Anti-GE Labeling Bill Hits the Senate: States Still Moving Forward
Efforts to stop Vermont’s genetic engineering (GE) labeling bill from taking effect have reached the Senate. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) is scheduled to introduce his version of a GE “pre-emption” bill Tuesday, March 1. In addition to preventing state and federal GE labeling, the bill also calls for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote the benefits of biotechnology to the public.
A recent article in the Harvard Journal on Legislation presents a very clear argument about why legislators should support GE labeling and how it could be done. Stay tuned to your inbox as we will be sending out more information on how you can contact Senators Brown and Portman on this important issue.
Despite federal moves to block GE labeling, many states continue to introduce GE-related bills, including New York which has a number of bills on the docket, including one to label food and seed, one on liability for contamination of organic crops, and another prohibiting the cultivation of GE crops and the sale of GE salmon. Maine may remove a provision of their GE labeling law that requires four other contiguous states to pass their own labeling laws before its own can take effect. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, Alaska, Missouri, and New Jersey are rumored to be introducing labeling laws as well.
Are You Affected by the New Food Safety Rules?
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule. These two rules affect many farmers, food handlers, and processors BUT there are exemptions and modified requirements. You can learn more on the OEFFA food safety web page but for a great quick reference, check out this clear and simple FSMA flowchart put out by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
Farm Bill Programs Available Now
March 15 is the deadline for the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP). Frequently, specialty crop producers, as well as those growing crops for livestock and fiber, are not able to obtain traditional crop insurance. NAP is a type of insurance that provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. Read more about NAP here or contact your local Farm Service Agency office.
Woodland owners in Adams, Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Scioto, Vinton, Morgan, Monroe, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, and Washington counties are eligible to apply for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Oak Management program. Three hundred thousand dollars is available this year to help restore oak-hickory woodlands that are privately owned. These woodlands are under threat from the non-native tree of heaven which threatens native birds and other species. Find your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office here and apply before the March 15 deadline.
Cleveland area producers are eligible to apply for financial and technical assistance for high tunnels through NRCS. The deadline for applications is March 18. Find more information here or call Al Norwood at (216) 503-9283 for help with the application process and assessing proposed high tunnel sites.
The Conservation Stewardship Program is a voluntary incentives program administered by NRCS, which rewards farmers for maintaining existing conservation practices and for adopting additional measures. The program pays producers for clean water, better soil management, improved habitat, energy efficiency, and other natural resource benefits. The deadline for applications is March 31. Visit NRCS for more information.
Fracking Waste Injection Numbers Climb
The amount of fracking waste injected under the surface of Ohio continues to grow. Injection wells in Athens, Coshocton, Guernsey, Muskingum, Tuscarawas, Washington, Portage, Trumbull, Ashtabula, and Stark counties received the most waste. The total amount of waste in 2015—much coming from out of state— jumped to 28,904,709 barrels, or about 1.2 billion gallons.
TOP COUNTIES TO RECEIVE FRACKING WASTE
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Beginning Farmer Resources
According to recent research from American Farmland Trust (AFT), many beginning farmers and ranchers find identifying affordable land to purchase or lease one of their most significant challenges. In addition, accessing the capital needed to start or expand a farm business can also be daunting. To address these issues, AFT’s Farmland Information Center (FIC)—with support from NRCS—is offering free new online resources to benefit beginning farmers and ranchers. Click here to learn more.
Controversial Weed Killer Rescinded, Or Not?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked a court to cancel the registration of Dow AgroSciences’ controversial herbicide Enlist Duo last year. This came after new information was provided that indicated ‘synergistic effects’ between the product’s two active ingredients, glyphosate and 2,4-D, could result in greater toxicity. Many people concerned about personal and environmental health rejoiced at the decision… but wait! Not so fast! This article from Farm Futures details recent action by a federal court denying the EPA’s request to cancel or delay the approval. Ohio is one of 15 states where the Enlist Duo herbicide is currently authorized for use.
Organic is Non-GMO and Much More
Many people don’t know that when they are looking for food without genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the only label they really need to use is the organic label. But organic production is about so much more than just prohibiting GMOs.
As a way to help educate the public about the holistic, ecological benefits of organic farming, OEFFA has developed a beautiful new poster. Many retailers, co-ops, and community markets have already agreed to hang up the new poster and help educate their customers about organics.
Ask your retailer to hang the poster in their store today and let us know if they are interested.
If you would like a copy of this poster, printed on high quality linen paper, contact us today!