Court ruling before making decisions about its next regulatory actions related to the deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa."

The Washington Post, in a short paragraph covering the ruling, buries the lead:
"On Monday, the Supreme Court: Lifted a nationwide ban on the planting of genetically engineered alfalfa seeds, despite claims that they might harm the environment. In a 7 to 1 vote, the court reversed a federal appeals court ruling that prohibited Monsanto from selling alfalfa seeds that are resistant to the popular weed killer Roundup. The Department of Agriculture still needs to authorize use of the seeds before they can be planted on a wide scale. Justice Stephen G. Breyer took no part in the case.
The case is Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms."
Of interest on this case - As stated above, Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself, as his brother ruled in the original lower court decision of 2007 on this case.
Clarence Thomas, however, who became a corporate lawyer in the pesticide and agriculture division of the Monsanto Company three years out of law school, not only decided he could rule on this case, but also wrote the majority opinion in a past case, J. E. M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International - for which Monsanto was one of the largest beneficiaries.

As the Organic Consumers Association says: Fox, meet henhouse.

What can you do?
Contact the USDA. Let them know that you know genetically modified alfalfa is not safe to plant. Cross contamination from GE crops is unavoidable, and the livelihood of organic alfalfa farmers and health of livestock and consumers is directly threatened by the sale and planting of this product.
Besides the direct documented health risks to animals and humans posed by GMO crops such as this alfalfa, heavier pesticide and herbicide needed to battle the "super-pests" and "super-weeds" created when these seeds are used has been shown to be inevitable.

They say "build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door".
Food crops, unadulterated, have evolved to perfectly suit human and animal need, but food crops left as they are can't be patented.

So - if you're a corporation, and you can't build a better mousetrap, the best way to rake in profits is to convince the world you have.

That's what marketing, PR and spin is all about, and it's the high-stakes game these chem/ag/biotech giants are working with their hoped-for GMO moneymakers.

Once again, family farmers - and the rest of us - who are supposed to turn our hard-earned money over to these corporations in order to plant this stuff, eat this stuff, buy pharmaceuticals from these same companies to be cured of health damage caused by this stuff, pay for environmental cleanup resulting from heavier chemical use on this stuff (chemicals also produced by these same companies) - are left holding the bag.

Contact the USDA at (202) 720-2791 0r 202-720-3631 (USDA head Tom Vilsack) today. Please read Organic Valley's take on this issue, here. Dairies and milk are directly affected by these decisions.
To contact our local Senators:

Talking Point Suggestions

  • Let the USDA know that you do care about GE contamination of organic crops and food
  • Tell USDA that you will reject GE-contaminated alfalfa and alfalfa-derived foods
  • If GE alfalfa is deregulated, widespread GE contamination of non-GM and organic alfalfa is inevitable.
  • Organic alfalfa is a critical component for organic farming and feed.
  • Remind USDA it's their job to protect Organic farmers, and all farmers who choose to grow non-GE crops.
  • GE alfalfa would significantly increase pesticide use and thereby harm human health and the environment.
  • Harm to small and organic farmers is significant.
  • USDA should extend the comment period.
Short sighted corporate profiteering at the expense of our country's family farms, farmland, and livestock and human health, should not continue to be the wave of the future. And we sure as heck know that these corporations don't create jobs. Use of these products reduces the number of farmers - and manufacturing jobs for these products is outsourced or given to the lowest paid workers to keep corporate profits up. With proper regulation, corporations can be a positive force, so we need adequate regulation.
Otherwise, as we see in the current Gulf corporate originated disaster, cleanup jobs picking up the environmental mess left behind may end up being the only game in town.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We have to say how much we appreciate the every day efforts of the San Juan Conservation District. These hard working people usually do their jobs without much attention, but the amount of services they provide to all of us in San Juan County is phenomenal. Just take a look at the page listing their many services and programs (the links are on the left when you go here). We know you will find something there you will find helpful! Just check!
The number of services we have available to us through the district is slightly stunning, and the quality of these services and professionals - well... we are very lucky.
There will be a PUBLIC HEARING having to do with the SJ Conservation District:
The San Juan Islands Conservation District
is holding a public hearing on
Tuesday, June 8th, at The Grange in Friday Harbor at 10 AM.
They would like
comments from the public
about renewing a County special assessment which provides some of the Conservation District's funding. It's $5 per parcel, for 5 years. This would be a renewal of the same assessment the District's had since 2006.
They'd like to invite you to attend the public hearing to find out more about what they do and to tell them what you think. Written comments (to SJICD, 350 Court Street #10, Friday Harbor 98250) are also welcome.
For questions about the hearing, or on submitting comments, Conservation District Office Manager Josie Byington is at (360) 378-6621

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Here's a fantastic site - Sustainable Food Jobs -
It's a simple, streamlined site - very helpful. They list by state with descriptions and links.
Here are Washington state current listings as of 5/12/10. Type in the state(s) your looking into, or other keywords, in the search box at the top of the page,
They have listings for both volunteer, internship, and paid jobs, also a Connect More page with links to helpful organizations.
Check it out, graduates and young people!

Eco-Farm is also EXCELLENT - they have a great GenNext page which is a blog page with writing from very new younger farmers and farmworkers sharing their experiences and exchanging advice - some just getting started - and a GMO update page that is very good.
(Also, for jobs and internship opportunities, scroll down to check the Apprenticeships, Internships heading, on the links listed along the right side of our main page. We have tons of links there for all sorts of opportunities.

Lastly- Please scroll down to the post for Nov. 10 and at least skim the red parts.
The "food safety enhancement" and other similar bills are still in play. Want local farms and healthy food? Know about this stuff.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Take action to insure USDA "organic" doesn't mean factory farm.
The USDA recently put out new rules making it clear that organic dairy cows must be raised on pasture. As consumers, please let the USDA know that we expect the same for "organic" certified cattle raised for beef.
Keep hearing the terms "Confined (or Concentrated) Animal Feeding Operation" (CAFO) and "factory farm"?
Go here for a brief, clear US gov't description of what that means.

Want to know what “grass-fed” & “pasture-raised” means? has excellent, clear explanations of grass-fed basics and how grass-feeding affects food safety, in addition to information on current common feeding practices for commercially raised beef, pork, poultry and dairy operations.

Top - Sample photo of a typical feedlot , from YonderWay , Grass Fed. Enough Said blog page. Yonder way grazes grass fed beef, pork and chickens in a system that has much more long-term success than feedlot methods illustrated in the photo.
Below: Grazing system where cattle have grazed for 3 weeks on the left side of the fence and will be moved to the other side after a 3 week grazing rotation. Benton, Arkansas.
By: Jeff Vanuga,

Some examples of successful grass-fed operations can be seen at:
Fruitland American Meat (Missouri)
YonderWay Farm (Texas)
Thundering Hooves Ranch (Eastern Washington)
Island Grown Farmers Cooperative IGFC right here in San Juan & Skagit counties (WA)
To find where to buy IGFC meats, go here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

There are two things we hope you will do.Taking action is easy.
One action takes one click of a mouse on the link below.

The most critical action takes a simple phone call.

Critically important is Senate Bill 510. As it is written now, it severely threatens small family farmers with a one size fits all approach that does not improve food safety.
Jon Tester, a working Montana farmer and U.S Senator who has appeal across political lines has written and proposed an amendment to remedy this mistake.
It’s critical, because this amendment still needs to be added to 510, and the bill goes up for a vote as early as Tuesday. Please contact your local Senators, and the head of the committee and members voting on this bill. Please go here to read a summary of the bill, the problem, and how it can be fixed.
This really is very important.

Very Important - Contact the Senators who are the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. Members are listed at the bottom of this page - mouse over their names for contact links. Call your state's US Senators and the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee members today, and tell them that you support
Senator Jon Tester’s amendment to S. 510.

Our State Senators:
Maria Cantwell (202) 224-3441

Patty Murray (202) 224-2621

The second very easy thing you can do is to support Lincoln School in Mt. Vernon with an online vote. These Skagit valley kids have produced and entered a video in a contest about school gardens and lunch, and have made it to the final round. Now all they need is your vote.

Here’s the note from the gal overseeing this project:
"Hi all
We created a video about our efforts to improve the food at Lincoln
Elementary School in Mount Vernon. We entered the National Farm to
School "Real Food Is" video contest and the judges put us in the top 4
picks. We are the only video from Washington State in the top 4!
Online voting is how we can win $1000 for our efforts at Lincoln.
Please vote for our video. It is called "Lincoln's Journey to Real
Please get the word out and send on the link so everyone you know can
vote. (you can only vote once per
Please vote from each of your computers. (I know you have more than
one!! :) Please ask your friends, family and networks to vote as
well. Thanks so much

Wish us luck
Rita Ordonez, Coordinator
Lincoln Elementary
School Garden and Family Cooking Classes
Mount Vernon, WA

SB 510
Sponsor: Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.
Cosponsors: 15 (8 Democrats, 7 Republicans)
Introduced: March 3, 2009
Committees: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Tom Harkin (D-IA) .

Ranking Member
Michael B. Enzi (R-WY)

To contact the Senate HELP Committee members, go to the links below.
Call or email as many as you can before Tues.!
Make a party of it! Call with friends, and pass this on!
This can be the thing that makes the difference.

Democrats by Rank

Tom Harkin (IA)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Barbara A. Mikulski (MD)
Jeff Bingaman (NM)
Patty Murray (WA)
Jack Reed (RI)
Bernard Sanders (I) (VT)
Sherrod Brown (OH)
Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA)
Kay Hagan (NC)
Jeff Merkley (OR)
Al Franken (MN)
Michael Bennet (CO)

Republicans by Rank

Michael B. Enzi (WY)
Judd Gregg (NH)
Lamar Alexander (TN)
Richard Burr (NC)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
John McCain (AZ)
Orrin G. Hatch (UT)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Tom Coburn, M.D. (OK)
Pat Roberts (KS

Please learn more about the number of Food Safety Enhancement Acts now working through Congress by looking here at our Actions page and asking questions.

Tracking SB 510 through Congress -
(Please read the questions at the bottom of that page)

Thanks for making a big difference!
Happy, blustery Spring,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WA State Gov. Gregoire Signs The Farm Intern Bill, 6349 Into Law 3/21/10!

Great coverage on this news on the Island Guardian, here, and SJ Journal, here, online.
Way to go Kevin Ranker, Agricultural Resources Committee (ARC) of San Juan County, and people who called and wrote to help make this happen. It makes us feel optimistic knowing we all can make a positive difference!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Farm Internship Bill 6349 needs your help this morning!

The Farm Internship bill passed the state Senate last week unanimously. For 6349 to get to the Governor's desk to become law, it has to now get through the House committees and back to the Senate.
This morning at 11 am, the Commerce & Labor committee will vote on moving Bill 6349 out of the committee and on through to other comittees and the Senate. Can you contact as many of our state representatives on this Committee as you can this morning,
and let them know 6349 needs to pass?Rep. Steve Conway, 360-786-7906,
Rep. Alex Wood, 360-786-7888,
Rep. Cary Condotta, 360-786-7954,
Rep. Bruce Chandler, 360-786-7960,
Rep. Larry Crouse, 360-786-7820,
Rep. Tami Green, 360-786-7958,
Rep. Jim Moeller, 360-786-7872,
Rep. Brendan Williams, 360-786-7940,

Below are some good reasons why full support of SB 6349 is important to establish a
process for internships on small farms in Washington State:

Recent audits of small farm internship practices by Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) have raised a serious issue for the small farmers in our state. Washington State labor law doesn't recognize farm internships as a valid worker category unless the
participants are enrolled at a recognized educational institution. Because only a small percentage of farm interns are registered students, the majority of small farms teaching interns are likely not in compliance with L&I's requirements.

Statewide, small farms are becoming increasingly important in maintaining a diverse and sustainable local economy. This bill allows small farms to establish an internship programs for future farmers to pass on crucial vocation knowledge of farming practices and enterprises. SB
6349 is essential for ensuring continued growth in the agricultural industry.

Our state representatives can help farm interns and small family farms, and the communities and economies they are a part of in by voting SB 6349 out of committee.

Here's a link to the latest information available on 6349's progress.
Once you've become involved in your democracy, you may want to watch
what happens to this bill as it makes its journey to become law - here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Safeguard Organic Alfalfa - This is Not Just a Rural Issue

Alfalfa is a very important crop, high in nutrition needed by dairy and beef cattle and other livestock. Because it absorbs nitrogen from air - instead of from soil like most other grasses, including corn - with adequate water it is also quite an efficient crop to grow.
We just got a notice from the Organic Consumers Association telling us that:

The USDA is Poised to Approve Monsanto's Genetically Engineered Alfalfa.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), aren't actually in practice meant to feed the world or survive droughts and floods. GMOs currently in commercial use - now spliced into millions of acres of corn, cotton, soy, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa - are designed to sell Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup, and the patented "Roundup Ready" Monsanto-owned seeds that go with it. All corporate-patented GMO seeds for commercial use are either designed as crops able to withstand doses of Monsanto's herbicide, Roundup, while all other living plants are killed around them, or are designed to actually carry a pesticide within the crop plants. Other corporate players in the GMO game are Syngenta (Novartis), Bayer, and Dupont, although corporate names, and names of their subsidiaries do occasionally change as their practices are made public.

Pests on GMO crops have become resistant to GMO-related pesticides, creating need for ever-newer corporate GMO products to be purchased by farmers. Natural controls have been shown to be much more effective and sustainable.
Weeds are also becoming resistant to the chemicals that are part of the GMO 'package' - causing the same expensive and dangerous cycle. Again, tried-and-true traditional methods have proved much more effective and safer over the long-term, in addition to building soil health.
A 2009 study showed that, in 13 years,
Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops increased herbicide use by 383 million pounds.
The dangers of these chemicals to human health - and the
serious health dangers posed by the genetic modification process itself, especially to stomach, liver, and kidney - have been proved.

In 2007, a Federal court ruled the
USDA's approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa failed to analyze the risks Gmos posed, including contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa and the development of "super-weeds." The court banned the planting of GM alfalfa until USDA completed a rigorous analysis of these impacts.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals twice affirmed the national ban on Roundup Ready alfalfa planting. Now Monsanto is appealing to the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, at least one sitting justice has close ties to the chemical, bio-engineering corporation, and has not recused himself in the past from decisions in which this company has a stake.
Widespread GMO contamination of organic alfalfa - destruction of organic crops - is inevitable if Monsanto's GM Roundup Ready alfalfa is allowed to be planted across the U.S.

GMO contamination poses an incredibly serious threat to the livelihood of alfalfa farmers, livestock and dairy farmers, the ranchers who depend on organic alfalfa for feed, the people who consume their products, and the economies these farms are an integral part of.

American farmers must not lose the right and the choice to grow organic and GMO-free food.

So far, in addition to organic farmers, ranchers, and others, 16,099 Organic Consumers Association activists have sent letters. If you haven't, you can Take Action Now.

If you happen to be in San Diego, Monsanto's coming to town. Are you or a friend a Facebook member? Join the Peaceful Eat-In (Facebook event) Say No to GMO!

The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund explains that GMO alfalfa also threatens our milk supply. They have actions you can take here.
photos Scott Bauer and Keith Weller, courtesy USDA

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sen. Ranker's (SJI ARC originated) farm internship bill passed WA Senate 46-0

Dear Everyone,

Kevin Ranker just sponsored a bill which will help farmers on the island and throughout the state by changing inappropriate Labor and Industry restrictions for farm interns--this will be HUGELY helpful for farmers, and the local economies they're a part of. It looked at one point like it might not happen.
Kevin got it passed unanimously 46-0. It's WA SB 6349. Click here to read more on our main page.

Simply another politician? This is a working man!

Kevin Ranker HeadshotEasy things you can do:

Write or call Kevin Ranker and thank him & his Senate colleagues! Our county's lucky to have Kevin pulling for us. Without this bill, WA farmers would face almost insurmountable obstacles passing farming skills on to a new generation of willing young farmers.winter veggies photo credit Becky Bolt

By Phone:

Olympia Office: (360) 786-7678
Anacortes Office: (360) 899-5638

By E-mail:

2. Now the bill goes to the House for consideration.
Can you contact our state representative Jeff Morris: and Dave Quall: whoever your WA state rep is in your district, and tell them this needs to pass?

As with the NAIS in the post below, People speaking up really makes a difference!
You can make a difference!

Photos courtesy of Becky Bolt and Washington State

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Hi USDA Announces New Framework For Animal Traceability!
On February 5, 2010, the USDA announced that it was dropping its plan for the National Animal Identification System, (NAIS) and turning its attention to developing "a new, flexible framework for animal disease traceability."
While the NAIS plans called for tracking every livestock animal in the country, the USDA stated that its new plan will apply only to animals moved in interstate commerce. In a conference call with concerned organizations, Secretary Vilsack stated that the new plan will seek to be able to trace animals back to the State they came from, and that any additional traceback will be left to the State. The Secretary also stated that NAIS had received a "failing grade" and that he does not intend to use preferential funding to the States to implement it.
You can read more details from USDA at:
USDA Publications
USDA has admitted that "the vast majority of participants [in the listening sessions] were highly critical" of NAIS and claims that its new approach "honors the very legitimate concerns of the American public and those in Rural America." From the listening sessions to State anti-NAIS bills to the Legal Defense Fund's lawsuit challenging the legality of NAIS, the USDA faced pressure on a variety of fronts to drop this program. The change in USDA policy is due to the thousands of people who spoke up in opposition to NAIS, and each of you deserves credit. Thank you for taking action!
Although this is a significant victory, the issue of electronic tagging and tracking of livestock is not over. Livestock owners face continuing problems with the programs that are already in place in Wisconsin and Michigan, which will require a change in those states' laws to fix. The agribusiness and technology companies will undoubtedly push for burdensome regulations, both in the new USDA framework and at the State level, so we still have a lot of work to do. Please stay tuned for more information and action steps.
Hi Everyone - This great news (above)
comes to us courtesy of the
Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Announcement upcoming
about our next movie
for our Land & Sea Film Fest -
"Flow", and other programs and events.
Best -
Linda and Maureen

Thursday, January 21, 2010

WA Senate Bill 6349 - Give our small (unsubsidized) farmers a chance to stay in business.(Also, read about "Food Safety" bills in Nov. 10 post below)

Most of our small farmers hold two or 3 other jobs just so they can stay in business growing safe and healthy food.
Here's a letter from Matt Marinkovich talking about giving them a fighting chance:

"Hello There
I am a commercial fisherman who lives on San Juan Island and I am writing you in support of SB 6349. Since I moved here from Tacoma over six years ago I have learned more about food and farming than I ever dreamed I would know.

One of the things I see firsthand is most of these farmers here on these islands (and everywhere else, as well) are no spring chickens-- the majority of them are either at or soon approaching "retirement" age, and I know only a couple of younger people who have fully entered the farming trade. I think its a matter of public security/safety (especially on these ferry-dependent islands) that we have young people entering the farm trade--who is going to grow our food in 15- years? Shall we outsource it to Dubai?

It makes no sense that when people, young or old, want to learn how to farm that they would not be considered an intern. There's more to running a small farm than just planting veggies, and it takes a while to learn the important skills needed to make a farm just break even, let alone become profitable. I know enthusiastic young people who would like to learn the farm trade, and I know farmers who are willing to teach them but they can't work on their farm because of the L&I law as it currently exists. There should be no restrictions at all--in fact there should be INCENTIVES--when it comes to new people entering the farm trade.

On my small, family-owned fishing boat I hire crew as independent contractors. They are paid a share of the gross, and could make a lot or a little--there is no minimum, and there's NO State L&I agent poking their nose in my business (Thank you God! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!). These small, family-owned farms operate in much the same way (except for the L&I agent). They're NOT like a giant factory trawler with 30 grunts slaving away on the factory deck-- they have just a few good hands dedicated to keeping the farm afloat, and I think this law should be passed so the government will get off the back of the small farmers so they can get busy with the vitally important job of training the next generations of farmers.

Who grows your food?


Matt Marinkovich
consumer of locally-grown produce and registered voter"