A coalition of environmental, farmworker, public health, and food safety advocacy groups on Thursday delivered to Congress a petition signed by more than 100,000 people which calls for a Green New Deal "that fixes our food system" to combat the climate crisis.
The petition echoes a letter that more than 300 organizations sent to federal lawmakers in April on behalf of their millions of members. The letter came about two months after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the historic Green New Deal resolution supported by a growing grassroots movement and dozens of Democrats in Congress.
"Supporting family farms, achieving universal access to healthy foods, and investing in sustainable farming and land-use practices that increase soil health are critical components of any comprehensive Green New Deal," declares the new petition, which notes that in addition to being a top generator of jobs, the U.S. food and farming sector is also a top generator of planet-heating emissions.
The food sector alone accounts for nearly one-third of global GHG emissions.
— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) July 18, 2019
"To reduce emissions and bolster our nation's resilience in the face of the climate crisis, we must enact policies that transform unsustainable industrial agriculture, reduce food sector consolidation, as well as empower farmers and ranchers to adopt organic and agroecological practices," the petition says. "These policies must support diversified and ecologically regenerative farming techniques that reduce greenhouse gases and other pollution, boost soil health, and sequester carbon in soil—enhancing local and regional food security, economic well-being, and biodiversity."
The petition outlines specific food and farming policies that signatories believe should be prioritized in the Green New Deal:
- Carbon reduction, sequestration, and climate resilience;
- Fair prices for farmers, ranchers, and fishers; antitrust measures that help reverse food sector consolidation; and healthy working conditions with family-sustaining living wages for workers;
- Diversified, resilient local, and regional food economies anchored by family farmers; ranchers and fishers that ensure healthy, sustainable food for all to combat consolidation in the food and farming sector; and reverse the rapid loss of farmers and deterioration of farmland;
- Avoid "false solutions" and agribusiness-sponsored proposals that do nothing to address the systemic causes of our climate crisis and delay progress;
- Protection for workers, rural communities, consumer health and soil productivity through the transition away from harmful agrochemical use in agricultural practices and production;
- Ensure that those most affected by the exploitation of people and the environment of the current agricultural system and who have experience and knowledge to contribute have a seat at the table in decisions and negotiations.
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The petition is a collaborative project between the Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, the HEAL Food Alliance, the Farmworker Association of Florida, PANNA, 198 Methods, the Daily Kos, and the Organic Consumers Association, which tweeted about the key demands with the hashtag #GreenNewFoodDeal.
We stand with 100,000+ people & a coalition of farmers, workers, fishers and organizations urging Congress to address #food and #agriculture issues in the #GreenNewDeal. We can’t solve #climatechange without transforming our food system! #GreenNewFoodDeal https://t.co/Zr1Ny4GJ2a
— PAN North America (@pesticideaction) July 18, 2019
"If we are to address the climate crisis, we must transform our food system," Lisa Archer, food and agriculture director for Friends of the Earth, said in a statement Thursday. "We have no time to waste."
Jeannie Economos, Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida, pointed out that "agriculture—and the farmworker families on which it depends—are some of the first victims of a changing global climate."
"We need a Green New Deal that centers family farmers, farm workers, and food workers," said Navina Khanna, director of the HEAL Food Alliance. "Making fundamental changes to our food and farming system is urgent and central to stabilizing our climate, and ensuring food security for current and future generations, and making sure that all people working in the system do so with meaning and dignity."
The alliance shared a link to the petition—which is still available online for additional signatures—in a tweet Thursday:
We need a #GreenNewFoodDeal that fixes our #food system in order to combat #climatechange. 100,000 signers (and counting!) agree that addressing food and #agriculture issues should be central to any #GreenNewDeal. https://t.co/Kz5Hbs3qpO RT! pic.twitter.com/gzupVqRwko
— HEAL Food Alliance (@HEAL_Food) July 18, 2019