JUDGE RULES: VT’s GMO FOOD LABELING LAW IS CONSTITUTIONAL AND CAN GO TO TRIAL

From Rural Vermont –

JUDGE RULES: VT’s GMO FOOD LABELING LAW IS CONSTITUTIONAL AND CAN GO TO TRIAL

In an eighty-four page decision issued late on Monday April 28th, Federal District Court Judge Christina Reiss denied the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association’s motion for an injunction to block Vermont’s GMO labeling law from being implemented. Although she also denied the State of Vermont’s motion to dismiss the GMA’s lawsuit entirely, her ruling did support many of the State’s key arguments in support of the law.

Vermont’s first in the nation GMO labeling law was passed overwhelmingly by the legislature last year, and signed by Governor Shumlin last May. Passage of the law was supported by the work of the Vermont Right to Know GMOs coalition spearheaded by Cedar Circle Farm, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT), Rural Vermont, and VPIRG. .

Next steps in the case may include proceeding to trial to resolve outstanding claims, or an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Though the Court found that Plaintiffs’ are not likely to succeed on blocking the disclosure requirement, the Court indicated that the prohibition on using the term “natural” will face an uphill battle. The law is set to go in to effect on July 1st 2016.

Please visit the VT Right to Know GMOs website for further updates as the court case continues.

Legislators taking Vermont backward!

Video by Vermont State Employees Association

The proposal to close Vermont’s Windsor prison is a real step backwards for Vermont! This is not just any prison, they have been integrated into Vermont’s food security infrastructure. This is a deficit in understanding that there is more kinds of capital than just financial. Let them know what you think of this – http://legislature.vermont.gov/people/

Excerpt from VTDigger article FOOD PROGRAM MAY BE HURT IF WINDSOR PRISON CLOSES (below) by Tommy Gardner, of the Stowe Reporter, in which it was first published March 19, 2015.

Acost-saving proposal to close a prison in Windsor is causing alarm, because the inmates prepare vegetables to help feed the hungry in Vermont.

Salvation Farms, a Morristown-based organization, works with area farmers to get their surplus late-season crops to food shelves, schools and hospitals.

The nonprofit group has been employing inmates from the Southeast Regional Correctional Facility in Windsor to do some of the work and recently raised $156,000 to renovate a prison building to increase output.

Just last week, Vermont lawmakers proposed closing the Windsor prison.

The House Appropriations Committee is trying to close a $113.2 million gap in the state budget, as revenue continues to lag behind projections.

The committee is now discussing about $13 million worth of cuts, including $820,000 from closing the Windsor prison. The prison houses 100 inmates.

The shutdown would also put the Salvation Farms’ project in limbo, which is already underway. The nonprofit has raised $73,500 from 130 individuals and businesses and $82,500 from 10 foundations to renovate the food processing facility at the prison.

The organization has spent $20,000 for design expenses and invested $7,000 in Black River Produce, which trucks the produce between the prison and the various food shelves and institutions.

“For a small organization of 1.75 employees, it’s taken a lot of energy and determination, and it would be unfortunate to lose this,” Theresa Snow, Salvation Farms’ founder and executive director, said last week. “It has substantial program implications for us, as we try to build the Vermont Commodity Program.”

Deb Krempecke, director of Lamoille Community Food Share, has been receiving fresh produce from Salvation Farms since 2005.

Krempecke was “really upset” to hear that the prison could be on the chopping block, “especially now that (Snow) finally got it together. As a small organization, we’re in awe when someone can raise that amount of money.”

The Vermont Commodity Program, launched at the prison in 2012, “gleans” surplus crops that might otherwise rot on the vine or wind up in the compost pile. So far, according to Snow, 275,414 POUNDS of gleaned produce has been processed at the prison with the help of about 50 inmates. That volume — more than a quarter-million pounds of crops such as potatoes and winter squash — came from only 14 farms over three harvest seasons. More than half of it, 187,000 pounds, has gone to the Vermont Foodbank.

Last Friday, Snow asked the House Appropriations Committee to reconsider the plan to close the prison….

(Full article)

Related Article HOUSE LAYS OUT $13 MILLION IN NEW BUDGET CUTS

Some of the comments from Budget Cuts article:

– How does closing that prison help? The prisoners still need to be kept somewhere. Instead, we should stop sending them out of state (to be held by private for-profit low-ballers).

– I agree with Moshe, closing the only prison that does any form of rehab is a stupid idea- though typical of Montpelier. Bring the ones home that are out of state makes more sense.

– The cost of incarcerating a Vermont prisoner in Windsor work camp is about $74000 a year, these beds will be made up by shipping prisoners out of state where the average cost is $26000. Sounds good until you look at what you get for the money, CCA provides zilch in terms of services, and this is an effective tax on families who travel thousands of miles to maintain family ties. A completely bogus idea

– Private prisons are NOT cheaper. That’s why some states are doing away with private prison contracts. Private prisons pick and choose which prisoners they will take and who they will not take. That makes it distorted. If a private school only accepted A students without special ed. from 2 parent families, making over $100,000 per year, it would cost less per student. Private prisons are exactly the same. Closing Windsor would be just another boneheaded move by amateurs who, haven’t a clue what they’re doing.

This budget is in trouble for one reason: Incompetent leadership. This administration has squandered money, denied reality, blamed others and hired nincompoops based solely on their political background. It’s their way or the highway. I think Vermonters are fed up.

VT Committees “Arm wrestling for money”

From Rural Vermont’s Update: If you’re following the mainstream news at all, you know that there are debates raging in virtually every committee about money. Who’s going to get some, who’s not and where the hell is it going to come from?

In our work on the Raw Milk Bill (H.426), the Poultry Processing Bill (H.52) and the big Water Quality bills (H.35 and S.49) we are focusing on ensuring that economic opportunity and viability is preserved for family farmers, and greater freedom to choose our food is available to all of us “eaters.” We are also trying to ensure that fundamental principles of regenerative and sustainable agriculture and wise use of our crucial resources like water and soil are not abandoned or degraded in the process and politics of arm wrestling over money.

Along the way we’re also trying to preserve some measure of common sense as we seek to build a food system based on trust instead of fear.

For more on this I refer you once again to Wendell Berry:

“There is, then, a politics of food that, like any politics, involves our freedom. We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else. But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else. The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition. One reason to eat responsibly is to live free.”

Here you can read the entire essay, “The Pleasure of Eating” from which this quote comes. The Pleasure of Eating is part of Berry’s 1990 book “What Are People For?”

I hope you will!

Andrea

P.S. For more on our public policy work and how you can TAKE ACTION TODAY, see the Issue Updates section below. And I hope to see you on April 8th at Farmers Tell Their Stories. 

GMO Labeling Public Hearing

Rural Vermont – The hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, from 5 – 6pm in Room 10 at the State House in Montpelier.Additionally, the Attorney General has extended the deadline for submitting written comments on the rule by two weeks to Thursday, February 12, 2015.

There is a variety of additional information from the Attorney General’s office available here.

We encourage anyone, who is interested in helping to ensure that our GMO Food Labeling law is implemented effectively, to either attend this hearing or submit your comments to ago.GEFoodLabelingRule@state.vt.us before the Feb. 12 deadline.

 

Make sure you’re on the VT Right to Know email list so you will receive further updates as we continue to implement and defend our law.
Also, plan to visit the VT Right to Know booth at the 2015 NOFA-VT Winter Conference, Feb. 14-15 in Burlington.

Up Coming Oven workshop in Vermont

Build a Backyard Wood-Fire Clay Oven

Saturday, August 9 – Sunday August 10 (9-5pm)

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Winooski, VT
$125 per person (8 student maximum)

Instructor: Simha Bode is a community activist and a permaculture propagator based in central Vermont. He spends his time building soils, cultivating organic foods, wildcrafting, building earth ovens, and baking sourdough bread. Simha has taught courses at Yestermorrow and Metta Earth Institute. www.facebook.com/BodeEarthOvens

To Register/more information: ugolara@gmail.com or call 802-595-0058

Earthen Oven Workshop

VT GMO Labeling Action – June 16th

BREAKING NEWS:
Industrial Food Corporations
Attack VT’s GMO Labeling Law

Friday June 13, 2014

ACTION ALERT:

Rally to Defend Vermont’s New GMO Labeling Law

WHEN: Monday June 16, 2014 at 2:00PM

WHERE: Church Street, Burlington
– in front of the Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop

WHO: Vermonters who care about what’s in their food

Rural Vermont, a founding member of the Vermont Right to Know Coalition, invites everyone who cares about your right to know what’s in your food to join us for a rally in support of Vermont as we defend our new GMO Labeling Law.

Yesterday, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and a host of their industrial food corporate allies filed a lawsuit in federal court calling for Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law to be struck down.

The rally is being organized collaboratively by Ben & Jerry’s, the Governor’s Office, and the Vermont Right to Know Coalition. The goal of the rally is to demonstrate broad support for Vermont’s new GMO Labeling Law and to promote the Vermont Food Fight Fund.

Ben & Jerry’s will unveil a new ice cream flavor that will help support the VT Food Fight Fund and of course, free samples will be available.