Not So Fast… Attempt to Block Organic Animal Welfare Rule
As we reported last month, the National Organic Program (NOP) recently released a proposed animal welfare rule in response to recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board and animal welfare groups. As Congress is working to put together a 2017 budget, some members are proposing controversial “riders” that would prevent the NOP from moving forward with this important new draft rule. The organic community has successfully stopped these initial attempts, but the rider could still be inserted in the budget.
Stay tuned for more information and let your Congress member know that they should not use the budgetmaking process to stop the NOP from protecting animal welfare.
Vermont Set to Lead the Nation on GE Labeling
The pressure has been on Senate lawmakers for months as the Vermont genetic engineering (GE) labeling bill is set to take effect on July 1. Although the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent required GE food labeling, the good news is that, thanks to your action, there has been no pre-emption bill in the Senate!
Many companies have started labeling to comply with the July deadline. Sources inside the beltway feel that with the election season starting to heat up and other pressing deadlines, a bill preventing the Vermont law from taking effect is not likely to see much action in the Senate. We will be keeping our ear to the ground and let you know of any breaking news.
Food Policy Gathering Features National Speakers
The John Glenn School of Public Affairs hosted the annual Local Food Council and Ohio Food Policy Summit last month. The morning session was an opportunity for local food councils to network and learn from each other. Anne Palmer from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health shared a new toolkit available to monitor and evaluate the work of local food councils. Groups discussed how, together, we can create a roadmap for food policy work in Ohio. In the afternoon, Anne shared a summary of legislation that states have enacted to facilitate local food systems development and Ferd Hoefner from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition discussed 2014 Farm Bill wins and opportunities for the next Farm Bill.
If you are interested in learning more about how to connect with local food policy work, give us a call at (614) 421-2022!
Take a Stand on Fracking June 7!
Join OEFFA and groups from across the country in taking a stand on the numerous problems associated with fracking, including pipelines and injection well linked to earthquakes, spills, and leaks.
Mick Luber of Bluebird Organic Farm in Cadiz, OH will host a free, public farm tour as part of the National Day of Action on Fracking June 7. Mick has been farming organically for more than 30 years and is surrounded by drilling rigs, a compressor station, and pipeline development. Ashtabula County Water Watch is also hosting a Toxic but Terrific Tour on June 4 associated with the day of action. Find out more about this event and others across Ohio and the U.S. at frackfreeamerica.org.
Funding Available for Farm Storage and Field Buffers
The Farm Service Agency recently expanded the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) Program to help finance portable storage structures and equipment, and storage and handling trucks, in addition to stationary crop and cold storage facilities. As the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) law begins to take effect, the FSFL program could help you finance improvements needed to comply with the new requirements. Find out how you can use FSFL. To apply for a FSFL, contact your local Farm Service Agency office.
In our April bulletin, we let you know about the new option in the Continuous Conservation Reserve program that provides cost-share and land rental payments for field border buffers on organic farms. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has put together a helpful resource, "The Organic Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Reserve Program Field Border Buffer Initiative," which provides eligibility and application information, detailed descriptions of key conservation practices and associated payments, producer profiles, and resources.
Ohio Senate Poised to Say NO to the Precautionary Principle
Senate Agriculture Committee member Bob Peterson (R) introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 20 which would require the state to use “science-based data to assess the impacts and regulation of modern agricultural technologies, and to oppose federal, state, or local legislative or regulatory actions that are not based on sound science and that may result in unnecessary restrictions on the use of modern agricultural technologies.” The measure specifically rejects use of the "precautionary principle," or the idea that when there is a potential to harm human health or the environment and scientific consensus about safety has not been achieved, the policy or action being considered should not be adopted. It is commonly cited by GE labeling proponents.
Should the state advance chemical, GE agriculture under the auspices of “sound science,” despite its long-term health and environmental consequences being unknown?
See if your Senator is on the Agriculture Committee and contact them today. The Union of Concerned Scientists released this white paper on why we need to invest more in a transition to truly sustainable agriculture.
Do You Grow Produce?
There is still time to provide input to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition on the use of manure on produce farms. Your feedback will help them put together comments for the Food and Drug Administration, which will be finalizing the rules for use of manure under FSMA. Help make sure the final manure rule works for sustainable farmers. Please take a minute to share your practices.
Anti-GE Seed Law Passes in Venezuela
A new law in Venezuela will mandate the promotion of sustainable agriculture as a foundation of food security and rural development. In addition to formally recognizing the critical role of sustainable agriculture, the measure includes regulations on the production of hybrid seeds and prevents research, production, importation, and distribution of GE seeds. It creates a new national seed system that will monitor and sanction violations.
Can you imagine a future that includes a formal recognition of sustainable agriculture and state sanctions to protect and promote a sustainable seed supply? Yes, we can make this happen but only with your support!
Please contact OEFFA today to learn more about how you can help or make a donation to support our work.
Organic Agriculture Provides Fertile Ground for Economic Development
The Organic Trade Association released a report connecting economic health with organic agriculture.
More than 200 “organic hotspots” are identified and discussed along with recommendations for how to foster more organic hotspots across the country.