Celebrate National Farmers’ Market Week
It’s time to celebrate the bounty of the season! National Farmers’ Market Week is August 7-13. Farms have always been integral to society, but decades ago we moved away from direct relationships with our farmers. Thankfully that trend is reversing. We have more than 8,500 farmers’ markets in the U.S—up 50% from just five years ago. Consider these few facts about how and why direct market farmers are so important:
- There are 3.5 times as many U.S. farmers over the age of 65 as there are under 35. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for new farmers, allowing them to start small as they learn and test the market.
- Growers selling locally create 13 full-time jobs per $1 million in revenue. Those that do not sell locally create only three.
- Three of every four farmers selling at farmers’ markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.
This is the kind of shopping you can feel really good about, so support your local farmers’ market this and every week!
Pipeline Company Ordered to Protect Organic Farm
OEFFA dairy producer James Yoder is facing the threat of two pipelines crossing the pasture where he raises a small herd of Jersey cows. OEFFA has been advocating on behalf of James since last year and many OEFFA members took the time to contact the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and make comments on why organic farmers like James should be protected from damaging pipelines. Those efforts have made a difference!
FERC released a final environmental impact statement on the ET Rover pipeline project in July. In that report, they instructed the company to develop a plan for “impact avoidance, minimization, or mitigation” in consultation with James. This is great news as James is working very hard to make sure he can stay in business as a fourth generation farmer on the land with his wife and two young children.
While the work will continue to hold the company’s feet to the fire and try to head off Kinder Morgan’s Utopia pipeline, this is a great step to protecting the livelihood of a young farmer producing healthy, organic milk for our community.
Thanks to everyone who took a farm stand to protect James and farmers like him!
FSA Insurance Can Fill in Gaps for Farmers
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), which producers can use to insure crops not covered by traditional insurance. Beginning farmers with less than 10 years’ experience, women, and other historically disadvantaged groups can get basic coverage for free.
FSA is offering a free workshop for specialty crop producers in southwest and central Ohio to learn more about NAP coverage on Thursday, August 18 at 6:30 p.m. in Madison County. If you attend, you can also hear about Farm Storage Facility Loans—low interest loans that can cover things like refrigerated trucks, washing and packing equipment, and coolers. Register by August 5.
Election Just Around the Corner
The presidential election makes the news daily, and Ohio was in the spotlight with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month. Casting a vote for president is very important, but the votes you cast for state and federal legislators are also extremely important, as these decision-makers have the power to write and enact laws that greatly impact our food and farming system.
Sustainable agriculture, healthy food access, local food systems, and climate change will not rise to the level of importance they deserve until voters get in front of candidates and ask key questions, like those in OEFFA’s Food and Farming Questions for Candidates Guide. This election year resource is designed to help you engage your local candidates on the issues you care about. Additionally, we have asked all candidates for state and federal office to complete the questions in the guide and we will publish those responses in September. Stay tuned and contact Amalie Lipstreu to request hard copies of the guide.
Direct Marketers are NOT Food Facilities
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a final rule clarifying that farmers who sell value-added products direct to customers at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs are not classified as “food facilities.” These farmers can now breathe a sigh of relief as they will NOT be subject to registration requirements or regulations in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Preventive Controls Rule.
The latest rule from the FDA also clarifies that the location of the direct sales does not trigger definition as a facility. A farmer that delivers a CSA box to an off-farm destination or uses an off-farm commercial kitchen to process value-added products also does not activate the food facility definition.
Outdated Regulations Govern U.S. Coast Guard Shipments of Frack Waste
The U.S. Coast Guard has decided to use 40-year-old regulations that fail to address toxic, radioactive hydraulic fracking waste. Community groups are asking the Coast Guard to ban shipments of this highly toxic waste on the nation’s waterways to protect our water supply and environment. Find more information and sign a petition asking for basic water quality protection here.
President Signs Bad GE Labeling Law
Labeling genetically engineered (GE) foods has been a high priority for OEFFA and our members. Many of you have contacted your legislators, attended meetings, or called the President—for which are incredibly thankful.
Unfortunately, as we have been reporting, efforts to stop Vermont’s labeling law from taking effect and prevent a clear national standard have marched through the legislature. While the bill that recently passed the Senate has been hailed by many as a true bipartisan compromise on GE labeling, the bill thwarts honest labeling and disadvantages seniors, low income, and rural communities that may not have the time and resources to scan each food item, visit a website, and search for information on GE ingredients.
OEFFA and many other food and farm organizations asked President Obama to veto this back door attempt to hide the truth, but sadly, on Friday, he signed the bill into law.
The USDA has two years to write rules to implement this law; in the meantime, it may be challenged in court. OEFFA will continue to work toward truth and transparency for the American public. If you are interested in joining our GE working group to help plan our next steps, please contact Amalie Lipstreu today.