Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama: Please Support Organic Food and Farming

Joan Miró
The Vegetable Garden with Donkey

Members of the Organic Consumers Association are writing to President-Elect Barack Obama--go here to add your signature--and setting forth recommendations for policy and personal initiatives aimed at creating "a healthy, sustainable, just, and organic future" for America.

President-Elect Obama is in the process of formulating policy, assembling his transition team, and considering nominees for Secretary of Agriculture, among other important positions. The Secretary of Agriculture is responsible for directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its $90 billion annual budget, including the National Organic Program, food stamp and nutrition programs, and agriculture subsidies. Obama throughout his campaign, and since his election, has stressed that he wants to hear from the public in order to formulate his policies. Let’s all take him up on this invitation. [...]

[Excerpted from the letter:]

1. Plant a working “Organic Victory Garden” on the South Lawn of the White House, to symbolize your commitment to locally-based, solar-based organic agriculture, with surplus food going to local food shelves.

2. Hire a well-known organic chef, such as Nora Pouillon or Alice Waters, to prepare healthy organic meals for the White House and staff, including vegetables and herbs from the White House Organic Victory Garden.

3. Increase food stamp benefits so low-income Americans can afford high quality organic foods. One way to do this would be to double the value of food stamp debit cards for fresh food purchased from farmers markets.

4. Restore consumers’ right to know by publicly supporting mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered foods, with regulations similar to those now in place in Europe, Japan, and other nations.

5. Expand incentives for small and mid-sized organic farms and for farmers and ranchers who wish to make the transition to organic. The organic sector currently represents at least three percent of our current food purchases, therefore it deserves at least three percent of USDA program funds and incentives.

6. Appoint Michael Pollan, or another well-known advocate for organic agriculture and the relocalization of our food and farming system, as the new Secretary of Agriculture.

7. Provide funds and incentives for urban food access programs that connect organic farms with urban retail stores, providing fresh produce and vegetables for America’s inner-cities.

8. [Redirect the existing multi-billion dollar crop subsidy system away from commodities and biofuels and instead towards energy-efficient, greenhouse gas sequestering organic crops, especially fruits and vegetables.]

9. Strictly regulate factory farms, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), to sharply reduce or eliminate their damage to the environment and public health.

10. Fast-track the Employee Free Choice Act to assure that farm labor and other workers are guaranteed the right to form a union at their place of employment.

I can't add a thing--these are, quite simply, excellent recommendations. I'm sure you'll agree: sign here. (Thanks!)

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