The MOF&G Online
Changes Proposed to MOFGA’s Bylaws
The Board of Directors of MOFGA has reviewed the organization’s bylaws, as approved at the Annual Meeting on Jan. 8, 2002, and recommended several changes. These proposed changes are noted below and are discussed in MOFGA president Lisa Turner’s editorial in this issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener. Members will be able to vote on these changes at MOFGA’s annual meeting at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2004.
(Changes notated in parenthesis)
ARTICLE I. Name. The name of the organization shall be the "Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association".
ARTICLE II. Purpose. The purpose of the Association is to help farmers and gardeners grow organic food, protect the environment, recycle natural resources, increase local food production, support rural communities, and illuminate for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound farming practices.
ARTICLE III. Membership.
Section 1. Membership Classes. Any person, family unit or organization may be a member of the Association. Membership shall not be denied on the basis of race, creed, nationality, sex, color, ancestry, religious persuasion, sexual orientation, marital status, or age. The following classes of membership are established:
a. Individual Membership
Membership in class G only (es A, C, D, and E) shall be open to organizations, provided that they shall exercise only one vote.
Section 2. Membership Rights. The rights of members in good standing are:
a. Voting: (the right) to vote on any and all matters at regular and special membership meetings of the Association. (Voting at such meetings shall be restricted to members of the Association in good standing.) Each membership shall have one vote except that families that (which) join at the family membership level and above shall have two votes provided that at least two (or more) family members are present.
b. Participation: (the right) to attend regular and special membership meetings and meetings of the Board of Directors and (standing) committees of the Association and to present and discuss matters of interest in conformance with (to) the rules of the meeting.
c. Publications: entitlement to discounts on charges for events, (group purchases,) publications and the like as established by the Board of Directors.
Section 3. Dues: The annual dues for each membership classification of the Association shall be established by the Board of Directors. Dues shall be assessed annually and are renewable during the month of the next membership anniversary. Any member owing dues for more than 30 days shall be considered not in good standing.
Section 4. Meetings: The regular, annual meeting of members shall be scheduled for in January of each year, the date and place to be selected by the Board of Directors. Special meetings of members may be called by the President or by a majority vote of the Board of Directors and shall be called by the President upon written request signed by 50 or more members.
a. Notice: Notice of meetings of members and of all matters concerning this Association shall be deemed to have been duly given by: placing in the mail, postage prepaid, to the last known post office address of the members, at least 14 days prior to such meeting, notice thereof in writing; or (by) appearing printed in an official publication circulated among its members in good standing. (Each such n) Notice of special meetings shall contain an official business agenda, and the business of special meetings shall be limited to such agenda.
b. Quorum: Those members in attendance at Members who attend a duly publicized meeting shall constitute a quorum to conduct business, except that no business shall commence until at least 25 voting members are present, and that if attendance subsequently falls below that number, only those items on the publicized agenda may be acted upon.
ARTICLE IV. Board of Directors
Section 1. Authority. The business and property of the Association shall be managed and controlled by the Board of Directors. The Board shall hire and fire an Executive Director and set wages for all employees of the Association. The Board shall establish Association goals and policies, set priorities, adopt resolutions, approve an annual budget, and review programs in support of furthering the purpose of the Association.
Section 2. Composition. The Board of Directors shall have a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 27 members who shall serve for one year or until due election or appointment of successors and shall be made up of:
a. Chapter designated representatives: A local chapter that (which) is recognized by the Board under Article VII Sections 2 and 3 may appoint one of its members to serve on the Board annually (provided that the chapter notifies the Nominating Committee of its intention to appoint a Board member prior to the Board meeting two meetings in advance of the Annual Meeting.)
b. (Standing committee designated representatives:) A standing committee of the Association may elect (appoint) one of its members to serve on the Board annually (provided that the committee notifies the nominating committee of its intention to appoint a Board member prior to the Board meeting two meetings in advance of the annual Meeting. The Fair Steering Committee must appoint a member to serve on the Board in addition to the member nominated to serve as a general member of the Executive Committee.)
c. The Fair Steering Committee must elect two members to the Board: one will be a committee representative and one will serve as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board.
d. (c.) Officers of the Association: Each officer of the Association shall be a voting member of the Board.
e. (d. Members-at-large: At the Board meeting two meetings in advance of the Annual Meeting the Board shall determine the number of at-large members for the coming year, the number to be no less than five and not more than eight.) The Nominating Committee shall provide a slate of m(M)embers-at-large to (shall) be elected at the regular Annual Meeting of the membership to serve as voting members of the Board of Directors. Any member in good standing may be nominated to run in addition to the proposed slate or in place of a particular nominee on the slate.
f. (e.) General Members of the Executive Committee: Three persons shall be elected at the regular Annual Meeting of the membership to serve on the Executive Committee. One of these persons shall be nominated by and represent the Fair Steering Committee.
(f. Area contact persons: A contact person may represent geographic areas where active chapters do not exist for the benefit of area MOFGA members. This person shall have all rights and privileges of a member of the Board of Directors except voting privileges at meetings of the Board.)
Section 3. Qualifications. The members of the Board of Directors must be members in good standing of the Association. No director may be (a regularly) paid to provide staff functions for, or be a salaried employee of the Association.
Section 4. Voting. Each member of the Board of Directors shall have one vote in deciding business matters. As required, a representative of the local chapter or standing committee may delegate in writing his/her position and voting right for a given meeting to another member of the represented unit who is also a member of the Association. Proxy designations shall be deemed to grant full power to vote and act for the representative unless otherwise limited in the written delegation.
Section 5. Meetings. The Board of Directors shall meet for the transaction of business as soon as practicable after the Annual Meeting of this Association and regularly thereafter as may be necessary to conduct the business of the Association, but in no case shall meetings be less frequent than once every four (three) months. Special meetings of the Board may be called by the President as required and shall be called by the President upon written request signed by at least 5 members of the Board of Directors.
Section 6. Quorum. A majority of the Board of Directors shall constitute a quorum. Except as provided otherwise by these bylaws, a majority vote of the members in attendance at any duly constituted meeting shall, in the presence of a quorum, decide its action. (In the absence of a quorum, a majority of the number of Directors which would otherwise constitute a quorum may take action.)
Section 7. Vacancy.
a. Chapter and Standing Committee Representatives: In the case of a vacancy on the Board of Directors, the designating unit may (shall) elect or appoint a successor for the conclusion of the vacant term.
b. Members-at-Large and General Members of the Executive Committee: In the case of a vacancy on the Board of Directors, the remaining members of the Board of Directors may (shall) elect (or appoint) a successor (from nominees from the general membership including nominations from the Nominating Committee) for the conclusion of the vacant term. of the term during which the vacancy occurs.
Section 8. Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall consist of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and three General Members. Meetings shall be held at least once in every month that the full Board of Directors does not meet. Four members (A majority of the Executive Committee) shall constitute a quorum. The Executive Committee shall have the authority to act for the Association in all matters except unbudgeted expenditures in excess of 1% of total budget (in total) between meetings of the Board of Directors. Any unbudgeted expenditures must be reported to the Board at its next regular meeting.
ARTICLE V. Officers.
Section 1. Composition. The following slate of officers shall be elected. (to help conduct the business of the Association in an orderly manner:)
a. President: The President shall be the presiding officer of the Association and Board of Directors. He/she shall preside at all meetings of its members and at all meetings of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. In the absence of the President, the vice president shall preside. If neither is present the Treasurer shall preside. (next officer in due order who may be present, shall preside. For the purpose of these bylaws, the order of officers shall be as follows: President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.) Subject to the control of the Board, the President shall oversee the activities of the Executive Director and the business of the Association.
b. Vice-President: The Vice President shall assist the President in the conduct of his/her duties and shall assume the role of the President whenever requested to do so by the President.
c. (d.) Treasurer: the Treasurer shall have general responsibility for all financial matters of the Association and shall report the financial condition of the Association at each general membership and Board of Directors meeting and shall be the chairperson of the Finance Committee.
d. (c.) Secretary: The Secretary shall keep minutes of the meetings of members, the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, (and) shall report them to at the next meeting of the Board of Directors and shall forward such reports to the Executive Director and the newspaper editor, and shall perform all duties incident to the office of Secretary, subject to the control of the Board of Directors.
Section 2. Election. At the regular Annual Meeting, the general membership shall elect officers to serve through the next Annual Meeting. (in the above stated capacities.) The president shall hold office for no more than two consecutive terms. No other office shall be held by the same individual for more than four consecutive terms. The officers must be members in good standing of the Association.
Section 3. Vacancy. In the case of a vacancy in an office, the Board of Directors shall elect (or appoint) a successor. (from nominees from the general membership, including nominations from the Nominating Committee, for the conclusion of the vacant term.)
ARTICLE VI. Standing and Special Committees.
Section 1. Standing Committees.
a. Membership – Any member in good standing of the association may attend any committee meeting. Annually each committee may decide on its number of voting members. Voting members will serve at the invitation of the chairperson and will be designated in December for the following year. The chairperson and the voting members must be members in good standing of the organization. Regularly paid employees may not be voting members.
b. Each committee (The President) shall annually nominate a (appoint the) chairperson(s of the standing committees) subject to the approval of the Board of Directors. (Chairpersons of said committees shall be members in good standing of the Association.) The standing committees may take such action as they deem appropriate. (between meetings of the Board of Directors.) Any policy decision of the Committees may be (shall clearly state that their actions are) subject to approval of the Board of Directors. (and will not be final until so approved. Each chairperson) Each committee representative shall provide a written report for his or her committee at each meeting of the Board of Directors and shall present a work plan and budget to the finance committee in October (June) annually.
Section 2 The standing committees of the Association and their duties include:
a. Agricultural Services: Shall oversee technical support to assist farmers, gardeners, and homesteaders in growing organic plants and livestock. (a. Certification: Shall recommend to the Board of Directors a program for the certification of organic farmers, and implement the program for certification approved by the Board of Directors.)
b. Finance: Shall prepare and present an annual budget for the Association, analyze the Association's financial condition, and report its (their) findings to the Board of Directors. Shall provide continuity in the financial affairs of the Association during transition between Treasurers. The Association's Treasurer shall be chairperson of the Finance Committee.
c. Public Policy: Shall review existing and proposed legislation and regulations (on a federal and state level) that are relevant to the purpose of the Association. (organic gardening and farming, sustainable agriculture, natural resource protection, and food safety, and, from time to time, make the results of this review known to the Board of Directors.) May propose and support legislative and regulatory proposals, subject to authorization by the Board of Directors.
d. Nominating: (Members s) Shall consist of at least three members of the Board of Directors, who shall prepare, prior to the annual meeting, (the chair person, the President, and the chapter representatives to the Board of Directors. Shall announce before the Annual Meeting, according to the provisions of Article III, Section 5,) a slate of potential officers, General Members of the Executive Committee, and Board Members At Large (at large), who shall have agreed to serve if elected. May (Shall) nominate in the same manner in the event of vacancies among officers.
e. Fundraising: Shall oversee membership (Shall have the responsibility for the) development and fundraising. (pursuit of a long-term fund raising campaign for the Association.)
f. Fair Steering Committee: Shall be responsible to the Board of Directors for the annual (presentation of the) Common Ground Country Fair. Shall provide leadership for the corps of volunteers on the Fair Planning Team. Shall make decisions on policies(y) and issues relating to the conduct of the Fair, subject to approval to the Board of Directors. (Shall plan for the future of the Fair and make proposals to the Board of Directors. Shall implement the policy and goals of the Association through the Fair. Shall maintain current and historical records giving an overview of the operation and conduct of the Fair.) Shall meet monthly.
g. Education: (MOFGA’s Educational Programs Division provides the educational dimension of MOFGA’s programs.
The constituencies served include: MOFGA members; farmers; gardeners; and the general public (which may include educators, children, teenagers, elders, consumers, civic leaders, food service personnel, healthcare professionals, Common Ground Country Fair-goers, conservation groups and others.)
The goals of MOFGA's Educational Programs division are achieved by: working independently and in coalition with other groups to offer programming that is accessible, is geographically diverse, and takes place throughout the year; enhancing the content, frequency of, and access to MOFGA’s educational materials (on-line information and articles, newspaper, technical bulletins, monthly pest reports, etc.); enhancing the quality, visibility, attendance and evaluation of MOFGA’s educational events; and enhancing, expanding and evaluating MOFGA’s educational programs (Journeyperson, Apprenticeship, etc.))
Shall oversee the educational programming of the Association, including the apprentice and journeyperson program.
(h. Events: To provide policy guidance for events scheduled at MOFGA's home in Unity, including both MOFGA events and those sponsored by others.)
h. (j.) Buildings & Grounds: to Shall provide recommendations to the Board for (priorities in terms of) construction, (and) improvements, and maintenance to the grounds and facilities in Unity.
Section 3(2). Special Committees: (The President may appoint s) Special committees may be initiated by the President or the Board and shall report to the Board. (from time to time as necessary and shall name the chairpersons and members of such special committees. Such special committees shall report through the President to the Board.)
ARTICLE VII. (Local) Chapters
Section 1. Current local chapters. An official list of current (local) chapters shall be maintained by the Secretary and shall be updated continually as required by additions or(to) deletions of chapters as hereafter provided.
Section 2. (Recognition of n) New local chapters. Any member may request that the Board of Directors recognize a new chapter to serve his or her local area.
Section 3. Economic Sector Chapters. Any group of members may ask the Board of Directors to recognize a new chapter that is focused on a particular agricultural economic sector. Such chapters may have membership requirements that are more restrictive than the general membership requirements for MOFGA, as long as said requirements focus on clearly defining the membership of the chapter based on agricultural economics or activities.
Section 4. Recognition of New Chapters. Any (Said) request for recognition of a new chapter shall be in writing and shall indicate the geographic area or economic sector to be served and the number of active and potential participants in said proposed chapter and the proposed frequency of meetings, and any other relevant information to assist the Board in determining approval of the chapter. A new chapter shall be recognized as an affiliated local chapter by a 2/3 affirmative vote of the Board of Directors at a regularly scheduled meeting.
Section 5(3). Review of chapter status. Annually, each Chapter shall submit information on numbers of members and frequency of meetings to the Board. Any member of the Board of Directors may recommend that the Executive Committee investigate the status and activities of a local chapter and make recommendations to the Board of Directors concerning continuation or disaffiliation. The Board of Directors shall act upon any such recommendations provided, however, that a vote to disaffiliate shall require a 2/3 majority.
ARTICLE VIII. Employees.
Section 1. Executive Director. An Executive Director may be hired at a salary set by the Board of Directors and shall have general supervision of the business and policies of the Association, as established by the Board of Directors, and shall act as the primary communicator with the membership, general public and agricultural interests. The Executive Director shall oversee the day-to-day operations of the Association and, upon consulting the Executive Committee, shall make day-to-day unanticipated decisions on financial matters not covered by the annual budget and previously established policy. The Executive Director shall not take actions committing the Association without a majority vote of the Executive Committee or full Board of Directors. The Executive Director shall operate and maintain the office of the Association in accordance with an annual budget for office expenses. He/she shall be responsible for the hiring, firing and supervision of hiring, firing and supervising (other) employees of the Association and contracted individuals who are under the Executive Director’s direct authority as described in the staffing chart approved by the Board and in accordance with stated personnel policies. The contract of the Executive Director (shall be terminable for just cause upon one month's notice.) may be terminated by the Executive Committee. Any appeal by the Executive Director shall be made to the Board of Directors.
Section 2. Other positions. The Board of Directors may, by 2/3 vote, (create other positions it deems necessary.) create or amend the staff structure. Staff (These) positions shall be filled by the direct supervisor of the position. The direct supervisor shall be responsible for hiring, firing, and supervising staff reporting to the supervisor as described in the staffing chart approved by the Board and in accordance with stated personnel policies. (under the supervision of the Executive Director.) Such positions may or may not be a part of the regular personnel system.
ARTICLE IX. Conflict of Interest
The Association shall not participate in any contract or other transaction with anyone who is or has been a director, officer or staff member of the Association in the past two years, nor any corporation, firm, Association or other entity in which one or more said directors, officers or staff members have a substantial financial or organizational interest unless the material facts regarding such party's or organization’s interest in said contract or transaction are disclosed in good faith or are known by the full Board of Directors prior to consideration of said contracts or transactions, and that said directors, officers or staff members shall be excluded from the decision to participate in said contract or transaction.
ARTICLE X. Sundry Provisions
Section 1. Fiscal Year. The fiscal year of the Association shall begin on the first day of January and terminate on the 31st day of December of each year.
Section 2. Order of Business. The order of business at all meetings, as far as possible, shall be as follows:
Call to Order Roll Call Read of the Minutes Report of the President Report of the Executive Director Report of the Treasurer Reports of the Standing Committee Reports of the Special Committees Unfinished Business New Business Elections & Appointments Adjournment
Section 3. Corporate Seal. The corporate seal of the Association shall consist of a stylized tree with fruit in silhouette surrounded by the name of the Association, with "Maine Organic" circumscribing the top of the symbol and "Farmers and Gardeners" circumscribing the lower part of the symbol.
ARTICLE XI. Amendments to Articles of Incorporation and By-laws
The articles and bylaws may be amended or altered in whole or in part at any regular meeting of the members of the Association, by a 2/3 affirmative vote of members in good standing represented at the meeting, or by like vote of members of good standing at any special meeting, due notice thereof having been given, and provided always that a quorum shall be present at such meeting. Proposed changes shall be distributed to all members in the notice calling such meeting.
By John Bunker
On October 9, an enthusiastic group gathered at Sandy River Orchard in Mercer for the fifth and final installment of MOFGA’s 2004 organic orcharding classes. The day was hosted and led by 89-year-old Francis Fenton, whose father planted many of the orchard’s apple trees in 1906. Author/orchardist Michael Phillips and MOFGA Vice President John Bunker assisted Fenton with a lengthy orchard tour and tasting of dozens of old and new varieties, as well as in-depth discussions of fall orchard care and disease resistant varieties for the organic orchard. Closing out the day, many attendees explored the orchard on their own and picked apples to take home. It was an exciting and fun conclusion to the class series.
The other four classes were held at central Maine orchards and at MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity. Steve Page of Bearwell Orchard in Searsmont and Bob Sewall of Sewall’s Orchard in Lincolnville hosted a pruning workshop in March; Mark Fulford and John Bunker taught grafting in April; Steve Page and Michael Phillips taught early season orchard management skills in May; and Cooperative Extension’s Glenn Koehler and orchardist Steve Meyerhans taught midsummer orchard management at the Meyerhans’ Lakeside Orchard in Manchester.
Classes averaged about 25 participants, with some attending the entire series and others coming for one or two events. Comments have all been positive. We are designing a new series of organic orcharding classes for 2005. Information will be available at the
Maine Agricultural Trades Show in January. If you can’t make it to Augusta for the Trades Show, check www.mofga.org or call the MOFGA office for more information. The first class of the 2005 season will be in March.
MOFGA has joined a new coalition of Maine environmental, health and labor groups committed to reducing Maine citizens' exposures to toxics chemicals. Launched in 2003, the Alliance for a Clean & Healthy Maine includes the Environmental Health
Strategy Center, the Learning Disabilities Association of Maine, the Maine Labor Group in Health, the Maine People's Alliance, the Maine Public Health Association, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Maine and the Toxics Action Center. The coalition promotes safe alternatives to persistent toxic chemicals, opposes attempts by toxic polluters to circumvent the law, and works to reduce human exposure to harmful chemicals.
Before formally joining the Coalition, MOFGA actively worked with the Alliance on its initiatives. In October 2003, MOFGA co-sponsored a widely acclaimed, first Maine interdisciplinary environmental health conference at the University of New England in Biddeford, organized by Physicians for Social Responsibility and other Alliance members (see the March-May 2004 issue of ***The MOF&G,*** p. 26). Major accomplishments of the coalition to date have focused on reducing the risks of exposure in Maine to mercury, arsenic, brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and heavy metals and other toxics found in computers, TVs and other electronic waste (E-waste). In the 2004 legislative session, the Coalition achieved two first-in-the-nation pieces of legislation -- one banning
the sale of products containing brominated flame retardants known as Penta- and Octa-BDE, which are toxic and bioaccumulate in human breast milk and other tissues, and establishing legislative intent to ban a third BFR by 2008; the other requiring manufacturers to 'take back' E-waste at the end of life for proper recycling.
Future work of the Alliance will move Maine toward an awareness and ultimately an effective phase-out of toxics that persist and bioaccumulate in the environment.
"Formally joining the Alliance is a logical step in MOFGA's long term commitment to reducing our exposure to toxics," remarked Public Policy Committee Chair Sharon Tisher. MOFGA will focus its efforts on pesticides and other toxics, such as BFRs,
that bioaccumulate in the food chain. "Organic farmers and gardeners know that however carefully we control intentional inputs in our farms and gardens, our food and in turn our bodies can still be contaminated with persistent toxics in the environment. It takes concerted effort of an organized public, government and industry to eliminate the production and use of toxic chemicals that bioaccumulate. The Alliance is an exciting new coalition aimed at mobilizing that change."
MOFGA welcomes Melissa White as the new Educational Programs Assistant. Melissa grew up in Unity, attended the Maine School of Science and Math in Limestone, then went to Brandeis University, where she studied economics and was an environmental/social justice activist. White will split her time between Fair activities, Educational Programs and administrative support for MOFGA Certification Services.
Ann Frank is another recent addition to our staff. In late August, Frank started as our new Database Manager. She lives in Albion and most recently worked as a legal proofreader at the Maine Legislature in the Revisor of Statutes Office. She has also been a teacher and registered nurse. Welcome Ann!
Meanwhile, MOFGA says good-bye to Dawn Flanzer, who provided wonderful administrative support to the organization for the past few years. In October of 2000, Flanzer started as our part-time receptionist. With the growth of the organization, she grew into the position of database manager. This summer Flanzer decided to spend more time at home on her farm with her husband John and their animals. We thank her for all her great work and wish the Flanzers all the best in their future farming activities.
O’Naturals in Portland offers the perfect break from last-minute holiday shopping, the perfect alternative to slow food during a fast-paced season, and a great holiday gift for MOFGA: On Monday, Dec. 20, from 4 to 8 p.m., O’Naturals--known for its quality, organic, promptly served food-- will donate 10% of the evening’s proceeds to our organization, and customers will have a chance to enter a 50/50 raffle as well!
No tickets are necessary for the event; just show up and enjoy the food! You can even plan your meal ahead of time by checking out O’Naturals menu at www.onaturals.com/, or you can contact the restaurant at 321-2050.
Enjoy a flatbread sandwich, tossed salad, Asian noodles, hot soup and/or dessert. The restaurant even offers specials for kids. And if you’re stuck for an idea for a holiday gift, you can solve that problem with an O’Naturals Gift Card!
O’Naturals is located at 83 Exchange Street, in Portland’s charming Old Port.
The MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee is coordinating a delegation that will travel to El Salvador from Jan. 23 to Feb. 1, 2005--and that may even include a Farmer-to-Farmer-type meeting held for organic farmers in Chalate. Our sistering organizations, CCR and CORDES, hold their biannual ***encuentro*** (meeting) to focus on a specific topic, and the farmers themselves give different workshops.
In October, two members of the El Salvador sistering staff who were in Maine met with members of the MOFGA committee. The group discussed goals, work and plans for the delegation, and heard a super talk from Teresa Perez, one of the staff members from El Salvador, about sistering and the struggle in El Salvador for economic justice and against free trade.
***At its October meeting, the MOFGA board approved the following policy statement concerning "free trade" proposed by the MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee -- a group committed to solidarity between MOFGA and sistering organizations CCR and CORDES in El Salvador. Farmers in El Salvador and in other Central and South American countries have been protesting the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement. These proposed agreements would extend the principles of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the countries of Central America, and the countries of South and Central America, respectively. ***
In our global economy, trade and trade-related policies impact everyone. Currently, the dominant trend in international trade is trade liberalization, also known as "free trade." Ultimately, trade liberalization is a movement toward less government interference in the trade and commerce between countries. But the current process toward liberalization is heavily influenced by both the choices of domestic governments and the decisions of bodies governing world trade -- such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).
To date, trade liberalization policies have led to declining farm prices and income for small-scale farmers both in the United States and abroad.
Liberalized trade policies are also linked to increased scale in farm production, increased competition and displacement of small-scale farmers in developing countries. These trends negatively impact sustainable farming practices.
Regulations and standards concerning organic labeling, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and environmental protection may be overruled by international tribunals created through trade agreements such as CAFTA, the FTAA, bilateral trade and WTO agreements.
MOFGA supports the goal of standing in solidarity with farmers and farm organizations across the United States and around the world in calling for a more democratic process to determine the parameters governing both international trade and the domestic policies that promote international trade in agriculture.
To that end, we support:
1. trade policies that enhance the ability of small-scale and sustainable farmers to make a living wage;
2. diversity in farm production and in local cultures as well as the right and ability of local communities to set standards for the products they produce and consume;
3. socially and economically responsible trade in agriculture, including Fair Trade that ensures farmers living wages for the fruits of their labor;
4. the efforts of the Commission established by the Maine Trade, Jobs and Democracy Act (LD1815) in the last legislative session. This Commission, composed of our legislators and citizens, is examining the impacts of "Free Trade" Agreements to our economy, jobs, and democracy and will specifically examine the impacts to farms in Maine.
a. will empower one of our members, if one so chooses, to be an official representative to the newly forming Maine Fair Trade Coalition as an advocate for the interests of small-scale, organic, and sustainable farmers in international trade issues;
b. stand in Solidarity with farmers in El Salvador and in other parts of the developing world to reject the FTAA and CAFTA in their current forms as destructive to the lives and livelihoods of family farmers world-wide;
c. seek to provide education to the public about trade issues and their impact to small-scale farmers world-wide in order to empower the democratic process.
For more information, please visit www.mofga.org and:
© 2004 by Marada Cook; for information on reproducing this article, please contact the author.
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