Farm Policy Matters
Monthly News Bulletin
November 1, 2013
We did it! Last month OEFFA called on the U.S. House of Representatives to begin negotiations with the Senate on a new Farm Bill. Since then, conference committee members have been named and they began meeting on Wednesday to work out the details on a final bill.
The process, although it has advanced, isn’t over yet. We need to keep the pressure on and encourage legislators to pass essential reforms to commodity and crop insurance programs, invest in beginning farmers, and protect organic and conservation programs.
Tell your representatives to pass a full and equitable Farm Bill by sending a letter to them today!
Read on to learn more about the Farm Bill process, along with other important policy news and events.
Thanks for all you do to protect local and sustainable agriculture!
Policy Program Coordinator
Phone: (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208
MORE ON THE FARM BILL
As Farm Bill debates heat up again, just days ago, OEFFA and nearly 300 other organizations sent this letter urging House and Senate Farm Bill conferees, including Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), to reattach basic conservation requirements to federal subsidies for crop insurance, and to include a nationwide Sodsaver provision to the bill.
Earlier last month, members of Congress delivered “Dear Colleague” letters to Congressional leadership (see the House letter here and the Senate letter here), urging them to support programs for beginning farmers and ranchers. These follow a similar letter sent to Congress by 130 organizations, including OEFFA, earlier this month.
CONSERVATION PROGRAM SIGN-UP
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has resumed the application process for some, but not all, Farm Bill conservation programs following the passage of the Continuing Resolution in October. In Ohio, NRCS will review and rank eligible Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) applications for funding, if submitted by November 15. Other NRCS program application dates have yet to be set, and some conservation programs cannot accept new applications due to the Farm Bill expiration, including the Wetlands Reserve Program. For more information, click here.
On October 16, Congress ended a 16 day government shutdown by passing a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through January 15. To provide for continued funding, Congress directed itself to negotiate a Fiscal Year 2014 budget resolution by December 13. Among those appointed to the Budget Conference Committee is Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). The first committee meeting was held on October 30.
According to many observers, the most promising path forward for a new five-year Farm Bill is for it to be linked to the broader budget deal. For more information on the connection between agricultural policy and the budget conference process, read this blog post from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
FOOD SAFETY ACTION NEEDED
Comments on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed food safety regulations are due November 15! Everyone wants safe food, but these costly new regulations tailored for industrial food production threaten sustainable food systems. Stand up for your farm and for local food systems by making comments today!
Learn more about the rules, how they’ll impact you, and ways you can make a difference by checking out these resources from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, as well as OEFFA’s Food Safety Webpage. You can also view OEFFA’s two part webinar series: Food Safety Modernization Act Proposed Rules: Main Issues for Farmers (1 hour) and How to Submit Comments to the FDA (25 min).
GE LABELING INITIATIVE
On November 5, Washington voters will decide on a ballot initiative (I-522) that would require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients on food packages. Those opposed to the initiative have spent $21 million on TV and radio ads, mailers, and flyers to defeat the measure. The Cornucopia Institute has released an infographic detailing the financial expenditures of corporate and organizational supporters and opponents of the ballot initiative.
Those interested in participating in the “YES on 522” campaign can volunteer to make phone calls to Washington voters. For more information, visit the campaign website. A similar initiative has taken root in Ohio aimed at the 2014 ballot.
GE IN THE NEWS
A Mexican judge has suspended the use of GE corn in Mexico, effective immediately. Federal Court Justice Jamie Eduardo Verdugo J. of Mexico City ordered Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and SEMARNAT (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), to “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings.” Click here, click here, and click here to read more.
On October 16, three scientists—Mary-Dell Chilton of Syngenta, Robert T. Fraley of Monsanto, and Marc Van Montagu of Belgiu—who helped introduce biotechnology into crop production were awarded the Iowa-based World Food Prize. The controversial choice spurred new articles in USA Today, the New York Times, and Huffington Post. The Center for Food Safety is circulating a petition against the prize.
Last month, the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center released a new report, Fracking by the Numbers, which calculates the toll on our environment from fracking damage. The report determines that Ohio’s fracking industry produced 30 million gallons of toxic wastewater and 4,600 tons of air pollution in 2012 alone. Since 2005, 1.4 billion gallons of freshwater has been used in fracking, 1,600 acres of land has been damaged, and 420,000 tons of global warming pollution has been emitted.
NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT BILL
This summer, Ohio Senators Cliff Hite (R) and Bob Peterson (R) introduced Senate Bill 150 aimed at addressing Ohio’s nutrient runoff problems, which have led to toxic algae in waterways across the state. The bill would require applicators of commercial fertilizers to register with the state, but not to reduce their rate of application. The first hearing on SB 150 is scheduled for November 6. If you would like to join OEFFA to meet with Senator Hite or want to learn more about the bill, please email email@example.com.
NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM STANDARDS
On October 3, the USDA implemented recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to remove the use of tartaric acid (made from malic acid) from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. This action becomes effective on November 3. The NOSB is a citizen advisory board that makes recommendations to the USDA about which substances should be allowed and prohibited in organic agriculture. The allowed substances are re-reviewed every five years.
LOCAL FOOD POLICY SUCCESS
The Franklin County Local Food Council announced the passage of a resolution on October 23 in recognition of Food Day to help strengthen support of the community’s local food system. To read a copy of the resolution, click here.
UPCOMING POLICY EVENTS
Radioactive Waste Event
On Tuesday, November 12, at 7 p.m., the Radioactive Waste Alert Organization will hold a free public forum at the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The forum is designed to provide information about the dumping of radioactive shale gas drilling waste, which has been permitted in Ohio municipal dumps, including Integrity Drive Dump located on the banks of Alum Creek in the Columbus watershed. For more information, click here.
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 more about the rules and to take action, click here or click here.
GE Labeling Meeting
On Monday, November 18 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.
Fracking and Farmland Conference Call
On Thursday, December 12 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 email@example.com or call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.
Lobby Day on GE Labeling
Save the date! On January 22, 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com.
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