Archive for October, 2011
Advocating Farmers Markets
Part of the growing trend to consumer organic foods is seen in farmers’ markets. A recent article in the Greenville News stated, “Farmers’ markets play a major role in the economic growth of the state,” said Hugh Weathers, South Carolina’s commissioner of agriculture. “When people visit farmers’ markets, it’s more than just a place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s an opportunity to help maintain important social ties, linking urban and rural populations.”
While the US Government still seems focused on promoting the industry position of biotech plants and chemical pesticides, other nations, like American consumers are focused on promoting organics. For example, in India, the government has recently launched a campaign to promote organic farming. The government is offering subsidies to farmers for taking up organic farming of vegetables and to check rampant use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on vegetable farms. They are moving to increase organic farming from 500 hectares to 6,000 hectares over the next four years in one district and 8,570 in another district. This clearly is an example that the US could follow –especially in relationship to the Farm Bill subsidies allocations coming up in 2012.
Minnesota and California Courts Rule for Organic Farmer – Some Strides
The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that a large organic farm surrounded by chemical-laden conventional farms can seek damages for lost crops, as well as lost profits, caused by the illegal trespassing of pesticides and herbicides on its property. Oluf and Debra Johnson’s 1,500-acre organic farm has repeatedly been contaminated by nearby conventional and GMO farms since the couple started it in the 1990s. A local pesticide cooperative known as Paynesville Farmers Union (PFU), which is near the farm, has been cited at least four times for violating pesticide laws, and inadvertently causing damage to the Johnson’s farm. The first time it was realized that pesticides had drifted onto the Johnson’s farm in 1998, PFU apologized, but did not agree to pay for damages. The Johnson’s took their loss the first time, but after PFU continued to break the law three more years in a row, and spray chemicals on windy days, thus contaminating the organic crop, the Johnson’s sued and settled out of court, a settlement which meant they sold their products at a lower price and not as organics. In 2009, when PFU continued contaminated their fields, the Johnson’s sued again, this time for negligence and trespass, only to receive denial from the district court that received the case. The Johnson’s appealed. The Appeals Court ruled that particulate matter, including pesticides, herbicides, and even GM particulates, that contaminates nearby fields is, in fact, considered illegal trespass, and is subject to the same laws concerning other forms of trespass.
In California, an organic farm recently won a million dollar lawsuit from a conventional farm whose pesticides spread through fog from several miles away. The entire season’s crop of herbs from organic farm was lost as a result. The tide may be turning against GM producers whose materials contaminate neighboring farms with this new precedent.