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Issues: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Justice

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Food is a necessity and a fundamental human right. All people have a right to sufficient, safe, and nutritional food. Those who produce it have a right to a fair return for their labor. Food should be produced in an ecologically sustainable manner.

Support Family Farms

  • Guarantee a Living Income for Working Famers: Commit to ensuring that every working farmer gets a fair return on the their labor and earns a living income.

  • Empower Family Farmers in Marketing and Processing Agricultural Products: Enact reforms to enable farmers to collectively bargain with firms that market and process agricultural product, including reforms of agricultural cooperative laws to enable democratic farmer control of marketing and processing cooperatives.

  • Tax Relief for Farmers: Increase state revenue sharing of more progressive personal and business income taxes, with business tax loopholes eliminated, in order to reduce local property and sales taxes, which are regressive taxes that hit farmers especially hard. Property taxes should only pay for local property-related services (local police, fire, garbage, snow plowing). Schools and other public works and services should be paid for mainly by progressively graduated personal and business income taxes.

  • Phase Out CAFOs: Corporate factory farming in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFPs) is driving family farms off the land. CAFOs undermine small, diversified, farms where free-range poultry and livestock are part of a sustainable farm ecosystem producing for local consumers. CAFOs are negative for the environment, food safety, public health, the ethical treatment of animals, nearby property values, and rural economic prosperity.

  • End Corporate Farming: Prohibit non-farm corporations from owning and controlling farms.

  • New Farmer Training: Establish a new farmer training program supported by departments of Labor and Education that compensates existing farmers as mentors and teachers.

  • Land and Financing for New Famers: Establish a program to enable new farmers to affordably finance and purchase land and equipment to start new farms, including urban farms.

  • Enact a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: Extend to farmworkers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards. Corporate farms compete unfairly against working farmers by being allowed to exploit cheap labor at sub-poverty wages and benefits and unsafe working conditions.

Protect Farmland

  • Farmland Protection Fund: Increase funding for the New York State Farmland Protection Fund to at least $100 million a year. Fully payback Farmland Protection Funds "swept" into the general fund in previous years. The Farmland Protection Fund pays farmers by purchasing development rights in order to permanently protect their land for agriculture. Farmers reinvest these funds into their farms. The program is needed to protect farmland from development on the edge of urban areas. Urban sprawl is reducing New York farmland at a rate of about 10% per decade.

  • Environmental Protection Fund: Increase funding for the Environmental Protection Fund. EPF funds programs like the Farmland Protection Program, Conservation Partnership Program, and the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Program that help farmers protect their land from real estate development and enhance water quality.

Expand and Improve Markets for Farm Products

  • Collective Bargaining by Farmers: Support farm associations to bargain collectively with large buyers (public and corporate) for fair contracts for their products.

  • State Procurement of Local Farm Products: Require state and state-funded institutions to buy more food grown on New York farms, including schools, hospitals, prisons, senior and child care centers

  • Regional Food Processing and Distribution Cooperatives: Increase state financing for regional food processing and distribution facilities owned as cooperatives by farmers.

  • Expand the Certified Raw Milk Market: Establish a Certified Raw Milk Program to regulate the production, consumption, marketing, distribution, and off-farm retail sale of raw milk.

  • Expand Green Manufacturing: Promote green manufacturing that relies on locally produced biodegradable food, fuel, and fiber.

Fully Re-Legalize Industrial Hemp

  • Re-legalize Hemp for All Famers: Expand industrial hemp growing beyond the ten licenses now available to agricultural schools and selected farmers to all New York farmers.

  • Defend Hemp Growers: Require the state Attorney General to defend New York hemp growers prosecuted by the federal government. Demand that the federal government re-legalize hemp.

Increase Consumer Access to Healthy Food

  • Public School Food Education: Mandate and fund a food, agriculture, and nutrition curriculum for K-12 public school students, including a home economics curriculum that includes the knowledge and skills to purchase and prepare fresh foods and access to some form of agriculture: a school or community garden, or urban or rural farm.

  • New York Healthy Food and Health Communities Fund: Increase funding to support the development of healthy food markets and cooperatives in underserved communities.

  • Farm to Table Program: Establish a program to enable farmers to sell fresh foods directly to childcare facilities and senior meal programs.

  • Soda Tax: Enact a sugary beverage tax, with revenues used to fund nutrition, food, health and agriculture programs.

  • Urban Farms: Establish a program to support the expansion organic food production by urban farms and community gardens.

Transition to Organic Agriculture

  • Ban Neonicotinoids: Ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides that are contributing to the Colony Collapse Disorder die-off of bees, which are necessary for crop pollination.

  • Ban Antibiotics in Animal Feed: Antibiotics should only be used to treat illness and injury. Overuse of antibiotics is creating antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that endanger human and non-human animal health.

  • Organic Agriculture Transition Plan: Develop a plan to encourage and help farmers transition to organic farming, including research, training, subsidies and incentives to support farmers' transition to organic agriculture while natural systems of soil fertility and pest control are being restored. Organic agriculture should be promoted to protect the environment and the health of food producers and consumers, and to fight climate change by sequestering carbon in revitalized soil ecosystems.

  • Agriculture School Support: Direct SUNY agricultural schools and Cornell, New York State's Land Grant University, to focus education and research on organic food production by family farms and community gardens.

  • State Procurement: Use state purchasing power to provide markets for organic farms.

Fair Labor Practices for Farm Workers

  • Enact a Farmworkers Bill of Rights: Extend to farmworkers the same rights under labor law as other workers, including A Day of Rest, Overtime Pay, Collective Bargaining Protections, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Child Labor Protections, and Occupational Safety and Health Standards. Corporate farms compete unfairly against working farmers by being allowed to exploit cheap labor at sub-poverty wages and benefits and unsafe working conditions.

  • Halt the ICE Raids: Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has dramatically increased workplace and community raids. The detentions of immigrant workers is not only devastating for their families, it is disrupting the labor of migrants and immigrants on which many farms depend. New York State should do all it can to get ICE to halt these raids and grant undocumented farmworkers the opportunity to live and work here legally and documented farmworkers the opportunity to work and live here without harassment.

  • Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Workers: This policy will promote general public safety as well as enable farmworkers to get to work safely.

End Hunger

  • Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program: Increase funding to fund and support food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency shelters in New York State.

  • Increase SNAP Benefits: Use the USDA's Low-Cost Food Plan, rather than the Thrifty Food Plan, as the basis for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), which will increase their purchasing power by about 30 percent.

  • Raise the Maximum SNAP Shelter Deduction: Adjust SNAP benefits to variable regional housing costs.

  • Increase Child Nutrition Funding: Increase supplemental funding for the various federal child nutrition programs, including Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and school meals.

  • Increase Funding for Meals on Wheels for Senior Citizens

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  • published this page in Issues 2018-04-11 14:15:22 -0400

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