California Groups Join National Effort to Reject TPP

California Farm and Rural Groups Join 160+ Organizations to Ask Congress to Reject TPP, Stand Up for Independent Farmers and Ranchers

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become a divisive issue in the nation’s capital, and criticism intensified after 161 food, farm, faith and rural organizations, including 9 from California, sent a letter to Capitol Hill yesterday, April 27, 2016–urging lawmakers to reject the trade pact.

“The main beneficiaries of the TPP are the companies that buy, process and ship raw agricultural commodities, not the farmers who face real risks from rising import competition. TPP imports will compete against U.S. farmers who are facing declining farm prices that are projected to stay low for years,” the organizations wrote. California groups including Belcampo, California Dairy Campaign, California Farmers Union, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Ecological Farming Association, Food & Water Watch, Rooted in Community, Rooted in Community Youth Food Justice Leadership Network and Roots of Change signed the letter.TPP madeInAmerica

The White House has promoted the TPP as an export-boon for farmers to generate support for the agreement, but past trade agreements have not always delivered on export promises, the letter noted. For example, the United States’ total combined exports of corn, soybeans and wheat have remained steady at about 100 million metric tons for the last 30 years despite a raft of free trade agreements since the mid-1990s.

“Trade deals do not just add new export markets – the flow of trade goes both ways – and the U.S. has committed to allowing significantly greater market access to imports under the TPP,” the groups explained. Especially “alarming” to the organizations is the agreement’s complete lack of enforceable provisions against currency manipulation, a substantial cause of America’s debilitating $531 billion trade imbalance.

California Dairy Campaign President Joe Augusto stated, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership will mean that imports from New Zealand and other countries will greatly increase, especially imports of concentrated dairy products. As more and more dairies in California go out of business, passage of the TPP will lead to a further decline in milk production across our state.”

The TPP poses particular risks for dairy farmers and cattle producers. The TPP dairy export opportunities were more modest than promised, but the TPP will likely increase imports of milk and whey protein concentrates from global dairy powerhouse New Zealand during a period of declining farmgate milk prices in the U.S. The United States imported nearly 2.3 billion pounds of beef from TPP partners but only exported about 1.2 billion pounds in 2015. The TPP will also increase beef and cattle imports while domestic cattle prices are plummeting.

California Farmers Union President Joaquin Contente stated, “Farmers in California are some of the most highly regulated in the world, and under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they will have to compete against a flood of imports that do not meet the same high standards that farmers here are required to follow. Any potential export gains can be erased at any point when our competitors devalue their currency because currency manipulation is not addressed in the TPP. The TPP also does not crack down on the value-added taxes (VAT) that our competitors can impose which make our exports uncompetitive in other markets.”

The TPP also covers important agricultural policy areas such as investment, procurement, labeling, food safety, animal health and crop disease. The stringent rules and dispute system under the TPP make it easier to successfully challenge and overturn domestic laws, as happened last year to country of origin meat labels.

“The TPP will bring a wave of fruit and vegetable imports that will inundate farmers, consumers and inspectors,” said Food & Water Watch California Director Adam Scow. “The TPP benefits the biggest agribusiness and food companies at the expense of California communities that are trying to strengthen and rebuild local, sustainable food systems.”

The letter and complete list of signers can be read here.
http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/farm-food_tpp_coalition_letter_4-27-16.pdf

California Farmers Union contact: Lynne McBride, 925-385-0217, lmcb44@comcast.net
California Dairy Campaign contact: Lynne McBride, 925-385-0217, lmcb44@comcast.net
Food & Water Watch contact: Adam Scow, ascow@fwwatch.org
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See the California TPP website for the government’s perspective.

SAGE Welcomes Poppy Davis as New Program Director, One of Our Own

SAGE’s New Program Director Poppy Davis to Expand Organization’s Capacity for Cultivating Urban-Edge Agricultural Places

Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) welcomes Poppy Davis as Program Director to expand the organization’s capacity and develop and implement strategies for revitalizing urban-edge agricultural places that sustain and define cities. SAGE is a lean, entrepreneurial nonprofit organization headed by Sibella Kraus, recipient of the 2014 Growing Green Regional Food Leader Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Sibella Kraus, SAGE President
Sibella Kraus, SAGE President and recipient of 2014 Growing Green Regional Food Leader Award

Working through multi-partner collaborations, SAGE develops place-based projects, toolkits and conceptual frameworks to demonstrate strategies for urban-edge farmland preservation, regeneration, and re-connection with healthy cities.  SAGE also provides agriculture-related technical services such as foodshed and agricultural economic viability assessments, implementation plans and business plans. Partners include public agencies, land trusts, agricultural enterprises and associations, planning and economic consultancy firms, public-interest organizations working in the area of public health, healthy food access, education and conservation, and community groups in urban and rural areas.

Sibella founded SAGE in 2001 to use her background in agricultural marketing, education and journalism, to help diverse stakeholders embrace urban-edge agricultural places as keystones of urban and regional sustainability. Bringing Poppy on board strengthens the organization’s capacity to work with the agricultural community, particularly retiring landowners and beginning farmers and ranchers who are eager to benefit from new opportunities at the urban-edge.

Poppy Davis, New Program Director at SAGE
Poppy Davis, New Program Director at SAGE

Poppy began her career as a California Certified Public Accountant specializing in family-scale agricultural businesses and associations. She translated her intimate knowledge of agricultural issues and farm-family decision-making to the policy arena, working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), first for the crop insurance program in the Western Region and most recently as the National Program Leader for Small Farms and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers in Washington, D.C.. While at the USDA she served as a member of the management team for Secretary Vilsack‘s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative,

Know Your Farmer. Know Your Food.
Know Your Farmer. Know Your Food.

and co-founded the USDA 4 Veterans, Reservists & Military Families, and Women and Working Lands workgroups. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Davis; a Masters in Journalism from Georgetown University, and a Juris Doctor with a certificate in Agricultural Law from Drake University Law School. Poppy is also a past fellow of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 35) and has served on a number of nonprofit boards including the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, Center for Land Based Learning, and Community Alliance with Family Farmers.

Farmer Veteran Coalition
Farmer Veteran Coalition

“We are delighted to welcome Poppy to SAGE,” says Kraus. “Poppy’s breadth of experience – providing services to farmers, working for ag-focused nonprofits and for the USDA – and the respect she commands in the California and national agricultural communities, make her the ideal person to help SAGE grow our mission to cultivate urban-edge places that model sustainable agriculture integrated with resilient communities.” For her part, Poppy says, “I have long respected Sibella’s vision and work, and I think we will make a great team. Sibella already has many forward-thinking projects in the works, and I’m looking forward to working with SAGE’s diverse partners, as well as bringing in collaborations of my own.”

California Agricultural Leadership Foundation
California Agricultural Leadership Foundation

SAGE’s areas of expertise, services and publications include:

  • Technical consulting and visioning on the agricultural components of land-use projects and policy documents
  • On-the-ground models and best practice toolkits that integrate farming with public engagement and natural resources stewardship
  • Foodshed  and local agriculture assessments  for land trusts, local and regional governments, associations and businesses
  • Conceptual frameworks that bridge sustainable agriculture and graphic models that depict the inter-relationship of urban and agricultural land uses
For more information, please contact Sibella Kraus or Poppy Davis at 510-526-1793 or via email at sibella@sagecenter.org or poppy@sagecenter.org, or see www.sagecenter.org.

SUPPORT NEEDED FOR AB 1961 TO PRESERVE FARMLAND FOR GENERATIONS

SUSTAINABLE FARMLAND STRATEGY ACT (AB 1961) INTRODUCED TO PRESERVE FARMLAND

 

Announced TODAY, CalCAN is a proud co-sponsor of a bill introduced on Feb. 19th by Assembly Agriculture Chair Susan Talamantes Eggman — the Sustainable Farmland Strategy Act (AB 1961). The bill recognizes the significance of the state’s farmland resources by requiring counties to complete a Sustainable Farmland Strategy. It is co-sponsored by CalCAN, Community Alliance with Family Farmers and American Farmland Trust.

farmscape-credit-CAFF-300x199
photo credit: CAFF

 

“The Sustainable Farmland Strategy Act acknowledges that our agricultural land in California is a finite resource that is critical for our economy and our food security,” said Assemblymember Talamantes Eggman. “This bill highlights the need to discuss at the local level how we can maintain our agricultural land for generations to come.”

 

The bill requires that counties with significant farmland resources inventory their agriculturally zoned land, describe their goals and policies to retain farmland and mitigate for its loss and compile that information on the county website. Counties with less than four percent of their land base in agriculture are not required to complete a Sustainable Farmland Strategy.

 

“We cannot continue to lose farmland at the rate we’re going,” said Jean Okuye, Merced County farmer and President of the Merced Chapter of the California Farm Bureau Federation. “I welcome the opportunity this bill creates at the local level to discuss how our county can support our farmers and keep a thriving agriculture on the land.”

 

California is the most diverse and productive agricultural state in the United States with sales in 2013 topping nearly $45 billion. The state’s farms and ranches supply the majority of the country’s fruits, nuts and vegetables and are leading suppliers of dairy products. Despite this, over the past 30 years, the state has lost an average of 30,000 acres, annually, of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.

 

Counties have jurisdiction over the majority of the state’s agricultural land and play a vital role in regulating the use of land, including the conservation of agricultural lands through zoning and planning activities. The Sustainable Farmland Strategy is intended to be a complement to the state’s Williamson Act, which provides tax incentives for landowners to keep their land in agriculture.

To find ways to express your support for AB 1961, go to the CalCAN website. 

 

The California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) brings a sustainable agricultural perspective to climate change and agriculture policy. Our efforts are aimed at increasing funding for research, technical assistance and financial incentives for farmers whose practices reduce GHG emissions, sequester carbon, and provide many environmental co-benefits. Moreover, we aim to build capacity among sustainable agriculture advocacy organizations and our farmer members to engage in climate change debate. CalCAN represents sustainable agriculture organizations and allied groups that work directly with California’s sustainable and organic farmers.