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Passing a Sustainable Farm BillOEFFA members Ron Meyer and Kip Kummerle speaking with Senator Sherrod Brown

Over the past 60 years, our food system has been radically transformed. Diversified family farms have been converted into massive monocultures and factory farms that erode the soil, reduce biodiversity and pollute the water. Small family farms have been pushed out of production. And obesity rates have skyrocketed along with related chronic illnesses like diabetes. Our food and farm system has created a public health and environmental crisis.

Currently, however, fruits, vegetables, nuts and other specialty crops receive less than one half of one percent of federal farm subsidies. Changes to food and farming policy are needed to support sustainable farmers whose methods of farming improve public health, rural economies and the environment.

Every five years Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation responsible for creating and maintaining funding for an array of federal programs, including nutrition, agricultural commodities, land conservation, rural development and organics.

On January 1, 2013 Congress passed the much publicized "fiscal cliff" deal, which included a one year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill that expired in October 1, 2012. Rather than passing a clean extension that renewed funding to the same levels as the 2008 Farm Bill, programs that support beginning farmers, organic and speciality crops, and rural development have been left high and dry. In fact, nearly three dozen Farm Bill programs received no mandatory funding in 2013, including the National Organic Cost-Share Program and the Farmers' Market Promotion Program. The current Farm Bill Extension expired on October 1, 2013. On January 27, 2014, conference committee members announced a bipartisan Farm Bill agreement which could renew funding for a number of important programs that were left stranded by last year's Farm Bill extension, but fails to make much-needed reforms. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Farm Bill in late January, with a Senate vote anticipated shortly after, before the bill goes to the President for his signature.

OEFFA has been working with farmers, consumers and other organizations across the state to ensure our new Congress passes a Farm Bill that will create economic opportunities for family farmers, protect precious natural resources and align farm policy with the good health of our families, friends and neighbors. Ohio has key decision-makers on the Senate and House Agriculture Committees, so your voice really can make a difference!

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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 policy@oeffa.org or (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.