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Noyes News, November 2006

Ten Organizations Chosen
Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Food Policy Initiative

 

• Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association
• AnewAmerica Community Corporation
• Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas
• Mississippi Association of Cooperatives
• Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative
• National Hmong-American Farmers
• New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance
• North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers' Land Loss Prevention Project
• Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste
• West Harlem Environmental Action

These organizations are led by and serve African American, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans. They work in the Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and Pacific Northwest, and in California, New York City and nationally. Eight are in rural areas and two serve urban communities. Five have budgets under $500,000 and three over $1 million. The focus of their policy work includes issues related to limited-resource farming, food access and affordability, conditions facing farmworkers, and opportunities for food entrepreneurship.

The three-year Food Policy Initiative is a partnership between the Jessie Smith Noyes and W.K. Kellogg foundations. Fifty-two organizations responded to a request for proposals issued this summer. A three-person review committee recommended ten organizations out of an outstanding pool of applicants. The Noyes Board of Directors approved the grants on October 3rd.

One thing we learned was that in every region of the country good and important work is being done to bring the benefits of a more environmentally sustainable and socially just food system to people of color communities. Any grantmaker or activist interested in learning more about the work of these organizations should contact Kolu Zigbi, Program Officer for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems.

 

Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association is a current Noyes grantee based in northern California, primarily serving a Latino constituency. ALBA seeks to advance economic viability, social equity and ecological land management among limited-resource and aspiring farmers. It generates opportunities for farm workers and other low-income people to create farm businesses in a small farm incubator. ALBA will engage limited-resource farmers in diverse policy-focused education, networking and action at the state and national levels.

 

AnewAmerica Community Corporation, based in northern California, primarily serves Latino and Asian constituencies. It works to promote long-term economic empowerment of low-income Americans – new citizens, immigrants and refugees – through micro-business incubation and asset building, and to encourage their full participation in the political, social and cultural growth of America. Through its Green Banana Community Food Project, AnewAmerica will link low-income immigrant farmers in the Central Coast of northern California with immigrant food microentrepreneurs in the San Francisco Bay Area to address common policy goals and build food self-reliance and sustainability.

Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas – Farmworkers Support Committee is a current Noyes grantee, primarily serving Latino farmworkers in the Northeast. Its mission is to empower and educate farmworkers through leadership development and capacity building so that they are able to make informed decisions on the best strategies for promoting and defending their civil and human rights. CATA will develop, pilot and promote a market-based food label for social justice and economic equity with the hope that it will be widely adopted by the organic and sustainable agriculture community.

 

Mississippi Association of Cooperatives is based in Mississippi, and primarily serves an African American constituency. It works to enhance the quality of life and economic opportunities for rural Mississippi residents through the development of cooperative businesses and other economic strategies. MAC proposes to strengthen the leadership of its member organizations on sustainable food system policy issues at the local, state and national policy levels.

 

 

 

Msvkoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, based in northeast Oklahoma, serves a primarily Native American constituency. Its mission is to enable the Mvskoke (Creek) people and their neighbors to provide for their food and health needs through sustainable agriculture, economic development, community involvement, and cultural and educational programs. MFSI's Community Tradition, Foods and Future Project will impact food security policies of the Muscogee Nation by improving public nutrition programs, while reconnecting tribal members with traditional foods, promoting community-based agriculture and revitalizing the Mvskoke people's heritage as an agrarian society.

 

National Hmong-American Farmers is based in northern California, primarily serving a Hmong-American constituency. Its mission is to advocate and promote economic development for Hmong and other small minority farmers, acting as a bridge between grassroots communities that lack the resources to act for themselves and the decision-makers who make policies that affect small farmers. NHAF proposes to engage in community organizing and policy-maker education to advance agriculture programs and regulations that support family farmers, in particular immigrant families. It will work in California on worker compensation and air-quality policies, and nationally on the 2007 Farm Bill.

 

New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance Based in New Mexico, the core partners of this alliance are the New Mexico Acequia Association and the Traditional Native American Farmers' Association (a former Noyes grantee). The alliance will work with Acequia associations and Native Pueblos to protect native seeds from genetic contamination, sustain and revitalize the cultivation of native crops, promote food traditions that are spiritually and culturally meaningful to their communities, and to increase technical and financial resources available to local farmers and ranchers.

 

 

 

North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers' Land Loss Prevention Project is based in North Carolina, primarily serving an African American constituency. Its mission is to curtail the epidemic loss of Black-owned land in North Carolina and other parts of the South by addressing such issues as tax and lender foreclosures, adverse possessions, involuntary partition sales and fraud. It also addresses environmental hazards, disproportionately located in minority and limited resource communities. LLPP will address legal and policy barriers facing minority and traditionally underserved and socially disadvantaged farmers attempting to access to USDA programs, and build capacity within the farm advocacy community to deal with USDA administrative processes.

 

 

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste is based in Oregon, primarily serving a Latino constituency of farmworkers. PCUN is dedicated to improving working and living conditions in farm labor by empowering farmworkers to understand and take action against poverty, systematic exploitation and its effects. PCUN will persuade agricultural employers, their associations, consumers, institutional food services and lawmakers to incorporate worker security as a central part of their operation. PCUN will also promote national policies that provide farmworkers with the opportunity to earn legal immigration status.

 

West Harlem Environmental Action is based in New York City and serves an African American and multi-cultural constituency. WE ACT is an environmental justice organization dedicated to building community power to fight environmental racism, and improve environmental health and policy in communities of color. It engages in community organizing, education and training, advocacy and research, and public policy development. WE ACT will work to ensure that New York City public schools purchase the bulk of their food for students' meals from New York State farmers and that NYC schools are reimbursed for purchasing soymilk as an alternative to dairy products. WE ACT will also work with the schools to develop mandatory wellness policies.


Grantee Stories

In 2000, the U.S. Army began pressing for approval to burn hundreds of old buildings at Wisconsin's Badger Army Ammunition Plant, a proposal that the military admitted was not "environmentally friendly," and would release toxic emissions over a large area, resulting in contamination of soil and surface water. But, the Army claimed, there was no alternative.

 

 

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger was not convinced, and mounted a multi-pronged campaign to protect land and people around Badger and neighbors of military bases across the country. Part of the complex problem was the presence of high levels of PCBs (poly-chlorinated biphenols) at Badger and at other plants. When logic didn't convince the Army or state regulators, CSWAB appealed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, resulting in a three-year national moratorium on open burning of PCB-contaminated buildings while EPA studied the issue.

During the three-year period, the Army demolished, without burning, buildings at Badger, the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, and the Ravenna Arsenal in Ohio. Clearly, open burning was not "the only viable solution." As EPA pondered, CSWAB flooded state and federal legislators, EPA officials and media with postcards, e-mails and personal visits. It also hired an expert in dioxin to analyze the effects of Army proposals. By 2006, 160 organizations had joined a national campaign against open burning.

On August 22, 2006, more than five years after CSWAB first started its campaign, EPA headquarters announced its decision to prohibit the military from open burning of regulated levels of PCBs, a huge victory with significant national ramifications. CSWAB, however, is not resting on its laurels. The Army still proposes open burning of hundreds of buildings with lower levels of PCBs. The goals now are to monitor compliance with the EPA decision, and to convince the Army to formally withdraw open burning and thermal treatment plans in favor of safe non-thermal alternatives.

 

 

 


Just as an orchestrated campaign to build more nuclear power plants is building, efforts to find a place for waste currently decaying at aging plants around the country have suffered a new defeat. In two separate decisions, the Bureau of Indian Affairs disapproved the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's grant of a lease for Private Fuel Storage to store high-level radioactive waste on Skull Valley Goshute Indian reservation land in Utah; and the Bureau of Land Management refused to grant the rights of way needed to build transportation infrastructure to move tons of used nuclear fuel through the state to the storage site. Grassroots tribal members from Skull Valley, led by Margene Bullcreek of Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia, played the decisive role in defeating the plan.

 

In a precedent-setting statement on the BIA action, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior said he weighed "the long-term viability and preservation of the tribal culture of the Skull Valley Band of Goshute against the benefits and risks from such economic development activities." That decision, said Tom Goldtooth of Indigenous Environmental Network, "has national implications for all Indigenous peoples who face the same dilemma and who need protection against environmental injustice." Ohngo Gaudadeh Devia's uphill 14-year battle has drawn admiration and support from a variety of sources ranging from the State of Utah to indigenous and anti-nuclear activists, such as the Shundahai Network, based in Salt Lake City, 45 miles upwind of the Skull Valley Goshute land. Other allies who helped in the long fight include Noyes grantees and former grantees IEN, Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, Western Shoshone Defense Project, and Honor the Earth.

Photographs courtesy The Shundahi Network

Need a job? More than 350 jobs for organizers and progressive job seekers have been posted since the National Organizers Alliance re-launched its job bank earlier this year. View them on the NOA website or register for job announcements to be sent directly to your inbox.

Have a job, but no pension plan? Check out the NOA Retirement Pension Plan, a multiple employer pension plan especially for organizers and social justice practitioners, which is now accepting new groups. Organizers working across the spectrum of progressive social justice movements founded NOA in 1993 to advance progressive organizing for social, economic and environmental justice and to sustain, support and nurture organizers. Membership is open to organizers working to build democratic structures and leadership to empower people to gain social and economic justice.


Rural Coalition's work to address federal policy needed to support minority farmers was featured in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation newsletter, Food & Society Update.


The North Star Fund: Summer 2006 News features the exciting work of Sistas on the Rise in an article written by the organization's youth organizer, Leslie Grant. Leslie, now 18 and in school, tells how in 2003, as a student at the Martha Nielson School in the South Bronx for pregnant and parenting teenagers, she was stunned to learn that plans were being made to shut down her school. That was the year Leslie connected with SOTR, a community-based organization that serves young mothers in the South Bronx. Throughout that summer, SOTR began organizing the students to prevent the school closing, and to pressure the Board of Education for a better educational program to be provided and to secure appropriate social services. Over 80 students participated in letter writing campaigns, and meetings with policy-makers and school administrators. The students' organizing work paid off, and the school remained open.

SOTR's efforts resulted in the hiring of English and Math teachers, the opening of a computer lab, and the establishment of a maternity leave policy. SOTR and its many members and allies continue to monitor these achievements at the Martha Nielson School and also citywide at the other four "pregnant and parenting schools."
 

Just as the memory of dangerous, self-induced abortions had faded, stories are beginning to surface indicating that the old days are coming back. The Medical Students for Choice newsletter, Update Medical Students for Choice – May 2006, includes a striking article written by long-time reproductive rights activist and scholar Carole Joffe, titled Reproductive Regression. Joffe tells of increasing emergency room reports about women (mostly underage and poor) who are attempting to self-abort by using caustic douches or drinking quinine pills with castor oil, amongst other techniques. Along with these accounts are also incidences in Texas and Michigan, where young couples received incorrect information about their reproductive health choices and, since the states have parental consent provisions, decided to resolve the problem their own way -- the young woman asked her partner to use violent force on her abdomen to cause a miscarriage. Both pregnancies were aborted and both men are now incarcerated, with the young man from Texas serving a life sentence for his actions. With barriers created by restrictive polices, compounded by economics and the stigma surrounding abortion, women are increasingly choosing self-abortion or an untrained practitioner over legal abortion. In three states, North Dakota and South Dakota, and Mississippi, only one abortion clinic remains for the entire state. Comprehensive reproductive health training in medical, nursing and public health schools that includes abortion care remains an urgent issue throughout the country.


Denise O'Brien, founding director of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network,is the Democratic candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture in this November's election. On October 10th, the New York Times ran an editorial, A Farm Race in Iowa.

There's a governor's race going on in Iowa … but the race to watch is the one for secretary of agriculture. Both candidates support ethanol production … but otherwise they are as different as it is possible to be and still be an Iowan for agriculture. Bill Northey, a Republican, farms corn and soybeans and has been endorsed by the Farm Bureau. His Democratic opponent is Denise O'Brien, who raises poultry, apples and strawberries. She and her husband farm organically, and her campaign vehicle is a green biodiesel school bus…Mr. Northey proudly represents the industrial vision of farming… Ms. O'Brien … is a reminder that Iowa would be better off with greater agricultural diversity, stronger communities and a greater emphasis on the health of its natural resources. The sharpest difference between the two candidates concerns the ability of counties and towns to restrict the siting of feedlots and farm operations that concentrate on huge numbers of animals. Mr. Northey believes in a single set of regulations … Ms. O'Brien … that communities should be able to voice their concerns too. After all, they are the ones who have to live downwind.

 


Mark Ritchie, former president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (a former grantee) is the Democratic - Farm Labor candidate for Minnesota's Secretary of State in the November election. The Institute works to foster long-term sustainability for the state's rural communities.

 

Noyes In Action

 

Every other year, the Noyes board and staff spend five days in the field visiting grantees. We have been to North Carolina, New Mexico, Montana, Louisiana, the Northwest and, most recently, Appalachia. This past July we visited with ten organizations in Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. Here are a few pictures from the trip.

 


What the Staff's Been Saying and Doing

Vic De Luca gave presentations at the Nonprofit Success Forum's conference, Grantmakers and Grantmaking: An Inside View, held at New York University. He also was a presenter at the New Jersey-based Leading Institute's session, Funders' Views of Leadership. In addition, Vic was interviewed on socially responsible investing for an article in Foundation & Endowment Money Management.

Millie Buchanan moderated a session at the Neighborhood Funders' Rural Fall Funders Forum, entitled One Size Never Did Fit All: The New, New Rural America. Millie also facilitated a session at the October Environmental Grantmakers Association retreat, Organizing a U.S. Social Forum: What are the plans, the context and the potential? And she was on the development team of two additional retreat workshops: Thinking Outside the Big Box and What's the Matter with Coal.


Congratulations to Noyes Board member Leslie Lowe on being quoted in the October 2nd edition of TIME Magazine in the article Is Coal Golden?


Related News

 

Access to Emergency Contraception: On August 24, 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the over-the-counter sale of Barr Pharmaceuticals Plan B, commonly known as – emergency contraception (EC) for women 18 years of age or older, while maintaining the prescription status for women 17 and younger. Because of the age restrictions, EC will be sold from behind the counter. In a quality assurance agreement with FDA, Barr Pharmaceuticals designed the CARE (Convenient Access, Responsible Education) program to ensure the responsible and appropriate use of EC. The CARE program was created to limit the availability of EC to pharmacies and clinics with professional health care supervision, to educate health care professionals and consumers within the target age groups regarding the availability and responsible use of EC, and to monitor the effectiveness of the program. The producer of EC and most reproductive rights advocates feel that EC should be available to a broader age group, without the requirement of a prescription, and they will continue to fight to reverse these restrictions. The Office of Population Research at Princeton University has set up The Emergency Contraception Website, which covers this story and more.

 

Some see this FDA action as a political move to offset the avalanche of restrictive reproductive health policies in recent years that are actually working against efforts to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and, ultimately, to lower the rate of abortions nationwide – the supposed goal of the conservative Right. Taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, EC has been proven to reduce the risk of pregnancy by 89 percent. There are about three million unintended pregnancies each year in the U.S., making it a major public health issue. About one-third of those pregnancies result in induced abortions. By all indications, EC is already reducing the number of abortions. This change in policy is being carefully watched all over the world. It was headline news in the Mexican daily paper – Publimetro the day after its approval by the FDA. EC has the potential for becoming yet another security issue for border crossings.