Sustainable farmers work to provide food that is nourished by healthy soils and natural inputs. OEFFA has been at the forefront for farmers looking to be more sustainable by becoming organic and developing a means for certifying that kind of production.
Rebuilding healthy, prosperous regional food systems takes a step backward when farmers are faced with polluting energy infrastructure. This can be in the form of high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. This process uses millions of gallons of our precious water and laces it with unknown chemicals, naturally occurring radioactive material, and heavy metals. Waste pits and injection wells are sources of contamination to the soil and water that farmers depend on to grow clean food. Proliferation of fracking led to a large increase in pipeline construction, which impacts large portions of Ohio, well beyond the fracking zones. This increases the potential for organic farmers to lose certification and compromises healthy soil.
James Yoder, a third-generation farmer worried about losing his organic certification and the livelihood that sustains his young family, was faced with two pipelines being constructed across the land he uses to graze his small dairy herd. OEFFA shared a customized mitigation plan with James, regulators, and the energy companies. An organic inspector was present to supervise construction and James is able to continue his organic dairy operation to this day.
Not all farmers have had this kind of outcome. Some have gone out of business because of fracking.
OEFFA will continue to advocate for the ability of farmers to grow and sell food free from the contamination of dirty energy extraction and infrastructure by using tools like the Organic Agriculture Impact Mitigation Plan, advocating with the National Organic Standards Board to share these tools more widely, and engaging in state and federal policies that protect farmers and the public from the negative impacts of these industries.