Policy Letters

To ensure the integrity of organic farming and an equitable food system is maintained, we often submit letters to policy makers and institutions.

Here are a collection of letters that support our positions on various issues from labeling to genetically modified organisms to just food systems. 


To see NOFA-NY Policy Resolutions, please click here

To see Action Alerts, please click here


Letter sent regarding 2018 Farm Bill (February 22, 2017)

The undersigned organizations, representing America’s agriculture, nutrition, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy, trade, local government, plant/animal health, agricultural sciences and veterinary medicine,  labor, outdoor recreation, equipment manufacturing, cooperatives, hunters, anglers and crop insurance sectors, strongly urge you to reject calls for additional cuts to policies within the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry or the House Committee on Agriculture.  

Read the full letter here.

Letter to Governor Cuomo (November 15, 2016)

NOFA-NY supports American Farmland Trust in the creation of a "Farmland for a New Generation" program.
"Agriculture in New York, like the nation, is undergoing a major transition as a new generation of farmers seek to enter farming. The Beginning Farmer Workgroup that you established in 2014, as well as reports by American Farmland Trust, American Farm Bureau Federation, GrowNYC, National Young Farmers Coalition, United States Department of Agriculture and others have identified that securing access to farmland is one of the greatest barriers facing new and next generation farmers in New York, and across America."
 
Read the full letter here
Read about the "Farmland for a New Generation" program here

Letter sent to National Organic Standards Board (October 26,2016)

NOFA-NY is a member of the National Organic Coalition (NOC) - a national alliance of organizations working to provide a "Washington voice" for farmers, ranchers, environmentalists, consumers and industry members involved in organic agriculture. The coalition works to assure that policies are fair, equitable, and encourage diversity of participation and access. In order to achieve this goal, NOC submits letters to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is the federal advisory board that considers and makes recommendations on a wide range of issues involving the production, handling, and processing of organic products. Please see our Fall 2016 letter to the NOSB.

Read the full letter here.

Letter sent in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's water protection efforts to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline (September 29, 2016).

NOFA-NY declares our solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We affirm the treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, and protection of their lands, waters, cultural and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. We are grateful to the Native Peoples who are acting as protectors of our waters and lands and we pledge to stand with them for the sake of the healthy soils and clean waters necessary for healthy food production from our farms and gardens, and for life itself.

Read the letter here

Letter sent to the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences regarding GE Diamondback Moth Trials (September 13, 2016)

Since spring 2015, NOFA-NY and our colleagues from Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, Center for Food Safety, Friends Of the Earth, and Genewatch UK have been attempting to get answers to various questions regarding the permitting process – federal, state, and University – as well as impacts on health and environment regarding the proposed open air trials of the Genetically Engineered Diamondback moth (GDM) at the New York State Agriculture Experiment Station (NYSAES).  We have had good conversations with various people, but have not specifically received answers to questions we have continued to ask. 

Read the letter here

Letter regarding Okanagan Specialty Fruit GE non-browning “Arctic” Fuji apple (September 12, 2016)

One of the latest applications for GE foods comes Okanagan Specialty Fruit for their non-browning “Arctic” Fuji apple. NOFA-NY certifies 78 organic apple producers and four handler/processors who use organic apples in their products and we work to enhance the organic apple production, while fighting the invasion of GMO foods in our farm system. We requested that the USDA deny the application for these GE apples, based on the following rationale:

  • The Nature of Apples: It is the nature of apples to brown, indicating any damage it has incurred; thus, warning consumers of a potential problem.
  • Food Safety:  The intended market is pre-sliced, ready to eat apples, which is a frequently recalled food product, since the whole fruit is at risk of pathogens. No independent testing has been done on the safety or unintended consequences of silencing the genes that make apples turn brown when exposed to oxygen. Babies are the intended test market for these easy to use, pre-sliced apples.
  • Pollen and Gene Flow: The pollen gene flow from apple orchards is significant and accomplished by insects, including bees, which can become contaminated with GE pollen, and, thus jeopardize entire organic honey productions. In addition, it is unclear how pollen gene flow may contaminate organic apples, resulting in a loss of future markets, or even suspension of organic certification.
  • Consumer Preference: Avoidance of genetically engineered food is one of the explicit reasons that consumers purchase organic products. There is increased potential for GE apples to be purposely or inadvertently used in organic products, such as organic apple juice or apple sauce. 

Read the full letter here.

Sign the petition telling the USDA to say NO to the new GMO apple here

Letter to Commissioner Richard Ball regarding Farmland Protection (August 15, 2016)

We are writing to share our appreciation of Commissioner Ball’s leadership and to express our sincere thanks for the support given to protect farmland in New York.  The purchase of conservation easements on working farms has helped hundreds of farm families meet their goals and reinvest in the viability of their operations, while growing the state’s farm economy and bolstering local food production. This is an important year as 2016 is the 20th anniversary of the State of New York investing in protecting working farmland. We greatly appreciate the state’s allocation of $140 million to conserve approximately 60,000 acres of farmland on over 230 farms in 29 counties through the Farmland Protection Implementation Grant program (FPIG). This 20th anniversary was recently celebrated with a joint New York State Legislative Resolution commemorating the past two decades of state funding for protecting farmland. 

The process of completing these permanent farmland protection projects, which frequently involve multiple generations of farm families, local governments and private land trusts, can be intricate and time consuming.  The work that Governor Cuomo and the Department of Agriculture have invested in ensuring state-funded farmland conservation projects are completed at a quicker pace has been meaningful to farmers and to the conservation groups and local governments with whom they collaborate.  We urge the Department of Agriculture and Markets to make state funding for protecting farmland available on an annual basis to maintain the high level of interest among farmers as well as ensure a regular schedule of farmer PDR trainings as well as pre-application procedures and other activities conducted at the local level.  Ultimately, this regular annual application process will ensure the state receives high-quality projects that are poised to be completed quickly.

Read the full letter here   

 

National Organic Program Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Proposed Rule (July 12, 2016)

It is a basic tenet of organic production for animals to be treated humanely, and consumers  believe that animals bearing the organic label have had significant access to the outdoors The final rule implementing Organic Foods Production Act, (OFPA) notes that animals should have living conditions “which accommodate the health and natural behavior of the livestock.” [regulation].  This is clearly stated in the law, the Regulations, as well as congressional intent language.

Indeed, the concept of accommodating health and natural behavior of animals is already a certifiable standard, and NOFA believes that additions to the regulations should enforce that principle as well as make it more consistently implemented, without losing each farm’s unique manner of complying with these standards. Successful organic systems rely on practices that attempt to approach natural systems, and therefore can be significantly different in terms of practices, feed, as well as genetics for livestock and poultry.  As organic evolves its standards to reflect these differences, we expect to see a decreasing reliance on conventional systems that are used with organic input substitutions, and an increase in wholly more organic, welfare-based sustainable systems.

Read the full letter here

New York State Minimum Wage Statement (July 2016)

Raising the minimum wage in New York State is a complex issue involving many interrelated parts that must be considered together. NOFA-NY does not provide blanket support of an increase in the minimum wage to $15 in NYS. It should not happen without due consideration of these interrelated parts. 

NOFA-NY advocates first for farmers to retain a larger share of the food dollar. Organic family farmers contribute much to their communities in the form of healthy food, carbon restored to the soil, cleaner environmental conditions, and healthy local economies. Yet these farmers are often compelled to augment their farm income by obtaining additional employment off the farm. It is only when they can earn a living wage from farming that they can securely and consistently provide higher wages to farm workers.

NOFA-NY is not just an organization of farmers and consumers, but also of farm workers. Many of our members who would identify themselves as farmers when given our usual breakdown of options—farmer, gardener, consumer—actually turn out to be interns, apprentices, farm workers, assistant managers, and farm managers. While their interests are not always identical with farm owners’, in this case NOFA-NY speaks for them all when we point out that the minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation.  Farm employees find it difficult to make financial ends meet and need to be compensated at a higher wage for the hard work they do. We believe these two issues are linked. 

NOFA-NY understands these are complex issues and is dedicated to working towards equitable solutions for the good of the local, organic, food system.