The September 30 deadline to get the 2018 Farm Bill passed with no agreement AND without an extension. While it’s not surprising given that recent farm bills have taken extra months or more than a year to pass, this is a major disappointment to farmers who face financial challenges, and for programs that seek to serve beginning farmers and invest in regional food systems.
Without an extension to the current farm bill, funding for many of the programs we care most about will be, at best, delayed, and at worst, unfunded indefinitely.
The House is in session for two weeks before the mid-term election and the Senate is in DC for most of October. A major stumbling block is insistence on reforming the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) among members of the House. Also at issue are commodity and energy policies, and how to pay for various proposals.
According to reports by Politico Pro, not a single farm bill title was completed as of September 26. The Senate passed the most bipartisan bill in history that includes permanent mandatory funding for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer programs, local and regional food systems, organic research, and much more. OEFFA fully supports a final farm bill that includes these Senate provisions in the coming weeks. We will keep you posted as negotiations unfold!
Record Attendance at Ohio Food Summit
The 8th Annual Ohio Food Summit was held on September 24 this year and was organized around a recent report released by the Federal Reserve entitled, “Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities.”
More than 200 people attended plenary and breakout sessions presented by national and local leaders involved in food system financing, the farm bill, the creation of a statewide food policy campaign, and more. The final plenary focused on a food system financing agenda for Ohio presented by the President and CEO of the Council of Development Finance Agencies and included presentations by Green Party candidate for governor Constance Gadell-Newton and Congresswoman and candidate for Lieutenant Governor Betty Sutton with the Cordray Campaign.
Photo (from left to right): Green Party candidate for Governor Constance Gadell-Newton; Congresswoman Betty Sutton, candidate for Lieutenant Governor; Toby Rittner, President CDFA, and Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator
Capping Farm Subsidies
Thirty-four members of the House and Senate asked farm bill negotiators to preserve provisions in the Senate version of the bill that would limit farms to one manager who can qualify as "actively engaged" in the farm business and be eligible for $125,000 a year in commodity subsidies.
In a letter spearheaded by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), these lawmakers also advocate for a provision that would cap the eligibility threshold at $700,000 a year in gross income.
If you have any doubt on why we need these provisions in the next farm bill, check out this piece from the Environmental Working Group’s “Meet the Farmers of Manhattan,” which includes a map of the more than 800 “farmers” that received almost $16 million in subsidies from 1995-2016.
Photo: 135 Central Park West, home of a “farm manager”
More Evidence of Honeybee Assault
A new study shows that glyphosate damages the microbiota that honeybees need to grow and to fight off pathogens.
The findings show glyphosate, the most used agricultural chemical in history, may be contributing to the global decline in bees, along with the loss of habitat. Research from China, published in July, showed that honeybee larvae grew more slowly and died more often when exposed to glyphosate. An earlier study, in 2015, showed the exposure of adult bees to the herbicide at levels found in fields “impairs the cognitive capacities needed for a successful return to the hive.”
Hurricane Florence Pushes Waste Over the Edge
NASA satellite images show the pollution fallout from Hurricane Florence into rivers and the Atlantic Ocean.
Hurricane Florence damaged and compromised hog waste lagoons, letting what may be tens of millions of gallons of noxious sludge into North Carolina rivers. The New Yorker published two detailed reports and will be releasing a third, which may provide updates on the exact number of breached facilities.
About six million confinement hogs are the source of the approximately four thousand waste lagoons in the state, many of which are in floodplains and were breached in this recent storm. The latest and most severe in a string of similar events, Florence amplify calls for action on why these facilities are so prevalent in a floodplain that experiences frequent hurricanes. Find photos and additional reporting at Waterkeepers Alliance.
House Farm Bill Bans Pesticide Restrictions
An obscure provision included in the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill would restrict local governments from setting pesticide restrictions that are any stricter than federal limits. Additionally, this provision would remove a current requirement that farmers obtain a permit before spraying a pesticide onto water and remove farmworker safeguards.
This comes after many cities are adopting bans on harmful pesticides such as neonicotinoids that are implicated in the collapse of honeybee colonies. Leaders from 60 cities sent a letter to Congress opposing the measure. Read the letter and see if your local leaders signed on.
GoFundMe for Dairy Farmers
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinelreports on how struggling dairy farmers are seeking and getting support through the online GoFundMe platform which now hosts more than 2,500 U.S. dairy farms.
Wisconsin lost 500 farms in 2017 alone and according to reports from Ohio Farmer, almost 60 Ohio dairies folded in the past five months.
One farmer raised more than $165,000 just before foreclosure. As many farmers are fiercely independent and very reluctant to go public and ask for help, this is a clear indication of the growing crisis in the dairy industry.
New Report Documents Financial Benefits of Conservation
The publication “Farm Finance and Conservation: How Stewardship Generates Value for Farmers, Lenders, Insurers, and Landowners” illustrates how conservation can deliver more than ecosystem benefits.
The report details the efforts of three corn, soy, and wheat farmers from Iowa, Kansas, and Ohio and how these farmers say diversified income, increased yield resilience, lower costs, and reduced risks were benefits as a result of their investments in conservation. Read about the real-world case studies in this report.
Funding for Ohio Livestock Producers
The Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin Phosphorus Reduction Initiative works to reduce nutrients entering Ohio waterways and lessen harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. Funding is available for livestock producers to implement nutrient management practices that allow for proper storage, timing, and placement of nutrients with the ultimate goal of benefitting water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. For more information, visit the Ohio USDA NRCS website.