Take Action!

NOFA-NY sends action alerts when an important issue is coming up for a vote either at the State or Federal level in an effort to encourage members and concerned citizens to contact their representatives. To receive action alerts, sign up for our E-News on the right side of this page. You can also see current alerts posted on social media like our Facebook or Twitter page. Our blog is also an excellent source for background on policy issues.


NOFA-NY FARM BILL TALKING POINTS - October 30, 2017

When Responding to Action Alerts about the 2018 Farm Bill, please feel free to use these Talking Points.

INTRODUCTION – DESCRIBE WHO YOU ARE (Farmer – say what you grow, how many acres). ARE YOU A MEMBER OF NOFA-NY? Please let them know that, and feel free to introduce NOFA-NY:

Composed of farmers, gardeners, consumers, and businesses, NOFA-NY has been serving the organic and sustainable food and farming community since 1983. Through education, outreach and advocacy, we promote land stewardship, organic food production, and local distribution & marketing, as well being New York’s largest USDA-accredited organic certifier of over 1,000 operations.

INTRODUCTION TO ORGANIC IN NEW YORK STATE:
Organic sales and demand have been growing at an annual nearly double-digit rate for over a decade – and New York has consistently ranked in the top 3-4 in the nation in organic. Yet U.S. farmers not able to meet the demand and are losing ground to offshore supply. Our federal policies need to support U.S. organic farmers supplying the U.S. organic demand.

HERE ARE SOME OF NOFA-NY’S PRIORITIES for the FARM BILL. Pick as many as you feel comfortable talking about.

  • ORGANIC CERTIFICATION COST SHARE Assistance is crucial to increase number of U.S. organic farmers to meet this demand. If you are a farmer, tell them how important this is to you! Give numbers: total cost of your certification and total cost after cost share.
    • Ask them to support the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (HR 3941), which includes funding of Certification Cost Share.
    • NOFA-NY has greatly appreciated NYS Ag & Mkts implementation of this program, and encourages NYS Ag & Mkts continued participation even as FSA takes over federal administration.
  • ORGANIC AGRICULTURE RESEARCH ACT (HR 2436) – provides research support of $50 million to OREI to address production constraints faced by organic farmers. Organic Research at USDA is under 4% and has been stagnant for years. On average, only about 0.2 percent of AFRI funding goes toward organic research.
  • ORGANIC FARMER AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT (HR 3871) – Thank you to Rep. Faso for introducing this bill to prevent the importation of fraudulent organic products from overseas though stricter enforcement of organic entering the U.S., modernization of organic import documentation, etc.
    • Tell them how fraudulent organic product affects YOU!
  • SEEDS & BREEDS – Farmers need seeds and animal breeds that are ideally suited to their local growing conditions, changing climates and farming systems. USDA should prioritize this work, by using existing research programs to dedicate $50 million in annual funds to public plant and animal breeding efforts, with a focus on regionally adapted cultivars.
  • National Organic Program (NOP) and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Consumers must have confidence that products with the USDA organic seal meet the strict standards established by USDA. Funding for the NOP must be increased to address the enforcement challenges facing the sector, and the work of the standards Board must continue to be transparent and open.
    • NOFA-NY strongly opposes any efforts to dilute the authority and role of the NOSB in the overall standard-setting process, or to seek statutory changes to the delicate balance of stakeholder slot allocations for the Board membership.
  • Risk Management. Organic farmers need to insure their crops based on organic, not conventional prices. 2014 Farm Bill language should be renewed requiring RMA to provide price elections for all organic crops.
    • The Whole Farm Revenue Program should be reformed and streamlined to improve options for diversified organic farms.
  • Organic Data. Data about production and sales trends is extremely important to the organic sector and policymakers such as efforts to expand risk management options for organic farmers. The Organic Data Initiative should be reauthorized to provide $5 million in mandatory funding, as well as continue existing language authorizing additional funding through the annual appropriations process.
  • Young and Beginning Farmers Act. Support this bi-partisan bill which will help new farmers overcome the common barrier of access to land as well as improve access to critical programs that educate, train, and assist young and beginning farmers in starting their career. This bill will focus on three primary areas of concern for young farmers: access to land, USDA programs for young and beginning farmers, and investments in local and regional food systems.
  • Conservation Program. Currently, the EQIP Organic Initiative has a payment limit of $80,000 over 6 years, whereas the general EQIP limit is $450,000 over 6 years. Organic payments should be equalized with the rest of the EQIP program.
    • USDA conservation programs should be used to provide technical assistance and mentorship for farmers transitioning to organic.
  • ESPECIALLY FOR DAIRY FARMERS: Organic dairy in the Northeast is in crisis. Organic dairies are approximately 18% of New York dairy farms. 2017 saw a massive drop in pay price for most producers, and an oversupply of organic milk that will take until well into 2018 to adjust. Even though the Northeast is an organic milk deficit area, all producers have been hit by a 25% pay price drop ($10/cwt by Spring 2018) and most have had a form of quota applied. Over quota milk is paid at conventional prices. Despite the fact that retail sales of organic milk in the Northeast have increased, the national oversupply of milk has hit organic producers hard, many of whom have no safety net.

The reasons for this surplus can be summarized in three distinct areas; two of which are clearly the purview of the USDA and must be fixed in the Farm Bill –

  1. Inadequate supply management by milk buyers;
  2. Poor implementation of existing National Organic Program regulations; and
  3. Failure of USDA National Organic Program to publish regulations to uphold a consistent and fair organic standard.

Finally, while not a Farm Bill item, in an effort to address some of the emerging issues for New York organic farmers such as dairy and imported grain competition, NOFA-NY encourages NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to create a position of “Organic Expert” on your staff and convene an Organic Summit to develop organic priorities for New York State for the next 3 years.

Download a copy of the talking points here.

 

PAST TAKE ACTIONS!

October 10, 2017 - Keep the Soil in Organic!

KEEP THE SOIL IN ORGANIC!

The USDA National Organic Standards Board is about to vote on whether or not they will allow organic certification of hydroponics during their next meeting, which will take place October 29 - November 4. NOFA-NY is not against hydroponic systems, we just don’t believe they are organic systems – and they should not carry the organic certification label.

To reduce organic production to simply the input of a few nutrients that are needed by a plant is to deny the definition of organic as a complex ecological system. Soil systems create and sustain the life of organic food and are not dependent on continual infusion of the nutrients that plants need to grow. In fact, as organic soils improve over the years, it becomes more and more necessary to consider the soil ecology rather than the specific needs of any one plant. Urban farms are taking back the soil and bringing justice to our food system by nurturing both the earth and our communities.

Across the country and the world, people are gathering in valleys, on-line and in cities to say Keep the Soil in Organic! No Certified Organic Hydroponics. You can join the thousands of voices today!

Take Action! - Keep the Soil in Organic

TAKE A SELFIE to show your support for keeping the soil in organic!

  • Download this image or make your own sign in support of keeping the soil in organic.
  • Take a Selfie or a video with the sign!
  • Post your photo or video on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and make sure you tag NOFA-NY in your post.
  • NOFA-NY’s social media info:
  • Facebook: @NOFA-NY
  • Instagram: @nofanewyork
  • Twitter: @nofany
  • Use these hashtags to spread the word: #keepthesoilinorganic, #organicintegrity, #nocertifiedorganichydroponics, #feedthesoil, #organicissoil, #soilmatters, #soilgrown

SIGN A PETITION here.

JOIN THE RALLY IN THE CITY

Read our press release on the Rally in the City here.

October 3, 2017 - Talking Points for Farm Bill Hearing

NY Congressman John Faso introduced a Bill to address the issue of fraudulent organic grain and feed originating from overseas which was by supported by NOFA-NY. Rep. Faso notes that this fraud “...artificially drives down the price of real organics, hurting legitimate organic farmers in Upstate New York and across the country.” NOFA-NY ED Natsoulas was quoted by the Congressman here.

Read the entire bill HR 3871 here.

TALKING POINTS FOR FARM BILL HEARING
Monday, October 9, 2017 10:00 AM 
SUNY Cobleskill, Bouck Hall Auditorium, 107 Schenectady Ave.

Please tell the House Agriculture Committee why organic farming and food is important to you. Below are 4 Farm Bill priorities for NOFA-NY

 

  • ORGANIC CERTIFICATION COST SHARE PROGRAM – Full mandatory funding for this important assistance to offset organic certification costs to farmers, help increase number of U.S. organic farmers to been meet growing demand for organic products.
  • ORGANIC AGRICULTURE RESEARCH ACT (HR 2436) – If we are going to be able to meet growing demand for organic food with domestically produced product, we have to do a better job of funding research to address production constraints faced by our farmers. Therefore, Congress should support bi-partisan legislation to increase mandatory funding for Organic Research in the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to $50 million. Funding for USDA’s organic-specific research programs has been stagnant for years, and broader programs like AFRI are not funding much organic research at all. (On average, only about 0.2 percent of AFRI funding goes toward organic research).
  • ORGANIC FARMER AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT (HR 3871)– Support bi-partisan legislation to prevent the importation of fraudulent organic products from overseas though stricter enforcement of organic products entering the U.S., modernization of organic import documentation, and new technology advancements.
  • SEEDS & BREEDS – Farmers need seeds and animal breeds that are ideally suited to their local growing conditions, changing climates and farming systems. USDA should be prioritizing this work, by using existing research programs to dedicate $50 million in annual funds to public plant and animal breeding efforts, with a focus on regionally adapted cultivars.

 

Click here for a printable version of the Talking Points.

July 18, 2017 - Tell Governor Cuomo No Dead GMO Moths in our Brocolli, Cabbage and Cauliflower!

 ACTION ALERT
GOVERNOR CUOMO –
NO DEAD GMO MOTHS IN OUR BROCCOLI, CABBAGE,AND CAULIFLOWER!
[Call him at 518-474-8390]

Cornell University just received a Federal permit to release the world’s first open air GMO insect developed for a food crop into the open air in Geneva, NY.GEDM

Don’t let Cornell University Release Genetically Engineered Moths into New York air – this is an uncontrolled release – once they are out, there is no taking them back!

The Genetically Engineered Diamondback moth was developed by Oxitec/Intrexon in the UK to ‘control’ the moth which does damage to brassica plants (cabbage, broccoli etc. family). The GMO moth kills the female larvae as they develop on the food plant. Tens of thousands of these altered moths will be released every week for 3-4 months in the Geneva, NY area.

The GMO moth (larvae) is engineered to die on the food plants.

Will we find — and potentially consume — dead GMO moth larvae on our organic broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower? Will we, our backyard chickens, songbirds, and endangered species be eating GMO moths dying on the plants?

Area organic brassica plants could be severely damaged by this inundation – Who will buy New York Broccoli plantingbroccoli, cabbage and Broccoli plantingcauliflower with dead GMO larvae on it?

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has refused any review or permitting jurisdiction – thereby letting the USDA’s cursory health/environmental review [see their ‘environmental assessment’ HERE] stand with no review of its effect on New Yorkers.

In New York State, you must get a permit to release butterflies at your wedding, but no permit or review is required to release a brand new Genetically Engineered moth into the open air.

CALL GOVERNOR CUOMO TODAY: 518-474-8390
TELL HIM:
“HALT THE CORNELL GMO MOTH RELEASE UNTIL NEW YORK DOES FULL ENVIRONMENTAL/HEALTH REVIEW.”
“I DON’T WANT TO EAT DEAD GMO MOTH LARVAE IN MY NEW YORK GROWN BROCCOLI, CABBAGE AND CAULIFLOWER.”

Or contact Gov. Cuomo HERE

Or Tweet: @NYGovCuomo Halt @Cornell #GMOmoth release until state does full #environmental/#health review #NoGMOmoths in #NYS #NoGMOdiamondbackmoth

Click here for the PDF version.

May 23, 2017 - Tell the USDA You Want Strong Organic Poultry and Livestock Standards

BIG AG WANTS USDA TO THROW OUT ORGANIC ANIMAL WELFARE RULE
TELL USDA YOU WANT STRONG ORGANIC POULTRY AND LIVESTOCK STANDARDS

The National Organic Program (NOP) has completed its Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (OLPP) which would give them the ability to consistently enforce stronger animal welfare standards. It is now supposed to take effect on November 14.

But, Big Ag has lobbied to stop it from happening – USDA is asking (a second time) if these rules should go forward.

Send USDA a clear message: the animal welfare rule—also known as the OLPP rule—should become effective November 14.

Here's how:

  1. Visit regulations.gov and enter docket # AMS-NOP-17-0031; NOP-15-06A
  2. Use these talking points or share your own thoughts as to why the USDA should let the OLPP rule take effect in November.
  3. You can also mail your comments to: Paul Lewis, Director, Standards Division, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2642-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC. 20250-0268.

The deadline for comments is June 9!

THANKS! WITHOUT YOUR VOICE, THESE ANIMALS WELFARE'S STANDARDS WILL GO AWAY.

May 15, 2017 - Your Comments are Needed! Demand all environmental and health impacts have been reviewed before releasing the GE Diamondback Moth!

USDA’s COMMENT PERIOD IS OPEN UNTIL THIS FRIDAY, MAY 19
YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED!

Cornell University has applied for a permit to execute the world’s first open-air trial of a genetically engineered diamondback moth (GDM). Diamondback moths are a potential pest to brassica plants (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc.).

This new GM insect is intended to reduce pest populations of diamondback moths by engineering a new female lethality trait into male GDM — female larvae die, and males reproduce until the population is destroyed.

Those pushing this technology have not completed any worldwide assessments of health and environmental safety, and only cursory environmental reviews have been conducted by the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

Unless and until all environmental and health impacts have been reviewed, it is reckless to release hundreds of thousands of novel organisms around the citizens and farms of New York State.

Take Action – Object to the Proposal NOW!

The deadline for the APHIS open comment period on the release proposal is Friday, May 19. Submit your comments here BEFORE May 19, 2017 and click the box, “Comment Now!”

For more information, see the complete USDA/APHIS permit and the environmental assessment. Check out a comprehensive review and article by Gene Watch UK, plus NOFA-NY’s general fact sheet and farmers’ fact sheet.

Comment Points to the USDA/APHIS:

1. Impact on Human and Environmental Health

  • Human and animal health and environmental impacts of GDM are unknown.
  • Impacts on non-target species exposed to the GDM larvae are unknown, including:
  • Farmworkers who may breathe or ingest dead larvae debris or live adults.
  • Vegetable consumers who may eat dead larvae remaining on the vegetable.
  • Other birds and animals that may eat the plant, larvae, or debris.
  • Non-target species in the soil that may be exposed to dead GDM larvae.
  • The use of a tetracycline antibiotic to breed the GDM could result in antibiotic resistant bacteria in their guts that spread into the environment and food chain.

2. Impact on Brassica Farming in New York State

  • This trial could create a problem that doesn’t exist today, with negative consequences to the vital brassica farming business and farm economy in NYS.
  • Large releases of GDM could make it economically and agriculturally challenging to grow brassicas in NYS for both conventional and organic farmers.
  • Diamondback moths are not a serious threat in New York, yet this trial could create a bigger problem. The permit allows non-GM moths to be released if there aren’t enough naturally. GDM need to be released many times greater than natural numbers to overcome wild populations. Ratios of 10 to 1 and 40 to 1 GDM to wild moths have been used in caged experiments, taking repeated releases over six weeks to begin to suppress wild moth populations. The resulting damage to crops could be considerable.
  • Farmers may need to use additional pesticides to protect crops against infestation. This could create a cycle of release/spray that require ever greater releases and spraying.
  • Organic farms and methods of control could be overwhelmed in the face of the infestation created.
  • If the release results in reductions in diamondback moth populations, other pests, including potentially more destructive ones, could move into the ecological niche created, resulting in serious ecological and agricultural problems.
  • Since GDM female larvae die (presumably on the plant), farmers (conventional or organic) could experience large amounts of dead larvae on the plants, possibly resulting in market rejection of NY-grown brassicas.

3. Potential for Contamination and Other Unintended Consequences

  • There are no appropriate bio-security measures in place to protect those who do not want to be exposed to GDM. Windblown moths can be dispersed hundreds of miles from where they emerge.
  • When male GDM spread outside the trial site, breeding and release of large numbers could lead to a resistance to the female lethality trait. The GDM might encounter sufficient tetracycline in the environment to allow them to survive and breed.
  • It is unknown how the insects might mutate and evolve as releases continue.
  • Organic and other farmers who do not wish to have GDM on their crops will not be protected from the spread of GDM to their fields. No measures have been put in place to establish liability and responsibility for contamination by GDM.

Background to the plan:

The GM diamondback moth was developed by the British GMO insect developer firm Oxitec Ltd (now Intrexon) to reduce the population of the moth, which is a pest to Brassica family plants. In 2014 Oxitec received a permit from USDA/APHIS to allow the first world-wide efficacy trials in New York State by Dr Anthony Shelton, Cornell University.

The world’s first GDM trials began in 2015 under netted cages at Cornell University’s Geneva Experiment Station.

The 2014 permit was revoked in early 2016 (due to a USDA technical error) and the application was re-submitted in late 2016. The USDA/APHIS permit would allow for 2 years of open (non-netted) trials, releasing up to 1.44 million male GDM per year. Diamondback moths are a serious pest to the Brassica family of plants in the southern US, UK, parts of Europe, South and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, although not particularly in New York State.

Concerns include the contamination of crops with female GM larvae, which die while feeding on the crop, and impacts of this single-species approach on other pests which could cause increases in numbers.

How is it supposed to work?

Male GDM are produced in the laboratory with fluorescence and ‘female lethality’ traits. The lethality trait is turned off by a tetracycline switch, so the insects can be bred to adulthood by feeding on this antibiotic. Thousands of male GDM are repeatedly released into the field and mate with wild females who produce eggs, which are laid on the brassica. Larvae develop and the GDM female larvae die. The GDM males pupate to continue the cycle and surviving GDM males—along with repeated additional releases of GDM males—suppress the numbers of wild diamondback moths. This takes six weeks or more in laboratory experiments.

In order to significantly affect the moth lifecycle, up to 100,000 male GDM will be released weekly from the lab for up to 4 months. There may also be a release of non-GE moths if there are not enough naturally existing. The release of male GDM must be in numbers an order of magnitude greater than wild moths in order for the GDM to overtake the wild ones. The release rate is unknown at this time, but numbers from 4X to 50X have been used in trials of other GM insects.

Click here for the whole article.

April 11, 2017 - No Organic Checkoff!

In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed an organic research and promotion checkoff program which could unfairly promote large organic processors’ needs over those of smaller, family farmers. The deadline to leave comments is quickly approaching - April 19th.

NOFA-NY states that the Checkoff is not farmer friendly, will benefit United States Organic sales, not production, and will negatively impact all organic certificate holders, whether or not they are assessed. Given its stated purposes, it is unlikely to benefit the growth, sustainability or profitability of organic farmers in the U.S., yet will require burdensome paperwork for all, and is an unfair tax.

NOFA-NY believes that the proposed Checkoff program could unfairly promote large, organic processors’ needs over those of independent, family farmers. These USDA programs focus on the marketplace; they are not about farmers or farming.

“Organic is about more than sales,” adds NOFA-NY Executive Director Andrianna Natsoulas. “Unless we preserve the viability and profitability of our farmers and increase U.S. organic farmers and farms, we will not see organic’s health and environmental benefits.”

Click to read the comments submitted by NOFA-NY to the proposed rule. Click here to include your own comments!

March 1, 2017 - Oppose the Organic Checkoff

Oppose the Organic Checkoff

No Organic Checkoff

July 20, 2016 - GMO labeling & QR codes

July 20, 2016 ACTION ALERT!

On July 7, the Senate passed a bill to label genetically modified foods allowing companies to use QR codes instead of words on the package. It discriminates against low income families, minorities, mothers, seniors, the disabled & those without smartphones. 

In 2007 President Obama said, “We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified because Americans should know what they’re buying.”ALL Americans should know what they're buying, not just the privileged.Only 21% of Americans surveyed have scanned QR codes; QR code software must be downloaded. Just 27% of seniors & 50% of low income Americans own smartphones. 42% of Blacks & 36% of Latinos have had to let their smartphone service lapse. President Obama: Stand up for ALL Americans. Veto this discriminatory bill.

President Obama hasn't signed S.764, the DARK Act (the bill to Deny Americans our Right to Know about GMOs) yet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/pending-legislation

So let's keep working on getting the official WhiteHouse.gov petition to 100,000 (the number that will trigger an official response):

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/veto-dark-act-s764

When you post to social media, use #VetoDARKact. Thank you to everyone who's been pushing this out. We're getting close! Just a little more than 27,000 left to go!

Next week, Wednesday July 27, at 12 noon, there will be a rally for GMO labels at the Democratic National Convention in Philly:‎ https://m.facebook.com/events/1516687518357512/

June 2016 - Tell Your Senators to Reject Bill S.2609

June 2016 ACTION ALERT!

CALL SENATORS GILLIBRAND AND SCHUMER TODAY!

 Please urge them to reject the latest version of Senator Roberts' bill (S. 2609), or any bill that prohibits states from requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs).

Senator Gillibrand: (202) 224-4451

Senator Schumer: (202) 224-6542

Tell Senators Gillibrand and Schumer: Please Stand Firm For NY! Both senators have showed great courage in supporting mandatory on-package GE Labeling and opposing efforts to nullify Vermont and other states' laws. Urge them to protect New York again and oppose the Stabenow-Roberts Bill.

The Stabenow-Roberts bill violates the important tenets of GMO labeling. NOFA-NY supports the Maine Organic Farming & Gardening Association Five Key Principles:

  1. No State Pre-emption. Must not pre-empt established state GMO labeling laws
  2. Voluntary is Not Acceptable. Must require mandatory GMO labeling
  3. No Hi-Tech Gimmicks. No QR codes, 1-800-numbers, etc.
  4. On-Package. Must require on-package GMO labeling.
  5. Consumer Transparency. Must display the words "Produced with Genetic Engineering."

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

The Stabenow-Roberts bill (S. 2609) is a cave to special interests. If passed, it: 

 - would pre-empt Vermont's and other states' laws

 - would establish a federal program based on QR codes, a symbol, 1-800 numbers, or a statement on packages referring people to websites

 - would take 2 years to create the standards

 - would not include penalties for non-compliance

 - would narrow the definition of genetic engineering and exclude many products currently considered GMO

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY!

Make Your Voice Heard for GMO Labeling before it's too late! 

May 2016 - NY GE Labeling Bill - Turn up the Heat!

MAY 2016 ACTION ALERT!

NY GE Labeling Bill – It's time to Turn up the Heat! Write a Letter to the Editor, and send us a picture.

All NOFA members and supporters! Help us make the final push to pass the GMO labeling bill!  The majority of NY Assemblymembers and Senators support A.617/S.485 which would label all genetically engineered foods in New York State. Fifty percent of the Assembly and nearly half of the Senate have co-sponsored the bill. Given this overwhelming support, we're asking you to please write a short Letter to the Editor of your local paper urging your Assemblymember and Senator to ask the leaders of the NY Legislature to put the bill up for a vote. This year’s session ends in less than a month!

Go HERE for some talking points to help you write a letter – Make sure you ask your Assembly member and Senator (by name) to urge the Legislative leaders to bring A.617/S.485 to a vote!

March 2016 - Tell your Senator to Support GE Labeling in NYS!

March 2016 Action Alert!

Please call your NYS Assembly representative and State Senator or arrange to visit them in their home office during the Easter break!

Ask them to sponsor A.617B/S.485B, the bill to Label GMO food in New York! If they have already signed on as sponsors (we are up to 73 Assembly reps and 23 Senators), thank them and ask them to push leadership to bring the bill to a floor vote.

The announcements from Campbell’s Soups and General Mills that they will label their products that contain GMOs, with no price rise, gives the lie to industry clamor that labeling GMOs will raise the price of food by $500 to $1000 a year!

Click here for a sample letter you can adapt to send to your representatives.