The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
• ACTION ALERT •
The Federal Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing in September on labeling genetically engineered (GE) foods. Representative DeFazio (D-OR) has sponsored the GOOD Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act (H.R. 1699). This is a critical time to contact your members of Congress and let them know that the public has to right to know what’s in our food and that you want GE foods labeled. Find helpful talking points here. This stands in direct contrast to the very BAD H.R. 4432, which opponents are calling the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, introduced by Representative Pompeo (R-KS). The DARK Act would not allow states to label GE foods and prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from enacting GE labeling. Don’t let this get UGLY! Please contact your Representative today!
Thank You Senator Brown!
Recently Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) signed on to a “Dear Colleague” letter, opposing some of the most damaging provisions in a Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) rider that many of you called and took action on. That provision would limit the free speech of contract farmers and block fair and open competition. Certainly protecting the free speech of farmers and promoting fair competition should be something all members of Congress would want to support… dontcha think??
Toxic Algae Places Lake Erie, 400,000 Toledo Residents at Risk
For one weekend in August, more than 400,000 people in the Toledo area were unable to drink water or bathe due to toxic algae. This is not a new problem and without swift and meaningful action it is likely to happen again. Eighty percent of the Maumee River watershed is devoted to agriculture, mainly a few large conventional farms growing corn and soybeans. Fertilizer and manure runoff from these farms is a major cause of the dangerous, toxic algae. One solution proposed by Governor Kasich and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to devote $150 million of taxpayer money to solve the problem of a few bad actors. This is a good example of how “cheap food” is really very expensive, when externalities are taken into consideration. The next time you speak with your legislator, let them know that organic farmers are required by law to care for the land and water where they farm – at no cost to taxpayers.
A New Way to Help Protect Organic Farms and Sensitive Crops
Pesticide drift is a problem that organic farmers and apiaries pay very close attention to. It has the potential to harm honey bees and jeopardize a farm’s organic certification. The Sensitive Crop Registry is a new voluntary tool to help those who apply fertilizer and pesticides in the state know where “sensitive crops” are and to avoid them.
To begin using the system, producers and applicators complete a registration form. After registration is complete, users can sign in and map the locations of their crops. The information is verified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and made available to registered pesticide applicators. OEFFA has requested that the data also be made available to those applying fertilizer and that all registered applicators are made aware of this important tool.
Fracking Footprint Expanding in Ohio
On June 28, there was a chemical fire at a Monroe County fracking well pad, contaminating Opposum Creek and killing 70,000 fish and wildlife. Unfortunately, state law prevents first responders from knowing in advance what chemicals they are dealing with. In fact, federal and state EPA officials had to wait five days until they received information on what fracking chemicals were on site. This makes it difficult for first responders to know what protection they may need, what is needed to protect public health, and how to test for contamination.
To make matters worse, Ohio is becoming a dumping ground for fracking waste. The state has taken in more than 900 million gallons of fracking waste to date. Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering a permit to GreenHunter Energy for construction and operation of a barge unloading and pipeline facility on the Ohio River in Meigs County which would accept fracking waste, called “bulk liquids.” If approved, this would mean yet more fracking waste being brought into Ohio, and an increased risk of serious accidents and contamination, especially on the Ohio River. The Athens County Fracking Action Network worked to organize public comment for the August 24 deadline.