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Farm Policy Matters
Monthly News Bulletin
May 2018
    
Draft Farm Bill Needs Significant Improvement to Address the Needs of Today’s Farmers
On April 18, the House Agriculture Committee met to “mark up” the draft of the 2018 Farm Bill put together by Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX). This bill cuts funding for organic cost-share, virtually eliminates all local food programming, radically cuts conservation funding, and totally eliminates the Conservation Stewardship Program. 

Passage of the House bill was cheered by the Farm Bureau and major commodity groups and opposed by the Farmers Union, National Young Farmers Coalition, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), among others. 
  
There is much more analysis of the bill than we can share in this brief, but if you are interested in more detail, check out these NSAC blogs.
    
Are you farming or on a local food council? Have you used organic cost-share, the Value-Added Producer Grant program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Local Food and Farmers Market Promotion grant, or are you someone who is passionate about sustainable agriculture and healthy food systems? 
   
Now is the time to let your representatives know what you think. All members of the House of Representatives will vote on the bill in May. Your call will make a real difference when this bill comes to the floor. 
   
Law Schools Publish Primers for 2018 Farm Bill
The Farm Bill Law Enterprise is a national partnership of law schools working toward a farm bill that reflects the long-term needs of society.
    
The release of four reports—which cover diversified agricultural economies; food access, nutrition, and public health; productivity and risk management; and governance, transparency, and accountability—provide a comprehensive set of policy recommendations for the next farm bill.

Food Systems and Development Finance Resources Available
Food systems are an important driver for local economic development and there are many financing sources currently available. More than ever, local communities are financing their own food systems markets, first time farmers, new food enterprises, and neighborhoods lacking food access.
    
The Council of Development Finance Agencies’ Food Systems Finance Resource Center outlines development finance tools that can be used to support local food systems, such as bonds, tax increment finance, tax credits, special assessment districts, revolving loan funds, and others.
   
Traditional development finance tools provide access to capital for establishing food industry participants, supporting local farming, investing in food delivery infrastructure, financing food scarcity challenges, and starting small food businesses. A variety of innovative approaches and creative programs have been employed by development finance agencies to support food systems financing.

Save the Date for the Ohio Local Food Summit!
The annual gathering of local food councils and statewide food system reform supporters will take place on September 24, 2018.
    
This year’s summit will include a wealth of information on food system investment, financing, and economic development.
     
Save the date, and if you have resources or ideas to share, contact OEFFA.

National Young Farmers Coalition Releases New Resource
The Land Affordability Calculator was designed for farmers seeking land. Use this tool to build financing scenarios for purchasing farmland. You can compare detailed estimates of total costs, monthly payments, and affordability metrics, then download the results to have on-hand when meeting with a loan officer.

USDA Agriculture Secretary Perdue Visits Ohio
During a visit to Ohio, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Perdue responded to questions about a lawsuit brought against the agency and the Trump administration after the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration withdrew the “Farmer Fair Practices Rule” that was created to protect farmers from predatory practices by large corporations. The rule would have made it easier for farmers to sue companies they contract with over unfair, discriminatory, or deceptive practices.
     
According to a report from the Lima News, Perdue responded that, “ After talking to individuals in agriculture, it was decided the rule would cost the consumer more money, so the rule was withdrawn. Not every small business is going to survive in every industry. There are farmers there, some of which will not survive because other people do it better. That’s the American capitalistic society. The best producers thrive and provide, and the others find another industry where they can thrive.”
    
In an article by the Associated Press, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said the action to withdraw the rule was “…pandering to big corporations” and that “the USDA is the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the U.S. Department of Big Agribusiness."
     
New Mexico Democrat Acts to Protect Children from Harmful Pesticide
One year after ther Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it would reverse a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, U.S. Senator Tom Udall is asking for details on the ongoing use of the pesticide. Since that time, the EPA has refused to take any safety measures on what is considered a very dangerous pesticide and neurotoxin to children.  Udall asked food service providers, national restaurant chains, and grocery stores to disclose what they are doing to promote healthier farming and a safe food supply, in an effort to garner industry purchasing power to influence policy and on-farm use. 
    
For a refresher on withdrawal of the proposed ban, check out this piece from our December 2017 policy bulletin.
    
OEFFA Members and Staff Speak to National Organic Standards Board
Twice each year, a group of people dedicated to a strong National Organic Program meet to discuss materials used in organic production as well as larger policy issues affecting the organic industry. In addition to hosting these meetings in different areas of the country, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) also hosts webinars, providing a low-cost, easy way for farmers and organic advocates to comment on organic issues.
   
This spring, 10 people affiliated with OEFFA shared their thoughts with the board. A strong contingent of OEFFA’s Grain Growers Chapter, including chapter president Dave Shively (pictured), used the opportunity to speak to the issue of fraudulent grain imports coming into the country. OEFFA farmers detailed the economic impact—estimated at approximately $400 million since 2015—and the need to broaden and strengthen enforcement, which could be achieved by electronic tracking, a system for testing all shipments, verifying yield potentials through the certification process, and adopting and enforcing the animal welfare rule, access to pasture requirements, and other rules.
    
The NOSB expressed grattitude for these farmers making the time to share their views, as they rarely hear directly from farmers that are affected. Please contact OEFFA if you are interested in speaking for a few minutes at an upcoming NOSB webinar meeting. 

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

 

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