Promoting Federal Sustainable and Organic Programs
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.
Crop insurance is a good example. Although it is a critical safety net for farmers, the program has many problems. Subsidies work as a disincentive to environmental stewardship and beginning farmers, the program virtually guarantees large profits for corportate insurance agencies, and the majority of the benefits go to a handful of the country's largest farms. Read more about the need to reform crop insurance from our friends at the Land Stewardship Project.
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 the 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.
Get involved in OEFFA's work to reform federal farm policy by contacting Amalie Lipstreu at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208 or firstname.lastname@example.org. These policies will only improve if legislators hear from Ohio farmers.
Join OEFFA to increase our numbers in calling for a sustainable food and farm policies.
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.