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Farm Policy Matters
Monthly News Bulletin
November 2017
    
Local FARMS Act Introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act last month. Senate Bill 1947 seeks to continue investments that will allow farmers to reach new markets; increase community access to fresh, healthy, local food; and support local and regional food infrastructure that connects producers to buyers. With commodity prices falling, farmers are increasingly looking for new opportunities and for some that means investments close to home where markets for locally and regionally produced food continue to grow.
  
Senator Brown championed local food funding in the past and as a result more than $7 million has been invested in Ohio food systems between 2009 and 2014. Read a policy su
mmary of the Local FARMS Act here and stay tuned to the latest on the 2018 Farm Bill negotiations here.
  
Take action! Sign OEFFA’s petition and tell Congress to support the Local FARMS Act!

Registration Open for the 2017 Ohio Food Policy Summit
The Ohio Food Policy Summit is an annual event geared toward collaboration and conversation. If you are a member of your local Food Policy Council; involved in a farmers' market, farm-to-school, or food hub program; or a concerned consumer, this gathering is meant for you.
 
Conference highlights include:
The event is Monday, November 6 from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center at Ohio State University. The cost is $10, which includes parking and lunch. Register by Wednesday, October 31 here.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Releases 2018 Farm Bill Platform
Last month, NSAC released An Agenda for the 2018 Farm Bill. A leader in agricultural policy for more than 30 years, NSAC has been instrumental in helping to develop some of our nation’s most successful agricultural programs for conserving natural resources, advancing the next generation of farmers, supporting agricultural research, and creating farm to fork market connections. NSAC’s 120 member organizations (including OEFFA) put together these recommendations after months of working closely with each other and with grassroots stakeholders on the ground. An Agenda for the 2018 Farm Bill provides a comprehensive vision for a more sustainable farm and food system based on the expert analysis and experience of farmers and ranchers and the groups who represent them.
  
NSAC 2018 Farm Bill priorities include:

High Cost of Climate Change
A recent Government Accountabililty Office report finds that greenhouse gas emissions and climate change could cost the U.S. as much as $9.2 billion between 2020 and 2039 in lost crop yields. Extreme weather and fire events have cost the federal government $350 billion over the past 10 years and that includes the cost of crop and flood insurance.

Examples of Potential Economic Effects of Climate Change by 2100
     
Stanford Study Illustrates Potential for Soils to Slow Global Warming
Stanford researchers found that soil resources could “significantly” offset increasing global emissions. They call for a reversal of federal cutbacks to related research programs to learn more about this valuable resource. Characterized as “a no-risk climate solution with big co-benefits” according to professor Rob Jackson, fostering soil health protects food security and builds resilience to droughts, floods, and urbanization. Techniques include: reduced tillage, year-round livestock forage and compost application, and planting more perennial crops. “Retaining and restoring soil organic matter helps farmers grow better crops, purifies our water, and keeps the atmosphere cleaner,” according to Jackson.
  
These findings also illustrate the importance of supporting organic production systems that utilize the techniques mentioned above along with other practices that help build soil organic matter.
  
Green is Not Always Good
After hearing about the Toledo water crisis that caused a shutdown of the city’s water system for days, most Midwesterners know about the problems caused by toxic algae.
   
These algal blooms contain cyanobacteria, which can produce toxins that contaminate drinking water and cause ecosystem damage.
   
This report in the New York Times documents the growth in Ohio algal blooms, the economic effects, and agricultural connections.
  
Weedy Issues
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released guidance for herbicide makers and users aimed at curbing herbicide resistance in weeds. This continued problem relates in large part to the widespread use of glyphosate on genetically engineered crops. In a pair of documents, the agency requires herbicide labels to include recommendations for managing weed resistance and education for growers and applicators on holistic ways to address weed management that don't rely on just one chemical.
  
Unfortunately the EPA did not include recommendations related to alternative cropping systems, mechanical or biological controls, or other sustainable agriculture practices that would reduce this problem.

OEFFA Releases Food Safety Resource for Produce Farms
The Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations can be daunting. OEFFA is here to help you understand the requirements and wade through the avalanche of resources.
  
OEFFA's new report, Food Safety Planning Down on the Farm: Examples from Ohio Certified Organic Farms, features case studies and resources to help you develop a food safety plan for your farm.
  
Our sustainable agriculture educator can also answer your questions and help assist you in getting ready for FSMA compliance. Email eric@oeffa.org or call (614) 421-2022.

Find Out Your FSMA Compliance Date!
The FDA posted a new guide to help farmers and food manufacturers figure out when they need to comply with sweeping new food safety regulations. Depending on your sales, compliance dates and requirements vary.

Monsanto Lobbyists Booted from European Parliament
European Parliament political leaders banned Monsanto lobbyists after the company refused to appear at a hearing. Monsanto refused to send its chief executive to a special October 11 Parliament meeting to discuss the impact of allegedly damning company documents revealed during a U.S. court case.
  
Members of the European Parliament are calling for the establishment of a panel to probe claims that Monsanto unduly influenced research into the safety of their Roundup weed killer. The call for a probe came during a hearing into allegations that Monsanto influenced scientific research on glyphosate safety. The European Commission has proposed the license for glyphosate should be renewed for another 10 years.  While the EU Environment Committee voted to phase out glyphosate in Europe in three years the full parliamentary vote on that proposal has been delayed.
  
EQIP Applications Due
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced Friday, November 17 is the deadline to submit applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in Ohio.
  
EQIP is a voluntary conservation program that helps farmers protect the environment on working lands. With EQIP, NRCS conservation experts provide technical assistance to implement environmentally beneficial conservation practices. Financial assistance is now available in a variety of agricultural categories such as cropland, forestry, pasture operations, high tunnels, organic, and many more listed on the Ohio NRCS website.
  
To learn more about EQIP or other technical and financial assistance available through NRCS conservation programs, visit Get Started with NRCS or visit your local USDA Service Center.
  
Free SNAP Equipment Available
he Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) and the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service are teaming up again to offer the free SNAP EBT Equipment program this year.
  
The program covers the cost of buying or renting EBT equipment and set-up costs, monthly service fees, and wireless fees for up to 3 years. SNAP authorized markets and direct marketing farmers (e.g. farm stands and CSAs) are eligible to participate if they do not already have working EBT equipment or if they have equipment but received it before May 2012. FMC shares great resources on their site for markets interested in accepting SNAP. Read more about the offering on FMC's site and apply for the equipment here.
  
Large Industries Sue to Stop Environmental Activism
Invoking the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal conspiracy law devised to ensnare mobsters, some large companies are going after organizations, as well as individual employees and activists. Resolute Forest Products and Energy Transfer Partners are two of the companies involved in going after environmental groups and bringing suit against those that fund the organizations. While named organizations are asking that these suits be dismissed, if the process takes long enough and ultimately costs enough, it could serve as a model that may limit the tactics of environmental groups, especially those with limited resources or funders wary of lawsuits.

Ohio Organic Continues to Grow
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently released the 2016 Certified Organic Survey, a census of all certified organic farms and ranches. 
 
Organic continues to grow in Ohio as the state moved from eighth to seventh in the nation in number of organic farms, a 24 percent increase. The sale of organic products also increased by more than 30 percent since 2015.
  
Read OEFFA's summary, Highlights from the 2016 Certified Organic Survey: Ohio in Context.

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
41 Croswell Rd., Columbus OH 43214
(614) 421-2022 | policy.oeffa.org

 

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