Ag Justice Updates
Note: This summary represents the perspective of the Domestic Fair Trade Association and Fair World Project.
The North America Fair Trade Stakeholder Council Summit brought together almost fifty diverse stakeholders to explore how to strengthen the fair trade movement in North America. Attendees represented small farmers in Latin America, farmers in the US and Canada, farmworkers in the US, US- and Canada-based food, craft, and retail businesses committed to the principles of fair trade, and NGOs involved in the fair trade movement. On the third and final day, the group was joined by representatives of Agricultural Justice Project, Institute for Marketecology, Fairtrade Canada, and Fair Trade USA to address how certification, standards, and labels can and should play a role in the fair trade movement.
After three days of work, a firm foundation was laid for a stronger, more coordinated movement and a commitment was made to continue this important work together.
Positive outcomes of this meeting included:
- Reclaiming the understanding that certification is a tool of fair trade and that tool must serve this movement.
- Initiating a process for holding standard-setters, certifiers, and labelers accountable to a high bar set by the stakeholders of the movement.
- Establishing relationships of trust and a commitment to collaborate among stakeholders who had never before worked together.
- Committing to work collaboratively to transform the policy and corporate structures that marginalize producers and workers worldwide.
Four working groups formed in the months leading up to the summit to address four key areas:
- Vision and the future of fair trade
- Accountability within the movement
- The architecture of the movement
- Messaging and education around
It quickly became apparent that there were key issues that needed attention that crossed the boundaries of those working groups, notably large-scale agriculture and domestic fair trade. For both issues, some clarity was achieved, though work remains to be done.
Large-large and corporate agriculture: We reaffirmed that worker voices throughout the supply chain need to be heard in addition to small farmers/artisans and that space in the movement must be created for them. How large-scale agriculture fits into certification programs needs to be worked out, with options including:
- Certification/labeling is not an adequate tool for large-scale agriculture and other mechanisms need to be developed to ensure fair and safe working conditions.
- Certification/labeling is an adequate tool and can be run in parallel to traditional fair trade programs, but products from large-scale agriculture need to be labeled distinctly in the marketplace.
- Certification/labeling is an adequate tool, but additional requirements such as worker access to land for subsistence crops, relationships with local workers’ groups, and working for land reform must be implemented.
- Domestic fair trade: Attendees agreed that the domestic and international fair trade movements should collaborate more closely to identify where commonalities are, understand differing points of view, and ultimately to help each other push our movements forward. Key next steps include:
- Bridge domestic fair trade movements worldwide
- Collaborating on a term that may be used to distinguish domestic fair trade in the marketplace
- Coordinating on accountability issues in a way that sets a high bar and supports those we collectively seek to help.
Though monumental progress was made at this initial meeting, there is still work to be done to further define and strengthen this movement and bring about transformation in agriculture and trade. Next steps include:
- A new group of volunteers has stepped up to be an ad hoc organizing committee proposing outcomes, goals, and a work plan for the next six months to a year. A proposal is expected by July 1st.
- A paper produced by the Accountability group outlining key issues will receive priority attention in the plan for the next six months as a basis for setting minimum expectations for any organization involved in standard-setting and labeling for the fair trade movement.
- Fair World Project has volunteered to create a series of follow up questions for those standard-setters and labelers who joined the Summit to ensure accountability and transparency going forward.
Fair trade in North America is at a critical crossroads. The North America Fair Trade Stakeholder Council Summit represents a crucial step in reigniting a diverse movement of farmers, workers, Alternative Trade Organizations, and advocates to build a just economy based upon the values of fair trade. Fair World Project and the Domestic Fair Trade Association are committed supporting and strengthening this movement going forward.
For more information on next steps, please contact:
- May, 2012
- Elizabeth Henderson
Report to NOFA on the IFOAM Organic World Congress, General Assembly and the meeting of the farmers' group, the Intercontinental Network of Organic Farming Organizations (INOFO) - Sept 28 - Oct 5, 2011
Report on the IFOAM General Assembly, October 3-5, 2011
Every 3 years, the IFOAM General Assembly (GA) meets in conjunction with the Organic World Congress, a 4-day conference on all aspects of organic agriculture with participants from every country in the world. This year, the brand new Organic Museum on the banks of the Han River near Seoul, S. Korea made a luxurious venu for the assembly. The GA sets the top priorities for IFOAM and elects the World Board. Under the leadership of a new Executive Director, Markus Arbenz, IFOAM is on the path to financial recovery and has created a unified strategic plan. IFOAM is undertaking major advocacy campaigns aimed at the United Nations (Food and Agriculture (FAO), UNCTAD (Commission on Trade and Development) and other international meetings, conventions and events: "People before Commodities (on food security), "Powered by Nature" (biodiversity), and "Not Just Carbon" (on significant role of organic agriculture in mitigating climate change). NOFA members have the possibility of speaking for IFOAM at meetings in N. America, and particularly the UN in NY.
The IFOAM Organic Guarantee System has undergone revamping, and now consists of five parts
1. Family of standards - draws the line between what is organic and what is not, includes all standards and regulations that have passed an equivalence assessment. At the GA, it was announced that the NOFA Organic Landcare standards had been accepted into the Family.
2. Best Practice Standards - to stimulate innovation and continuing improvement
Participatory Guarantee Systems - based on community organizing, a way for small farms that cannot afford certification, to group together to provide a credible organic guarantee for use in local markets.
4. IFOAM's Global Organic Mark -a universal logo now available for a fee.
5. International Organic Accredition Service (IOAS) - provides Accreditation to organic certification agencies.
IFOAM also continues its commitment to GOMA - Global Organic Market Access - a joint project with FAO and UNCTAD to harmonize standards to allow freer trade in organic farm products, especially important for developing countries.
With more than half of the members present and participating, a new World Board was elected that continues the commitment to promoting smallholder organic farming worldwide.
The next world congress will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 4 - 14, 2014.
Download the full report (pdf)
- December, 2011
- Elizabeth Henderson
The Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the fiscal year 2012 agriculture appropriations bill on September 7th.
The bill and Committee Report do not specify the amount of funds that are to be assigned to the National Organic Program (NOP), but do fund the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which contains NOP, at $82 million. This is $9.5 million more than the House bill allocates for this agency. The House report language recommended that NOP be funded at or above fiscal year 2011 levels, so we are optimistic this language will be included in the Conference Report if the full Senate passes the bill.
The Organic Data Initiative (ODI) was not funded at a specific level, but the Committee Report language directed funding appropriated for the Economic Research Service be used to continue funding ODI. The House passed bill includes an amendment to fund ODI at $300,000. The Senate bill contains $3.992 million for the Organic Integrated Transitions Program (ORG). This is $4 million below funds appropriated by the House because of a mandatory 2% cut across the board of Section 406 Programs. The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas Program (ATTRA) was funded at $2.25 million, $225,000 more than the House approved bill. This is promising progress since ATTRA was zeroed out in the fiscal year 2011 Continuing Resolution.
Also included in the Committee Report was language directing the National Agricultural Statistics Service to conduct the Organic Productions Survey on a regular basis. Conservation programs were deeply cut; The Conservation Stewardship Program losing $35 million, compared to losing $171 million in the House bill, and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program losing $350 million, the same as the House.
Fiscal year 2011 ends on September 30th. If the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill is not finalized by then, we will likely see a string of continuing resolutions, which is what Congress used to fund the government from October 2010 through April 2011. To avoid a continuing resolution, or a shut-down of the government programs funded through this bill, the full Senate must pass the bill. Then, a conference of the House and Senate would take place to work out the differences between the House and Senate bills. The bill worked out by this conference committee would then go back to the House and Senate for final passage before being sent to the President for his signature. Another option, which would avoid a conference, would be for either the House or Senate to pass the other chambers’ bill without changes. Because of the substantial differences in the bills, this is unlikely to happen.
- Sept, 2011
- By www.ota.org
Food Justice Certification Gains Momentum: Certifiers and Farm Worker Representatives Complete Training and Qualifying Exam
The Agricultural Justice Project proudly announces the awarding of certificates to representatives of four organic certification agencies and five farm worker organizations who successfully completed a 3-day training on the requirements for the Food Justice Certified label. Twenty one people took part in the training May 3 - 5, 2011, in Eugene, Oregon, which included formal presentations on AJP standards and policies, and three practice inspections on area farms and a business. Management Committee member Sally Lee explained, "A Memo of Understanding with AJP will allow the certification agencies to offer our domestic fair trade certification to farms and food businesses across North America. A unique feature of the AJP system requires the trained certification inspectors to cooperate with representatives of farm worker organizations in performing the third party verification."
The long-term goal of the AJP is to transform the existing unjust food system. AJP envisions a food system that is based on thriving, ecological family-scale farms that provide well-being for farmers, dignified work for wage laborers, and that distributes its benefits fairly throughout the food chain from seed to table. As a first small step towards this ambitious goal, AJP is launching domestic fair trade in the United States with a social justice label, Food Justice Certified. This new label allows family-scale farms to distinguish their products from industrialized organic products. The standards for this label are based on the complementary principles of fair pricing for the farmer and just working conditions for farm and food business workers resulting in a win/win/win/win scenario in which workers, farmers, buyers, and ultimately consumers all benefit.
- July, 2011
- By www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org
WASHINGTON- More than 130 groups in 35 states, representing public health, food-security, sustainable-farming, farmworker and conservation interests called on the Environmental Protection Agency today to use all the tools at its disposal to protect public health and imperiled wildlife from harmful pesticides. The letter to the EPA, citing significant flaws in the pesticide registration process, comes as Congress considers legislation to weaken environmental protections and allow increased pesticide pollution.
"Pesticides pose a clear and preventable danger to our health and the environment. It's time for the EPA to ensure pesticides no longer jeopardize human health, wildlife, the water we drink or the air we breathe," said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Congress must do its part by stopping legislation sponsored by chemical corporations and their allies to strip important laws that safeguard future generations, farmworkers and wildlife from pesticide harms."
The groups cite undue pesticide industry influence over EPA's pesticide decisions under the Federal Insecticide Fungicide Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)-as well as documented pesticide impacts such as endocrine disruption, cancers and reproductive disorders for humans and wildlife-in requesting increased protections from harmful pesticide use. Specifically, the groups urge EPA to use the "rigorous scientific review process and strong legal protections" of the federal Endangered Species Act.
"The pesticide industry has subverted the intended protections of U.S. pesticide law under FIFRA. That law is broken. If enforced, the Endangered Species Act offers strong protections for our most endangered wildlife, with human health benefits because it requires a more rigorous scientific review process less susceptible to industry influence," said Heather Pilatic, co-director of Pesticide Action Network North America. "Current independent science indicates that the low-level mixtures of pesticides to which we are all exposed contribute to children's rising rates of neurodevelopmental disease and certain cancers, and impact the biodiversity that keeps our planet resilient."
Pesticide use in the United States is regulated primarily under FIFRA, a 1947 labeling law that was last significantly updated 40 years ago and has been subject to major pesticide industry and farm-lobby influence. The Endangered Species Act is a stronger statute that requires formal consultation with federal wildlife agencies to assess pesticide impacts and develop measures to avoid harm to endangered species. The EPA has completed very few of these consultations. The Clean Water Act also regulates pesticide pollution by requiring federal permits for discharges of contaminants that enter waterways, including pesticides. A bill currently under consideration in the Senate, however, would exempt pesticides from the Clean Water Act.
In January, the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America filed the most comprehensive legal action ever brought under the Endangered Species Act to protect imperiled wildlife from pesticides. The suit seeks to compel the EPA to evaluate the impacts of hundreds of the most dangerous pesticides known to be harmful to more than 200 endangered and threatened species. The process would yield common-sense restrictions on some of the most harmful pesticides and safeguard human health (including for farmworkers and their families), drinking water and wildlife. Tellingly, Crop Life America, the pesticide industry's main trade group, has stated that defeating this lawsuit is one of its top three lobbying priorities.
"Lobbying by pesticide interests to exempt pesticides from our strongest environmental laws will have cascading effects for generations," said Pilatic. "Hundreds of groups have come together to call for more - not less - protection from pesticides."
See an interactive map of endangered species threatened by pesticide use
Find out more about the Center's Pesticides Reduction campaign
Read information from PANNA on the environmental impacts of persistent poisons
- June, 2011
- By www.panna.org
What is the Food Safety Act in general?
The Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), also known as the Food Safety Act or S. 510, was signed into law on January 4, 2011. The Act amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to safety of the food supply. The Act is aimed at helping the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prevent food safety problems, and it gives FDA new enforcement authorities and new tools for managing imported foods. In addition, it requires food facilities to identify potential food safety hazards and to develop and implement preventive control plans.
Read More at OFRF website click here.
- June, 2011
- By Organic Farming Research Organization
Dear IFOAM Affiliates,
We are pleased to share with you our 2010 Annual Report.
"One Earth, Many Gifts" is a reference to the many positive contributions made throughout 2010. Regardless of whether these contributions were given through the volunteering of work, engagement in partnerships, membership in IFOAM, endorsement of projects, contracting of our services, in-kind or money donations, they all reflect one common motivation: the creation of a fairer and more sustainable world.
To all of you who contribute we would like to say 'thank you'. We hope that you enjoy skimming through the pages of our Annual Report and that the stories form the organic movement inspire you too to 'live change'.
Alongside of the 2010 Annual Report, you will find IFOAM's Summary Strategic Plan. In 2010, Affiliates and other stakeholders were consulted on what IFOAM's strategic direction should be. The outcome has been condensed into this one document, which succinctly explains IFOAM's strategic foci, the five strategic pillars, and its structure.