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         December 2014

Food Safety and Modernization Act: What Do the Proposed Rules Mean for You?
There are only two weeks left to comment on critical new food safety rules! While the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act re-proposed rule released this fall includes significant improvements, there are many important changes needed to ensure the final food safety rules don’t destroy local food system progress, undermine conservation efforts, or put family farms out of business due to the high cost of compliance.

Find out if you are affected by the food safety rules and visit the OEFFA food safety page to find all the resources you need to comment, including easy to use farmer and consumer templates. Be sure to submit your comments by December 15th!

Want to learn more? Join us today at 2 p.m. for an informative webinar. Learn what parts of the rules the FDA fixed and where are there still problems. Find out what these rules mean for you and why your input is needed now. The webinar is sponsored by OEFFA, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the University of Illinois Extension. (Registration confirmation will show a 1 p.m. CST start time. This is 2 p.m. EST.)

Farm Taxation Formula Changing?
Established by Ohio law in 1974, the Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) is a way of taxing farmland based on its agricultural value as opposed to full or “fair
market value” (for example, what a developer might pay to build a housing development on the property). This program has proven critical to farmers.

A formula was developed to tax agricultural land and make regular adjustments to that rate. During the most recent CAUV re-evaluation, taxes increased by 100-200 percent for many farmers, however. 

Both the Ohio Farmers Union and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation have proposed changes in the formula to allow for greater stability in the reassessment process. Both organizations are represented on the Ohio CAUV Agricultural Advisory Committee that will have input on upcoming changes.

Monsanto Forced to Pay Millions in Wheat Contamination Case
The Soil Association reports that Monsanto will pay out over $2 million in compensation to American wheat farmers in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. Farmers in those states sued due to economic losses after the discovery of unauthorized genetically engineered (GE) wheat on a farm in eastern Oregon.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Ohio House of Representatives Debates HB 490
House Bill 490 was originally part of Governor Kasich’s mid-biennium budget review legislative package. The good part of Substitute Bill 490 passed by the House is that it imposes tighter restrictions on the application of manure on frozen ground—a practice that can contribute greatly to nutrient runoff and pollution of Ohio waterways.

However, the bill includes a very bad measure to supersede the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). EPCRA requires emergency planning and notification, hazardous chemical notification, and  other reporting to state emergency response commissions (SERCs).

The measure would make the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) the primary repository of this information which is critical to first responders and the public. If passed, drillers would stop direct reporting to local emergency planners and fire departments. ODNR would collect this information and decide what information is made available to the public. As an intermediary, they would slow down the transmission of crucial information in an emergency situation, as was the case with the Monroe County well-pad fire earlier this year. 

If you would like to stop yet another federal requirement from being waived for the oil and gas industry, contact policy@oeffa.org to see how you can influence this legislation.

The bill is expected to go before the Senate in early December. The process of putting more than 10 issues into omnibus legislation in a lame duck legislature is just ugly!

Athens Pipeline Forum Detailed Environmental Impacts and Legal Issues
OEFFA and the Ohio University Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics sponsored an information forum on oil and gas pipelines in Athens in November. Ted
Auch from FracTracker Alliance; Nathan Johnson, attorney from the Ohio Environmental Council; and Michael Hollingsworth, an attorney who has represented individuals on oil and gas issues all shared critical information for farmers and landowners that are being approached by “landmen” to have their property surveyed.

Currently, Ohio has more than 60,000 miles of oil and gas pipeline, and tens of thousands of miles of additional pipeline is being proposed. Two major pipelines in the planning stages are the ET Rover and Nexus pipelines. This will be an important issue for landowners across the state for years to come. If you are interested in more information for your community, contact policy@oeffa.org.

GE Labeling Loss in Colorado; Oregon Too Close to Call!
Advocates for GE food labeling were disappointed on November 5th when it was reported that both the Colorado and Oregon labeling ballot measures failed. Despite the loss in the rocky mountain state, Oregon’s Measure 92 was so close that all ballots will be recounted. Monsanto, DuPont, and others spent more than $16 million to defeat the Colorado initiative and deny consumers the right to know what they purchase, eat, and feed their families.

Farm Bill  ♦  Food Safety  ♦ Fracking  ♦ GE Labeling  ♦ Climate Change
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Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

41 Croswell Rd., Columbus OH 43214

(614) 421-2022   www.oeffa.org


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