Forest attended this lovely little event and was surprised that only about 15 people (including 3 WFU staff and Dani Lind) attended. WFU started off with a presentation and discussion of the issues locally, nationally, and internationally. Forest was happy to jump in on the conversation about concerns with the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make some strong points in the presence of Karrie Jackellen, attending from Ron Kind’s office and saw her taking detailed notes. A ruling on County Of Origin Labling (COOL) by the anonymous WTO trade tribunal is expected sometime in May and this may force the US to eliminate COOL!
Lots of time was taken discussing multiple parts of the Wi budget bill. Some points of note here:
Although there is the terrible $1.6 million cut in state funding for County L&W Con. Depts, there has been a $500,000 fund set up for “farmer-led” conservation initiatives.
WFU has come out in favor of most portions of the Nerison/Gudex high-cap well bill, but said they cannot support it without provisions allowing for periodic DNR review of all high cap wells and consideration for cumulative impacts on watersheds. They like the Groundwater Sustainability bill, but that has little to no chance of passing. “We appreciate what they are trying to do for family farmers, but you can’t just go for the low-hanging fruit. There are larger issues that must be addressed”.
WFU thinks there is a good chance of removing the budget provisions that reduce DATCP and NRB boards to advisory roles. ***Update: these provisions have indeed been stripped!***
On a final note on international issues, a conversation with Brian Wickert (always interesting) led to the revelation that the international seed bank (the Svalbard Vault on a Norwegian island in the arctic) is being financed by Gates, Rockefeller, and a handful of Agro-chemical and GMO giants (Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont/Pioneer…) Despite the ostensible humanitarian and practical reasoning for this project, many suspect it to be a continuation of the global biopiracy project to patent and privatize the global genetic commons.
The food was awesome and wholesome. Informal conversations were very good as well.