Author Archives: Mollie

Food Democracy Now: Judge Sides with Monsanto; Ridicules Farmers Right to Grow Food Without Fear, Contamination and Economic Harm

February 27, 2012
Full Article

New York, New York – On February 24, Judge Naomi Buchwald handed down her ruling on a motion to dismiss in the case of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto after hearing oral argument on January 31st in Federal District Court in Manhattan.  Her ruling to dismiss the case brought against Monsanto on behalf of organic farmers, seed growers and agricultural organizations representing farmers and citizens was met with great disappointment by the plaintiffs.

Plaintiff lead attorney Daniel Ravicher said, “While I have great respect for Judge Buchwald, her decision to deny farmers the right to seek legal protection from one of the world’s foremost patent bullies is gravely disappointing.  Her belief that farmers are acting unreasonable when they stop growing certain crops to avoid being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should their crops become contaminated maligns the intelligence and integrity of those farmers.  Her failure to address the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and her characterization of binding Supreme Court precedent that supports the farmers’ standing as ‘wholly inapposite’ constitute legal error.  In sum, her opinion is flawed on both the facts and the law.  Thankfully, the plaintiffs have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which will review the matter without deference to her findings.”

Monsanto’s history of aggressive investigations and lawsuits brought against farmers in America have been a source of concern for organic and non-GMO farmers since Monsanto’s first lawsuit brought against a farmer in the mid-90’s.  Since then, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto for alleged violations of  their patented seed technology.  Monsanto has brought charges against more than 700 additional farmers who have settled out-of-court rather than face Monsanto’s belligerent litigious actions.

Many of these farmers claim to not have had the intention to grow or save seeds that contain Monsanto’s patented genes. Seed drift and pollen drift from genetically engineered crops often contaminate neighboring fields. If Monsanto’s seed technology is found on a farmer’s land without contract they can be found liable for patent infringement.

“Family farmers need the protection of the court,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff OSGATA.  “We reject as naïve and undefendable the judge’s assertion that Monsanto’s vague public relations ‘commitment’ should be ‘a source of comfort’ to plaintiffs. The truth is we are under threat and we do not believe Monsanto.  The truth is that American farmers and the American people do not believe Monsanto. Family farmers deserve our day in court and this flawed ruling will not deter us from continuing to seek justice.”

The plaintiffs brought this suit against Monsanto to seek judicial protection from such lawsuits and challenge the validity of Monsanto’s patents on seeds.

“As a citizen and property owner, I find the Order by the Federal Court to be obsequious to Monsanto,” said plaintiff organic farmer Bryce Stephens of Kansas.  “The careless, inattentive, thoughtless and negligent advertisement Monsanto has published on their website to not exercise its patent rights for inadvertent trace contamination belies the fact that their policy is in reality a presumptuous admission of contamination by their vaunted product on my property, plants, seeds and animals.”

A copy of  Judge Buchwald’s ruling is located here.

As plaintiffs and and advocates for farmers, we were deeply disappointed by Judge Buchwald’s decision to dismiss this lawsuit and also in her demonstrated lack of knowledge of the important facts presented and her recognition of validity of this case.

But “no matter what happens… we will go forward.”


03/01 Three Penny Taproom Benefit

6pm until closing
Three Penny Taproom, Main St. Montpelier

Come hang out with Rural Vermont at The Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier to hear about the “Local Food Sovereignty” Resolution (Article 41) that will appear on the Montpelier Town Meeting Day (March 6) Ballot. TPT is supporting the Resolution and will be contributing a portion of their beer sales for the night to Rural Vermont in support of our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters campaign. No RSVP is necessary so grab your Montpelier neighbors and come join us. Any questions, contact Robb or call us at (802) 223-7222


02/25 Alert

In this Alert:
Message

Message From The Director

Dear Members and Friends:

I sincerely hope that this weekend’s predicted snow storm brings everyone what they wish for. How’s that for an equivocal statement? Clearly I’ve been spending too much time at the State House these days!

It has been a busy couple of weeks for us and not just under the Golden Dome.  Rural Vermont’s Outreach Coordinator, Shelby Girard, has organized a brand new schedule of Raw Milk Dairy Processing Classes.

We have also been busy organizing around Vermont in anticipation of Town “Eating” Day. We’ve taken the liberty of renaming Vermont’s icon of local democracy in honor of the several towns that will be considering “Local Food Sovereignty” resolutions on their Town Meeting Day ballots. See the listing of Town Eating Day events below and please let us know if YOUR town will be considering a similar resolution on March 6th. You can also contact Rural Vermont’s Organizer Robb Kidd if you have questions or need help bringing up a resolution in your town. You can learn more about  Local Food Sovereignty and our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters Campaign on our website.

We also want to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to American Flatbread in Burlington for hosting a wonderful Benefit Bake for Rural Vermont last Monday night. Shelby and I along with intern Cece, and board member Doug Flack had a great time talking to lots of people and answering questions about our work. It was a great evening.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:

VT Right To Know Genetically Engineered Food Act – H.722

On Thursday 2/23 we joined our partners NOFA-VT and VPIRG along with lead bill sponsor Rep. Kate Webb to hold a press conference formally announcing the VT Right To Know GMOs campaign. We were also joined by some of the bill’s co-sponsors Reps. Tess Taylor, Jason Lorber and Kesha Ram as well as Dan Barlow representing VT Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) one of over 50 organizations and businesses that have endorsed the campaign so far. We were able to announce that in less than two weeks over 2000 Vermonters have signed on to support the campaign.

Rep. Webb said at the press conference that she had received 100% positive comments on this bill – which she noted was a first for her during her legislative career.

The House Agriculture Committee is expected to begin taking testimony on the bill early next week.  You can help support this campaign right now by signing the petition in support of the VT Right To Know GMOs campaign. Doing so will enable us to keep in touch with you about specific actions you can take to help pass this bill.  For more information contact Andrea or call Rural Vermont at 223-7222.

The Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bill H.496 & S.246

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD,) through the Working Lands Partnership, has been shepherding the Working Lands Enterprise Bill through both the House and the Senate. On Thursday morning 2/23, the House Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to pass H.496.

You can read the latest versions of both bills and also learn more  about them on the VCRD website.

Rural Vermont supports the ambitious goal of these bills to create greater investment in and focus on the critical role that our working farm and forest lands play in sustaining Vermont and Vermonters. Please contact Andrea if you would like more information.

Here’s hoping you’re enjoying the return of winter!

Andrea Stander

TownEatingDay
>>> TOWN EATING DAY EVENTS  

At Town Meeting Day on March 6, 2012, several towns around the state will be considering a “Food Sovereignty” resolution. In anticipation of this important vote and declaration of support for “Vermonters Feeding Vermonters”, Rural Vermont is pairing with local food justice activists to inform voters about the resolution language, garner widespread support, and enjoy a homegrown meal. Join us for a Town Eating Day event in your town!

ATTENTION CHESTER RESIDENTS !

Wednesday, February 29 (Leap Day), 6-8 pm

Fullerton Inn, downtown CHESTER

Join Rural Vermont for a special event in advance of Town Meeting Day 2012. Check out the “Food Sovereignty” resolution that will be voted on at Town Meeting, and hear how you can ensure this important declaration of support for “Vermonters feeding Vermonters” passes on Town Meeting Day.

ALSO Enjoy a “Leap for Local” food tasting, generously provided by a collaboration among the Fullerton Inn staff and area farmers. Get to know the farmers supplying the food for the tasting and the Chester community in a farmer showcase. There is no cost to attend the event, but Rural Vermont donations will be welcomed and drinks will be available for purchase at the Fullerton Inn’s bar, which pours a variety of Vermont brews. For planning purposes, please RSVP to Shelby or (802) 223-7222.

ATTENTION MONTPELIER RESIDENTS !

Thursday, March 1, 6PM until closing

Three Penny Taproom, Main St. Montpelier 

Come hang out with Rural Vermont at The Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier to hear about the “Local Food Sovereignty” Resolution (Article 41) that will appear on the Montpelier Town Meeting Day (March 6) Ballot. TPT is supporting the Resolution and will be contributing a portion of their beer sales for the night to Rural Vermont in support of our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters campaign. No RSVP is necessary so grab your Montpelier neighbors and come join us. Any questions, contact Robb or call us at (802) 223-7222

ATTENTION CALAIS RESIDENTS !

Tuesday, March 6th (Town Meeting Day), lunchtime 

Town Hall, Gospel Hollow, CALAIS 

During the lunch hour at Town Meeting Day, help yourself to some “Food Sovereignty” fare showcasing Calais’s underground cuisine. Imagine a world, much like the vision outlined in Calais’ Food Sovereignty resolution, where anything and everything our neighbors can grow, raise, and process is legally available to the Calais community. If you’re a Calais resident and would like to contribute a dish to the spread, contact Peter Harvey at (802) 229-4026.
DairyClasses
>>> BEYOND MILK:  

RAW DAIRY PROCESSING CLASSES  

Rural Vermont’s first 2012 round of dairy classes was a smashing success! Every workshop was sold out, and the feedback from participants was great … Here’s a little snippet of what people are saying about the classes – “very informative and inspiring!”, “lots of good info, practical”, “a very friendly, open atmosphere that welcomes all levels” … If you haven’t been to a class yet, or if you’re ready for more, read on for Rural Vermont’s winter/spring series!

Back by popular demand! Feta, Soft Cheese, Yogurt, & Kefir

with the Metta Earth team & cows’ milk

Sunday, March 25th from 1 – 4 pm

Metta Earth Institute Inc., LINCOLN

Mozzarella & Ricotta 

with Caroline Persson & cows’ milk

Friday, March 30th from 1 – 4 pm

Ben Crockett & Ashlyn Bristle’s Farm, NEWFANE

Mozzarella, Ricotta & Ice Cream  

with Karen Nicholson & goats’ milk

Wednesday, April 11th from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm

Stepping Stone Farm, STOWE

Farmer’s Cheese, Brie-style Cheese, & Chevre

with Elizabeth Moulton & goats’ milk

Wednesday, April 25th from 10 am – 1 pm

Popplewood Farm, ANDOVER

Butter, Yogurt, & Mozzarella  

with Tamara Martin & cows’ milk

Wednesday, May 9th from 1 – 4 pm

Chandler Pond Farm, WHEELOCK

Cottage Cheese & Yogurt Panna Cotta

with Margaret Osha & cows’ milk

Wednesday, May 23rd from 1 – 4 pm

Turkey Hill Farm, RANDOLPH CENTER

All classes require advance registration and space is limited. $20-$40 sliding scale. All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont.  To sign up, contact Shelby at (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.
Volunteer

>>> Activist and Volunteer Needs  

As a grassroots organization, Rural Vermont relies on the generosity and commitment of volunteers to help us accomplish our goals. Throughout the year we need your help advancing our issues in many ways. Consider working with Rural Vermont to help spread the word about our Vermonters Feeding Vermonters campaign!

Current Volunteer Opportunities:   

Town Meeting DayTues. March 6 – is an excellent opportunity to meet and chat with your neighbors. In addition to promoting the Local  Food Sovereignty Resolutions, we could use your help distributing info regarding the Vermont Right to Know GMO’s campaign.

Posters- If you live near one of our upcoming events, please contact us if you can help hang posters in your community!

Recruiters- Are you good at talking to people and getting them excited about important issues? Consider helping Rural Vermont recruit new members and activists.

Email Robb, or call 802-223-7222 to get involved today!!!

JoinJoin Us!

Rural Vermont communicates with its supporters in a number of ways – email, mail, and phone. To ensure that you’re not missing any important updates, please join the full mailing list here. You can sign up to be a dues-paying member of Rural Vermont by visiting this page.


Brownfield Ag News: Groups says CDC raw milk report “flawed”

Julie Harker
February 23, 2012
Full Article 

A group that supports the sale of raw milk says the new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on illnesses caused by raw milk is flawed. In a news release, Sally Fallon Morrell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation says the CDC cherry-picked data to make a case against raw milk. She says consumers need to know that the incidence of foodborne illnesses from ALL dairy products – pasteurized or not – is “extremely low.”

The CDC says it reviewed data from 1993 through 2006 and found the rate of outbreaks from raw milk and milk products was 150-times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk.

Fallon Morrell questions the CDC choosing data only up through 2006 – saying in 2007, 135 people became sick from pasteurized cheese contaminated with E. coli and three people died from pasteurized milk contaminated with listeria. She says the CDC’s decision to start the review of data in the 1990s – following significant outbreaks in the 1980s from pasteurized milk – and cutting the data short raises questions about their bias against raw milk.

The CDC article can be found here.


Times Argus: Bill to require GMO labeling coming up

By Thatcher Moats
02/24/2012
Excerpt from the Vermont Press Bureau
Subscription to the Times Argus needed to view full article

MONTPELIER — Lawmakers plan to take up a bill in the coming days designed to help Vermonters know whether the food they pull from grocery store shelves has ingredients that have been genetically engineered.

Neither the federal government nor other states require the labeling of all genetically modified foods, but Vermont’s bill is part of a national movement to change that. Nearly 20 states are considering labeling measures, according to The Associated Press, amid health concerns about genetically modified organisms.

Vermont’s bill would also ban companies from calling food with genetically engineered ingredients “natural.”


Harvard Food and Law Society: Sally Fallon Raw Milk Debate

02/16/2012 Harvard Food Law Society hosted a debate on the legal, nutritional, and safety aspects of raw milk. With Sally Fallon. Watch the complete video HERE.


05/23 Cottage Cheese, Yogurt Panna Cotta

Raw Dairy Processing Class!
with Margaret Osha & cows’ milk
Wednesday, May 23rd from 1 – 4 pm
Turkey Hill Farm, RANDOLPH CENTER
Pre-registration required, $20-40 sliding scale


05/09 Butter, Yogurt, & Mozzarella

Raw Dairy Processing Class!
with Tamara Martin & cows’ milk
Wednesday, May 9th from 1 – 4 pm
Chandler Pond Farm, WHEELOCK
Pre-registration required, $20-40 sliding scale


04/11 Mozzarella, Rocotta & Ice Cream with Goats’ Milk

Raw Dairy Processing Class!
with Karen Nicholson & goats’ milk
Wednesday, April 11th from 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Stepping Stone Farm, STOWE
Pre-registration required, $20-40 sliding scale


03/31 Mozzarella, Ricotta & Butter

Raw Dairy Processing Class!
with cows’ milk
Saturday, March 31st from 1 – 4 pm
Black Dog Farm, NEWFANE
Pre-registration required, $20-40 sliding scale

Learn how to Make Mozzarella, Ricotta, and Butter from Raw Cows’ Milk! Class presented by Rural Vermont and taught by the kind folks at Black Dog Farm.  All proceeds benefit Rural Vermont. To sign up or for more info, call Rural Vermont at (802) 223-7222 or email shelby@ruralvermont.org.