Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why I am thankful this year

Here is some good news for you: our President-elect reads. And it is a possibility that he reads this very blog. In a recent interview with Time Magazine reporter Joe Klein, Barack Obama mentions having read Michael Pollan's letter to the next Farmer-in-chief in the New York Times Magazine. How did Obama find out about the article? Surely, he has been reading Fair Ground posts.

And not only that, an ABC News article released today about Barack Obama's new White House Budget director, Peter Orszag, contains this quote from the President-elect:
"There's a report today that from 2003 to 2006, millionaire farmers received $49 million in crop subsidies, even though they were earning more than the $2.5 million cutoff to qualify for such subsidies. If this is true, it is a prime example of the kind of waste I intend to end as president."
It seems that Barack Obama has also been studying up on U.S. Farm Policy. It is true that since World War II, subsidies for farmers have focused on commodity farmers; those who raise vast quantities of corn, wheat, and soy, for example. A myopic intensity of increasing productivity while making food as cheap as possible has lead to the predominance of monoculture (one crop) industrial agriculture. Over the years, fewer and fewer farmers have grown more and more of one thing, with those singular crops traded on global markets, throw in big subsidies, and that's how you get millionaire farmers. Not very many of them, of course.

So thanks, President-elect Obama, for your recent reads. While I've got your attention, sir, I would direct you and our other Fair Ground readers to the USDA's article U.S. Farm Policy: The First 200 Years (pdf, 83 KB). I hope everyone enjoys the fruits of their harvest this Thanksgiving!

-Guest post by Kate Pattison, Toxic Free NC volunteer

Monday, November 10, 2008

We (still) need you.


Election season has had Raleigh buzzing these past few months. I have LOVED seeing people so interested in what's going on, passionate about the issues, and generous with their time and support. Knowing that the same thing was going on in communities all across the state and across the country has made me feel so proud of us all, and hopeful about our future.

Now that the results are in (for the most part!), the campaigns have packed up and left town, and everyone's had a few days to recover from election-night parties, I beg you, people of NC and beyond: Don't stop being interested, passionate and generous. No matter whether your candidates won or lost, no matter how much or how little time or money you have to give, let there be no doubt that we (still) need you.

Much like an election campaign, non-profit advocacy organizations like Toxic Free NC need the energy of volunteers and activists to create change. But, unlike election campaigns, non-profits like ours are working at it all year, every year, no matter who's in office. Toxic Free NC helps people make changes at the personal, institutional, and political levels that fight pesticide pollution and promote health and justice in our state.

So, I invite everyone out there who's recovering from election fever to check out Toxic Free NC's volunteer opportunities, consider making a donation, or work with us on one of several exciting campaigns for local and state-level change. Just a few of the things we're working on right now:
As our friendly volunteer coordinator, I'm always here to talk with you about the opportunities we have available, and am also happy to suggest other options if we're not the right thing for you. So, please don't hesitate to call me at 919-833-1123 or write me to discuss the options, or at least to get yourself on our list to receive volunteer updates. Thank you!