Conservation Security Program, COOL & Farm to Cafeteria

The following letter was sent to Washington's two U.S. Senators, Patty Murray (who is on the Senate Appropriations Committee) and Maria Cantwell.

June 21, 2005

Dear Senator,

I'm writing to urge your support for three items on the agenda this week for agricultural appropriations. I understand the appropriations bill is scheduled to go the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. As a grocery retailer doing a $89 million business in Washington state, these three measures are important to our farmers and ranchers and 37,000 member/owners.

  1. Conservation Security Program
    More than 200 organizations sent a letter to Senators supporting full funding for CSP, but CSP never has been fully funded and already it has taken more than its fair share of funding cuts. Please do not cut funding to CSP.

    Without changes in agricultural practices, the infrastructure of our agricultural system - our nation's watersheds, rivers and lakes will continue to decline. CSP creates a win-win situation. It supports farmers, while they preserve our land and natural resources. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated that 70 percent of our water pollution is caused by current, industrial farming practices. CSP can help remedy this source of destruction.
  2. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)
    Mandatory Country Of Origin Labeling for meat and meat products was scheduled for implementation in 2006 after being delayed from 2004. The House of Representatives now has tacked onto its FY 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill a provision to delay implementation again, for another year. Special interests also are trying to get this provision included in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill.

    As a food retailer, we know that our customers feel they have a right to know where our food comes from. A new poll by Lake, Snell, Perry, Mermin & Associates confirms that eighty five percent of those surveyed say they want country of origin labeling (COOL). COOL is in effect already for fish and shellfish, and we've labeled foreign produce and other food products for years. There's no good reason to make an exception for beef.
  3. Farm to Cafeteria (Section 122 "Access to Local Foods and School Gardens" of the Child Nutrition Act of 2004)
    The one time grants for this program are sound financial investments to enhancing our overall national security by creating more secure, locally based food systems. By bringing locally grown food into schools through the Farm to Cafeteria program, we create a new market for local farmers, kids get fresher and more nutritious food, and significantly less energy is used to transport food. Studies show that the average meal in the United States travels 1,500 miles from farm to fork.

    The House Agriculture Appropriations Bill does not include any funding for the Farm to Cafeteria program. We need funding in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill, which reportedly will be written in Subcommittee and Committee this week.

Thank you for supporting these three measures so important to our food security. We appreciate your efforts on Capitol Hill.

Sincerely,

Tracy Wolpert
Chief Executive Officer

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