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Farm Policy Matters

Monthly News Bulletin
7th Edition

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April 1, 2014
Dear Supporter,  
Spring is here and while we are all busy preparing for the growing season, food and farm policy work isn’t slowing down! Stay up to date with this month’s bulletin, which includes:
  • Information about OEFFA’s free screenings of the documentary, GMO OMG;
  • An announcement about the deadline extension for Value-Added Producer Grant applications;
  • An update on nutrient management legislation; and 
  • Federal appropriations high- and low-lights.
Thanks for all you do to protect local and sustainable agriculture!
MacKenzie Bailey
Policy Program Coordinator
Phone: (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208

Congress Discusses 2015 Budget Proposal

On March 5, President Obama released his $3.9 trillion 2015 budget plan, initiating Congressional debate. The plan requests $23 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly a billion dollars less than in FY 2014. Positive highlights in the proposed budget include increases to Direct Farm Ownership Loans, start-up funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account program, and funds for farmer food safety training. Some disappointments include a $250 billion decrease in funding for the Environmental Qualities Incentive Program and a lack of investment in sustainable agriculture research. 

The House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Committees held four meetings to discuss the proposal, in which several USDA officials testified. Members of Congress were also asked to submit budget requests to the committee. The House committee accepted requests until March 31; the Senate continues to accept requests until April 4. To read more about the President’s budget proposal, click here.

Value-Added Producer Grant Extension

On March 25, the USDA announced a retroactive two-week extension to the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) which supports opportunities to help producers grow their businesses. Grant proposals are now due April 8. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has updated the Farmers’ Guide to Value-Added Producer Grant Funding, which provides applicants with a timeline, checklist, descriptions of the ranking system, and more.
The extension was given due to changes in the 2014 Farm Bill, which incorporated a new priority category of farmers—veterans who have not operated a farm or who have operated a farm for less than 10 years. Applicants who have already filed proposals may now resubmit their applications if the new veteran priority applies to them. 
The 2014 Farm Bill provides $63 million in mandatory funding for VAPG over the next five years. The USDA is considering a second Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) later this year that may provide an additional round of grant funding. For more information, click here.

Nutrient Management Bills Move Forward in House

On March 25, the House Agriculture Committee passed an amended version of Ohio Senate Bill 150 and the bill is now headed to the House floor.  If passed, all farmers with more than 50 acres in agricultural crop production who apply commercial fertilizer would be required to obtain an application license beginning September 30, 2017. If signed into law, the Ohio Department of Agriculture will write rules on the certification process, including training and cost requirements.
Meanwhile, Rep. David Hall and Rep. Andy Thompson recently introduced House Bill 490, which proposes to move oversight of farmland manure runoff from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). The proposal would transfer staff resources from ODNR to ODA to handle complaints and investigations. 

National Organic Certification Cost-Share Implementation

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is accepting comments on the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which received $11.5 million per year in funding as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. Farmers who have previously participated in NOCCSP are invited to submit comments and suggestions regarding their experience with the application process. Comments are due May 16. OEFFA will keep certified organic members informed as the funding process moves forward and as additional information is released regarding the application process and deadlines.

Protesters March for Farm Worker Rights

On March 9, protesters marched at Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio calling on the corporation to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Fair Food Program. The event was part of a 10 city tour, and drew a crowd of nearly 800 farm workers, students, and faith leaders. So far 12 large corporations, including Wal-Mart and McDonalds, have signed agreements with CIW to pay a living wage and provide safe working conditions. More information about the effort can be found at the CIW website.


Free Screenings of GMO OMG  – RSVP Today!
In search of answers about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), GMO OMG film director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert set out on a journey across the globe. Along the way, he helps to reveal our current industrial food system and we gain insight into a question that is of growing concern to consumers everywhere: What's really on our plate? Watch the trailer here.  

OEFFA is organizing two free screenings of the film on Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Athena Cinema in Athens and Sunday, April 27 at 2 p.m. at the Gateway Film Center in Columbus. Following the film, there will be a question and answer session with the film director. Limited space is available, so reserve your seat today!

Fracking and Farmland Conference Call On Thursday, April 7 at 7 p.m., OEFFA’s fracking working group will discuss OEFFA’s next steps in the campaign to protect farmers and their land from the dangers of fracking. For more information, contact MacKenzie at mackenzie@oeffa.org or (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.

Climate and Agriculture: Soil Building for Climate Resistance On Friday, April 11 at 10 a.m., the California Climate Action Network will host a webinar to discuss keeping soil nutrients, such as carbon and nitrogen, in balance, as well as practical methods for increasing soil organic matter. For more information, click here. To register, click here

GE Labeling Working Group Meeting On Monday, April 14 at 6 p.m., join OEFFA’s GE labeling working group for their monthly meeting. For more information, or to join by phone, contact MacKenzie at mackenzie@oeffa.org or call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208.

Bluegrass Pipeline Information Meeting On Wednesday, April 16 at 7 p.m., join Food and Water Watch for an information meeting for landowners that may be affected by the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline. The meeting will be held at the Dining Commons at the Southern Hills Career and Technical Center, 9193 Hamilton Rd., Georgetown, OH. For more information, contact Allison Auciello at aaucielleo@fwwatch.org.

Free Screenings of Chasing Ice  In partnership with National Geographic, the Chasing Ice team recently launched the Chasing Ice Ohio Tour, an initiative to share stunning visual evidence of our changing climate. Six film screenings scheduled for April 3 through May 4 will be followed by interactive question and answer discussions. Click here for more details.

Fracking Event: “Living on the Shale” On Saturday, May 17 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Coschocton Environmental and Community Awareness Inc. will host an informative event about oil and gas development in Ohio, which will include respected speakers, networking opportunities, group discussions, and vendors. For more information or to register, click here (scroll to the bottom). 

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

Submit ideas and news stories for next month’s bulletin. Email policy@oeffa.org.

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