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New EQIP Woodland Restoration Funding Available
The U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) have joined forces as part of a new program to restore oak and hickory forests in southeast Ohio. A special Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has been established as part of the Collaborative Oak Management program to help restore privately-owned oak-hickory woodlands. 

Woodland owners in Adams, Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Scioto, Vinton, Morgan, Monroe, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, and Washington counties can receive both technical and financial assistance from professional foresters to implement recommended conservation measures. Conservation measures that promote oak and hickory growth include the control of invasive plants and undesirable trees. Ohio NRCS allocated $300,000 for the program this year.

Individuals interested in applying for the EQIP Oak Management Program should make an appointment with their local NRCS conservationist to start the application process. Applications are due May 22.

CAUV Changes Should Help Farmers
During the 2014 Current Agricultural Use Valuation (CAUV) reappraisal process, the tax rate for Ohio farmers increased dramatically. Some farmers were shocked to see their property taxes go up by more than 200 percent. In response, the Ohio Department of Taxation Agricultural Advisory Committee decided to make improvements to the CAUV formula. The changes will go into effect this year, beginning with reappraisals and updates.

These administrative changes aim to help improve the accuracy of capitalization rates used in the CAUV formula, including woodland values, and will allow the use of more timely data when the formula is used so that rates respond to changes in the farm economy. The CAUV rates have served Ohio well over the past 40 years, but these important improvements will help modernize the program.

Fraccidents on the Rise: Who is Minding the Store?
ODNR recently confirmed that the 2,000 gallons of waste released in New Vienna Township in Trumbull County was fracking fluid from the nearby Kleese injection well site. The spill resulted in the death of fish, turtles and other wildlife. When a resident first called to report the incident, ODNR did not respond. Despite ODNR’s poor track record of responding to fracking-related emergencies, the agency is requesting increased authority over chemical data reporting and emergency response in state budget House Bill 64.

Part of a disturbing trend, this incident also marks the eighteenth “fraccident” in Ohio in the past three years.

New York State banned fracking because of a lack of scientific evidence it could be done safely. Ohio did not conduct a similar analysis. Ohio’s fracking industry has already caused damage to life and property, water pollution, earthquakes, emissions violations, fires, pipeline blowouts, and more. It is time to demand more accountability, NOT to hand over additional authority to ODNR. 

Contact OEFFA if you think lawmakers should say NO to ODNR’s request for more authority over chemical reporting.

Ohio Lawmaker Opposes Wind Farm
Scientists warn that we must act quickly to address growing climate instability. Yet, state policies encourage non-renewable energy investments that extract resources—often from unwilling landowners—and results in environmental degradation and growing greenhouse gas emissions.

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz is asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to reconsider its previous approval of a wind farm in Huron County. Greenwich Wind Park is one of few wind energy projects approved and slated to move forward in Ohio. A move last year tripled property line setbacks for turbines on commercial farms virtually killing investment for wind energy in the state.

Ohio law currently requires stronger setback and public input requirements for green energy than the fracking industry, which generates an endless flow of chemical and radioactive waste, air pollution, earthquakes, and more. Read more about the attack on renewable energy here.
 
Can Organic, Conventional, and GE Agriculture Coexist?
Agricultural coexistence refers to the concurrent cultivation of conventional, organic, identity preserved, and genetically engineered (GE) crops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been holding meetings and developing reports designed to help promote the coexistence of diverse agricultural production systems.

The USDA is accepting comments from the public until May 11 on current and proposed USDA coexistence activities. To learn more about this issue and how to comment, visit the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

OEFFA will submit comments and post them here soon, so stay tuned.

Not So Fast …Track
Fast Track (or trade promotion) authority is a controversial power granted to the President by Congress, allowing him to negotiate international trade agreements.
These secret trade deals can have important implications on our food and agricultural system.

Congress is currently considering whether to give the President the authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). 

Why is this issue important?

These deals would set new rules on food safety, public procurement, pesticides, genetic engineering, and patents on seeds. They would also make it easier for corporations to shift production to where it’s cheapest, undermining local food systems. Your input can make a difference in protecting local food and farmers! Learn more about trade issues and take action by visiting the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s website.

Nutrient Management Bill Becomes Law
Ohio Senate Bill 1 was passed by the legislature and will go into effect June 21. The bill includes restrictions on when fertilizer and manure can be applied to land in the western Lake Erie watershed. It also includes certification requirements for those using manure from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

The new law includes temporary exemptions for small and medium operations that need additional time to come into compliance. For more information, read this blog post by Peggy Kirk-Hall and Glen Arnold from the Ohio State University.

It’s Not Too Late to Apply for Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Farm to School Programs
The application period for the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) ends May 14. Access the Request for Applications here.

The Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) application deadline is also due May 14. Find out how to apply here.

Finally, Farm to School Grant Program applications for planning, implementation, and support service grants must be submitted by May 20.
Learn more about these programs in OEFFA's April Policy Bulletin and at the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.



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

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