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Press Releases: Farming

Press Releases Found: 19
February 9, 2015

Two New Bills Will Bring Equity to Farmers and Bay Restoration Efforts

Annapolis, MD—Maryland Senator Richard Madaleno (D-18) introduced two pieces of legislation on the Senate floor today that will create new protections for poultry contract growers while also bringing equity to ongoing efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by requiring some of the biggest polluters of the Bay to contribute to conservation measures. Madaleno’s sponsorship of the Farmers’ Rights Act and the Bay Tax Equity Act is a critical first step toward correcting injustices within Maryland’s agricultural sector that have had a negative impact on the livelihoods of local growers and the health of the Bay.

The Farmers’ Rights Act will help Maryland lawmakers take meaningful steps toward protecting the region’s contract growers from the often-abusive practices of giant poultry companies by putting forth a set of guaranteed grower’s rights, while prohibiting many of the abusive practices, that force contract growers into poor working conditions and leave them with a tremendous amount of debt.

The Bay Tax Equity Act, which is a new version of legislation introduced last year, will hold Maryland’s poultry companies, some of the biggest polluters of the Bay, partially accountable for their contribution to nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay by requiring them to pay their fair share towards the necessary costs of Bay restoration. The bill would require poultry companies to contribute to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Cover Crop program, a $20 million per year initiative designed largely to address the massive amounts of excess chicken waste produced on the Eastern Shore where the chicken companies operate. Presently, this program is funded entirely by state taxpayers, including the diversion of funds from the annual $60 tax placed on the state’s septic users. By shifting the financial burden of the Cover Crop program over to the profitable companies who create the problem in the first place, the BTEA would allow 100 percent of the septic money collected to go towards the critical need of upgrading the state’s septic systems.

March 14, 2014

UK GM Report: Vested Interests Miss the Point

Press release: Brussels—“Food & Water Europe dismissed today’s United Kingdom report calling for more GM trials in the UK as “a chronically flawed effort from blinkered vested interests. The UK’s pro-GM government asked a group of GM scientists and lobbyists what we should do about GM food and crops. Since many of the scientists involved make money from GM, it’s no surprise they want more of it. But this situation begs the question: shouldn’t those advising the Government on GM be a bit more independent, or at least a little more distant from the profits?

“The report aims for a shift to U.S.-style regulation based on “substantial equivalence,” rather than the EU’s clear case-by-case precautionary evaluation of each GMO in turn. This attempt to portray GMOs as “just the same” also undermines the very labels that help EU consumers find, and roundly reject, GM products on supermarket shelves.

“The biggest problem with the report is that it misses the point—if industrial food production was going to end hunger, it would have done so by now. We need a much smarter approach to feeding ourselves, with more respect for what farmers do, a sentiment that was reflected in a report called Wake Up Before It’s Too Late, which the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development issued last year.

September 13, 2013

Food & Water Watch Calls on O’Malley Administration to Close Loopholes in Phosphorous Regulations

“It is widely known that phosphorous pollution from manure applied to farmland is a major source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Phosphorous pollution creates algae blooms that consume oxygen and create “dead zones” where fish and shellfish cannot survive, block sunlight that is needed for underwater Bay grasses and smother aquatic life on the floor of the Bay.

“EPA statistics reveal that agriculture alone contributes 42 percent of the phosphorous pollution in the Bay; manure accounts for 37 percent of the loads of phosphorus to the waterway. This isn’t surprising since there are over 304 million chickens raised in Maryland that produce 1.3 billion pounds of waste annually, much of which gets dumped untreated onto fields, where it can leach into groundwater or run-off into the Bay.

“Farmland in the Lower Eastern Shore, where the chicken industry is most active, is already saturated with phosphorus. According to researchers, up to 80 percent of the fields sampled on the Lower Eastern Shore contain so much phosphorus that they simply can’t absorb anymore. Worse yet, a recent study suggests that even if phosphorous application were stopped today, it would take decades to reduce phosphorous levels in soils sufficient to protect our waterways.

July 1, 2013

Superweeds and Herbicide Use On the Rise

Press Release: A report released today by Food & Water Watch analyzes the connection between the rapid proliferation of GE crops and affiliated pesticides in the United States and the rise of herbicide-resistant “superweeds” that have led to the steadily increasing use of more dangerous herbicides.

June 10, 2013

What Little Difference a Year Makes: Senate-Passed Farm Bill Nibbles Around Edges of Broken Food System

Media Statement: Today, the U.S. Senate passed a farm bill that did little to address the stranglehold that food processing firms have over America’s unsustainable and unfair food system. The Senate fiddled with minutiae but did nothing to stem the rising tide of mergers, takeovers and buyouts that further consolidates the food and agribusiness landscape.

December 7, 2012

Groups Stand Up for Clean Water Act in West Virginia Factory Farm Suit

Press Release: A coalition of local and national public interest organizations have asked a federal court for permission to participate in a legal action that will decide when Clean Water Act restrictions apply to the release of pollutants in animal manure into local waterways used for recreation, drinking and to support nearby communities. In the lawsuit, American Farm Bureau Federation and West Virginia Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) claim that a Clean Water Act permit is not required for discharges of animal waste from a large Hardy County poultry concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). The organizations, including Potomac Riverkeeper, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, and Waterkeeper Alliance, are seeking to ensure that the Farm Bureau-backed poultry CAFO cannot sidestep Clean Water Act standards. Today’s filing asks the Court to give the public interest organizations the same right to participate already given to the Farm Bureau.

The motion to intervene in the case was prompted by the CAFO’s refusal to comply with an EPA order directing it to obtain a Clean Water Act permit for its discharges of pollutants from animal manure generated at the facility. The CAFO houses 200,000 chickens and contains ditches that direct animal waste from the operation into a tributary of the South Branch of the Potomac River which is listed by the state as “impaired” because of algal blooms and the presence of fecal bacteria. Although the CAFO is not disputing that its waste is discharged into these waters, it sued the agency claiming that the discharges to local waterways are exempt from the Clean Water Act, rather than obtaining a permit. The motion to intervene seeks confirmation that no exemption applies here.

“The issue here is about more than one CAFO polluting one waterway,” said Brent Walls, Upper Potomac River Manager for Potomac Riverkeeper. “It’s about defining a way to preserve and protect the right of everyone to have clean rivers and streams, even when they’re near industrial agriculture.”

November 2, 2012

Farmers Pay the Price for Consolidation in Organic Food Industry

Organic food has become big business and the largest food manufacturers have rapidly taken over the organic food sector, sweeping formerly independent businesses into large food conglomerates. An analysis released today by the national consumer group Food & Water Watch found that the farmers who grow organic crops and raise organic livestock now face the same forces of corporate consolidation that dominate the conventional food industry, with a declining number of buyers putting downward pressure on the prices farmers receive.

Consolidation of Hog Industry Drains Iowa’s Rural Economies

Iowa produces more pigs than any other state in the country. In years past, hog farming and pork processing boosted Iowa’s rural economies. But as the pork packing industry consolidated, the economic benefits of the hog sector shifted from rural Iowa to Wall Street. Today, growth in the consolidated hog industry has become a mechanism for draining value from, not adding to, Iowa’s rural economies.

August 28, 2012

Rastetter Tried to Use Taxpayer Funding for Tanzanian Land Grab

Press Release: Just days after the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board refused to investigate Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter for conflict of interest violations, newly released documents reveal that he attempted to use a partnership with Iowa State University (ISU) to get U.S. government funding to establish his controversial agribusiness project in Tanzania.

Working with ISU faculty, Rastetter’s company AgriSol applied in 2011 for more than $7 million in taxpayer dollars as part of an international food aid program run by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA).

July 19, 2012
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National Nonprofit Food & Water Watch Joins Complaint Against Rastetter, Exposes Another AgriSol Executive as Complicit in Tanzania Land Grab

Press Release: Today the national consumer advocacy nonprofit Food & Water Watch – with more than 400,000 members nationally and over 5,000 in Iowa – joined Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement’s (Iowa CCI) ethics complaint against Iowa Regent Bruce Rastetter for an egregious conflict of interest involving a Tanzania land deal he brokered in partnership with Iowa State University. Food & Water Watch delivered a letter delivered to Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board Executive Director Megan Tooker today requesting to be added to Iowa CCI’s ethics complaint.

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