Agriculture


Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods: Whose Side Are You On?

By Zack Kaldveer 
Yes on 37 Right to Know Campaign

This November, California voters will have an opportunity to vote on a simple, yet important ballot initiative called Prop 37 – the California Right to Know Act. If approved, it would require food sold in California supermarkets be clearly labeled if it has been genetically engineered.

There is no clearer David versus Goliath fight on this year’s ballot. On one side, is a truly grassroots people’s movement that generated over a million signatures in just 10 weeks, easily qualifying for the November ballot. On the other stands the largest anti-union, pro-pesticide, agrichemical interests in the world dedicated to saying and spending whatever it takes to hide the fact that some of our most important crops are being genetically engineered in a lab without our knowledge or consent.

Historic Ballot Initiative On Food Labeling Could Influence Future Of Food

By Stacy Malkan

The California Secretary of State announced this week that the Right to Know initiative to label genetically engineered foods will be on the state’s November ballot. This will be one of the most closely watched ballot measures in the nation this fall. The outcome "could influence not just food packaging but the future of American agriculture," according to a recent front page story in New York Times.

Dolores Huerta Honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

By Dan Braun
The Frying Pan

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and long-time activist who has lent her strength to countless social and economic justice fights, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama on Tuesday.

“Dolores was very gracious when I told her I had stolen her slogan, ‘Si, se puede.’ Yes, we can,” Obama joked during the ceremony. “Knowing her, I’m pleased she let me off easy, because Dolores does not play.”

He explained that throughout Huerta’s work, “She has fought to give more people a seat at the table. ‘Don’t wait to be invited,’ she says, ‘Step in there.’”

The Farm Workers' Filipino American Champion

By Dick Meister
Author, Journalist

The birth date of Cesar Chavez, the late farm workers' leader, will be celebrated next month, and rightly so.  But it's well past time we also celebrated the life of probably the most important of the other leaders who played a major role in winning union rights for farm workers and otherwise helping them combat serious exploitation.

That's Larry Itliong. He died 35 years ago this month at age 63. Itliong got involved in the farm workers' struggle very early in life, not long after he arrived as a 15-year-old immigrant from the Philippine Islands. He was among some 31,000 Filipino men who came to California in the late 1920s.

Westlands Official Working for DWR on Bay Delta Conservation Plan

By Dan Bacher

An employee of the Westlands Water District is currently working “on loan” for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), the plan initiated by state and federal water contractors to allow them to build a peripheral canal or tunnel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Documents obtained by this reporter under the California Public Records Act reveal that Susan Ramos, Deputy General Manager of the Westlands Water District, was hired in an inter-jurisdictional personal exchange agreement between the Department of Water Resources and Westlands Water District from November 15, 2009 through December 31, 2010.

The contract was extended to run through December 31, 2011 and again to continue through December 31, 2012.

Reps, Residents and Ranchers Worry About Water Exporters Control Over Delta Plan

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

At an oversight hearing in Sacramento last week, Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), chairman of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, voiced concern that water exporters will have unprecedented control over the content and focus of a plan that would steer the state’s water policies for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for next fifty years.

The hearing on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) was the fifth held by Huffman, whose district stretches from the Delta, the largest wetlands estuary west of the Mississippi, to coastal communities north of the Golden Gate - many of which are dependent on commercial fishing of the endangered Delta Salmon.

Delta Fish Rebound Endangers Already Troubled Water Bond, Claim Opponents

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

The Department of Fish and Game’s announcement this month of a remarkable turnaround in the populations of the Bay-Delta estuary’s endangered Smelt and Salmon species spelled more trouble for proponents of the state’s 2012 water bond measure.

Delta legislators and environmentalists were delighted by news of the recovering populations within the Delta but, assured an epic election battle where they expect to be heavily outspent by water interest groups, continue to promote science, conservation and regional sustainability over what they claim is a monolithic funding measure that's bloated with unnecessarily expensive statewide solutions to what amount to regional water woes.

Hemp Bill Lands on Governor’s Desk

By State Senator Mark Leno

California is one step closer to building a successful hemp industry in the Central Valley.

This week the Legislature gave final approval to legislation I introduced that allows California farmers to grow industrial hemp for the legal sale of seed, oil and fiber to manufacturers. Senate Bill 676 creates a four-county pilot program in Imperial, Kern, Kings and San Joaquin, allowing farmers in our state to tap into the nation’s hemp market, which is currently valued at $400 million annually.

Controversial CEQA Reforms Approved by Legislature

By Eva Chambers
Planning and Conservation League

The Planning and Conservation League (PCL) stands strong with coalition partners in opposing 11th-hour bills that weaken California’s landmark environmental and community protection law

PCL, joining with a coalition including Sierra Club California, Coalition for Clean Air, Clean Water Action, and a host of environmental justice and community groups from the Los Angeles area and throughout California, tried valiantly to stave off three bills that will weaken protections of The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Over 11 Million Fish 'Salvaged' in Delta Death Pumps Since January 1

By Dan Bacher

In one of the biggest fish kills in California history, the state and federal government agencies "salvaged" a total of 11,158,025 fish in the Delta water pumping facilities between January 1 and September 7, 2011.

The Central Valley Project and State Water Project pumps in the south end of the California Delta export water to corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and southern California water agencies.

A horrific 8,985,009 Sacramento splittail, the largest number ever recorded, were salvaged during this period, according to Department of Fish and Game data. The splittail is a native minnow found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system.