In the 1940s agricultural chemicals seemed like a godsend. Insecticides were routinely mixed into the air supply on airplanes. Parents sprayed their children's rooms with DDT, which won Paul Müller the 1948 Nobel Prize in Medicine. And the Washington State legislature created a sales tax exemption for pesticides and fertilizers that encouraged farmers to use these miracle chemicals.
Sixty years later, agricultural operations in Washington State use over 37 million pounds of pesticides and over 2 billion pounds of fertilizers each year. The downsides of all this chemical use are evident in our bodies and our children’s bodies, on our farms, and in the environment. See The need for change for details.
We think the state should establish a goal of reducing agricultural chemical use by 10% by 2010 and 20% by 2020. Reaching that goal is possible if we fund programs to help farmers reduce their reliance on pesticides and fertilizers. And there’s an obvious funding source: the sales tax exemption for pesticides and fertilizers, an exemption now valued at over $50 million per year. See The proposal and Policy options for details.
We're planning a 2004 ballot initiative campaign to achieve these goals. An immense amount of work needs to happen to make this a viable campaign: outreach to farms and activist groups, fundraising, legal help with ballot language...the list goes on and on.
But we’re starting with you. Without grassroots support from people like you, this campaign won’t get off the ground. So we want your feedback, your ideas, and your questions. And we want your energy and your support!