Farm Policy Matters
Monthly News Bulletin
December 1, 2013
This month, the Ohio Senate Agriculture Committee held three hearings on Senate Bill 150. Introduced by Senators Cliff Hite (R) and Bob Peterson (R), its aimed at addressing nutrient runoff problems which have led to toxic algae in Ohio’s waterways.
Importantly, the bill will require applicators of commercial fertilizer to obtain a certificate from the state. It will not, however, regulate manure application or require reductions in pollution.
In November, OEFFA sent a letter to the bill’s sponsors asking that organic certificates be an acceptable alternative to obtaining a fertilizer application certificate, that manure application be included in the new registration program, and that the state establish substantiated and regulated methods for reducing nutrient pollution.
It is unclear when or if this legislation will pass, but growing concerns about algae blooms are putting pressure on the state to take action.
Let us know how you reduce runoff and erosion on your farm and help educate Ohio’s legislators by completing this quick survey.
Read on for updates on other important policy news and events, including food safety, the Farm Bill, GE labeling, and more.
Thanks for all you do to protect local and sustainable agriculture!
Policy Program Coordinator
Phone: (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208
FOOD SAFETY - THANK YOU!
The comment period for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed food safety rules ended on November 22. More than 17,000 comments were submitted in response to the proposed produce safety rule and more than 7,000 comments were received regarding the preventative controls rule.
We’d like to thank each of you that submitted comments! Your input will be critical to ensuring that the FDA recognize the needs of local, organic, and diversified farms and processing facilities AND the need for flexible rules that won’t force small farming businesses to close their doors.
As the rulemaking process progresses we will keep you informed. For now, the FDA is reviewing these comments and posting them online. Follow these links to see the online dockets for the Produce Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule. To read OEFFA's comments to the FDA, click here.
Additionally, OEFFA would like to give special thanks to the folks at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) for their incredible leadership during this process. To read NSAC’s complete comments click here, click here, and click here.
FARM BILL UPDATE
Negotiations surrounding the Farm Bill are expected to resume after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess. Farm Bill committee members have until mid-December to finalize negotiations, but an agreement seems increasingly unlikely.
Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program remain a divisive issue. SNAP recipients are already feeling the impacts of spending cuts after the benefits established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expired November 1. According to a press release from the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, 1.8 million Ohioans will see reductions to their SNAP benefits, which could result in $193 million in losses over the next year.
With another Farm Bill extension likely, it is unclear what will happen to stranded programs, like organic cost-share, beginning farmer programs, farmers' market programs, and value-added producer grants, which have already been without funding for more than a year.
Let Congress know further delay on a Farm Bill is unacceptable. Tell your legislators what programs are important to you!
GE APPLE PENDING APPROVAL
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting comments through December 9 on Okanagan Specialty Fruit’s genetically engineered (GE) apple which doesn’t brown when sliced. Already over 2,000 comments have been submitted. Check out what people are saying and make a comment yourself! The Center for Food Safety is circulating a petition asking the USDA to reject approval for this Franken-apple.
GE LABELING ELECTION RESULTS
On November 5, Washington voters rejected a ballot measure (Initiative 522) which would have required GE labeling on food packages, with a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent. In a press release from the YES on 522 campaign, proponents are positioning themselves for a 2016 victory. Meanwhile, Ohioans are putting their weight behind the 2014 Label the Truth initiative.
PROTECTING CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS
In 2008, Ohio legislators passed one of the nation’s strongest clean energy laws. Investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy have a proven record of reducing pollution and saving money, but powerful interests have been lobbying to weaken Ohio’s clean energy standards. If they are successful, clean energy companies like Iberdola Renewables will be “less motivated to establish wind farms in Ohio” explains Dan Litchfield, a senior project manager, to Columbus Business First.
Tell your legislators to reject Senate Bill 58 or House Bill 302 and stop the attacks on Ohio’s clean energy standards.
UPCOMING POLICY EVENTS
GE Labeling Meeting
On Monday, December 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., join OEFFA’s GE Labeling Working Group for a phone bank, encouraging members to get involved in Lobby Day (see below). To receive information about this meeting, or to find out how to join by phone, contact email@example.com 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 fracking. To receive information about this call, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.
Policy Program Committee Conference Call
On Monday, December 16 at 6 p.m., OEFFA’s Policy Program Committee will hold a conference call. If you are interested in helping shape OEFFA’s work on policy issues and taking an active role in advocacy, please join us! 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 21, 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, contact 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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