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OEFFA Farm Policy Bulletin

Monthly News Bulletin

June 1, 2014

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Farm Bill

Food Safety


Genetic Engineering

Climate Change

Summer officially begins in a few weeks, and already Farm Bill program implementation is heating up. Read on to find out what's hot in policy news.

Show Me the Money!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been busying rolling out Farm Bill programs, including:

Meanwhile, the Senate and House appropriations committees are deciding on funding levels for USDA and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) activities in the upcoming fiscal year (starting October 1). The Senate committee passed its version in May, which will be considered by the full Senate later this summer. The House Appropriations Committee failed to remove from the bill a rider that overrides the Farm Bill and denies poultry and livestock farmers the most basic protections under the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. 

The Senate appropriations committee also passed an amendment requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GE) salmon. This technology has yet to be approved by the FDA. 

GE Is Not Welcome There

Some Oregon residents took the GE issue into their own hands by passing bans in two counties last month.
Josephine County's result may not be held up because Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill into law last fall prohibiting local governments from regulating GE crops. An exception for Jackson County was made because its measure had already qualified for the ballot, so that result will stand.

Coming to a lawn near you?

Scotts Miracle Gro is having a small number of its employees test GE grass seed this season, with the goal of having this seed available to the commercial market in 2015 and the consumer market in 2016.

Drilling Waste Water Injected in Ohio Wells Increased in 2013

More than 680 million gallons of drilling waste water was injected into Ohio wells in 2013, representing a 15 percent increase from the previous year. The rise is attributable to in-state drilling activities, given that waste water coming from outside Ohio was similar to 2012 levels. At 2.3 million barrels, Trumbull County received the most drilling waste water, with Portage and Washington counties rounding out the top three.   

What the Frack?

Despite having no oil or natural gas production, the North Carolina Senate just passed a bill to ban disclosure of fracking fluids, and instead leave the information in the hands of the state geologist. Bill backers say the regulations will help attract resource development and jobs.

Climate Change and Agriculture

The White House released a report last month breaking down climate change impacts by region and sector, including agriculture, creating an extensive look at how climate change is impacting the country. 

The 240 authors of the report predict that in the next 25 years many agricultural regions will experience declines in crop and livestock production from increased stress due to weeds, diseases, insect pests, and other climate change induced stresses. Critical agricultural soil and water loss and degradation will continue due to precipitation extremes unless innovative conservation methods are implemented. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition points out that several Farm Bill programs can help address these concerns. 

Agriculture Census Out

The 2012 Agriculture Census found new farming trends, including changing farming and marketing practices, and an increase in agriculture diversity. Of particular interest:

  • Young, beginning principal operators who reported their primary occupation as farming increased 11.3 percent from 36,396 to 40,499 between 2007 and 2012.
  • 144,530 farm operators reported selling products directly to consumers. In 2012, these sales totaled more than $1.3 billion (up 8.1 percent from 2007).
  • Organic sales were growing, but accounted for just 0.8 percent of the total value of U.S. agricultural production. Organic farmers reported $3.12 billion in sales in 2012, up from $1.7 billion in 2007.

Upcoming Events

Be sure to catch one or more of OEFFA's farm tours this season, including the June 15 Tea Hills Farms tour in Loudonville (Ashland County). Tea Hills was awarded a USDA Value-Added Producers Grant in 2012. Cara Tipton will be discussing her experience with the grant process and how the funding has help to grow the farm’s value-added sales.

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

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