Throughout the semester, our team has been building upon our knowledge of PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste). We have discovered just how complex their range of projects and organizations are. One of the things that continues to come up in our ongoing research and reflection from their reconnaissance trip presentation is PCUN’s and the Oregon Farm Bureau’s potentially opposing stances on pesticides. PCUN is first and foremost concerned for the health and safety of farmworkers. They document pesticide exposure and even work to ban and control the use of certain pesticides as part of their Healthy Workplaces program. The Oregon Farm Bureau, while no doubt also concerned with the health of farmworkers, does seem to make its priority farm owners. On our visit to Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, OFB president Barb Iverson explained how banning certain pesticides,such as chlorpyrifos, which combat invasive species could be potentially detrimental for farm owners.
What is involved?
The main issue here is pesticide use. PCUN looks at this issue through a lens of environmental health and safety for farmworkers being exposed to pesticides. The Oregon Farm Bureau seems to look at this issue from the perspective of farm owners, who may need to use pesticides just to keep their farms. Farms going out of business means jobs lost all around the board, but at what cost to the health and safety of those exposed to dangerous chemicals? Another problem related to pesticide use is the potential health effects they could pose to the consumer and the health of the environment as a whole.
Who is involved?
The stakeholders in this issue include, PCUN, meaning the organization leaders who work on pesticide use projects. Other important stakeholders include farmworkers, farm owners, and the Oregon Farm Bureau. The EPA is also potentially involved as another stakeholder if they impose further restrictions on pesticide use. PCUN also has strong ties to the local and state governments, meaning they could use their lobbying power to push this issue. It seems that so far, they have not pushed this issue into the political arena beyond joining the petition for the EPA to ban the use of chlorpyrifos.
How do we engage?
We propose a project that first, aims to collaborate with PCUN in order to better understand their methods of documenting pesticide exposure. In better understanding their methods we can potentially work with them to make them more efficient or help to come up with ways of presenting these cases of pesticide exposure in order to raise more awareness of the issue. On PCUN’s website, it shows that they have joined other groups in filing a petition for the EPA to ban chlorpyrifos. However, they do not share any of their own results or experiences from documenting pesticide use that could help to make their cry for action more convincing. The second aspect of our project would hopefully include us helping to facilitate a conversation between PCUN and the Oregon Farm Bureau, to help each “side” in this discussion see and hear one another’s chief concerns.