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 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.
Below 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 underutilized by organic farmers who are using many of these practices already.
Would you like help finding the right grant program to fit your needs? The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute offers individual grant advising services to farmers in the Midwest at no cost. Contact OEFFA to let us know if you were successful or if you need more information.
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, organic research is 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
We all value information about the food we eat, and for many people, that includes information about foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Certified organic food is produced without GMOs, but the label 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.
Upholding the Integrity of Organic
Organic food is free from synthetic inputs and is grown in a way that fosters ecological balance in nature. Maintaining the value of organic food and farming is ongoing work. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was created in the law that established the National Organic Program to provide important oversight to the program.
The NOSB is a group of 15 very dedicated public volunteers that make recommendations on the production, handling, and processing of organic products. The NOSB also has special responsibilities related to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
The NOSB accepts comments from the public twice each year prior to their meetings. Your voice is important to maintain a strong organic program. OEFFA farmers have attended NOSB meetings and shared their views on issues important to organic production. You can present in person or remotely by webinar. Please consider commenting on issues important to the organic program. If you are interested in future NOSB meeting agendas, contact us. View the spring 2017 NOSB meeting materials and OEFFA's comments.
The 2018 Farm Bill is just around the corner and work to improve resources for sustainable agriculture has begun. Your input is vital to make sure policy works for the 90 percent of farms that are considered "small farms." Contact us today to find out how you can help!
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.