Promoting Federal Sustainable and Organic Programs
The 2014 farm bill, while not a sweeping reform of our federal food and farm policy, 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.
Hundreds of Ohio farmers spoke in favor of these programs and legislators listened. As members of the 2014 Farm Bill Conference Committee, Ohio’s Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Marcia Fudge played a special role in these victories.
As these descriptions and examples in Ohio show, Farm Bill programs 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. In 2011, 251 Ohioans, or about 40 percent of the state’s organic operations, utilized cost-share funds.
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. In 2010, Ohio State University received a three year $740,096 BFRDP grant to fund the Beginning Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Networks (BEAN) Project which trains and assists approximately 125 aspiring farmers annually.
The Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP), formerly the Farmers' Market Promotion Program (FMPP), 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. The newly expanded program will also provide grants to farms, food hubs, and other businesses that process, distribute, aggregate, or store locally or regionally produced food products. In 2011, Ohio had more than 260 farmers’ markets, which expand consumer access to fresh food and provide low-cost entry points for small-scale and beginning farmers to market their products. In 2012, six recipients in Ohio were granted a total of $426,089 in funding.
Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) provide funding for feasibility studies and business plans, marketing value-added products, and farm-based renewable energy projects. In 2012, nearly $775,000 in business development assistance funding was awarded to six Ohio producers.
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.
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. In 2011, more than 300 Ohio farmers participated in the CSP.
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 email@example.com or (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.