Three Important Ways You Can Create a Sustainable Food and Farming System
Help Stop Algal Blooms
Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada signed a deal in 2015 pledging to reduce phosphorous emissions by 40 percent. Each partner is tasked with targeting key watersheds, creating a protocol for water quality monitoring, examining discharges from wastewater treatment plants, and limiting the application of manure on saturated or frozen ground in order to cut phosphorous, the lead cause of algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie and other watersheds across the region.
The Ohio Farmers Union is holding a meeting on March 21 to discuss whether farmers in the Maumee Watershed successfully reached the needed 40 percent reduction in phosphorous runoff without federal intervention. Farmers are encouraged to attend the meeting and share their opinions on two questions: 1) What is causing excessive phosphorous runoff? 2) Are voluntary actions on the part of farmers sufficient to meet agriculture’s 40 percent reduction in runoff goal? A panel of experts will be on hand to provide information and answer questions. Let’s make sure organic farmers are well represented at this important meeting!
Shape the Vision of Ohio’s Food System
In February, more than 150 people shared their values and goals for what Ohio's food system should look like, but there is still time for you to attend one of three remaining sessions in March. This is another important opportunity for farmers to shape the future of the food system.
Wednesday, March 1, 4-6 p.m.
OSU South Centers, Piketon
Monday, March 13, 6-8 p.m.
Brink Brewing, Cincinnati
Wednesday, March 15, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
Toledo Public Library Sanger Branch, Toledo
Influence Health Insurance Policy by Sharing Your Experience
University of Vermont researcher Shoshanah Inwood is seeking input from multi-generation, beginning, and first generation farm and ranch families across all ages and sectors of agriculture to understand what parts of health insurance are working well for farmers and what types of policy and program modifications need to be made. All responses will be confidential and only summary statistics will be reported.
According to Inwood, "We know from our prior research that farmers identify the cost of health insurance as a key barrier to growing their farms or farming full-time.” The survey is part of a study which will be used to guide the development of training materials for professionals who work with farmers and ranchers—such as Extension Educators, farm consultants, and tax accountants—so that they can support farmers’ and ranchers' ability to make well-informed decisions regarding health insurance.
Farmer participation in this survey will help to shape health care policy.
Resource for Conducting On-Farm Research Now Available
Many farmers struggle to reduce costs while raising crops or livestock. If you have ideas about innovations that could increase production or efficiency, conducting on-farm research could help you test your theory and help many farmers be more profitable and sustainable based on your experience. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program’s recently revised “How to Conduct Research on Your Farm or Ranch” is available to help farmers that are experimenting with new ideas succeed.
Legislators to Debate Biennial Budget and Energy Policy
The governor's two-year budget funds education, Medicaid, and other services at a cost of more than $60 billion a year. The Ohio House started budget deliberations and the Senate will make its revisions this spring. By law, the state budget must be approved by the General Assembly and signed by Governor John Kasich by June 30. Read an overview of the Governor’s 2018-2019 budget.
Governor Kasich has proposed considerable tax reform which would tax crude oil extraction at 6.5 percent and natural gas and natural gas liquid extractions at 4.5 percent.
In the past, Kasich warned lawmakers not to send him a bill extending the state's freeze on mandates requiring power companies to increase the amount renewable energy supplied as electricity. The legislature ultimately did just that when it made renewable energy standards, originally established by former Governor Ted Strickland, voluntary for two years. Kasich vetoed the bill, which will be up for discussion again this year. See how Ohio compares to other states when it comes to creating a long-term renewable energy standard in this Cleveland.com article.
New Measure Introduced to Reduce Tax Burden on Ohio Farms
Many Ohio farmers have seen their real estate tax bill increase by more than 300 percent in recent years. Efforts to reform the Current Agriculture Use Valuation (CAUV) formula last year were not adopted by the legislature. Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) introduced a bill last month to adjust the capitalization rate used to calculate agricultural land value and the valuation of land used for conservation practices or programs. Senate Bill 36 has been assigned to the Local Government, Public Safety, and Veterans Affairs Committee for review and hearings.
OEFFA Conference Tackles Policy Issues
OEFFA’s 38th annual conference brought more than 1,200 people to Dayton for more than two days of informative workshops, energizing keynote sessions, and great social and networking opportunities. Several workshops focused on policies important to our membership, such as the development of healthy, local food systems. More than 50 people gathered to do some strategic planning on what an ideal Ohio food system might look like. This was the second in a series of six sessions around the state to get a broad cross section of feedback.
Other policy sessions focused supporting a strong National Organic Program and Farm Bill. A well-attended session on fracking and our food system included the first-hand accounts of organic farmer Mick Luber, who deals with fracking infrastructure every day on his farm; southeast Ohio restaurant owner Christine Hughes, who has organized several effective actions in opposition to fracking; and Food & Water Watch Associate Director Patty Lovera, who brought a very informed national perspective to the discussion.
The conference also featured The Cream of the Crop Banquet with special guest speaker and former State Senator and Ohio Department of Agriculture director Steve Maurer, who presented OEFFA's first Advocate of the Year award to Alex Dragovich (pictured above).
OEFFA continues to advocate on this and many other issues that threaten the integrity of health food systems. E-mail us today to find out what small, but important, steps you can take today to stand up for sustainable agriculture.
Funding and Resources
Are you looking for a resource for a direct farmer-to-consumer marketing project like a farmers’ market, community supported agriculture program, roadside stand, or agritourism? If so, the Local Food Promotion Program may be just what you are looking for! Grant applications are due by March 27, so review this press release for more details today.
Are you a small, diversified, or organic producer that is not sure what agencies can provide you the resources or assistance you need? Or perhaps you want to know what resources are available to help you reach expanding regional markets? If so, you can get the answers to these questions and many more in "Growing Opportunity: A Guide to USDA Sustainable Farming Programs." This free resource is available online, as well as in 2,600 county Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices and was put together by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the USDA FSA.