Do You Support An Organic Check-Off?
The Organic Trade Association has hired a lobby firm to add an amendment to both the House and Senate Farm Bills that will establish an Organic Research and Promotion Program, essentially an Organic Check-Off Program. Commodity check-off programs collect mandatory funds from producers of a particular agricultural commodity and use these funds to promote and do research on that particular commodity. The check-off organizations must promote their commodity in a generic way, without reference to a particular producer. Check-off programs attempt to improve the market position of the covered commodity by expanding markets, increasing demand, and developing new uses and markets.
Check-off programs are responsible for advertising campaigns like "Got Milk?" and "Pork. The Other White Meat." While these programs have done a good job advertising, they do not have a good track record of supporting small independent farmers and many times put small farmers out of business-Read about the lawsuit over the Pork Check-Off program.
We are concerned that the history of check-off programs supporting large-scale industry agriculture will not be a good fit for our organic grassroots farming movement. If you are a farmer and oppose the check-off, please consider signing a petition today: https://nofa.wufoo.com/forms/online-petition-organic-checkoff-program/
Public Policy and Advocacy Committee (PPAC) Update
Pollinators and Pesticides
Advocacy for saving the pollinators was on the PPAC’s October agenda. Organic gardening and farming systems support all beneficial insects including honeybees and native bee pollinators. The Committee reviewed the following current legislative activity that is in the works to help save our pollinators.
A4261-Right to Farm for beekeepers
A4262-towns cannot regulate/NJ can regulate
A4263-penalty for destruction of man-made native beehives
A4349 ban on neonicotinoids
Amendment to the National Farm Bill: SA1027 National Farm Bill (S954) calls for studies on pollinator decline.
Take action to support local pollinators by calling your legislators or signing petitions to support the bills listed above. The following is a list of groups that advocate for work on pollinator issues:
NJ Beekeepers Association
Center for Food Safety--for actions on SA1027
National Pollinator Defense Fund
Julie Jurusz, a member of the NJ Beekeeping Association (NJBA) met with the Committee to discuss their role in protecting New Jersey’s pollinators. With the assistance of a grant obtain by Ms. Jurusz, NJBA will partner with the New Jersey Beekeepers Association to help reverse the decline of pollinators such as bees, wasps, butterflies and flies by promoting practices that support them throughout the growing season. NJBA plans to distribute free of charge, 50,000 late summer/fall pollen and nectar producing perennial forage plants to the public, establish test plots to determine the level of effectiveness and maintenance of various plants as an ongoing source of forage for honey bees and to provide public education through an educational video and presentation. NJBA encourages the planting of native species such as golden rod, butterfly weed, aster, as well as borage, hyssop, salvia, cup plant, sunflowers, achillea, and coreopsis.
An outline of Julie's presentation can be found here.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
Our local farmers and food is at stake. Take action! Visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) website to submit a comment to help save our local organic farms. You can make a difference. "Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to fork – but FDA’s new proposed rules as written will unfairly burden family farmers, target sustainable and organic farming, and reduce the availability of fresh, local food in our communities. Right now, we have a chance to tell FDA that this is unacceptable – and we need your help to do it."
I-255 did not pass. New Jersey Legislators will be back in action in November. This cost the "No GMO Campaign" $22 million dollars to convince voters to vote no on this ballot. The good news this month is that GMO corn has been banned in Mexico. A federal judge has ordered to immediately “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings”.
Please continue to vote with your dollars. Help spread the word to educate on genetically engineered organisms in our food. This will be the topic of our next NOFA-NJ PPAC meeting, which will be held on Tuesday night November 26th. Email Therlam@yahoo.com for details.