Reducing Food Waste Should Be Top of Mind

“No Taste for Waste” Initiative Starts a Big Conversation

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

As we end 2018 and head to 2019, it’s a good idea to think about reducing food waste. CropLife America, a national trade organization that represents manufacturers, formulators, and distributors of pesticides, is working to minimize the amount of food Americans throw away every day. Kellie Bray, Senior Director of Government Affairs for CropLife, encourages Americans to start the conversation of food waste.

“This is a conversation that is so important not only to growers and producers but to consumers and the people who are really cognizant of food issues. Not only making sure that they save money and food in their own homes but making sure too that people who need food have it,” Bray urged.

In order to set this conversation into motion, CropLife, along with the American Farm Bureau and Meredith Corporation, have partnered on an initiative called, “No Taste for Waste.” The initiative has worked to create a “bookazine” that was available in grocery stores and even your local Target.

“It’s a combination of recipes, farmer’s stories, and tips and tricks on how to maximize the food you have now, so nothing goes to waste,” Bray explained.

Get the Facts on Food Waste

  1. The amount of food wasted in the United States equates to more than 1,250 calories per day, per person, annually.
  2. Food waste is responsible for at least 2.6 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. The number one contributor to all landfill content is food waste, contributing around 21 percent each year.
  4. Each year, between 125 and 160 billion pounds of food are left uneaten in the United States.
  5. Between 21 to 33 percent of agricultural water use is accounted for by food waste.
  6. Cropland of uneaten food accounts for between 18 to 28 percent of U.S. total cropland, which is more than the entire state of New Mexico.
  7. Households are responsible for the largest portion of all food waste. At 238 pounds of food per person, that equals 76 billion pounds!
  8. Many farmers cut back on food waste by using unsold produce as feed for livestock or compost in the soil.

For more information on how to prevent food waste, visit: notasteforwaste.org

Pressure Builds Against EPA Water Proposal

By: Kate Campbell; Ag Alert

Proposed changes to the federal Clean Water Act have roiled farmers across the nation and created an uproar among many other water users—including cities and counties with parks and recreation areas, golf courses and local water agencies.

If adopted, the proposed rule changes would expand the definition of “waters of the United States” to potentially allow federal agencies to regulate virtually every area of ground in the nation that gets wet or has flow during rainfall.

California Farm Bureau Federation leaders were in Washington, D.C., in mid-May to explain to lawmakers face to face the damage the proposed changes could have on food production. They called for more time to review and comment on the proposal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said last week it will extend the comment deadline on the proposed rule, allowing farmers, ranchers and other interested stakeholders more time—until Oct. 20—to comment on its proposed redefinition of waters of the U.S. The extension adds almost three additional months to the comment period, which had been scheduled to end July 21.

Comment on a companion interpretive rule governing agricultural exemptions that accompanied the waters of the U.S. rule also will be extended—from June 5 to July 7.

The Clean Water Act was signed into law in 1972 to protect the nation’s “navigable” waters from pollution. The current proposal to amend the act would greatly expand EPA’s regulatory powers. Farm policy experts say Congress gave states, not the EPA, primary responsibility for land use oversight.

Farm Bureau, together with dozens of other business groups, is protesting the proposed changes.

Farmers and ranchers say the proposal would expand regulatory authority to many common land features including puddles, ponds, ditches, and temporary and small wetlands. The proposal would give federal agencies power to regulate and potentially prohibit many common land-use and farming practices on or near privately owned land.

Solano County hay and forage farmer Sean Favero said the proposed rule change gives him serious cause for concern. Fields where he plants alfalfa, wheat and triticale can retain seasonal moisture in low spots, which under the proposed changes could trigger additional permits and fees, including prohibitions against planting at all.

These are naturally occurring land contours that don’t connect to streams or other bodies of water, he said, adding that he’s concerned about regulations made thousands of miles away by people who don’t know what’s going on at ground level that could further complicate or prevent him from farming. Favero made those points as part of the CFBF federal policy delegation to Washington.

“Judging by the amount of interest from legislators in what we had to say about the proposed changes to the Clean Water Act, I’d like to think our office visits had something to do with the extension announced last week,” Favero said.

CFBF Federal Policy Division consultant Erin Huston said extension of the comment periods “allows us more time to flesh out our objections and explain how the proposal sits on top of the regulatory layers California already has to protect water quality.”

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing last week on the proposed changes, and the House Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing this week on the possibility of an agricultural exemption under the proposed rule changes, Huston said.

“That hearing will address our concerns about how the proposed rule would specifically tie in with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s voluntary conservation practices established by farmers and ranchers through the Natural Resources Conservation Service,” she said.

“We spent a lot of time talking to legislators while we were in Washington and I felt they listened closely to what we had to say,” said Kris Gutierrez, partner in a San Joaquin County vineyard management company and a participant in the CFBF Washington trip. “I believe we got our points across and appreciate the thoughtfulness of our lawmakers.”

American Farm Bureau leaders said the EPA has “misrepresented” its proposed rule changes and downplayed impacts on land use.

“If more people knew how regulators want to require permits for common activities on dry land, or penalize landowners for not getting them, they would be outraged,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said, noting that the proposal “broadly expands federal jurisdiction and threatens local land-use and zoning authority.”

Stallman described the EPA proposal as “an end-run around Congress and the Supreme Court.”

The proposal to regulate everyday farming practices isn’t just impractical, it’s illegal, Stallman told the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment last week.

The EPA has said farmers would face less regulation under its proposal. In response, Stallman said the rule would micromanage farming via newly mandated procedures for fencing, spraying, weeding and more. Obtaining permits, meanwhile, could delay time-sensitive tasks for months, potentially ruining crops in the process.

“EPA is deliberately misleading the regulated community about the impacts on land use,” Stallman said.