Policy

Our Policy Work

ADVOCACY FOR A SUSTAINABLE & FAIR FOOD SYSTEM

In coalition with other organizations, IOA monitors legislative activities on local, state and national levels, making recommendations for policies that promote such issues important to the Iowa organic community.

The following list of issue categories captures most of the concerns we have heard over the past few years and represents the IOA board's priority areas

  • Pesticide Drift
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
  • Food Safety
  • Organic Marketing

There are many issues for us to be concerned about and we are working to prioritize our policy work on the issues most pressing for Iowa organic farmers, business, and consumer members. 


 

2017 DRAFT Policy Resolutions

 

ORGANIC CHECKOFF (Proposed 2017 Annual Meeting; Passed by Board March 2017)

Whereas the proposed organic checkoff does not adequately address the need for more organic research and education—both high interest areas from organic farmers.  Nor does the proposal make any assurances that the research needs of Iowa producers will be addressed with their checkoff contributions;

Whereas the checkoff is divisive between the people who market and those who produce organic products;

Whereas the proposed federal organic checkoff does not allow Iowa checkoff dollars to return to Iowa to support Iowa farmers;

Whereas the proposed checkoff assessment is cumbersome and burdensome on all certified entities, and not all certified organic entities will be allowed to vote in the initial referendum—even though they all will be required to participate in the checkoff annually by submitting their gross annual sales data to USDA, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the members of Iowa Organic Association oppose the Organic Research, Promotion and Information Order submitted to the USDA by the Organic Trade Association.

 

DICAMBA STATE BAN UNTIL IT CAN BE PROVEN IT DOESN’T DRIFT (Proposed 2017 Annual Meeting)

Whereas agricultural production using Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant “Xtend” soy and cotton seeds, has resulted in very large numbers of pesticide drift incidents across the country during the 2017 growing season.

Whereas, in Iowa alone, 74 cases of dicamba drift damage had already been reported by the beginning of August.

Whereas, dicamba drift is causing debilitating crop damage to all non-Xtend soybeans, as well as other broadleaf crops.

Whereas, insurance providers are refusing to cover crop loss due to dicamba drift because it is hard to track which farm it drifted from due to the volatization properties of Xtend.  

Whereas, beyond crop damage, dicamba has been linked to increased rates of cancer in farmers and birth defects, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the members of Iowa Organic Association call for the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture to protect Iowa crops and communities — and implement an immediate moratorium on all dicamba use on soy. 

 

MANUFACTURER RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONSEQUENCES OF 2-4D and DICAMBA (Proposed 2017 Annual Meeting)

Whereas there has been an increase in the use of 2-4D and Dicamba as Round-up's effectiveness as an herbicide decreases and GMO varieties resistant to 2-4D and Dicamba have been commercialized.

Whereas organic and conventional farms that choose not to or are prohibited from growing Monsanto’s dicamba-ready soybeans should not suffer crop losses or contamination due to the actions of these herbicides and should be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer.

Whereas 2-4D and Dicamba must be used much more carefully than Round-up and have a significant risk of volatilizing, causing problems well beyond the buffer zone.

Whereas 2-4D and Dicamba applied to soybeans during the summer months has shown to perform more frequent volatilization than 2-4D and Dicamba applied to corn in the cooler months and IDALS recorded an increased number of pesticide drift instances in the summer of 2017. 

Whereas crop insurance providers are refusing to cover crop losses due to dicamba drift because applicators have applied them according to the label, and thus the manufacturer must be held responsible for post-application drift, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the members of Iowa Organic Association call upon the Iowa legislature and Iowa Department of Agriculture to ban the use of Dicamba in Iowa until it can be proven not to drift. 

 

INDUSTRIAL HEMP LEGALIZATION  (Proposed 2017 Annual Meeting)

Whereas the cultivation of Industrial Hemp was ended in the United States with the passage of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act; and

Whereas Industrial Hemp is the same species as marijuana (Cannabis sativa), but does not have enough of the psychoactive ingredient, THC, to intoxicate people; and

Whereas Industrial Hemp was grown for hundreds of years throughout the colonies and the United States to meet diverse needs of the American people; including rope, paper, fabric, fuel and food oil; and

Whereas many times more pulp may be harvested from an acre of Industrial Hemp than an acre of managed forest, and this pulp may be used to make high quality paper without the ecologically unfriendly bleaching process required of pulp from timber; and

Whereas hemp cloth is one of the strongest plant fibers on earth three times stronger than cotton, but unlike cotton, now the most herbicide and pesticide intensive crop on the planet, hemp needs no pesticides or herbicides to cultivate; and

Whereas Canada, the European Union, Australia. Russia, India, China and many other nations produce Industrial Hemp, much of which is imported into the United States in the form of clothing and paper; and

 Whereas worldwide Industrial Hemp sales have grown from 5 million dollars in 1993 to approximately 500 million dollars in 2000; and

Whereas Industrial Hemp also incorporates more phosphorous in its harvested product than most crops, and this ability to uptake phosphorous makes Industrial Hemp the ideal crop to plant in Iowa’s watersheds where the water quality is suffering from an excess of phosphorous, and

Whereas currently there are fourteen states with statutes establishing commercial industrial hemp programs; the following states allow farmers to legally grow and process industrial hemp and hemp seeds: CA, CO, IN, KY, MA, MO, ND, OR, SC, TN, VT, VA, NC and WV. Seven (7) other states have also passed laws establishing industrial hemp programs, limited to agricultural or academic research purposes only.

Whereas the 2014 farm bill allowed the production of industrial hemp by states under various restrictions and whereas in 2016 the National Organic Program said they would certify organic industrial hemp production. 

Whereas the future of rural America should be tied to sustainability; , therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the members of Iowa Organic Association call upon the Iowa Legislature to legalize Industrial Hemp.  Furthermore, IOA supports federal legislation, Bill HR-3530 and a companion Senate bill to legalize industrial hemp throughout the country to allow U.S. farmers to join the majority of developed countries in cultivating hemp as a federally legal crop.

 

GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM (GMOs) CONTAMINATION (Proposed 2017 Annual Meeting)

Whereas, the landscape of modern organic farming changed drastically with the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and today’s organic farmer must be constantly vigilant of the threat of GMO cross-contamination.

Whereas, genetic drift and cross-contamination from GM crops render organic crops unmarketable

Whereas, current regulatory systems are unable to protect against the risk of GMO contamination, relegating the judicial system or crop insurance to address the resulting damage.

Whereas, many organic farmers who find their crops contaminated are reluctant to seek redress for fear of possible patent infringement suits by the GMO patent owner (typically Monsanto). Monsanto continues to find support in the courts when enforcing its patent rights in GMOs.

Whereas, it is nearly impossible for organic farmer to prove from what neighboring farm a particular GMO originated, the farmer could easily link it to the patent owner, and holding the patent owner liable for GMO contamination places liability on the party in the best position to assess and control the risk of future contamination, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the members of Iowa Organic Association support that if a farm that does not intentionally grow GMO crops becomes contaminated with GMO genetic materials, the farmer should not be held liable for possession of that GMO genetic material. Liability for contamination should be the responsibility of the manufacturer of the GMO seeds.


NEONICOTINOIDS (Proposed 2017 Annual Meeting)

Whereas, these newer chemical compounds were introduced as substitutes for older insecticides such as carbamates and organophosphates that have proven to be high risk for people and the environment, neonicotinoids are poisonous to birds and are implicated in colony collapse syndrome that has ravished populations of honey bees, and

Whereas, neonicotinoids are relatively persistent in the environment and mobile in water so that they can find their way into streams, wetlands, and lakes where they may harm aquatic life as well as birds and bees, and

Whereas, seed for major crops like corn, grown on over 90 million acres in the U.S., is now routinely coated with these systemic chemicals that travel through the plant and end up in pollen (and the edible parts of the crop) where they are picked up by pollinators, or the treated seeds are eaten by birds, where they may cause mortality or reproductive problems, and

Whereas the European Union issued a partial ban on three neonicotinoids in 2013, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the members of Iowa Organic Association call for the EPA to ban the use of neonicotinoids and other agrichemicals that harm bees, pollinators essential to our food supply.

Click here for a printable version of the 2017 Policy Resolution Proposal

 


Iowa Organic Association Opposes the Organic Checkoff

In March 2017, the Iowa Organic Association board asked the IOA membership whether they opposed or supported the proposed Organic Checkoff-- a federally mandated multi-commodity checkoff program that will affect all certified organic entities.  

Based on the majority position of IOA members, the IOA board voted unanimously to OPPOSE the organic checkoff at their April 2017 meeting.  In order to come to this decision, the board surveyed the membership of Iowa organic farmers, organic processors, agriculture service providers and consumers.   Of those who responded to the survey, 65% were certified organic farmers and 15% were certified organic processors.  Agriculture Service Providers (researchers, educators, government employees, and agriculture supply providers) and Consumers also responded at 10% each.  80% of IOA members, representing the Iowa organic community oppose the proposed organic checkoff.    

IOA opposes the checkoff because:

  • it does not sufficiently address organic farmers’ research needs, 
  • farmers cannot opt out of the program, 
  • it is divisive between the people who market and those who produce organic products, 
  • Iowa checkoff dollars cannot return to support Iowa farmers, 
  • the assessment is cumbersome and burdensome, and 
  • not all certified organic entities will be allowed to vote in the initial referendum—even though they all will be required to participate in the checkoff annually by submitting their gross annual sales data to USDA.  

To read IOA's full comments submitted to the USDA docket #AMS-SC-16-0112 click here


 

VOICE YOUR OPINION WITH IOA

Share your Policy Position with IOA on these current issues for organic farmers, gardeners, and consumers.  Your individual input will remain confidential:

 
 Pesticide Drift  (Iowa)
   

 

 

 

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Fill out a short 2 minute survey to share your position on stronger pesticide drift regulations in Iowa.   

To read more about the proposed legislation, visit these information websites at Iowa Farmers Union and Pesticide Action Network.