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Action of the Week Archive

Action of the Week is intended to provide you, our supporters and network, with one concrete action that you can take each week to have your voice heard on governmental actions that are harmful to the environment and public and worker health, increase overall pesticide use, or undermine the advancement of organic, sustainable, and regenerative practices and policies. As an example, topics may include toxic chemical use, pollinator protection, organic agriculture and land use, global climate change, and regulatory or enforcement violations.

02/22/2021 — Help Get Congress to Support National Biodiversity Strategy Legislation

Congressional Rep. Joe Neguse, Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Rep. Jared Huffman have reintroduced their resolution (H.Res. 69: Expressing the need for the federal government to establish a national biodiversity strategy for protecting biodiversity for current and future) to create a national biodiversity strategy. Everywhere we turn, we see signs of ecological collapse—wildfires, the insect apocalypse, crashing populations of marine organisms, more and more species at risk, rising global temperatures, unusual weather patterns, horrific storms, and pandemics. Never was a holistic strategy on biodiversity more urgent. 

>>Tell your U.S. Representative to cosponsor Rep. Neguse's National Biodiversity Strategy Resolution, H.Res. 69.

The resolution calls for a national commitment to addressing the biodiversity crisis by establishing a strategy to be developed through an interagency process announced by the president in an Executive Order. The strategy process will encourage agencies to identify and pursue a full range of actions within existing laws and policies and encourage consideration of new ones. It would also promote accountability and progress in addressing the biodiversity crisis through a new quadrennial assessment.

“The decline of biodiversity presents a direct threat to the security, health and well-being of our communities and our planet. Human-caused activity has led to the damage of ecosystems, the exploitation of wildlife, increased pollution and the acceleration of climate change,” said Representative Joe Neguse. “It is our hope that the Biden Administration would use our resolution as a roadmap for establishing a robust, whole-of-government approach to protect our ecosystems, our wildlife and tackle the biodiversity crisis. The United States ought to be playing a global leadership role on these issues.”

The resolution lays out a holistic national biodiversity strategy, including: 

  • Setting a national goal of protecting at least 30% of United States lands and water to conserve biodiversity and address climate change by 2030; 
  • Affirming the need to protect threatened, endangered, and at-risk species from further extinction; 
  • Developing climate adaptation and mitigation strategies for biodiversity; 
  • Joining and leading international agreements to combat climate change, such as the Paris Agreement
  • Establishing climate corridors for conservation of species affected by climate change; 
  • Rapidly building renewable energy; 
  • Reviewing existing laws and programs that are relevant to addressing threats of biodiversity; 
  • Advancing conservation in coordination with State and Tribal governments; 
  • Incorporating indigenous knowledge; 
  • Providing means to ensure equitable access to nature; and 

Establishing regular monitoring, reporting, research and development and adequate funding for conservation efforts. 

>>Tell your U.S. Representative to cosponsor Rep. Neguse's National Biodiversity Strategy Resolution, H.Res. 69.

Letter to Congress

I am writing to urge your support for H.Res. 69: Expressing the need for the federal government to establish a national biodiversity strategy for protecting biodiversity for current and future, reintroduced by Rep. Joe Neguse, Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife Jared Huffman. Everywhere we turn, we see signs of ecological collapse—wildfires, the insect apocalypse, crashing populations of marine organisms, more and more species at risk, rising global temperatures, unusual weather patterns, horrific storms, and pandemics. Never was a holistic strategy on biodiversity more urgent.

The resolution calls for a national commitment to addressing the biodiversity crisis by establishing a strategy to be developed through an interagency process announced by the president in an Executive Order. The strategy process will encourage agencies to identify and pursue a full range of actions within existing laws and policies and encourage consideration of new ones. It would also promote accountability and progress in addressing the biodiversity crisis through a new quadrennial assessment.

“The decline of biodiversity presents a direct threat to the security, health and well-being of our communities and our planet. Human-caused activity has led to the damage of ecosystems, the exploitation of wildlife, increased pollution and the acceleration of climate change,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “It is our hope that the Biden Administration would use our resolution as a roadmap for establishing a robust, whole-of-government approach to protect our ecosystems, our wildlife and tackle the biodiversity crisis. The United States ought to be playing a global leadership role on these issues.”

The resolution lays out a holistic national biodiversity strategy, including:

- Setting a national goal of protecting at least 30% of United States lands and water to conserve biodiversity and address climate change by 2030;
- Affirming the need to protect threatened, endangered, and at-risk species from further extinction;
- Developing climate adaptation and mitigation strategies for biodiversity;
-Joining and leading international agreements to combat climate change, such as the Paris Agreement;
- Establishing climate corridors for conservation of species affected by climate change;
- Rapidly building renewable energy capacity;
- Reviewing existing laws and programs that are relevant to addressing threats of biodiversity;
- Advancing conservation in coordination with State and Tribal governments;
- Incorporating indigenous knowledge;
- Providing means to ensure equitable access to nature; and
- Establishing regular monitoring, reporting, research and development and adequate funding for conservation efforts.

Please cosponsor H.Res. 69, Rep. Neguse’s national biodiversity strategy resolution.

Thank you.

02/16/2021 — Shift to Organic Farming, Not Carbon Trading, Is Critical to Thwart the Climate Crisis and Biodiversity Collapse

The climate crisis, with unprecedented temperature shifts, storms, and wildfires, and the devastating decline in biodiversity are escalating as a result of uncontrolled and unnecessary reliance on toxic chemicals. These existential crises that threaten life, to be successfully thwarted, require a meaningful holistic strategy that commits our nation to ending our fossil fuel-based economy and use of petroleum-based materials that release harmful levels of carbon and noxious gases (including greenhouse gases/GHG) into the environment. The proposals now in Congress and the administration require close attention and scrutiny if we are to meet the urgency of the moment.

The carbon market approach embodied in the Growing Climate Solutions Act and President Biden's Climate 21 Project does not adequately and comprehensively respond to the current and looming interconnected threats to public health and the environment. The focus on carbon to the exclusion of a holistic approach that addresses complex life-supporting biological communities allows the continuation of disproportionate hazards to people of color and communities living adjacent to toxic sites. The mechanisms of carbon trading or the purchasing of carbon offsets under consideration do not establish an end date for admittedly unacceptable materials and practices, nor do they ensure a transition to life-sustaining practices. Just as there are proposals to end production of the combustion engine and move to electric vehicles, we must demand that agriculture—across the board and on an expedited five-year schedule—shift to organic practices, whose standards are already codified in federal law. Organic production and handling practices have a proven, commercially viable, track record and both sequester carbon and eliminate petroleum-based pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. And, importantly, the data shows that this sector of agriculture is now operating without sacrificing productivity or profitability. The only problem: the vested economic interests in the petroleum and chemical industry are holding on to the status-quo. The good news: there are good jobs and money to be made in a green economy.

>>Tell your Congressional Representatives and Senators to support a holistic approach to the existential threats of the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse.

Carbon trading schemes won't work because:

In addition,

Why we need a national plan to shift to 100% organic farming. Organic land management is more effective at reducing emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. Organic farming practices have been shown to sequester carbon in the soil. There is in place a national program for certifying farms that meet organic standards. In addition, organic operations are required to “comprehensively conserve biodiversity by maintaining or improving all natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.” 

Why undefined “regenerative” agriculture falls short. The so-called “regenerative agriculture” promoted by proposals like the Growing Climate Solutions Act and President Biden's Climate 21 Project ignores the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health and ecosystem services caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the adverse impact of chemical no-till practices that rely on glyphosate (Roundup) and other equally hazardous herbicides, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels—as key ingredients and also for the heat and energy-driving chemical reactions. It is important to see through this deception. As aptly stated by Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute, "We believe that in order to be regenerative, you have to start by being organic. It's a little disingenuous to say you can regenerate soil health and sequester carbon and still use nitrogen fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. What you're really saying is equivalent to saying, 'I want to be healthy as a person, but I still want to smoke cigarettes.'"

Beyond farming, we need a land management plan as a part of a national plan. Preserving natural land increases biodiversity, which also reduces dependence on petroleum-based pesticides. Natural forests are more effective than tree plantations in sequestering carbon. Biodiversity in forest ecosystems adds to their effectiveness in sequestering carbon. In addition, biodiversity buffers against damage from climate change—for example, by protecting shorelines from storm damage. Protecting forests, mangroves, peatlands, and other natural habitats helps to store more carbon in soil and vegetation.
Preserving natural lands and transitioning farms to organic production should be the cornerstones to combating climate change. Instead of promoting carbon trading, Congress and the Biden Administration must incorporate into a holistic approach, at the very least, the provisions included in the following:

  • Climate Stewardship Act of 2019, introduced in the House by then-Representative Haaland and in the Senate by Senator Booker.
  • The Agriculture Resilience Act, introduced in 2020 by Representative Pingree.
  • Former Senator Udall's pledge to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and ocean by 2030 and 50% by 2050.
  • Representative Neguse's Resolution on a National Biodiversity Strategy.
  • A $30 billion fund dedicated solely to fund the transition to organic agriculture, with a goal of achieving 100% organic farms by 2026.

>>Tell your Congressional Representatives and Senators to support a holistic approach to the existential threats of the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse.

Letter to Congress

I am concerned that the carbon market approach embodied in the Growing Climate Solutions Act and President Biden’s Climate 21 Project does not adequately and comprehensively respond to interconnected threats to public health and the environment. The climate crisis and the devastating decline in biodiversity are escalating as a result of uncontrolled and unnecessary reliance on toxic chemicals. These threats to life require a meaningful holistic strategy to end our fossil fuel dependence and use of materials that release harmful levels of noxious gases (including greenhouse gases/GHG). The current carbon market proposals fall short.

The focus on carbon outside of a holistic approach allows continued disproportionate hazards to people of color and communities living near toxic sites. Carbon trading/offsets under consideration do not establish an end date for admittedly unacceptable practices or ensure a transition to life-sustaining practices. Alongside proposals to replace the combustion engine with electric vehicles, agriculture must—across the board and on an expedited five-year schedule—shift to organic practices. Organic practices both sequester carbon and eliminate petroleum-based pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Importantly, the data show that organic agriculture now operates without sacrificing productivity or profitability. While the vested economic interests in the petroleum and chemical industry cling to the status quo, there are good jobs and money to be made in a green economy.

Carbon trading schemes are flawed because they:

*Ignore the impact of more potent GHGs, including the 300 times as potent nitrous oxide emitted by chemical fertilizer.

*Allow big polluters to continue business as usual by purchasing carbon credits.

*Can incentivize practices, like chemical no-till, that rely on inputs based on petroleum, poison soil, and release more potent GHGs.

*Do not protect natural land, which is even more effective in sequestering carbon.

*Has negative impacts on communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel destruction, including indigenous communities and other people of color on the fencelines of the fossil fuel industry.

We need a national plan to shift to 100% organic farming. Organic land management is more effective at reducing emissions and sequesters carbon in the soil. There is already a national program for certifying farms that meet organic standards. Organic operations must “comprehensively conserve biodiversity by maintaining or improving all natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.”

Undefined “regenerative” agriculture falls short by ignoring the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health and ecosystem services caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels. It is important to see through this deception.

We need a national land management plan.  Preserving natural land increases biodiversity, reducing dependence on petroleum-based pesticides, and is more effective in sequestering carbon. Biodiversity buffers against damage from climate change—for example, by protecting shorelines from storm damage.

Preserving natural lands and transitioning farms to organic production should be the cornerstones to combating climate change. Instead of promoting carbon trading, Congress and the Administration must incorporate into a holistic approach, at the very least, the provisions included in the:

*Climate Stewardship Act of 2019.

*The Agriculture Resilience Act of 2020.

*A pledge to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and ocean by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

*The Resolution on a National Biodiversity Strategy.

*A $30 billion fund dedicated solely to fund the transition to organic agriculture, with a goal of achieving 100% organic farms by 2026.

Thank you.

02/08/2021 — Tell Agencies New Executive Order Requires Bold Regulatory Action

Immediately following his inauguration, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) directing the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This Executive Order, if effective, will  reverse the historical trend of status quo regulatory reviews that typically support vested economic interests of polluters (e.g., petroleum-based pesticide and fertilizer manufacturers), required by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Instead, the President's EO, Modernizing Regulatory Review, sets the stage for the adoption of agency policy across government to seriously and with urgency confront the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and disproportionate harm to people of color communities (environmental racism). 

Key agencies that can have a systemic effect in meeting these existential challenges are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Interior (DOI), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Labor/Occupational Safety and Health Administration (DOL/OSHA). But, the EO will remain words on a page unless we all across the country exercise our voice and advocate for the changes necessary to end our reliance on hazardous chemicals and immediately embrace the viability of nonpolluting alternatives, like organic agriculture and land management.  No one expects the polluting corporations to shrink in the face of a shift to a green economy—which makes our voice and oversight all that more important.

>>Tell the heads of EPA, DOI, USDA, and DOL/OSHA to review decisions allowing toxic chemical use based on available alternatives—technologies, practices, and products—that reduce or eliminate hazards.

Ever since the Reagan administration, regulatory review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and the Budget (OMB) has prevented agencies from promulgating new regulations based on new science and technologies that are more protective of health and the environment. OIRA acts as a gatekeeper to new regulations and has generally resisted changes to the status quo—even in regulations designed to adapt to new science and technology. An example of such regulations is the sunset process created in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), which was is designed to review synthetic materials allowed in organic production every five years and remove them if they no longer meet OFPA criteria.

There are many examples of such regulations, and OIRA no longer needs to explicitly deny changes in regulations because agencies restrict their own actions based on the fear of OIRA review. President Biden's Executive Order offers an opportunity for OIRA/OMB and federal agencies to place new criteria on changes in regulations. Instead of protecting the status quo, the review should be based on the President's priorities as stated in the Modernizing Regulatory Review EO.

To be meaningful, regulatory reviews, in accordance with the EO, must analyze existing regulatory decisions on registration, allowance, and/or use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in the context of available alternatives—technologies, practices and products—that reduce or eliminate hazards. We urge that all agencies immediately conduct an alternatives assessment that evaluates available organic practices in accordance with 7 CFR 205.600, the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances under the National Organic Program. This is especially important in the context of protecting health and the environment and ensuring racial equity in the application of regulations that currently allow for disproportionate and elevated risk for farmworkers and landscapers, as well as fenceline communities and people of color. These communities currently suffer disproportionate risk due to toxic chemical exposure, comorbidities, and elevated vulnerabilities to diseases and COVID-19 that are ignored under current regulatory reviews.

The tools are available now to end the use of toxic chemicals in current land management practices nationwide, including the management of agricultural land and landscapes, yet regulations allow disproportionate harm to black, brown, and indigenous people that is associated with a chain of poisoning and contamination from production to transportation, application, and disposal. The EO, if it is to be implemented in the spirit that is intended, requires that each agency conduct a full assessment of actions that it can take immediately to eliminate or reduce the current harms being inflicted that are unnecessary, given the availability of organic (as defined in federal law) alternatives.

>>Tell the heads of EPA, DOI, USDA, and DOL/OSHA to review decisions allowing toxic chemical use based on available alternatives—technologies, practices, and products—that reduce or eliminate hazards.

Letter to the (new) heads of EPA, DOI, USDA, and DOL/OSHA

Immediately following his inauguration, President Biden issued an Executive Order (EO) directing the heads of all executive departments and agencies to produce recommendations for improving and modernizing regulatory review, with a goal of promoting public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations. This Executive Order, Modernizing Regulatory Review, sets the stage for the adoption of agency policy to seriously and with urgency confront the climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, and disproportionate harm to people of color communities (environmental racism).

I ask your agency to conduct a review, in accordance with the Modernizing Regulatory Review EO, to analyze existing regulatory decisions on registration, allowance, and/or use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in the context of available alternatives—technologies, practices and products— that reduce or eliminate hazards. I urge you to immediately conduct an alternatives assessment—associated with all your regulatory and administrative decisions— that evaluates available organic practices in accordance with 7 CFR 205.600, the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances under the National Organic Program. This is especially important in the context of protecting health and the environment and ensuring racial equity in the application of regulations that currently allow for disproportionate and elevated risk for farmworkers and landscapers, as well as fenceline and people of color communities. These communities currently suffer disproportionate risk due to toxic chemical exposure, comorbidities, and elevated vulnerabilities to diseases and COVID-19 that are ignored under your current regulatory reviews.

The tools are now available to end the use of toxic chemicals in current land management practices, including the management of agricultural land and landscapes, yet the regulations of your agency allow disproportionate harm to black, brown, and indigenous people that is associated with a chain of poisoning and contamination from production to transportation, application, and disposal. The EO, if it is to be implemented in the spirit that is intended, requires that your agency conduct a full assessment of actions that it can take immediately to eliminate or reduce the current harms being inflicted that are unnecessary, given the availability of organic (as defined in federal law) alternatives.

Please know that there is a wealth of information on the efficacy, economic viability, and profitability of organic management practices that replace your agency’s current assumption about the need for, or reasonableness of, toxic chemical dependency. We urge that this information be utilized in all your regulatory and administrative decision-making in order to eliminate the current unnecessary reliance on toxic materials.

I look forward to your agency’s alternative organic analysis full implementation of the Modernizing Regulatory Review EO.

Thank you.

02/01/2021 — Save Monarch Butterflies from Extinction

The yearly winter monarch count along the California coast, overseen each year by the conservation group Xerces Society, was the lowest ever. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate that many on the planet today are, within their lifetimes, likely to experience a world where western monarchs are extinct.

>>Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list monarch butterflies on the list of threatened and endangered species. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate pollinator poisons.

Western monarchs migrate from the Pacific Northwest to overwintering grounds along the California coast, where they remain in relatively stationary clusters that are easy to count. In the 1980s, roughly 10 million monarchs overwintered along the coast. By the 1990s, that number fell to 1.2 million. Five years ago, counts were at roughly 300,000. By 2019, numbers crashed below 30,000.

This year's count saw no monarchs at well-known overwintering sites like Pacific Grove. Other locations, like Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and National Bridges State Park, saw only a few hundred. “These sites normally host thousands of butterflies, and their absence this year was heartbreaking for volunteers and visitors flocking to these locales hoping to catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring clusters of monarch butterflies,” said Sarina Jepsen, director of endangered species at the Xerces Society.

Decline is driven by human activity. Climate change, habitat destruction, and the use of toxic pesticides are causing “death by a thousand cuts,” says Xerces Society executive director Scott Black.

A changing climate impacts environmental cues that trigger breeding, migration, and hibernation in monarchs. Climate-induced extreme weather events such as wildfires, severe storms, and droughts further stress populations. Habitat destruction has occurred through the displacement of natural land with industrial development, and logging and other damage to monarch overwintering sites. Milkweed plants that monarchs require as larval food have been found to contain pesticides at levels that can kill them—one study found toxic pesticides in every milkweed plant tested. Herbicides, like glyphosate (Roundup), that do not kill monarchs directly are killing milkweed, exacerbating concerns around habitat destruction. Each of these stressors are harmful on its own, but stress is compounded by their combination.

A study published in the journal Biological Conservation in 2017 (while numbers were still ~300,000) determined that western monarchs faced a 72% chance of extinction in 20 years and an 86% chance of extinction within the next 50 years. “This study doesn't just show that there are fewer monarchs now than 35 years ago,” said study coauthor Cheryl Schultz, PhD, at Washington State University. “It also tells us that, if things stay the same, western monarchs probably won't be around as we know them in another 35 years.”

Eastern monarchs are also suffering. This population migrates from the U.S. East and Midwest to overwintering grounds in Mexico each year. A 2018 study published by a research team at University of Florida found that this population has declined by 80% since 2005. Two years after that study was published, the 2019/2020 eastern monarch count conducted by citizen scientists found another 53% reduction. Eastern monarchs are counted by the number of acres they occupy. In 2019/20, this number was 7 acres, down from 15 acres the prior year. Scientists have determined that 15 acres is the minimum threshold necessary to prevent total migratory collapse. A report from the World Wildlife Fund estimates that at the current rate of decline, the eastern monarch migration could collapse within 20 years.

Wildlife and conservation groups urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list monarchs under the Endangered Species Act. Late last December, the Trump Administration announced it was a candidate for listing, but that listing is “precluded by work on higher-priority listing actions.” The Biden administration must follow through with listing and protective actions.

Monarchs may be the most charismatic pollinator to fall in the age of the insect apocalypse. But unless meaningful changes are made, it will not be the last. Recent research published in Biological Conservation show that 41% of insect species are declining and 30% are endangered, with an overall rate of insect decline at 2.5% each year.

>>Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list monarch butterflies on the list of threatened and endangered species. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate pollinator poisons.

 

Letter to Martha Williams, Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The yearly winter monarch count along the California coast was the lowest ever. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate the imminent extinction of western monarchs. Urgent action is required to implement a plan to protect monarchs as an endangered species!

Western monarchs migrate from the Pacific Northwest to overwintering grounds along the California coast, where they remain in relatively stationary clusters that are easy to count.  In the 1980s, roughly 10 million monarchs overwintered along the coast. By the 1990s, the number fell to 1.2 million. Five years ago, counts were at roughly 300,000. By 2019, numbers had crashed below 30,000.

This year’s count saw no monarchs at well-known overwintering sites like Pacific Grove. Other locations, like Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and National Bridges State Park, saw only a few hundred.

Decline is driven by human activity. Climate change, habitat destruction, and the use of toxic pesticides are combining to threaten the species. The way to initiate action to protect monarchs is to include them on the list of threatened and endangered species.

A changing climate alters environmental cues that trigger monarchs to breed, migrate, and hibernate. Climate-induced extreme weather events such as wildfires, severe storms, and droughts further stress populations. Habitat destruction includes logging, the displacement of natural land by industrial development, and other damage to monarch breeding and overwintering sites. Milkweed plants that monarchs require as larval food have been found to contain pesticides at levels that can kill them– one study found toxic pesticides in every milkweed plant tested. Herbicides, like glyphosate (Roundup), that do not kill monarchs directly kill milkweed, exacerbating habitat destruction. Each of these stressors is harmful on its own, but their combination compounds the damage.

A study published in the journal Biological Conservation in 2017 (while numbers were still ~300,000) determined that western monarchs faced a 72% chance of extinction in 20 years and an 86% chance of extinction within the next 50 years.

Eastern monarchs are also suffering. This population migrates from the US East and Midwest to overwintering grounds in Mexico each year. A 2018 study by researchers at University of Florida found that this population has declined by 80% since 2005. Two years later, the 2019/2020 eastern monarch count conducted by citizen scientists found another 53% reduction. Eastern monarchs are counted by the number of acres they occupy. In 2019/20, this number was 7 acres, down from 15 acres the prior year. Scientists have determined that 15 acres is the minimum threshold necessary to prevent total migratory collapse. A report from the World Wildlife Fund estimates that at the current rate of decline, the eastern monarch migration could collapse within 20 years.

Wildlife and conservation groups urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the monarch under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Late last December, the Trump Administration announced it was a candidate for listing, but that listing is “precluded by work on higher-priority listing actions.” The presence of other high-priority issues is further evidence of the existence of severe threats to biodiversity, not a reason to avoid action. Protecting biodiversity is the purpose of the ESA. The Biden administration must follow through with listing and protective actions.

Monarchs may be the most charismatic pollinator to fall in the age of the insect apocalypse. But unless meaningful changes are made, it will not be the last. Recent research published in Biological Conservation show that 41% of insect species are declining and 30% are endangered, with an overall rate of insect decline at 2.5% each year.

Please put monarch butterflies on the threatened and endangered species list and require protective actions by other agencies.

Thank you.

 

Letter to Jane Nishida, Acting Administrator, EPA

The yearly winter monarch count along the California coast was the lowest ever. In 2020, citizen scientists counted only 2,000 butterflies. The findings indicate the imminent extinction of western monarchs. Urgent action is required to protect monarchs as an endangered species!

Western monarchs migrate from the Pacific Northwest to overwintering grounds along the California coast, where they remain in relatively stationary clusters that are easy to count.  In the 1980s, roughly 10 million monarchs overwintered along the coast. By the 1990s, the number fell to 1.2 million. Five years ago, counts were at roughly 300,000. By 2019, numbers had crashed below 30,000. This year’s count saw no monarchs at well-known overwintering sites like Pacific Grove. Other locations, like Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove and National Bridges State Park, saw only a few hundred.

Decline is driven by human activity. Climate change, habitat destruction, and the use of toxic pesticides are combining to threaten the species.

A changing climate alters environmental cues that trigger monarchs to breed, migrate, and hibernate. Climate-induced extreme weather events such as wildfires, severe storms, and droughts further stress populations. Habitat destruction includes logging, the displacement of natural land by industrial development, and other damage to monarch breeding and overwintering sites.

Milkweed plants that monarchs require as larval food have been found to contain pesticides at levels that can kill them– one study found toxic pesticides in every milkweed plant tested. Herbicides, like glyphosate (Roundup), that do not kill monarchs directly kill milkweed, exacerbating habitat destruction. Each of these stressors is harmful on its own, but their combination compounds the damage.

A study published in the journal Biological Conservation in 2017 (while numbers were still ~300,000) determined that western monarchs faced a 72% chance of extinction in 20 years and an 86% chance of extinction within the next 50 years.

Eastern monarchs are also suffering. This population migrates from the U.S. East and Midwest to overwintering grounds in Mexico each year. A 2018 study by researchers at University of Florida found that this population has declined by 80% since 2005. Two years later, the 2019/2020 eastern monarch count conducted by citizen scientists found another 53% reduction. Eastern monarchs are counted by the number of acres they occupy. In 2019/20, this number was 7 acres, down from 15 acres the prior year. Scientists have determined that 15 acres is the minimum threshold necessary to prevent total migratory collapse. A report from the World Wildlife Fund estimates that at the current rate of decline, the eastern monarch migration could collapse within 20 years.

Wildlife and conservation groups urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the monarch under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Late last December, the Trump Administration announced it was a candidate for listing, but that listing is “precluded by work on higher-priority listing actions.” The presence of so many high-priority issues is further evidence of the existence of severe threats to biodiversity, not a reason to avoid action. It is time for EPA to protect biodiversity from toxic chemical threats.

Monarchs may be the most charismatic pollinator to fall in the age of the insect apocalypse. But unless meaningful changes are made, it will not be the last. Recent research published in Biological Conservation show that 41% of insect species are declining and 30% are endangered, with an overall rate of insect decline at 2.5% each year.

Please include these threats to insect biodiversity in EPA’s pesticide registration decisions. Eliminate pesticides that endanger pollinators and their habitat.

Thank you.

01/25/2021 — Tell EPA to Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb on Oranges

First registered in 1970 and voluntarily cancelled in 2010, aldicarb (Temik™) was being manufactured in Bhopal, India in 1984 when a leak of a precursor—methyl isocyanate (MIC)—spread over the city, ultimately killing more than 25,000 people and leaving more than 120,000 people who still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure. In 1989, Union Carbide Corporation—the manufacturer of aldicarb at the time—paid $470 million (equivalent to $860 million in 2019) to settle litigation stemming from the disaster. Aldicarb, now made by Bayer, has been allowed by the outgoing Trump EPA for use on oranges.

>>Tell EPA to Reverse Approval of Highly Toxic Insecticide Aldicarb!

No pesticide epitomizes the “cradle-to-grave” dangers of pesticides better than aldicarb. The disaster in Bhopal was followed by others, including a leak in Institute, WV in 1985 that injured at least 135 people and a 2008 explosion in Institute, WV that killed two and injured at least eight. In use, it has been implicated in poisoning of workers and their children, poisoning deer and other game consuming contaminated seeds, and notably, poisoning food grown in soil treated with the chemical. The effects don't stop there—aldicarb is also notorious for contaminating groundwater.

EPA has approved aldicarb (an insecticide) in combination with streptomycin (an antibiotic used to fight human disease) to control citrus greening, a disease transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid. As Nathan Donley, PhD of the Center for Biological Diversity says, “Only the Trump EPA would approve use of a medically important antibiotic and a pesticide banned in over 100 countries on citrus crops.”

Aldicarb is a highly toxic, systemic carbamate insecticide that is a fast-acting cholinesterase inhibitor that permanently binds to the active site of an essential enzyme for normal nerve impulse transmission, acetylcholinesterase (AChE), deactivating the enzyme. In doing this, the chemical causes damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, interrupting neurological activity. Aldicarb is subject to regulation under the Rotterdam Convention, an international treaty established to reduce the trade of the most globally hazardous chemicals, with over 100 countries—excluding the U.S.—banning its use. Both EPA and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify the chemical in the highest toxicity category. However, the U.S. is one of only a few countries around the world that does not regulate aldicarb via the treaty, but merely strictly restricts its uses.

Aldicarb may persist in groundwater for decades due to its long half-life between 200 to 2000 days and ingestion of aldicarb-contaminated groundwater by residents adversely affects immune system function. Furthermore, aldicarb is a systemic pesticide that plant roots and leaves readily uptake, leading to toxic chemical residues in pollen and sap-like droplets (guttation) easily accessible to vulnerable pollinators, like bees.

In 2010, Bayer CropScience agreed with EPA to voluntarily cancel the production of Temik 15G, the sole aldicarb pesticide on the market, ending distribution by 2017. The chemical poses an unnecessary dietary risk to infants and children, causing neurological harm at very low doses. However, less than a decade after its discontinuation, a new aldicarb product by AgLogic—AgLogic 15G—surfaced, with limited use on a small subset of U.S. crops.

Presently, AgLogic is the only manufacturer of aldicarb pesticide products, and approving it for use on citrus fruit highlights faults within the pesticide regulatory system. Evidence demonstrates that past use of Temik 15G on citrus fruit crops exclusively posed the highest risk to children and infants, ultimately leading to its 2010 cancellation. Furthermore, the Florida Department of Agriculture denied AgLogic's request to gain “Special Local Needs” approval under Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for use on Florida citrus in 2017 and 2018. AgLogic was unable to demonstrate that aldicarb is safer at controlling pests than other alternatives. This new AgLogic registration does not “require the submission of comparative efficacy studies,” which accelerated regular Section 3 registration on citrus.

Organic growers know that soil biology and soil health is important to protection from diseases like citrus greening. The use of aldicarb and streptomycin, on the other hand, destroy healthy soil biota.

The approval of AgLogic15G for use on citrus crops (e.g., grapefruit, lemon, orange, lime trees) allows an additional 400,000 acres of crop treatments in areas where pesticides already pose a threat to human, animal, and environmental health. Karen McCormack, a retired employee of the EPA's pesticide office, states her concern over aldicarb approval: “It's deeply disappointing to watch the current EPA renege on its agreement to ban this highly toxic and persistent pesticide. After receiving numerous complaints of aldicarb leaching into groundwater and contaminating drinking water supplies in Florida and elsewhere, my colleagues worked tirelessly to reach a voluntary agreement with the aldicarb manufacturer to stop producing this hazardous pesticide. Now it appears all this work may have been in vain.”

The approval of the aldicarb use demonstrates the danger of regulating pesticides through negotiated voluntary cancellations, which do not produce a record on which EPA or the public can depend for future decisions.

It is essential that when EPA weighs the risks and benefits of extending pesticide uses, the agency acknowledges previous harms associated with those chemicals. Harms ultimately associated with contaminant exposure should end through policy reform and the adoption of practices that eliminate toxic pesticide use. With far too many diseases in the U.S. associated with pesticide exposure, prohibiting the use of pesticides with known toxic effects is crucial for safeguarding public health.

>>Tell EPA to reverse approval of highly toxic insecticide aldicarb.

Letter to EPA

It is crucial that the Biden administration add to its list of urgent actions the reversal of EPA’s approval of the highly toxic insecticide aldicarb for use on citrus.

First registered in 1970 and voluntarily cancelled in 2010, aldicarb (Temik™) was being manufactured in Bhopal, India in 1984 when a leak of a precursor—methyl isocyanate (MIC)—spread over the city, ultimately killing more than 25,000 people and leaving more than 120,000 people who still suffer from severe health problems as a result of their exposure. In 1989, Union Carbide Corporation—the manufacturer of aldicarb at the time—paid $470 million (equivalent to $860 million in 2019) to settle litigation stemming from the disaster. Aldicarb, now made by Bayer, has been allowed by the outgoing Trump EPA for use on oranges.

No pesticide epitomizes the “cradle-to-grave” dangers of pesticides better than aldicarb. The disaster in Bhopal was followed by others, including a leak in Institute, WV in 1985 that injured at least 135 people and a 2008 explosion in Institute, WV that killed two and injured at least eight. In use, it has been implicated in poisoning of workers and their children, poisoning deer and other game consuming contaminated seeds, and notably, poisoning food grown in soil treated with the chemical. The effects don’t stop there—aldicarb is also notorious for contaminating groundwater.

EPA has approved aldicarb (an insecticide) in combination with streptomycin (an antibiotic used to fight tuberculosis) to control citrus greening, a disease transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid. As Nathan Donley, PhD of the Center for Biological Diversity says, “Only the Trump EPA would approve use of a medically important antibiotic and a pesticide banned in over 100 countries on citrus crops.”

Aldicarb is a highly toxic, systemic carbamate insecticide banned by over 100 countries under the Rotterdam Convention. Both EPA and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify the chemical in the highest toxicity category.

Aldicarb may persist in groundwater for decades due to its long half-life between 200 to 2000 days, and ingestion of aldicarb-contaminated groundwater by residents adversely affects immune system function. Furthermore, aldicarb is a systemic pesticide that plant roots and leaves readily uptake, leading to toxic chemical residues in pollen and guttation droplets, poisoning pollinators like bees.

In 2010, Bayer CropScience agreed with EPA to voluntarily cancel the production of Temik 15G, the sole aldicarb pesticide on the market, ending distribution by 2017. However, less than a decade after its discontinuation, a new aldicarb product by AgLogic—AgLogic 15G—surfaced, with limited use on a small subset of U.S. crops.

Evidence demonstrates that past use of Temik 15G on citrus fruit crops exclusively posed the highest risk to children and infants, ultimately leading to its 2010 cancellation. Furthermore, the Florida Department of Agriculture denied AgLogic’s request to gain “Special Local Needs” approval under Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for use on Florida citrus in 2017 and 2018 because AgLogic was unable to demonstrate that aldicarb is safer at controlling pests than other alternatives.

Organic growers know that soil biology and soil health is important to protection from diseases like citrus greening. The use of aldicarb and streptomycin, on the other hand, destroy healthy soil biota.

The approval of the aldicarb use demonstrates the danger of regulating pesticides through negotiated voluntary cancellations, which do not produce a record on which EPA or the public can depend for future decisions.

Please reverse EPA’s approval of the highly toxic insecticide aldicarb for use on citrus.

01/21/2021 — Tell the Biden USDA and Congress to Protect COVID relief for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Military Veteran Farmers!

(Beyond Pesticides, January 19, 2021) Inadequate funding proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the “Section 2501” program) fails to address historic discrimination and inadequate assistance for farmers of color and military veteran farmers. Funding for the Section 2501 program, which for three decades, has been the only farm bill program specifically addressing needs of these underserved populations in agriculture is smaller this year, placing undue stress on already stretched-thin community organizations working to respond to farmers during this unprecedented period of prolonged economic hardship.

Tell the Biden USDA to ensure that the full Section 2501 funding reaches farmers of color and military veteran farmers.

Since 1990, the goal of the Section 2501 program has been to increase historically underserved farmers’ awareness of and access to USDA resources—addressing the historic inequities that farmers of color, or socially disadvantaged farmers, faced in accessing USDA programs, including Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans. Congress added military veterans to the program in 2014 as an additional underserved audience. Section 2501 grants provide funding to community-based organizations and minority-serving academic institutions to conduct critical outreach and technical assistance to communities of color and veterans. 

Unfortunately, USDA has redirected $2 million of this funding, along with $2 million redirected from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation technical assistance funds to a separate, administratively created initiative. USDA’s a new Centers for Community Prosperity initiative seeks to address economic development in persistent poverty communities, with a focus on faith-based initiatives. This new program is less focused on socially disadvantaged farmers and much more prescriptive in project design than the Section 2501 program. In total, USDA diverted $4.2 million into this new initiative. 

Congress recently provided an additional $40 million for the Section 2501 grant program in its latest COVID relief bill passed in December 2020. Please urge USDA to ensure this funding goes directly to Section 2501 grantees and reaches socially disadvantaged farmers, and not be used for any other initiative—such as the Centers for Community Prosperity.

Tell the Biden USDA to ensure that the full Section 2501 funding reaches farmers of color and military veteran farmers.

Letter to Congress

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, farmers across the country are struggling to keep their farms afloat and plan for the uncertainty that the coming year holds. While farmers have suffered from several years of depressed prices, uncertainty in trade markets, and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, the already tenuous livelihoods of our nation’s most chronically underserved farmers—particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color farmers–were made worse this year as a result of the pandemic. I am increasingly concerned about the sustainability of our nation’s most underserved farmers who often not only have the fewest resources to draw on but also are most in need of emergency relief and long-term support in these challenging times—as well as the nation’s food security that depends on them.

As you know, Congress recently passed its fourth round of emergency relief to help farmers, small businesses, health care professionals, households and communities across the country combat the worsening impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. As directed in the farm bill, the $80 million in additional  USDA funding is to be divided equally between USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the Section 2501 Program.

I urge you to make sure that USDA moves expeditiously to grant these additional Section 2501 funds to eligible entities with the skills and experience to reach socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, including those most impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It is my expectation, as is shared by Congress, that the additional $40 million in funding to be directed to the Section 2501 grant program will support projects as authorized under the farm bill and will not be diverted to any other administrative initiative or purpose, such as the Centers for Community Prosperity.

In the fact of the future uncertainty of the ultimate impacts of the pandemic on our food system and communities of color, please pressure USDA to distribute the additional Section 2501 grants in a way that ensures organizations have resources over the coming years to respond to their community’s needs. USDA should also use the additional funding to increase the total grant award amount to its statutory level of $250,000 per year. Finally, I share the expectation of Congress that USDA will ensure that any project funded with these additional funds complies with the statutory requirements laid out in the farm bill—that it:

  • Has demonstrated experience in providing agricultural education or other agriculturally related services to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and veteran farmers and ranchers;
  • Provides documentary evidence of work with, and on behalf of, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers and veteran farmers and ranchers during the 3-year period preceding the submission of their 2501 application;
  • Will use any 2501 funding to provide outreach and technical assistance exclusively to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in order to improve their participation in USDA agricultural program; and
  • Will represent a regional balance of projects that are geographically diverse and serve farmers in all states and regions

Thank you for supporting this critical program—especially during a time of such critical need for Black, Indigenous and people of color communities across the country.

Letter to Biden Transition Team on Agriculture

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, farmers across the country are struggling to keep their farms afloat and plan for the uncertainty that the coming year holds. While farmers have suffered from several years of depressed prices, uncertainty in trade markets, and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, the already tenuous livelihoods of our nation’s most chronically underserved farmers—particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color farmers—were made worse this year as a result of the pandemic. I am increasingly concerned about the sustainability of our nation’s most underserved farmers who often not only have the fewest resources to draw on but also are most in need of emergency relief and long-term support in these challenging times—as well as the nation’s food security that depends on them.

Congress recently passed its fourth round of emergency relief to help farmers, small businesses, health care professionals, households and communities across the country combat the worsening impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. As directed in the farm bill, the $80 million in additional  USDA funding is to be divided equally between USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Outreach and Technical Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the Section 2501 Program.

I urge the Department to move expeditiously to grant these additional Section 2501 funds to eligible entities with the skills and experience to reach socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, including those most impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It is my expectation, as is shared by Congress, that the additional $40 million in funding to be directed to the Section 2501 grant program will support projects as authorized under the farm bill and will not be diverted to any other administrative initiative or purpose, such as the Centers for Community Prosperity.

In the face of the future uncertainty of the ultimate impacts of the pandemic on our food system and communities of color, I ask USDA to distribute the additional Section 2501 grants in a way that ensures organizations have resources over the coming years to respond to their community’s needs. USDA should also use the additional funding to increase the total grant award amount to its statutory level of $250,000 per year. Finally, I share the expectation of Congress that USDA will ensure that any project funded with these additional funds complies with the statutory requirements laid out in the farm bill—that it:

  • Has demonstrated experience in providing agricultural education or other agriculturally related services to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and veteran farmers and ranchers;
  • Provides documentary evidence of work with, and on behalf of, socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers and veteran farmers and ranchers during the 3-year period preceding the submission of their 2501 application;
  • Will use any 2501 funding to provide outreach and technical assistance exclusively to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in order to improve their participation in USDA agricultural program; and
  • Will represent a regional balance of projects that are geographically diverse and serve farmers in all states and regions

Thank you for considering these recommendations and for supporting this critical program—especially during a time of such critical need for Black, Indigenous and people of color communities across the country.

01/11/2021 — Tell President-Elect Biden and Congress to Clean Up at EPA—End the Era of Corporate Deception

Tell President-Elect Biden and Congress to Clean Up at EPA—End the Era of Corporate Deception

01/04/2021 — Secure Your Food and the Future of Local Organic Farmers

As we begin the new year, one of the most pervasive problems that our country faces, which has been particularly painful especially during the holiday season, is food insecurity—now affecting 54 million people. Food insecurity in the U.S. is real. As we continue through the dark winter months with the threat of even greater surges in COVID-19, it is important to strengthen those connections that support food security and those who produce our food.

>>Ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to make permanent support for small and medium sized local farmers, building on the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package.

Worldwide, the threats of impending famine have been met by extraordinary responses from countries and private donors. These events are evidence that food shortages are caused by inequities in distribution rather than underproduction, consistent with continuing population growth and contrary to claims by the pesticide industry. Peasant activists Jeongyeol Kim and Pramesh Pokharel argue that the solution to food insecurity is food sovereignty—that a food system depending on big agribusiness and corporations does not support local food production. That food system contributes to food insecurity for both the countries depending on food imports that may not be present is a pandemic and for countries exporting food—whose food supplies may be exported and whose farmers are dependent on income from exports.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our nation's food supply,” said Senator Corey Booker, who sponsored the Local FARM Act. “Food banks are grappling with greater demand while subsequently facing steep reductions in donations. Farmers have been forced to dump products due to supply-chain disruptions and a resulting lack of access to traditional markets. And corporate agribusiness is proving incapable of maintaining operations in a way that is safe for both workers and our food supply.”

“In response, this legislation strengthens local and regional food systems in order to avoid the harmful supply-chain disruptions stemming from a consolidated market and provides greater choice to those purchasing food to feed their families during this difficult time,” said Senator Booker. “Billions of dollars in farm aid have been made available in response to the current health crisis, but current programs fail to not only fairly compensate farmers from across the economic spectrum, they fail to invest in resilient food systems that could protect the nation's food supply both now and in a future pandemic. It's time for that to change.”

"The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left many small, beginning, and historically underserved producers, including Black, Indigenous, and farmers of color; in a precarious financial situation - especially farmers who have traditionally relied on selling into local and regional markets such schools, institutions, restaurants and farmers markets,” said Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).

We need to make permanent support for small and medium sized local farmers, building on the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package. Elements of Local Food Assistance and Resilient Markets Act (the Local FARM Act) must become permanent:

(i) Create specialty crop block grants; (ii) Expand online supplemental nutrition assistance program; (iii) Expand the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP); and (iv) Expand farm microloans.

According to Eric Deeble, NSAC policy director, “[The Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package] does not do enough to target aid to those producers and families who have been most impacted, and sunsets too soon: all but ensuring advocates will have to return to fight for families again in January.”  Mr. Deeble continued, “Even still, it is an important starting point as the new Administration and Congress begin to look beyond emergency response to the longer term work of rebuilding our food and farm system to be more sustainable, must, and equitable for every family.” 

In addition to the need for policy reform and in accordance with “Think globally and act locally,” we can help ourselves, our local farmers, and the resilience of the global food system by buying locally-grown organic food directly from the farmer—or with as few intervening steps as possible. Below are some resources that can help.

LocalHarvest provides a connection to community supported agriculture (subscription services), farms, farmers markets, and other local food sources. Eatwild provides a clearinghouse for information about pasture-based farming, with a directory of local farmers in the U.S. and Canada who sell their pastured farm and ranch products directly to consumers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a database of local farmers markets. Another step away, there is a listing of cooperative grocery stores at the Cooperative Grocers Network. Winter may not be a good time to grow vegetables in most states, but sprouts and microgreens can be grown anywhere. 

>>Ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to make permanent support small and medium sized local farmers, building on the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package.

Letter to Congress

As we begin the new year, one of the most pervasive problems that our country faces, which has been particularly painful especially during the holiday season, is food insecurity—now affecting 54 million people. Food insecurity in the U.S. is real. As we continue through the dark winter months with the threat of even greater surges in COVID-19, it is important to strengthen those connections that support food security and those who produce our food.

I am writing to ask you to make permanent support for small and medium sized local farmers, building on the Coronavirus Relief Package. Elements of Local Food Assistance and Resilient Markets Act (the Local FARM Act) must become permanent:

(i) Create specialty crop block grants;
(ii) Expand online supplemental nutrition assistance program;
(iii) Expand the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP); and
(iv) Expand farm microloans.

Worldwide, the threats of impending famine have been met by extraordinary responses from countries and private donors. These events are evidence that food shortages are caused by inequities in distribution rather than underproduction, consistent with continuing population growth and contrary to claims by the pesticide industry. Peasant activists Jeongyeol Kim and Pramesh Pokharel argue that the solution to food insecurity is food sovereignty—that a food system depending on big agribusiness and corporations does not support local food production. That food system contributes to food insecurity for both the countries depending on food imports that may not be present is a pandemic and for countries exporting food—whose food supplies may be exported and whose farmers are dependent on income from exports.

"The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left many small, beginning, and historically underserved producers, including Black, Indigenous, and farmers of color; in a precarious financial situation - especially farmers who have traditionally relied on selling into local and regional markets such schools, institutions, restaurants and farmers markets,” said Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Please help our local farmers to ensure the availability of food in our communities.

Thank you.