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


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

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

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Texas Beef Checkoff Vote Results Mean Higher Taxes on Cattle Farmers



Even though less than 3% of Texas cattle owners voted for the program.

Thank you to everyone who voted in the Texas Beef Checkoff referendum at the beginning of June, and to everyone who helped us spread the word about it.

Unfortunately, the results were in favor of creating a state Checkoff and doubling the tax that cattle owners pay when they sell their animals. Click here to view the results from the Texas Department of Agriculture.

The other side, of course, has pointed to the fact that approximately 2/3 of the people who voted were in favor of the Checkoff. But what do the numbers really say?

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Press Release: Texas Beef Checkoff Vote in Favor of Big Beef Industry

Judith McGeary, (512) 484-8821

Texas Beef Checkoff Referendum Results in Favor of Big Beef Industry

Less Than 3% of Texas Cattle Owners Voted For the Program

AUSTIN, Texas – July 2, 2014 – The tax that Texas cattle owners pay when they sell their animals will now be doubled, thanks to the results of the beef checkoff referendum vote, just published by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Out of 7,080 people that voted, 4,718 people voted for it.

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Action Alert (Texas): Did You Vote on the Beef Checkoff? Confirm Your Eligibility!

Validation Process

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote on the issue of the state checkoff, the new tax on cattle owners!

The voting is over, but the election is not: the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) is now going through a “validation” process. To do this, TDA is contacting a random sampling of voters to confirm that they were eligible to vote – in other words, that they owned at least one head of cattle between June 6, 2013 and June 6, 2014.

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Action Alert (Texas): New Tax on Farmers? Just Say No!

Texas Beef Checkoff Dollar Tax



The Big Beef industry wants to double the tax that cattle owners pay for every sale of their animals. Please help us stop this!

You can vote even if you owned only one head of cattle in the last 12 months. If you didn’t, you can still help us by spreading the word.

Voting will take place June 2 through June 6, and you can request a mail-in ballot starting on Monday, May 19 through Monday, June 2.

Quick Links:

  • Take Action #1 — Be Prepared to Vote
  • Take Action #2 — Spread the Word
  • Take Action #3 — Call Your Legislators
  • More Information

  • Under the federal “Checkoff” program, a farmer is already legally required to pay $1 for every head of cattle sold. That may not sound like a lot, but it added up to over $11 million in taxes on Texas farmers and ranchers last year.…

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    Action Alert (Texas): Vote NO On Prop 6 – Not the Real Answer to Texas Water Crisis

    Water is our most precious resource. As the drought of 2011 so painfully reminded us, our farmers and ranchers cannot survive without sufficient water for their crops and animals.

    In 2011, Texas voters approved $6 billion for a revolving fund to loan money to local government entities for water infrastructure, without being subject to constitutional debt limitations. But no bonds have been issued under that program.

    Now, just two years later, the legislature is asking voters to approve Proposition 6, to take $2 billion from the state’s emergency fund, known as the Rainy Day Fund, to help underwrite such loans.

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    Action Alert: Speak Up for Pastured Egg Farms

    The FDA is yet again putting burdens on farmers who use healthy, sustainable practices, and justifying them with fear-based assumptions rather than data. The agency’s latest move is a draft guidance document that will make it all but impossible for farmers with 3,000 or more laying hens to keep the birds on pasture.

    Click here for more information about how to take action; keep reading to learn more about the history behind FDA’s guidance document.

    The stated goal is to prevent the spread of salmonella from wild birds and other animals to the hens. But there is absolutely no evidence that pastured chickens pose a food safety threat. To the contrary, all the major incidents of salmonella in eggs have come from confinement factory farms.

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    Information on the 2012 Census of Agriculture

    Several people have contacted us with concerns about the census they have received from the USDA, specifically the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) division of the agency. Given the instances of government harassment of small farmers, any request by the USDA for people’s information understandably causes concern.

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