Making Democracy Work

League Study and Action

League Study and Action

The League of Women Voters takes action only after the membership has identified an issue for study, has formally studied the issue, and has come to a consensus or member agreement on the issue under consideration. The consensus report is published as the League position and is the basis for League action. Such positions are the result of studies at the local, state, or national level.

You can find more information on our process of determining our positions here.

Minimum Wage

At the May 4 meeting, the State Board accepted as the LWVMO position a St. Louis study group's recommendations to support raising the minimum wage to advance self-sufficiency for individuals and families. Seven of the eight local League of Women Voters are supporting Raise Up Missouri's initiative that is expected to be on the ballot in November, It would raise Missouri's minimum wage to 8.60 in 2019, $9.45 in 2020, $10.30 in 2021, $11.15 in 2022, and $12 an hour in 2023. This increase is estimated to positively affect 23 percent of Missouri's population.

The League of Women Voters believes that one of the goals of social policy in the United States should be to promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families and the most effective social programs are those designed to prevent or reduce poverty. Promoting a higher minimum wage in Missouri aligns with the League's goals to advance self-sufficiency among individuals and families. A living wage would allow anyone working full item to stay above the federal poverty line and avoid homelessness. The living wage would not improve quality of life for families and individuals or account for emergencies, such as affording health insurance; these families would still live paycheck to paycheck.

Raise Up Missouri is leading the effort on an initiated measure that will likely be on the November ballot. The schedule for increasing the Missouri state minimum wage would be as follows: $7.70 in 2017, $8.60 in 2019, $9.45 in 2020, $10.30 in 2021, $11.15 in 2022 and $12.00 in 2023.

Evidence has shown that raising the minimum wage has a positive effect on local and state economy. A higher minimum wage does not result in the loss of jobs and increase job retention and productivity. At the same time, there is no significant evidence that shows it will lead to price increases among goods and services. Small businesses grow faster areas where the minimum wage has increased; workers whose pay increases usually spend their extra earnings locally.

At $16,000/year or $341/week, the current minimum wage does not align with the cost of living for the state of Missouri. Raising the minimum wage would allow for Missourians to become self-sufficient and not rely on government aid for important needs and services. Minimum wage workers are mostly women with children, however this increase would positively affect 23 percent of Missouri's population.

Health Care

Health Care Committee Report

It is sometimes confusing to distinguish health care research, policy and advocacy organizations. Here is a brief look at some of the national and state organizations that support the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

Official government information is available through Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services(CMS) with a website full of detailed information. HealthCare.gov

A few of the national organizations where research and policy analysis may be found include Kaiser Family Foundation (kkf.org) and Families USA (familiesusa.org) where advocacy opportunities are often suggested.

Missouri has focused health care activity through a number of coalitions. Many grassroots groups are part of several coalitions, including Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance (mohealthalliance.org), Missouri Health Care for All (coalition.mohealthcareforall.org) and Missouri Medicaid Expansion Coalition (Contact Michelle.Trupiano@gmail.com).

MISSOURI FOUNDATION FOR HEALTH (mffh.org) has been a funding partner for health related organizations in our community for many years. With the passage of ACA, they have been especially helpful in providing research and policy analysis for Missouri. COVER MISSOURI is an E-news format that brings their information to you. Through the Cover Missouri banner, there will be assistance for outreach and education. Getting accurate information to the public is a crucial role in implementation of health reform.

You can contact Michelle Trupiano, Director of Missouri Medicaid Coalition, at Michelle.trupiano@gmail.com or 314-805-5429.

Information for Money in Politics

Campaign Finance Links and Resources

CLEAN Missouri - A 2018 ballot initiative to increase accountability, integrity and transparency in government. It would ban lobbyist gifts over $5 and set caps of $2,500 for campaign contributions to State Senate candidates and $2,000 for House candidates. http://www.cleanmissouri.org

The 30 Second Candidate - PBS Democracy Project. Look inside the world of political advertising. http://www.pbs.org/30secondcandidate

Project Vote-Smart - A non-partisan, non-profit voter information center that provides addresses, campaign finance and voting records on candidates and elected officials, including President, Congress, Governors, and State Legislators. Find your representatives when you enter your address. http://www.vote-smart.org

CAMPAIGN FINANCE Brooking Institute - The special focus of their site is campaign finance law and administration. It provides background information on current law and regulations, tracks legal developments in court cases and administrative decisions, and reports on proposed new legislation and other reform proposals. http://www.brookings.org/GS/CF/CF_HP.HTM

Common Cause - A nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen's lobbying organization. http://www.commoncause.org

Federal Election Commission - The Commission maintains databases on political contributions to candidates, 527s, political action committees, and up to date information on federal election law and violations of the law. http://www.fec.gov

Institute on Money in State Politics - IMSP provides searchable databases of campaign finance on the state level. It analyzes the information to determine the role campaign money plays in public policy debates in the states. http://www.followthemoney.org

National Voting Rights Institute - A leading legal center in the campaign finance reform field. Using litigation and public education, the Institute aims to redefine the issue of private money in public elections as the nation's newest voting rights barrier. http://www.nvri.org

opensecrets.org - The Center for Responsive Politics website that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy. http://www.opensecrets.org Political Moneyline - Find out who's giving money to whom. Detailed federal campaign finance data by candidate, political action committee, contributor name or occupation, and other variables. http://www.tray.com/fecinfo/

Public Campaign - A non-profit, non-partisan organization that helps citizen groups around the country who are working for campaign finance reform in their states. http://www.publicampaign.org

CIVIL LIBERTIES Bill of Rights Defense Committee - A national organization that encourages communities to take an active role in an ongoing national debate about anti-terrorism measures that threaten civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Their website provides information about proposed anti-terrorism legislation and anti-terror cases with civil liberties implications in the courts. Contains links to many articles covering: threats to civil liberties; grassroots movements; college issues; articles and information on legislation aimed at protecting civil liberties and articles and information on introduced legislation that may threaten civil liberties. http://www.bordc.org

Center for Democracy and Technology - Works to promote constitutional liberties in the digital age. Concerns include free speech, government surveillance and data privacy. http://www.cdt.org

Civilrights.org - Provides relevant and up-to-the minute civil rights news and information and contains searchable archives of news features and background information. http://www.civilrights.org

First Amendment Center - Offers general information on First Amendment issues; news and information on how the courts understand and apply the First Amendment in various types of situations. Research materials are organized by topic under the five freedoms of the First Amendment: speech, press, religious liberty, assembly and petition. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org

Agricultural Update

Food Safety is everyone's concern. The LWVUS the Board has adopted the scope for the current Agricultural Position Update. "The Agriculture Update will focus narrowly on 1) current technology issues in agriculture including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, pesticides, sustainable farming, agriculture water pollution, aquifer depletion, antibiotics in livestock, and accurate food labeling; and 2) current agriculture finance issues including consolidation in agriculture industries, crop subsidies and the federal agricultural regulatory process."

ILR Articles for the Agricultural Study with Additional Links

1. GMOs

Introduction to Genetically Modified Foods

Organic and Non-GMO

GMO Free Midwest

NY Times A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops

2. Nanotechnology

3. Herbicides and Pesticides

Herbicides and Pesticides

References on Pesticides and Herbicides

EPA review of tolerances for pesticide residues

EPA's pesticide programs

US Farmer and Rancher Alliance

Beyond Pesticides

4. Antibiotic Use in Agriculture

Antibiotics and Agriculture

Additional Reference on Antibiotics

CDC Threat Report: Yes, Agricultural Antibiotics Play a Role in Drug Resistance

Pros and cons of using antibiotics in animal feed

Antibiotic Resistance and the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Agriculture Statement of Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D.

5. Water and Agriculture

Water and Agriculture

Additional Information on Water in Missouri and Agriculture and the Environment visit Missouri Coalition for the Environment

6.Farm Bill and Government Funding of Agriculture

Interaction of Federal Agencies and Food Safety Mission Overview

7. Additional Links on Food Safety

Food Safety News

CDC Most Common Food Illness

Link on Food Labeling Stingy Funding has put FDA in a crisis

Overview of Food Labeling

Overview of Animal Management

See Section Below for links to the full LWVUS Background Papers.

Agricultural Update Background

Background Information from LWVUS

Acronyms

Glossary

Overview of Key Agencies Supporting and Regulating Food and Agriculture

More than half of our country's private land is used for agriculture. The choices farmers make in managing those lands affect the quality of our waters, the ability to feed our people and the future of the land itself. Those choices to a large extent are influenced by the actions of the federal government through the departments and agencies that provide support to farmers and consumers in a variety of ways, promulgate regulations to ensure safe, nutritious food and to protect the environment, and enable competitive markets. Here are the various papers provided for background by the LWVUS Agricultural Update Committee on government agencies.

United States Department of Agriculture

Agriculture's Role in American Nutrition

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health

Food Labeling:

Food Labeling

Food Safety:

Interaction among Food Safety Agencies

Overview of Farm Management and Introduction to Agriculture Technology

Through continuous innovation over thousands of years, farmers have fed ever-growing populations with an increasing variety of produce. Even as a smaller and smaller part of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture, technology has progressed at a rapid pace with advances each year allowing farmers to increase yields using fewer inputs. The best yields that can be obtained involve an integrated approach using better seeds, water efficient technologies, nutrients, pest and weed management, and soil conservation. It is an amalgamation of pieces that have to come together to help ensure a steady, safe supply of food. This portion of the Agriculture Update elaborates on farm management of crops and animals, traditional and genetic engineered plant breeding, and the technologies affecting pesticides, water and soils. The chapters discussing these topics are:

Farm Management

Pesticide Management

Soil Management

Water Management

Research and Development:

Plant Breeding and Biodiversity

Genetic Engineering of Plants

Nano and Other Technologies

Animal Management:

Animal Management

Economic Health of the Agricultural Sector:

Overview Subsidies

Overview Crop Insurance

Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Antitrust Enforcement Agencies and Legislation

Additional Multimedia Resources and Summer Reading

Summer Reading for Agriculture Update

Below are some example multimedia resources. These are not meant to endorse any particular practice or viewpoint, but to give you an indication of the breadth of the topics. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the Agriculture Update Forums at forum.lwv.org.

AQUACULTURE Mote Aquaculture Farm (video 7:28 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XwLGE0Q5_o Salmon farming in British Columbia (video 5:58) http://salmonfarmers.com/virtual-video By the BC Salmon Farmers Association Farmed Salmon: Unhealthy and Unsustainable, Ocean Futures Society, (video 5:13 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YD9KDE92J8

ORGANIC FARMING USDA Certified Organic Farm, Spring Chicken Media, (video 9 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Fappg2caw Joel Salatin Polyface Farm (by USA Today) (video 4:02 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxTfQpv8xGA Covers the system he employs on his farm from beef, to broilers, to laying hens and pigs See also the first part of 2008 Food for Thought lecture at Oregon State Univ. below under Sustainable Agriculture.

GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOOD The Eyes of Nye - Genetically Modified Foods (video 24:58 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKm2Ch3-Myg Good "primer" on the concept of genetically engineered foods + it's presented by Bill Nye in a comprehensively broad, simplified and even entertaining manner, making it viewer friendly. Disclosure: At the end, he does endorse farming responsibly, testing each case and labeling foods. Wikipedia article on the genetically modified food controversies that seems to include most points of view (text) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_food_controversies See also middle part of the 2008 Food for Thought lecture at Oregon State Univ. below under Sustainable Agriculture.

NANOTECHNOLOGY Nanotech Risks, Discovery Channel, 2009 (video 2:10 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qc0KLV8CW08 Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, talks to Jorge Ribas about the technology's risks Agricultural nanotechnology and the future of food, webinar by the Institute for Trade and Agriculture Policy, May 2013 (video 57:43 minutes). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0R9az7P6h0 Technical webinar about nanotechnology applications in food and farming, potential risks, and regulatory recommendations LABELING U.S. FDA Food Labeling Regulations (English) (video 3:46 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJhZWXAndko This is a brief video introduction on the various components of U.S. FDA Food Labeling Regulations. Its audience is to give producers an understanding of regulations but I think the info is appropriate for our population. Commonwealth Club of California Oct. 2012 panel on Prop. 37: "GMO: Label or Not?" (audio 1:10 hours) http://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2012-10-25/gmo-label-or-not

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE 2008 Food for Thought lecture at Oregon State Univ. (video 1:24 hours) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP-QSGrTu7s UC Davis genetic engineering expert, Professor Pamela Ronald, and her organic farmer husband, Raoul Adamchak, discuss how the best practices of both organic farming and genetic engineering can be used together to improve farming. Note: the lecture can also be searched through the "transcript" button for key terms and what times they are covered in the video + it appears to be voice recognition, so is not 100% accurate, but is still a very neat feature. Out to Pasture: The future of farming (video 34:11 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrRqi8-Y8ak Out to Pasture contrasts industrial-style confined animal production with farms that raise food animals outdoors in diversified operations, striving to be sustainable. Who Killed the Honey Bee? (BBC Documentary) (video 58:50 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjef4QiKWfg An investigation into colony collapse disorder and die-offs of bees

CROP INSURANCE Crop Insurance 101 (video 3:35 Minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TixSJuOh6YM Tom Zacharias, President of NCIS, explains the basics of crop insurance

ANIMAL MANAGEMENT Michigan Farmer Fights Livestock Factory Farm Pollution (video 3:06 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6iAhrP0-rY Beef Documentary (video 6:33 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onITAppbWyE Uploaded on Sep 21, 2011. Farmers discussing the science behind a cattle feedlot and the care involved in raising the cows. The environmental practices they observe and are constantly improving upon are showcased. Inhumane Feed Lot Beef vs. Humane Grass Fed Beef (video 3:31 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUDCh7nSUEQ, FOX News segment discussing health and practice differences (some graphic scenes) Living Downstream from a Pig Farm (video 3:01 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu15Mf696zI Hog Production at Smithfield Farms (video 4:11 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOboXPYWetk Undercover at Smithfield Foods (video 3:36 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_vqIGTKuQE Humane Society discussion of Smithfield gestation crates

LWVUS Agricultural Position

The League's History In 1986, the League undertook a two-year study and member agreement process on the role of the federal government in U.S. agriculture policy, examining elements of federal farm policy, its contemporary setting and policy alternatives. The resulting 1988 position on agriculture policy supports policies for sustainable agriculture and action to reduce the use of toxic chemicals on the farm. The League also supports targeting research programs and technological assistance to mid-sized farms and to sustainable agriculture. While many of the programs the League supports--farm credit at reasonable terms and conditions and programs to enable farmers to use sustainable agriculture--may benefit family or mid-sized farms, the League supports these programs for all farms, regardless of size. The position supports "decoupling" (moving away from direct payments based on production) as consistent with the strong League consensus in favor of greater reliance on the free market to determine prices. Reliance on the free market for price determination also can support a gradual reduction in loan rates. The League does not envision total reliance on the free market to determine agriculture prices. In assessing programs that move agriculture toward greater reliance on the free market, consideration would include problems peculiar to agriculture, such as severe climate or natural disasters.

The League supports federally-provided farm credit, but believes the federal government should be the lender of last resort. The League position does not address supply controls, capping payments to farmers, protecting farm income or any particular commodity program. It supports the conservation reserve program and opposes the removal of lands prematurely from the conservation reserve. In 1989, the League opposed legislation that would have preempted stricter state laws on the regulation of pesticides. In 1990, it urged the House to pass a farm bill that would protect land and water resources, reduce the use of toxic chemicals, and target research and technical assistance to developing environmentally sound agriculture practices. The League called for measures to strengthen conservation provisions, continue the conservation reserve, and permit retention of base payments and deficiency payments when farmers file and implement an approved plan for farming with environmentally beneficial practices. The League also called for national standards of organic production and opposed the export of pesticides that are illegal in the United States. In 1988-1991, the LWVEF worked with Public Voice for Food and Health Policy and state and local Leagues on a citizen education project on agricultural issues, including pesticide residues in food and water, sustainable agriculture, and research and technology.

The League's Position Statement of Position on Federal Agriculture Policy, as Announced by National Board, October 1988: The LWVUS believes that federal agriculture policies should promote adequate supplies of food and fiber at reasonable prices to consumers, farms that are economically viable, farm practices that are environmentally sound and increased reliance on the free market to determine prices.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE. Federal policy should encourage a system of sustainable, regenerative agricultural production that moves toward an environmentally sound agricultural sector. This includes promoting stewardship to preserve and protect the country's human and natural agricultural resources.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. Agricultural research, development and technical assistance should continue to be a major federal function. Resources should be targeted to developing sustainable agricultural practices and addressing the needs of mid-size farms. AGRICULTURAL PRICES. The LWVUS supports an increasing reliance on the free market to determine the price of agricultural commodities and the production decisions of farmers, in preference to traditional price support mechanisms.

AGRICULTURE AND TRADE. U.S. efforts should be directed toward expanding export markets for our agricultural products while minimizing negative effects on developing nations' economies. Consistent with the League's trade position, multilateral trade negotiations should be used to reduce other countries' barriers and/or subsidies protecting their agricultural products. FARM CREDIT. Farmers should have access to credit with reasonable terms and conditions. Federally provided farm credit is essential to maintaining the viability of farm operations when the private sector is unable or unwilling to provide the credit farmers need.

Of these policies, the League believes the most essential for the future of agriculture are: encouraging sustainable agriculture; providing research, information and technical assistance to agricultural producers; and increasing reliance on the free market to determine prices.