MCE Receives USDA Grant to Expand Farm-to-Institution in St. Louis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: October 4, 2017

Contact: Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director, (314) 727-0600, ext. 111, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) was selected as a recipient for the USDA Local Food Promotion Program. They will receive approximately $45,000 to support local food efforts in the St. Louis region. MCE convenes the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC), a stakeholder group of organizations working in community development, urban farming, food access, public health, local food sales, and the environment. STLFPC’s mission is to promote a thriving local food system that supports the community, health, environment, and economy of the Greater St. Louis area.

The grant provides funding to increase purchasing of local food by public institutions. MCE will conduct a study to identify, assemble the resources, and connections needed to build the system of sourcing of products to area institutions, and thereby increase product sales and local food access for consumers. Some of the short-term impacts include an increase in farmers understanding of the potential profitability of selling locally produced food to institutions as well as for increased understanding of Fair Shares CCSA of the potential for helping member farmers reach new markets. Project staff will specifically assess the 1) demand of locally sourced agricultural products from institutions; 2) regulatory demands of farmers with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) certification training; and 3) available and potential supply from area farmers, including standardization of agricultural products in order to aggregate from farmers of various sizes, defining 10 target agricultural products area farmers can produce to meet the large volume requirements of institutions, and researching models for transportation of products and traceability back to the farmer for consumer awareness. Additionally, the study will promote the farmer narrative to institutions.

“This funding will help us better understand how to meet market demands with local food products,” said Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Director at MCE.

"MCE has taken the initiative, through the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, to engage in conversations with us and other farmers in the St. Louis region about how to grow their farm business and reach new markets, such as institutions," says Holly Buck, owner of Rosy Buck Farm in Beaufort, Missouri. "We trust MCE to conduct the necessary outreach and information collection necessary to determine if getting our practices into institutions would be best for us, and the region."

As the St. Louis region thinks about its response to extreme weather events from climate change, such as increased flooding, and its dependence on drought-prone places like California for its food supply, local food provides opportunities for gains in environmental sustainability, nutrition, and public health.


For more information, visit www.moenvrionment.org/.

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City of St. Louis Leads Region with New Urban Agriculture Policies

Dept. of Public Safety Allows Onsite Sales of Produce, Eggs, and Honey

Board of Alderman Vote for Expansion of Backyard Chickens

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Date: July 14, 2017

 

Contact: Melissa Vatterott, (314) 581-0561, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Alderwoman Cara Spencer, (314) 556-7379, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, (314) 622-3287, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

St. Louis, MO: The Board of Aldermen voted to allow residents in the City of St. Louis to possess up to 8 chickens depending on the size of the of their property. Board Bill 52 passed by a vote of 22-3 and awaits the signature of Mayor Lyda Krewson before it becomes law. The previous ordinance only allowed up to four animals per city parcel, including dogs, cats, chickens, and rabbits.

 

Mayor Krewson, through the Department of Public Safety, updated existing urban farming policies to allow for the direct, onsite sale of produce and other goods from a home garden, community garden, or urban farm.

 

“Access to healthy food and food security for every neighborhood in the City of St. Louis is more possible today than ever before,” said Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Coordinator at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment. “Mayor Krewson and the Board of Alderman were both key to changing policies that will grow our local food economy and create new economic opportunities for people throughout the city,” she added.

 

More than a year's worth of engaging residents and compiling data by the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC) contributed to the complementary policy changes in the city. The STLFPC urban agriculture survey found that residents wanted a minimum spatial requirement for various reasons, including animal welfare, public health and cleanliness, which was incorporated into Board Bill 52.

 

“We are excited to finally have a law that reflects what many residents are already doing,” said Alderwoman Cara Spencer, who introduced Board Bill 52. “Many of my constituents already have a couple of pets and a few chickens in their backyard.”

 

Nearly 100 people surveyed want to be able to sell their produce, honey and eggs from a stand at their home or community garden, which was addressed in the policy change by the St. Louis Department of Public Safety.

 

“Increasing healthy food access while putting more money in the pockets of city residents are part of the tools we need to build stronger and safer communities,” said Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, one of the four co-sponsors of Board Bill 52. “St. Louisans now have clear guidelines about how, where, when, and what can be sold from their property, community garden, or urban farm.”

 

Frank Oswald, Building Commissioner for the City said, “The Building Division’s policy regarding urban agriculture is our way to help see our residents have access to fresh healthy food grown locally.”

 

View the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition citywide urban agriculture survey (2016) here.

View MCE’s St. Louis Regional Food Study (2014) here.

St. Louis Foodshed Study Evaluates the Evolution of Industrial Food Production

Review of Agriculture data from 1925-2007 within a 100-mile radius of St. Louis

St. Louis, MO: A new report called the St. Louis Regional Food Study was released today by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE). The study analyzes the impacts of industrial agriculture on our diet, health, and environment. MCE looked at 59 counties within a 100-mile radius around the City of St. Louis using agricultural data from 1925-2007, called a “foodshed.” 

The report found that only one tenth of one percent of cropland in the 100-mile radius is dedicated to non-commodity fruits and vegetables. “The St. Louis foodshed had more than six times the number of acres growing fruits and vegetables in 1925 than we do today,” said Melissa Vatterott, lead author of the study. “We have the opportunity to feed our region but instead we are growing corn and soy that are used as fuel, animal feed or unhealthy, processed foods.” 

Starting in 2012, MCE gathered an array of county-based data that relates to our health, the environment, our food, and the local economy in St. Louis and surrounding 58 counties. The St. Louis foodshed spends over $17 billion annually on food, with much of the money leaving the region to pay for processing, packaging, transportation, and other costs associated with our national industrialized food system. 

“The higher per-unit cost of raising a tomato on a small farm in our foodshed puts local tomatoes at a cost disadvantage compared to the economies of hundreds-acre tomato plantations in Florida, Mexico, and Texas,” said Andy Ayers, a local food entrepreneur. “This is directly related to artificially low petroleum prices from the fertilizers and pesticides used by the mono-crop farms to the diesel fuel the 18-wheelers use to bring produce into this market.” 

“We hope the foodshed study increases collaborations with local farmers, food providers, health advocates and people who care about creating a local food system that benefits our health, economy, and environment,” said Vatterott. “The Missouri Coalition for the Environment looks forward to helping create this vision.” 

More information on the Foodshed Study can be found here: here

 

 

Policy Changes at City Hall Could Promote Food Security, Increase Nutritious Food, and Expand Economic Opportunities

PRESS RELEASE

Date: June 9, 2017

Contact: Melissa Vatterott, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alderwoman Cara Spencer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

St. Louis, MO: The St. Louis Food Policy Coalition strongly supports changing urban agriculture policies that will promote food security, increase nutritious food, and expand economic opportunities for people throughout the city.

“Our citywide survey found widespread support for expanding urban agriculture policies last year and we’re excited to see that support translate into action,” said Melissa Vatterott, the Food & Farm Policy Director at the Missouri Coalition for the Environment and chairs the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition.

Board Bill 52 introduced today by Alderwoman Spencer and Alderwoman Ingrassia allows a person to have up to eight chickens or rabbits based on the size of their property. The current city ordinance only allows for up to four pets, including dogs, cats, chickens, and rabbits.

“This is one part of what will be necessary to ensure our City's sustainability and our residents' access to healthy foods on a long term basis,” said Alderwoman Ingrassia. “Thanks to smart collaboration between the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition, Alderwoman Spencer, and a group of dedicated representatives from City departments, we have been able to put together legislation and policy updates guided by residents that will engender positive, impactful changes for urban agriculture in our City,” she added.

Another policy being considered is the direct sale of eggs, honey, and produce from neighbor-to-neighbor. People with home gardens, community gardens, or an urban farm will be able to sell their goods from the property where it is being grown. This policy is needed for expanding nutritious food access and keeping money local.  

“Gardening and urban agriculture presents St. Louis with an opportunity to improve the health, ecology, resilience, and economic prosperity of our neighborhoods, and transform vacant land into a productive community asset,” said  Lucas Signorelli, Executive Director of the St. Louis MetroMarket.  “Most importantly, it puts food sovereignty back into the hands of residents,” he added.

The MetroMarket depends on St. Louis's local urban farmers for sourcing fresh produce onto the bus.

UPDATE: A hearing for the bill is being held in the Kennedy Room at City Hall on Thursday, June 22nd. Click here for the Facebook event info.

View the FAQ on this bill here.

View the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition citywide survey (2016) here.

View MCE’s Regional Food Study (2014) here.

Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri. Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love. MCE’s web address is: www.moenvironment.org

 

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State DNR Yet to Heed Experts on Landfill Fire

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources has not acted on the advice of its expert on addressing the West Lake Landfill fire in Bridgeton where a subsurface fire is threatening radioactive nuclear weapons waste. See the story here.

 

You can see the expert's report here.

 

Help support our work on West Lake. Please become a member today.

Tax Dollars Subsidizing Destruction of Upper Mississippi River

August 13, 2013

Time for Congress to Focus on River Health, Not Corporate Welfare

 

Advocates for the Mississippi River's health are calling on Congress to use taxpayer dollars to restore the river and the economic benefits it provides to local economies and the country instead of subsidizing the destruction of critical ecosystems. A new report by experts from the Nicollet Island Coalition, a group of conservation and economic organizations working in the Upper Mississippi River basin, outlines how to accomplish this.

See the news here. The report is available online at www.iwla.org/restore.

Members of the Nicollet Island Coalition

Izaak Walton League of America, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, National Wildlife Federation, Prairie Rivers Network, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Sierra Club, and Taxpayers for Common Sense

Supreme Court Lets Stand Obstruction of State Renewable Energy Law

For release: April 26, 2017

Contacts:

  • Henry Roberts, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, 314.231.4181 - www.greatriverslaw.org
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Missouri Coalition for the Environment, 314.727.0600 x. 110 - www.moenvironment.org

On April 25, 2017, the Missouri Supreme Court refused an opportunity to enforce the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES), passed by voters in the 2008 election as Proposition C. Great Rivers Environmental Law Center had brought suit on behalf of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), Missouri Solar Applications and taxpayer Thomas Sager. Great Rivers challenged the action of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a standing committee of the Missouri legislature, for interfering with the rule passed by the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) to implement the law.

The RES requires the state’s investor-owned utilities (Ameren Missouri, Kansas City Power & Light, and Empire District Electric Company) to ramp up their use of renewable energy to at least 15% of the power they sell to their Missouri customers by 2021. JCAR struck down the “geographic sourcing” provisions of the regulation, with the result that utilities are not required to actually deliver renewable energy to Missouri but can instead buy pieces of paper called “renewable energy credits” from solar and wind projects in faraway places like California.

The Missouri Supreme Court held the case was moot because the Public Service Commission had published a new rule in the intervening years. The issue of JCAR acting unconstitutionally in striking key provisions is left undecided.

“The legislature took geographic sourcing out of the rule. The PSC never thought it could put it back in,” said Henry Robertson, a Great Rivers attorney representing the plaintiffs. “JCAR violated the separation of powers under the Missouri Constitution by interfering with a rule passed by an executive branch agency. The new rule perpetuated this unconstitutional act; it did not make it go away.”

“The decision was disappointing because it undermined the will of the people and the democratic process,” said Heather Navarro, Executive Director of MCE. “Luckily, the cost of renewable energy has come down so much that this decision won’t deter the growth and success of renewables, including the addition of thousands of jobs, that we’ve seen over the last few years.”

“The legislature has a long history of thwarting the vote of the people when they pass laws by ballot initiative,” said Robertson. “The Supreme Court missed a chance to redress this. Fortunately, renewable energy is here to stay even if the legislature and the utilities try to hold back the tide.”

Great Rivers is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in St. Louis that provides free and reduced-fee legal services to those working to protect the environment and public health.  Its web address is: www.greatriverslaw.org.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri. Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love. Its web address is: www.moenvironment.org.

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Settlement between Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Worlds of Fun Will Benefit Shoal Creek Watershed and the Missouri River

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: March 9, 2017:

Contacts:

  • Alicia Lloyd, Clean Water Policy Coordinator, Missouri Coalition for the Environment                                                                                              

        (314) 727-0600 x112, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Bob Menees, Attorney, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center                                                                                                                            

        (314) 231-4181, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Lia Comerford, Staff Attorney, Earthrise Law Center                                                                                                                                                

        (503) 768-6823, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Kansas City, MO: The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (“MCE”) and Cedar Fair, LP, and its subsidiary, Worlds of Fun, LLC., an amusement park in Kansas City, reached a court-approved settlement agreement that resolves a lawsuit filed by MCE in November 2015. In the lawsuit, MCE alleged that Worlds of Fun had repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act by discharging illegal levels of pollutants into the Missouri River and its tributary, Shoal Creek. The pollutants of concern in the facility’s wastewater and stormwater included chlorine, copper, oil and grease, and total suspended solids.

“We are pleased that Worlds of Fun will reduce its pollution to the Shoal Creek watershed and the Missouri River and that the various projects planned under the settlement will help improve water quality in the area,” said Alicia Lloyd, Clean Water Policy Coordinator for MCE.

The settlement agreement requires Worlds of Fun to develop and implement a Facility Compliance Plan to ensure the amusement park will meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act. The plan must be developed by a professional engineer and will include “green infrastructure” and an educational kiosk explaining how stormwater pollution threatens water resources and the benefits of restoring natural infrastructure to curb these negative impacts.

Worlds of Fun is also required to spend $100,000 on supplemental environmental projects in the Shoal Creek watershed. These funds will be shared between Stream Teams United and Bridging the Gap, Inc., both Missouri non-profit organizations that work on environmental projects and water quality monitoring in the Kansas City area and throughout Missouri. Stream Teams United will use its share of the funds to create a Shoal Creek Stream Team to monitor water quality and conduct river cleanups in the watershed. Bridging the Gap will use its share of the funds to implement on-the-ground restoration projects to improve water quality within the watershed.  Worlds of Fun will also pay MCE’s litigation costs and attorneys fees in the lawsuit.

MCE is represented by Great Rivers Environmental Law Center and Earthrise Law Center.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri.  Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love. Its web address is: www.moenvironment.org.

Great Rivers is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in St. Louis that provides free and reduced-fee legal services to those working to protect the environment and public health. Its web address is: www.greatriverslaw.org.

Earthrise Law Center is the environmental law clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.

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MCE Files Suit Against Worlds of Fun Alleging Clean Water Act Violations

Missouri Coalition for the Environment Files Suit Against Worlds of Fun Alleging Clean Water Act Violations

Date: November 17, 2015:

Contacts:

  • Alicia Lloyd, Clean Water Policy Coordinator, Missouri Coalition for the Environment

(314) 727-0600 x12, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Bob Menees, Attorney, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center

            (314) 231-4181, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Lia Comerford, Staff Attorney, Earthrise Law Center

            (503)768-6823, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Missouri River and Kansas City Skyline, Photo Credit: MCE

Kansas City, MO: The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) has filed suit against Cedar Fair and a subsidiary for repeated and significant Clean Water Act violations at Worlds of Fun amusement and waterpark in Kansas City. More than 60 days have passed since MCE sent a Notice of Intent to File Suit (NOI) to Cedar Fair and MCE is not convinced the company is committed to resolving the causes of its permit violations at the facility and the subsequent water pollution entering Missouri River tributaries. MCE’s lawsuit alleges Worlds of Fun has consistently violated its federal discharge permit for at least the last five years.

Worlds of Fun is a subsidiary of Cedar Fair, which operates 14 other parks nationwide, according to its website. The facility’s permit specifies pollution discharge limits for a number of pollutants, including chlorine, oil and grease, copper, pH, and total suspended solids. Worlds of Fun has regularly exceeded its allowable limits, discharging pollutants into two tributaries of the Missouri River, including Shoal Creek. Worlds of Fun has also failed to adequately monitor and report its own discharges. 

The Missouri River flows over 500 miles through the State of Missouri. More than half of Missourians get their drinking water from the river and it is used for various other purposes, such as recreation, power generation, and the provision of ecosystem services. The Missouri River also provides habitat for various fish and wildlife, including the endangered pallid sturgeon. “All of us who depend on the river and its tributaries for drinking water and recreation are paying the costs Worlds of Fun avoids in not complying with its permit. Polluting the Missouri River at the expense of the public and the environment is unacceptable,” said Alicia Lloyd, Clean Water Policy Coordinator for MCE.

Bob Menees, an attorney with Great Rivers Environmental Law Center representing MCE, said, “The documents we obtained from the Department of Natural Resources reveal the facility’s self-reported permit exceedances to be ongoing and egregious. Such flagrant violations of state and federal clean water rules are a clear threat to water quality in the Missouri River.”

MCE is represented by Great Rivers Environmental Law Center and Earthrise Law Center.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) state-level conservation organization, is a force for clean air, clean water and clean energy in Missouri.  Since 1969 it has educated and activated Missourians to protect the land we all love. Its web address is: www.moenvironment.org.

Great Rivers is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm in St. Louis that provides free and reduced-fee legal services to those working to protect the environment and public health. Its web address is: www.greatriverslaw.org.

Earthrise Law Center is the environmental law clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.

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The Gulf Dead Zone

Read more: The Gulf Dead Zone

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