This past weekend, AGA received an action alert from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance that we felt we needed to share with our producers, supporters, and all farming and grassfed enthusiasts. Below is their message:
Today, March 20th, 2016, the Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would strip city and county governments of their ability to protect their farmers and citizens from harm from agricultural chemicals.
The bill, SB 1172, is deceptively simple. It prevents local governments from regulating “in any manner” either seeds or the cultivation of seeds. But by preventing any regulation on the cultivation of seeds:
- It would prevent any local regulation to protect farmers from having their crops damaged or killed due to overspray or drift from other farms.
- It would prevent any local regulation of neonicotinoids, which are bee-killing pesticides used to treat seeds as well as plants during cultivation. Bees are a vital part of our food supply, pollinating approximately 1/3 of every bite of food in the grocery stores.
- It would prevent any local regulation of when or where herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides are sprayed, preventing any efforts to protect vulnerable populations such as school children or nursing home residents.
- It would prevent local governments from addressing concerns about genetic contamination of high value crops. Consider that Texas rice farmers were among those who lost hundreds of millions of dollars when their crops were contaminated with unapproved genetically engineered crops in 2006.
- It would block local governments from responding to the many situations that we simply don’t know about yet.
The bill was filed just two weeks ago, yet has already been set for a committee hearing on Monday. The Biotech and Big Ag companies clearly want to push this bill through before people even notice – and we cannot let that happen!
TAKE ACTION #1: Contact your Senator
Call or email your State Senator and urge him or her to oppose SB 1172.
Remember that calls have the greatest impact! They can be very short, just a couple of minutes – but they are invaluable in making it clear that this issue is important to you.
You can find out who your State Senator is by going to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us or calling the Texas Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630.
“Hi, my name is ___, and I am a constituent. I am calling to urge Senator ____ to OPPOSE SB 1172. I want my local government to be able to address what is grown and what chemicals are used to grow it in our community – because that affects farmers, their neighbors, and the entire community. Any attempt to remove the ability of Texans and their local elected leaders from enacting common-sense protections for their farmers and communities is anti-democratic and should be defeated.”
If you send an email, be sure to personalize it by explaining why this issue is important to you.
TAKE ACTION #2: Spread the word
Spread the word by forwarding this email and sharing our Facebook posts. We need as many people to contact their Senators as possible. We are up against companies like Monsanto and DuPont, with their deep pockets and multiple lobbyists. We CAN win against them – we’ve done it before on issues like NAIS – but we need a large grassroots outcry.
TAKE ACTION #3: Come to the Hearing
Come to the hearing to testify or just register your opposition!
WHEN: Monday, March 20, 2017
TIME: 2 pm or upon adjournment of the Senate. Most likely, the hearing will start later in the afternoon, but we won’t know the time until that afternoon – we’ll post updates on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/FarmAndRanchFreedom, that day.
WHERE: Room E1.012. This is on Floor E1 of the Capitol Extension. MAPS: http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/plan/maps/doc/capitol_building_maps/capitol_building_guide.pdf
PARKING: Parking is usually available at the Capitol Visitors Center, located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th. You can find a map and other options also listed here: http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/plan/parking/parking.html
WHAT TO DO: Come to the hearing room between 1 pm and 4 pm (and possibly later – it depends on when they start the hearing), and sign in at a kiosk saying you OPPOSE SB 1172.
You’ll be listed on the witness list even if you leave right after that. The witness list is important because, when the bill goes to the full Senate after the hearing, the Senators will look to see how many people were witnesses for or against the bill. Just 15 minutes can have an impact!
SIGNING IN: The Texas Legislature uses electronic witness affirmation forms which are available at registration kiosks located throughout the Capitol Extension. Take the elevator down to Floor E1, and walk down the main hallway about halfway. Turn down one of the side hallways, then turn again so that you are going parallel to the main hallway. You’ll see little alcoves, where there used to be pay phones — the kiosks are in there.
Be sure to bring this information with you:
The bill number: SB 1172
The committee: Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs
The time and location of the hearing (View upcoming meetings): 2:00 pm, Room E1.012
Position: AGAINST the bill
You can choose whether you want to testify (i.e. get up and speak) or simply register as being against the bill and not testifying. If you do testify, plan to keep your comments to a maximum of 3 minutes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, please visit www.FarmAndRanchFreedom.org