Issues: Sustainable Food and Water (LWVUS)
Position in Brief
The League of Women Voters of the United States holds an Agriculture Policy position calling for adequate supplies of food and fiber at reasonable prices to consumers and support for economically viable farms, environmentally sound farm practices and increased reliance on the free market.
Read the complete position on the LWVUS website.
The Illinois League is seeing a resurgence of interest in agricultural issues recently as more urban dwellers take greater interest in where and how their food is produced. An Issue Specialist for Sustainable Food and Water has joined the Issues Committee to work with the LWVIL and local Leagues on key areas of concern. Caucus presentations on agriculture/food have been held at the 2010 and 2012 national conventions, the 2011 and 2013 Illinois state conventions, the 2012 Illinois Issues Briefing, and in many local League communities.
The General Assembly passed three bills relevant to our position on meeting basic human needs and sustainable food & agriculture: (1) HB6027 provides double-value incentives to SNAP clients for the purchase of additional fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. State funds would qualify for a dollar-for-dollar match from the federal government;(2)SB 3130 clears up legal uncertainty about the application of the commercial Seed Law to seed sharing activities, particularly through seed libraries. Seed libraries hold heirloom, open-pollinated seed that community members can “check out” for free, grow in their gardens, and then may “return” seed they save at season’s end; HB5933 reduces the size of the Local Food Farms and Jobs Council from 35 members to 20 and creates more flexibility in its membership making it easier for the Council to reach quorum and accomplish business.
LWVUS rejected LWVIL's petition to join two national coalitions at its September 2015 board meeting. See attached email chain with Pat Donath, LWVIL's liaison to the LWVUS board.
Sheri Latash will be the LWVIL delegate to the new Upper Mississippi River Region ILO at its October 23-24 meeting in Dubuque, IA. The ILO currently includes Leagues from MN, WI, IA, and IL. The ILO was formed around the need to reduce the amount of nitrate-nitrogen & phosphorus flowing into the Mississippi River, the nutrients responsible for creating the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. USEPA is requiring each of the 12 Mississippi states to develop and implement a plan to reduce these nutrient contributions. Reducing nutrient loss is an LWVIL action focus this year.
As of October 10, IL SB 734, the Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food is back in the Assignments Committee.
Budget impasse--The anticipated closure of up to half of Illinois' state soil and water conservation district offices and the IL Dept. of Agriculture's Bureau of Land and Water was averted at the 11th hour by partial funding, according to an IL Farm Bureau representative.
The LWV Ed Fund is taking very seriously the Guidance to the Board supported by LWVIL and many local Illinois Leagues regarding the conduct of future studies. The Glenview League submitted the guidance at the LWVUS convention.
Also, in an ongoing exchange of emails between Ag Update committee members and the LWVEF, we have made recommendations regarding future studies. Two members of the Ag Update committee attended the LWVUS convention and spent time with Ed Fund board members discussing a variety of relevant issues.
The Glenview, Glencoe and Wilmette Leagues are collaborating on a three-part series of presentations related to food and agriculture issues. The second presentation, related to fertilizer and pesticide use and impacts on our food and water, will be held at the Glencoe Public Library on September 16. The featured speakers will be Jean Payne, President of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, and we hope someone from USEPA who can address this issue from the water perspective (e.g. Toledo water supply problems). The third presentation has not yet been scheduled.