Promoting Organic and Federal Sustainable Programs
The Farm Bill
The 2014 Farm Bill renewed programs that support beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access, thanks to a groundswell of support from grassroots farm advocates.
Ohio farmers spoke in favor of these programs and legislators listened. We must continue to work to protect funding for these programs and begin to advance policies that level the playing field for sustainable and organic farmers in the next Farm Bill.
There are important Farm Bill programs that support organic and sustainable farming practices and help farmers to develop their businesses and market their products:
The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP) reimburses participating organic producers and handlers for 75 percent (up to $750) of their certification fees. This program helps make organic certification affordable,enabling farmers and processors to meet the growing demand for organic food.
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) invests in the next generation of farmers and food entrepreneurs by helping them access land, credit, and crop insurance; launch and expand new farms and businesses, and receive training, mentoring, and education.
The Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) provides funding to community supported agriculture programs, farmers’ markets, and farm markets to develop marketing information and business plans; support innovative market ideas, and educate consumers. Grants are available for farms, food hubs, and other businesses that process, distribute, aggregate, or store locally or regionally produced food products.
Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) provide funding for feasibility studies and business plans, marketing value-added products, and farm-based renewable energy projects. Read about applying for the program and about 2014 VAPG award winners, Daniel and Ann Trudel of Ann's Raspberry Farm.
In 2011, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative (EQIP OI) awarded more than $430,000 to certified organic and transitioning growers in 20 Ohio counties to install high tunnels, plant cover crops, address water runoff and erosion, utilize Integrated Pest Management techniques, and make other important conservation improvements. Organic farmers can apply through EQIP or EQIP OI.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) provides payments to farmers to help them conserve water and energy; improve and protect the soil, water, and air, and mitigate climate change. This program has been underutilize by organic farmers who are using many of these practices already.
Supporting Organic Agriculture
OEFFA helps to educate the public about the benefits of organic agriculture and serves as a voice for policies that maintain and improve the integrity of organic production and handling systems. We work with the National Organic Coalition and participate in the National Organic Standards Board process to represent the needs of organic farmers and protect the trust consumers have in the organic label.
Investments in organic research provide dividends to the public, the environment, and local communities and resources that benefit all of agriculture. Unfortunately, programs that support organic research are inadequately funded and vulnerable to cuts during the annual appropriations process. We defend federal appropriations that support the organic industry.
Organic is Non-GMO and Much More
As consumers have become more aware of the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their food, more non-GMO labeled foods have appeared on market shelves. It is positive that people are more aware of how their food is grown and acting on that knowledge, which is forcing our food industry to respond. However, what many people don’t realize is that non-GMO is not synonymous with sustainable. Non-GMO agriculture still relies on synthetic herbicides and pesticides and many other problematic industrial farming practices. The non-GMO label simply means that GE seed has not been used.
Certified organic food is non-GMO, but it goes above and beyond the absence of GE seed. Organic is the most ecological and well-regulated label available on the market. It is backed by comprehensive and rigorous national standards that ensure that food is grown in a sustainable manner, protecting our natural resources and conserving biodiversity.
As part of a new education campaign, OEFFA worked with artist Joe Wirtheim to develop beautiful new artwork and posters, which are now on display at many retailers, restaurants, co-ops, and community markets.
If you would like to purchase a poster on high quality linen paper or recommend a favorite retailer who might like to display a poster, please contact us.
Electronic Artwork—Help get the word out by sharing the artwork and its message!
The success of our policy work relies on OEFFA's dedicated members, who are leading the way to strong and healthy local food systems. For more information about OEFFA's policy work or to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.