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Grow OrganicsThe House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a $76 billion Farm Bill at the end of July. In the bill’s current form less than 1% of the $76 billion in farm subsidies would go to organic farmers.

(To see the previous post on this bill visit this permalink. – Interested in who is getting all that money? We recommend you visit the Farm Subsidy Database.)

The Environmental Working Group’s Action Fund has created a petition asking Congress to include fair funding for organics in the Farm Bill. They aim to “level the playing field for organic farmers and expand access to safe, healthy organic food”. They’re seeking 30,000 signatures by July 15th, and, on July 17th, will deliver the petition to Congress to let them know that we want them to vote for organics.

This is important legislation and will have a large impact on organic farming. (Farm bills generally last 5 years.) It is especially significant to those farmers who are currently in the process of or considering transitioning to organic methods.

Please sign the petition! You can also help by spreading the word and inviting friends and family to sign as well. If so inclined, writing, e-mailing, or otherwise contacting your Congressman couldn’t hurt either!

buzz about the Farm Bill
Environmental Defense’s blog updates on the Farm Bill debates

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Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to London to visit Prime Minister Tony Blair this Tuesday on his last full day in office. The California governor praised Blair for having “proven to the world that you can do both… protect the Earth and protect the economy” during his time in office.

Blair had visited Schwarzenegger in late July of last year at a roundtable hosted by The Climate Group where they signed a groundbreaking agreement to form a partnership between California and the U.K. to aggressively address climate change and promote energy diversity.

That partnership specifically committed California and the United Kingdom to:

  • evaluate and implement market-based mechanisms that spur innovation
  • share results on ongoing and emerging studies to deepen understanding of the economics of climate change
  • collaborate on technology research for clean energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technologies, as well as efforts to reduce emissions from the transportation sector including California’s emission standards and hydrogen highway and Britain’s renewable fuel standards and clean coal technologies.
  • enhance coordination between their scientific communities.

Schwarzenegger claimed “international partnerships are needed in the fight against global warming and California has a responsibility and a profound role to play to protect not only our environment, but to be a world leader on this issue as well”. He had further stated that “California will not wait for our federal government to take strong action on global warming”.

Schwarzenegger also signed legislation last year creating the the nation’s first statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. California is the 12th biggest emitter of carbons in the world, despite leading the nation in energy efficiency standards and taking a lead role in protecting its environment.

Schwarzenegger says “It’s not us vs. Washington… We can show leadership.” and hopes his state’s moves will be an example for the federal government demonstrating that it can address environmental issues without damaging the economy.

A few weeks ago, at the G-8 (Group of Eight [industrialized nations]) a declaration on climate change was agreed upon outlining the basic principles for a new global deal on climate change. This represents a major step for the U.S. The G-8 is calling for global emissions reductions and has set a goal of 2050 for a 50% reduction, although no mandatory cuts have been agreed upon to date.

Blair credits Schwarzenegger with influencing President Bush’s decision to join in the declaration:
“The fact that the state of California was making such a determined effort and setting out a new direction on climate change – I think this played enormous part.”

Both Blair and Schwarzenegger point to an urgent need to replace the Kyoto Treaty, which expires in 2012 and which the U.S. had refused to sign, with a new international agreement which they say must significantly reduce emissions and be signed by the nations with the biggest emissions including China, the U.S., and India.