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OEFFA Farm Policy Bulletin

Monthly News Bulletin

May 1, 2014

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Much like the weather these days, state and federal food and farm policy issues have their ups and downs. Read on for the latest Ohio news and what it means for local farmers and food systems.

GE Legislation: Victory and Threat

The first true genetic engineering (GE) labeling bill was passed by the Vermont legislature last month. It is expected to be signed into law this week and take effect in 2016. Unlike Connecticut and Maine's GE labeling requirements, Vermont's law does not include a caveat that the surrounding states must also require labeling before the rule would go into effect.

Meanwhile, legislation to pre-empt states from passing GE labeling laws was introduced in Congress. Called the
Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014,” House Resolution 4432 was introduced by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R- KS) and G. K. Butterfield (D- NC) on April 10. Opponents renamed this bill the “DARK Act: Deny Americans the Right to Know.”

Organic Farmers Exempt From Conventional Commodity Checkoff

The 2014 Farm Bill clarified that any organic farm can be exempted from conventional commodity checkoff programs. Prior to this change, only farms that were 100% organic could request this exemption.

Grants Will Beef Up Support for Cooking at Schools

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has made available $25 million in funding for schools to upgrade kitchen equipment. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis. High-need schools, those with 50 percent or more of enrolled students eligible for free or reduced price meals, will receive priority consideration for funding.

Why Yes, That Was Caused by Fracking

Ohio geologists have connected the Youngstown earthquakes to fracking. Under Ohio's new permit conditions, all new drilling sites within three miles of a known fault or seismic activity of 2.0 magnitude or higher will need to install sensitive seismic-monitoring equipment.

Ohio Nutrient Runoff Bill Takes Next Step

Senate Bill 150, which will require farmers who apply fertilizer to 50 acres or more to attend certification courses, passed the Ohio House unanimously last week. The bill is expected to get a final Senate vote when lawmakers return later this month.

Upcoming Events

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. Coshocton 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

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