Farm and Food Groups Say No to the TPP

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance has joined with 160 farm, food, rural, and faith groups to send a letter to Congress urging legislators to vote no on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP).

As the letter points out: “Independent family farmers and ranchers will see little benefit” from the TPP.  “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.”

Here are just some of the problems with the TPP:
  • Importers will be able to challenge individual border inspection decisions, second-guessing U.S. inspectors about what food is safe and not safe to let into our country.
  • Agribusiness and biotech companies will be able to use international tribunals to challenge any real limitations on GMO crops and food, including any country, state, or local government that bans GMO imports, tests for GMO contamination, does not promptly approve new GMO crops, or requires GMO labeling.

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Texas Water Fights – Round Two

In the last Texas legislative session, legislators proposed a California-style scheme of massive water transfers around the state.  FARFA played a key role in defeating the proposed bill, but the issue is far from dead.  Legislators who see nothing wrong in using the power of the government to take water and land away from rural areas to promote unrestrained urban growth — at the expense of the children and grandchildren of both rural and urban areas — are already looking ahead to the 2017 legislative session.

On February 2, 2016, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing about water marketing. Click here for FARFA’s post-hearing press release.

Out of the dozen invited witnesses, not a single one represented agricultural interests.

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FARFA’s executive director, Judith McGeary, submitted written testimony and testified briefly during the public testimony portion of the hearing.

During the hearing, Representative Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) repeatedly claimed that the current system wasn’t working because some areas and landowners would not agree to sell their water for export. …

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Tell Congress to support local meat production

We have an exciting opportunity to expand access to locally produced meat for consumers around the country! U.S. Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) have introduced legislation to make it easier for small farms and ranches to sell locally raised and processed meat to consumers.

H.R. 3187, the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act, would give individual states the freedom to permit intra-state distribution of custom-slaughtered meat to individual consumers and to restaurants, hotels, and grocery stores that directly serve consumers. Custom-processed beef, pork, lamb, and goat are covered under the bill.vaca-y-vino-meat

Under current federal law, farmers often have to haul their animals several hours away to reach a slaughterhouse that has an inspector on-site, even if they’re selling the meat directly to consumers at a local farmers market or similar venue. This increases expenses for the farmer, raises prices for consumers, creates stress on the animals, and undermines the concept of local food.…

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Fast Track has passed, but the fight continues

 

June 30, 2015: Despite widespread opposition, the House and Senate approved Trade Promotion Authority, known as Fast Track, and the President signed it into law this week.

The Obama Administration and the Republican Congressional leadership resorted to bizarre procedural steps, extensive backroom deals and arm twisting, and even retaliation against those who opposed Fast Track, in order to force it through.  (The NY Times has an interesting article on some of the politics behind passing Fast Track here)

Passage of Fast Track gives Obama enhanced powers to conclude negotiations of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and continue advancing trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and other such agreements.  Fast Track will limit Congressional debate over trade agreements and prevent any filibusters or amendments.

While the passage of Fast Track authority is a severe setback, the fight is not over.  Fast Track severely and improperly limits Congress’s role – but ultimately Congress will still have to vote to ratify any trade agreement after the President signs it.…

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Water Fights

With your help, we succeeded in stopping the  bill to study how to create a “statewide marketing and conveyance grid” for water in Texas.  But the fight is not yet over!  The water marketers are seeking to attach the bill as an amendment to other bills over the Memorial Day Weekend —  we need your help again!

In practical terms, a statewide water marketing and conveyance grid will mean taking more water from rural areas to supply urban centers.  But average residential water usage ranges from 60 gallons to over 300 gallons per person per day in different cities in Texas.
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Are perfect green lawns important enough to drain aquifers and destroy the future of rural communities and local food?

Ultimately, this approach hurts us all, by fueling unsustainable growth and using up the water resources we all need.   

Tell your Texas legislators that we must conserve first, transfer later
Oppose any amendment that focuses on water marketing and conveyances

TAKE ACTION

Call or email your State Representative today – the amendment could come up as the Sunday before Memorial Day!…

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Save our water – Save our future

A bill to study how to create a “statewide marketing and conveyance grid” for water is moving through the Texas Legislature quickly, and we need your help to stop it!

In practical terms, this approach will mean taking more water from rural areas to supply urban centers.  But average residential water usage ranges from 60 gallons to over 300 gallons per person per day in different cities in Texas.  Many Texans could easily cut their water usage in half – or much lower – without any real hardship.
cracked land and green lawn-1
Are perfect green lawns important enough to drain aquifers and destroy the future of rural communities and local food?

Water transfers just postpone the day of reckoning.  At some point, Texans will need to take serious steps to conserve water.  Shouldn’t we do that before we start shipping water all over the state?

Consider the fact that San Antonio recently signed a contract to build a 140-mile pipeline to transfer large amounts of groundwater from some of the best farmland in our state, draining the aquifer under Burleson and Milam Counties. …

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Texas Water Crisis

The Texas Legislature is considering multiple bills that would make it easier to transfer water from one area to another.  In practical terms, this means taking water from rural areas to supply urban centers.

While some water transfers may be needed, all too often these rural-to-urban transfers are being used to avoid real conservation measures.  In fact, the current state Water Plan assumes that municipal demand will increase almost directly proportionally to the projected increase in our population over the next 50 years.

In other words, the plan assumes that people will continue to use (and waste) water at the same rates as today, without any significant additional conservation efforts.  Yet average residential water usage ranges from 60 gallons to over 300 gallons per person per day in different parts of Texas.  Many Texans could easily cut their water usage in half – or even lower – without any real hardship.…

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Friday Roundup: Latest Food & Activism News

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Country of Origin Labeling, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, San Antonio Water Supply, Citizen Activism Workshop in Austin, TX

As the weather starts to cool down, food and agriculture issues are heating up.

At the federal level, The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that the United States’ mandatory country of origin labels (COOL) rules for meat and poultry are an improper trade barrier. This international power play is a stark reminder of why we need to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which may be coming back in the lame duck session after the elections. (And stay tuned for the latest news on food safety regulations, coming next week!)

Meanwhile, in Texas, San Antonio politicians appear bent on jumping into a financially risky public-private partnership to build a 142-mile pipeline to grab water from rural areas and ship it down to San Antonio in order to allow development over their own environmentally sensitive aquifer recharge zone.…

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Alert (Texas): Protect the water supply for rural counties in Central Texas

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Tell the San Antonio City Council not to raid the water we need for agriculture!

 


October 7, 2014 update:

The San Antonio City Council will vote later this month on the Vista Ridge Project to take 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year from Burleson and Milam Counties to fuel urban growth.

WHEN: The first hearing on the proposal will be tomorrow, Wednesday, October 8, at 6 pm.

WHERE / WHAT TO DO: Come to City Hall, 114 W. Commerce to show your opposition to draining rural water supplies on a risky pipeline project for the benefit of private companies! Come a little early to sign up to speak, or just stand there with a “Stop the Water Grab” sign provided by the League of Independent Voters.

For more information on participating in the hearing, call League of Independent Voters at 512-213-4511 or email info@independentleaguetx.org.

Can’t come to the hearing? You can still help, by signing the League’s online letter!…

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