By Sam Earnshaw
At the 2019 EcoFarm Conference, over 200 attendees signed individual postcards to the attention of Governor Newsom and Jered Blumenfeld, Secretary of CalEPA, to demand changes from our top state officials to eliminate toxic poisons from agriculture.
The effort was organized by Margaret Reeves and Mehda Chandra of Pesticide Action Network (PAN), Mark Weller and Sarait Martinez of Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR), and EcoFarm's Steve Sprinkel, Sam Earnshaw, and Amigo Bob Cantisano - a key contributor to this legislative postcard effort.
We succeeded in hand delivering the postcards thanks to PAN who was able to get an opening with the Governor’s office. Next, we cracked the bureaucracy of CalEPA after numerous phone calls and dead-ends. In May we delivered the cards personally to the CalEPA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Val Dolcini, and Deputy Secretary for Communications and External Affairs, Alex Barnum.
Pictured: Alex Barnum on the left, Sam Earnshaw and Jo Ann Baumgartner of Wild Farm Alliance, on the right).
We had a productive meeting with Val and Alex and presented a list of possible actions for CalEPA:
- Re-institute the discontinued Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) research Project on Biocontrol.
- Re-institute publishing the list of where to buy species of beneficial insects.
- Publish a separate document that lists IPM practices that support pest control.
- Work on a thorough review and elimination of neonicotinoids, all organophosphates and other Category 1 pesticides.
- Create a statewide goal to increase the number of organic farms.
- Re-institute research on Glyphosate levels in food.
We are grateful that they heard our concerns about using poisons to grow food and took the time to learn about ways that organic farmers are able to grow crops without these toxins.
The governor’s recent announcement of plans to ban chlorpyrifos follows nearly two decades of work by PAN, CPR, and many others. Perhaps the timing of our postcard delivery just before the ban was announced was the final straw.Next steps - We are putting in a workshop and discussion group proposal for EcoFarm Conference 2020, to continue our commitment to determine ways to get toxic poisons out of agriculture.
We hope you will get involved and join us at the next EcoFarm Conference, January 22-25, 2020.
About Sam Earnshaw
Once an organic farmer (Neptune Farms) with partner Jo Ann Baumgartner, Sam Earnshaw has been an EcoFarm attendee and planner since 1983 and a planter of Hedgerows on farms since 1996.