Action Alert

Fair trade or free trade? Let your voice be heard on Minnesota’s future!

The Obama Administration is negotiating two new mega trade deals (one with Pacific Rim countries, another with Europe) entirely in secret, with the goal of further expanding the NAFTA-model of free trade. These trade agreements could have major impacts on Minnesota's farmers, workers, small business owners and rural communities. They could limit Minnesota’s ability to support local food and energy systems and grow local businesses. In order to stay up to speed, Minnesota has set up a new Trade Policy Advisory Council (TPAC) to advise the state legislature and Governor.

TPAC wants to hear from Minnesotans: What concerns do you have about free trade? What role could TPAC play in the future? Now is your opportunity to have a say in our future trade policy. Complete the survey and let them know future trade negotiations should be public, not secret. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard in the development of trade agreements and that they protect local control and our quality of life. The free trade model has failed for Minnesota and we need a new approach to trade. Help ensure the voices of all Minnesotans are heard before trade agreements are completed, and that they protect local control, our natural resources and our quality of life.

Please take five minutes and complete the survey. To find out more about these trade agreements, go to

Climate change meets resilience: Real farmers solving real climate problems with sustainable solutions

Posted February 18, 2013 by Andrew Ranallo   

AgricultureClimateClimate ChangeDairyFarm BillSustainable Agriculture

Virginia dairy farmer Terry Ingram is a member of the Organic Valley cooperative.

Update: All five videos are now available at the following links: 

Earlier this month, the USDA released its draft climate adaptation plan. The plan recognizes the serious challenges faced by farmers as climate-related weather events, like extreme droughts or floods, wreak havoc on agriculture. The agency is accepting comments through April. The good news is that many farmers are already ahead of the curve in building resilient farming systems to face climate change. 

This week, in the lead up to the MOSES Organic Farming conference, IATP will be releasing a series of new videos that look at individual farmers and how sustainable practices on the farm help them stay resilient to a changing climate and increasingly common hurdles like the 2012 drought.

Each day this week, we’ll release a new video digging into things like crop insurance, the Farm Bill, extreme weather and agricultural diversity all through the lens of individual producers that have found their own approach to dealing with the risks farmers face each season.

First up, organic dairy production and risk: Volatile milk prices can make affording feed and other inputs difficult, especially with extreme weather events making those inputs even more expensive. By relying solely on grass to feed his dairy cows, Virginia farmer Terry Ingram of the Organic Valley cooperative has been able to remain financially stable while reducing his reliance on fossil fuel–based inputs, relying instead on the sun.

As narrator and video producer Julia Olmstead puts it:

It may sound simplistic, but in fact the idea of fueling a farm’s engine with the sun, instead of with fossil fuel–based inputs, is powerful when it comes to resiliency and financial stability. Fertilizer costs have been rising steadily for decades. They make up the bulk of hay production costs.

Pesticides, most of which are eliminated in organic farming, make up the next largest share of hay costs. When you put together lower production costs and the higher milk prices the organics premium market generates, it makes farming a sounder prospect, especially for young farmers.

Watch the video and stay tuned all week for the rest of the series.

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