Monday, August 28, 2006

Organic Consumers Fund Candidate Survey

I have completed the Organic Consumers Fund's candidate survey. Read my responses here. I enthusiastically endorse the health benefits of eating locally-grown, organic food and of growing food organically.

I grew up on a small organic family farm eating homegrown vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy, and I returned several years ago to live on my parents' small organically-run farm in Hammondsport. I am a member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. In 2005, I helped organize Southern Tier Farm to You, and helped the group produce a directory of locally-grown food producers in Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties.

I wish the survey had addressed what we can do about the fact that large industrial agricultural corporations with interlocking ownership have acquired control of the production of food labelled 'organic'. Many of the small farmers I know can't afford to pay the annual fees for organic certification.

I favor empowering local communities to make laws regarding food production within their communities. As attorney general, I will not support an interpretation of New York's right to farm law that permits it to override the right to municipal home rule granted by the New York constitution. The right to farm law as currently interpreted by the NY Agriculture and Markets Department prevents communities from regulating large industrial agricultural operations in their midst, such as confined animal feedlots that violate animal welfare laws and release toxics into the air and water, or farms using genetically modified organisms. This interpretation is incorrect and invalidly nullifies the right to municipal home rule.

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