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,Conway.Steve@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Alex Wood, 360-786-7888, Wood.Alex@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Cary Condotta, 360-786-7954, Condotta.Cary@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Bruce Chandler, 360-786-7960, Chandler.Bruce@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Larry Crouse, 360-786-7820, Crouse.Larry@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Tami Green, 360-786-7958, Green.Tami@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Jim Moeller, 360-786-7872, Moeller.Jim@leg.wa.gov
Rep. Brendan Williams, 360-786-7940, Williams.Brendan@leg.wa.gov

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: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/members/morris/ and Dave Quall: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/members/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