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Boulder County Hears Public Comments on Farmland Policies

Posted: March 1, 2016 at 10:54 am by , in Breaking News, Featured, Morning Magazine

“It’s more of a democracy problem here in Boulder County, these lands are shared by all the taxpayers.”

The Board of County Commissioners along with members of Boulder County’s Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee heard from more than 100 speakers on Monday February 29th in a public hearing that went close to midnight.  The Commissioners are gathering public testimony as they reconsider the county’s current cropland policy, in particular the segment that currently allows GMO crops to be grown on public land that is leased to farmers.

The last speaker wrapped up at 10.40pm, just over an hour ahead of the midnight cutoff.  During the marathon session that started at 1pm, the Commissioners heard from more than 100 people on all sides of the GMO debate. Many county residents asked the Commissioners to reconsider the current cropland policy that allows for GMO sugar beet and corn to be grown on open space land being leased for local agriculture. Others touted the benefits of GMOs and spoke of the economic difficulties facing farmers who would be forced to transition away from GMOs if a ban were pub in place. Many of those speakers donned green hats with the F.A.I.R. logo (The Farmers Alliance for Integrated Resources) spoke in favor of GMOs.  Boulder County farmer John Schlagel  argued that the GMO crops are safe and spoke of the benefits to the community, urging the Commissioners not to enact a countywide ban on GMOs.

“Farmland should not be managed by political activists, it should be managed by farmers.”

Many county organic farmers asked the Commissioners to reconsider the entire cropland policy to support agriculture in the county. Longmont-area farmer Rod Brueske said this is an issue that impacts all residents of the county, not just farmers “it’s more of a democracy problem here in Boulder County, these lands are shared by all the tax payers.”he was in favor of a GMO ban but recognized the complexities and the impact on current farmers. He says that all residents in Boulder need to support local organic agriculture if they want a viable food shed. “When you go to the farmers market, a lot of these farmers are going home with produce. If they’re really backing a sustainable food system here in Boulder County, they need to walk the walk and talk the talk.”

 

The Parks and Open Space Advisory Committee will consider the GMO policy at its meeting on March 15th, beginning at 6.30pm. The committee is expected to make recommendations to the county commissioners.

The Board of County Commissioners is to consider the GMO policy during their next meeting that begins at 4 p.m. March 17.  There will be no public testimony at either meeting. Both meetings are to be held in the Boulder County Courthouse’s third-floor hearing room, 1325 Pearl St., Boulder.