MACA Letter To White House About Organic Garden

Bonnie McCarvel, executive director of the Mid-America CropLife Association and Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador coordinator, wrote First Lady MIchelle Obama a letter, encouraging her to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy. Read the entire letter.

March 26, 2009

Mrs. Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mrs. Obama,

We are writing regarding the garden recently added to the White House grounds to ensure a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables to your family, guests, and staff. Congratulations on recognizing the importance of agriculture in America! The U.S. has the safest and most abundant food supply in the world thanks to the 3 million people who farm or ranch in the United States.

The CropLife Ambassador Network, a program of the Mid America CropLife Association, consists of over 160 ambassadors who work and many of whom grew up in agriculture. Their mission is to provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production. Many people, especially children, don’t realize the extent to which their daily lives depend on America’s agricultural industry. For instance, children are unaware the jeans they put on in the morning, the three meals eaten daily, the baseball with which they play, and even the biofuels that power the school bus are available because of America’s farmers and ranchers.

Agriculture is the largest industry in America generating 20 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Individuals, family partnerships or family corporations operate almost 99 percent of U.S. farms. Over 22 million people are employed in farm-related jobs, including production agriculture, farm inputs, processing, and marketing and sales. Through research and changes in production practices, today’s food producers are providing Americans with the widest variety of foods ever.

Starting in the early 1900s, technology advances have allowed farmers to continually produce more food on less land while using less human labor. Over time, Americans were able to leave the time-consuming demands of farming to pursue new interests and develop new abilities. Today, an average farmer produces enough food to feed 144 Americans who are living longer lives than many of their ancestors. Technology in agriculture has allowed for the development of much of what we know and use in our lives today. If Americans were still required to farm to support their family’s basic food and fiber needs, would the U.S. have been leaders in the advancement of science, communication, education, medicine, transportation, and the arts?

We live in a very different world than that of our grandparents. Americans are juggling jobs with the needs of children and aging parents. The time needed to tend a garden is not there for the majority of our citizens, certainly not a garden of sufficient productivity to supply much of a family’s year-round food needs.

Much of the food considered not wholesome or tasty is the result of how it is stored or prepared rather than how it is grown. Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical. Local and conventional farming is not mutually exclusive. However, a Midwest mother whose child loves strawberries, a good source of vitamin C, appreciates the ability to offer California strawberries in March a few months before the official Mid-west season.

  • Farmers and ranchers are the first environmentalists, maintaining and improving the soil and natural resources to pass onto future generations. Technology allows for farmers to meet the increasing demand for food and fiber in a sustainable manner.
  • Farmers use reduced tillage practices on more than 72 million acres to prevent erosion.
  • Farmers maintain over 1.3 million acres of grass waterways, allowing water to flow naturally from crops without eroding soil.
  • Contour farming keeps soil from washing away. About 26 million acres in the U.S. are managed this way.
  • Agricultural land provides habitat for 75 percent of the nation’s wildlife.
  • Precision farming boosts crop yields and reduces waste by using satellite maps and computers to match seed, fertilizer, and crop protection applications to local soil conditions.
  • Sophisticated Global Positioning Systems can be specifically designed for spraying pesticides. A weed detector equipped with infrared light identifies specific plants by the different rates of light they reflect and then sends a signal to a pump to spray a preset amount of herbicide onto the weed.
  • Biogenetics allows a particular trait to be implanted directly into the seed to protect the seed against certain pests.
  • Farmers are utilizing four-wheel drive tractors with up to 300 horsepower requiring fewer passes across fields-saving energy and time.
  • Huge combines are speeding the time it takes to harvest crops.
  • With modern methods, 1 acre of land in the U.S. can produce 42,000 pounds (lbs.) of strawberries, 110,000 heads of lettuce, 25,400 lbs. of potatoes, 8,900 lbs. of sweet corn, or 640 lbs. of cotton lint.

As you go about planning and planting the White House garden, we respectfully encourage you to recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S. in feeding the ever-increasing population, contributing to the U.S. economy, and providing a safe and economical food supply. America’s farmers understand crop protection technologies are supported by sound scientific research and innovation.

The CropLife Ambassador Network offers educational programs for elementary school educators at covering the science behind crop protection products and their contribution to sustainable agriculture. You may find our programs America’s Abundance, Farmers Stewards of the Land, and War of the Weeds of particular interest. We thank you for recognizing the importance and value of America’s current agricultural technologies in feeding our country and contributing to the U.S economy.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Bonnie McCarvel, Executive Director
Janet Braun, Program Coordinator
Mid America CropLife Association
11327 Gravois Rd., #201
St. Louis, MO 63126

Leave a Reply

17 comments on “MACA Letter To White House About Organic Garden

  1. We need fewer toxic chemicals on our fields and in the air, soil with live, deep organisms, and food with more nutrition. Organic farming is the only sustainable farming and we need to move in that direction as quickly as is feasible.

  2. Organic is the only way to go. Not destroying mother nature via more chemicals, genetic engineering ect. No matter what man made product you come up with thru sience, mother nature has beaten you to the punch with a better method long before your new creation of messing with her.

  3. You people should be ashamed of yourselves. There is no way you cannot know the damage being done by pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals in this day and age. The real people of this country are applauding Mrs. Obama’s efforts to set a good example by committing to organic methods wherever possible. Are Monsanto and Conagra employees part of your board….wouldn’t surprize me one bit.

  4. your rhetoric is a lie. your chemicals are the lie you tell to mother nature. i know this with complete certainty. i know it, all the insects and the butterflies and the bees in my organic garden know it as well. shame on you. and now, the president and i eat from the same organic plate. god bless us!

  5. I totally agree with all you folks who wrote favoring organic food growing, its good for my heart to know theres so many smart gardeners out there.

  6. Yes indeed tractorgirl, you nailed it. MACA is basically a PR group for the companies you mention as well as the likes of Dow and DuPont.

    And yes, it is obvious that they have no shame. Even if there is a legitimate role for chemicals in Agriculture, which is debatable, discouraging anyone from using non-chemical methods in a home garden is ridiculous and deplorable.

  7. When I heard the news story about this letter to Michele Obama, I thought it was a spoof from the Onion. Absolutely incredible! But the chem industry must be feeling pretty threatened, to try to influence the first lady away from organic this way. So that’s good news. And it’s good to see all the comments on this page are pro-organic.

  8. Are you people serious?! I thought this was a joke. I cannot believe that a large company is getting so bent out of shape that they are willing to stoop as low as to insinuate that a small home garden is a threat to their business. Second point, dumping pesticides on a such a small scale is ridiculous and harmful. Why would the First Lady want her family to knowing consume chemicals? Grow up.

  9. Tell me that the pesticides on the strawberry from california does not have any neuro-toxins in it. Even when the strawberry in question is washed the woman’s child is ingesting things that are DESIGNED to damage the nervous system.
    Take a look at all of the giant, profitable, and marketable organic farms out there. This is the first step in a much larger change in American food practices. Your organization would be well served to get on board, or be left behind.
    Also, please do not call the monoculture of the American industrial farm “wildlife.” Conventional or organic, these are cultivated plants, notably NOT wild.

  10. As a registered dietitian and Food and Society Policy Fellow with an appreciation for and understanding of TRUE sustainability, let me assure you that real crop protection depends on the preservation of biodiversity. Mono-cropping and genetically engineered seed dependent on industrial agricultural chemicals hurts small family farmers, harms pollinators, and makes us all more vulnerable to famine. As citizens, it’s our responsibility to be involved in policy. Let USDA’s Tom Vilsack know that all children deserve organic food in their public schools, and we want genetically modified foods labeled, so that we can better avoid them and track their affects on public health. We have a right to know.
    Learn more: Read Will Allen’s “The War on Bugs” and Claire Hope Cummings “Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds.” And don’t miss the new documentaries: FRESH, and Food Inc.
    We all eat. We’re all in this together.

  11. Big own goal here, ladies (that’s a soccer term, by the way, you might be more familiar with shooting yourself in the foot). You’ve made yourselves a laughing stock, both beyond the White House and probably inside it too. I find it significant that your organisation has a nice ‘natural’ sounding name, with no mention of chemicals, toxins or any of the other good stuff you peddle. God save the world from lobbyists!

  12. Did you see this gem, from Bonnie and Janet’s letter above? “A weed detector equipped with infrared light identifies specific plants by the different rates of light they reflect….” Hey ladies, the machine may detect different WAVELENGTHS or INTENSITIES of light, but the rate at which light travels does not change from plant to plant. Unless you’ve discovered a plant that slows down light, in which case you can go to your filthy, smelly, toxic pesticide-can-filled shelf and clear a space for your Nobel Prize.

  13. Agree with CTD…it was respectful and really “balance” is what they were talking about. Let’s discuss an issue rather than “Beck” it to death. Also agree both sides have merit.

  14. The INDIANS were the first environmentalists. They often thought through how their actions may impact the next SEVEN generations. The small family farmers did the same thing. But the Big Agri-Chem Businesses cannot think beyond the next quarter of their balance sheet. They are destroying our land, waterway and air with chemicals. And GMOs are nothing more than food polluted with foreign geneses. That’s not sustainability.

  15. I found so much misinformation in this letter, it’s ridiculous. If we as a human race cannot sustain ourselves without destroying the earth, then it looks like we simply don’t belong here. In the first couple sentences, it says we have the safest food supply in the world. Oh really? Then why do we have the highest rates of obesity? It isn’t from the air we breathe. Our agriculture makes up about 20% of our GDP, does it? According to the World Bank, “It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or depletion and degradation of natural resources,” which we all can agree is enormous. Even with this said, the unbiased source states claim to it making up a mere 1.3% of our GDP–not even close to 20%. Pertaining to the argument claiming that we would not be “leaders in the advancement of science, communication, education, medicine, transportation, and the arts” were it not for saving time on farming by using environmentally damaging technology, I say this: we are not leaders in those areas. The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 52nd in the quality of mathematics and science education. According to the book U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, America is dead last for health among its developed counterparts. Lord knows we aren’t leaders in art. That would be Paris, Florence, and other nations in Europe. Transportation? Hah, I laugh. Our public transportation system sucks. In fact, even the American Public Transportation Association is asking for improvements openly. Just because you can now offer strawberries year around does not make it healthy or good for the environment. When has trying to change nature ever brought good things? Let’s leave well enough alone, shall we? I’d love to hear Michelle’s response to this deceptive letter.

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