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Farm Policy Matters

Monthly News Bulletin

2nd Edition

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Farm Bill

Food Safety

Fracking

Genetic Engineering

Climate Change

October 1, 2013

Dear Supporter,  

Although it’s cooling down outside, food and farm policy issues are heating up! Read on for the latest news on food safety, fracking, clean energy, genetically engineered (GE) food, and more. But first, I want to talk to you about the Farm Bill

Today, Congress allowed last year’s Farm Bill extension to expire, leaving critical initiatives, like organic cost-share and beginning farmer programs, stranded without funding…again. OEFFA shared our disappointment today in a press release, calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive, five year Farm Bill. 

One thing is clear: we need to do a better job of holding legislators accountable for their inaction. That’s why I’m asking each of you to help us by coordinating a meeting with your representative

Ask your legislator to pass a Farm Bill that makes necessary reforms to commodity subsidies and invests in organic, local, and diversified family farms. Don’t worry if you’ve never spoken to your legislator before. No experience is required and training will be provided. Sign up to coordinate a meeting in your district today!

As farmers, food businesses, and conscientious consumers we have an obligation to inform our legislators about the issues that matter to us. Together we can give them the tools they need to stand up for the sustainable farming community. 

Thanks for your commitment to sustainable agriculture.

MacKenzie Bailey
Policy Program Coordinator
(614) 421-2022 Ext. 208


FOOD SAFETY WEBINAR: SIGN UP TODAY!

On Monday, October 28 at 6 p.m., OEFFA’s Policy Coordinator, MacKenzie Bailey will guide webinar participants through the process of submitting comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about how proposed food safety rules will affect specialty crop growers and food processors and what changes are needed in order to protect small-scale and sustainable farms and businesses. Register for the webinar today!  Comments to the FDA are due no later than November 15.

This presentation follows a September webinar given by Ariane Lotti of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), which explained the proposed rules and their potential impacts to sustainable farmers. To watch this presentation, click here

Want to learn more about farmers’ concerns about the pending regulations? On September 16, OEFFA Board Representative and owner of Northridge Organic Farm, Mike Laughlin, spoke to the Ohio Public News Service.

Mike isn’t the only one concerned. Farmers from California to Maine are speaking out about the difficulties organic and diversified operations may face. Check out this blog post written by Brian Snyder, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.

PROTECTING CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS

In 2008, then Governor Ted Strickland signed into law standards that required Ohio’s utility companies to increase investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy that have a proven record of reducing pollution and saving money.

On September 25, Senator Bill Seitz introduced a revised Senate Bill 58 that would remove in-state requirements for renewable energy development and make penalties optional if utilities fail to meet their energy efficiency or renewable energy benchmarks.  

According to the group Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, this legislation could increase consumer’s electric rates. Senate Public Utilities Committee hearings begin Wednesday, October 2. 

Call Governor Kasich and ask him to stop the attack on Ohio’s clean energy standards.

OEC RELEASES FRACKING "MEGA" BILL

This summer, the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) rolled out a proposal for a sweeping upgrade to state oil and gas laws. The SAFER GAS Act (Safeguarding Appalachian Families with Environmental Regulation of Gas and Shale) would plug more than 30 gaps in Ohio oil and gas law by establishing:

  • Stronger safeguards against air and water pollution from oil and gas drilling; 
  • Stepped up enforcement authority and transparency requirements for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Greater industry and government accountability, including permit appeal rights for affected citizens; and
  • Stronger consumer protections for landowners who lease their land for drilling.

To see a webinar presentation about this bill, click here.

BIOTECH RIDER DEFEATED

The short-term spending plan moving through the Senate eliminates legislative language in the House Continuing Resolution, known as the “Monsanto Protection Act.” This rider would force the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deregulate GE crops. 

The Center for Food Safety sent out a press release last week, thanking Senator Mikulski and Senate leadership for accepting the amendment to remove the rider.

More on the... FARM BILL REAUTHORIZATION

On September 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nutrition-only Farm Bill with a vote of 217 to 210. The bill proposes $39 billion in cuts over the next decade to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – also known as food stamps) that would force nearly four million Americans out of the program and reduce benefit levels for nearly one million more.

This weekend the House passed a measure that merges the nutrition-only and farm-only Farm Bills into a single, comprehensive bill. The next step in the Farm Bill process will be for the House to appoint conferees to begin negotiations with the Senate.To learn more about the fate of the Farm Bill, check out NSAC’s recent blog posts here, here, and here.



UPCOMING POLICY EVENTS

GE Labeling Meeting
On Monday, October 21 at 6 p.m., join OEFFA’s GE Labeling Working Group for a planning meeting on Ohio’s efforts to label GE foods in our grocery stores. To receive information about this meeting, or to find out how to join by phone, contact mackenzie@oeffa.org or call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.

Fracking and Farmland Conference Call
On Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m., OEFFA’s Fracking Working Group will discuss OEFFA’s next steps in our campaign to protect farmers and their land from the potential dangers of fracking. To receive information about this call, contact mackenzie@oeffa.org or call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.

Food Safety Webinar: Part Two
OEFFA will provide detailed guidance for participants on how to submit comments to the FDA about the proposed food safety rules. This online presentation will be held Monday, October 28 at 6 p.m. Register for the webinar today! 

Triple Divide Movie Screenings
Filmmakers, journalists, and co-founders of the Public Herald, Josh Prabanic and Melissa Troutman, will be touring Ohio with their new film Triple Divide. The film investigates the realities of fracking by examining problems with state oversight, impacts to farmers, and water issues.  Check out the trailer and find a screening near you!

Food Safety Rules Comments Due
November 15 is the final day to submit comments to the FDA on the proposed produce safety and preventative controls rules. To learn how to submit comments, join OEFFA’s webinar on October 28. To learn more about the rules, click here.

Lobby Day on GE Labeling
Save the date! On January 13, OEFFA members will spend a day meeting with Ohio lawmakers to educate them about the need for GE labeling. If you are interested in receiving more information, email mackenzie@oeffa.org or call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
41 Croswell Rd., Columbus, OH 43214
(614) 421-2022 www.oeffa.org


We welcome you to submit ideas and news stories for next month’s bulletin to policy@oeffa.org.

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