Looking back on the year, OEFFA members, staff, and our partners played an important role in advocating for state and federal policies and programs that support sustainable family farms, including:
More than 700 OEFFA members advocated for sustainable agriculture in the farm bill. As we head into what is hopefully the final inning of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Senate version includes OEFFA’s policy priorities for local and regional food systems, organic agriculture, beginning farmers, and fair payment limits.
OEFFA board and member leaders conducted a call campaign to encourage comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on meaningful labeling for genetically engineered foods. More than 1,400 people nationally submitted comments and 150 OEFFA members took online action. The draft law is set to be released very soon; stay tuned!
Senator Brown attended OEFFA’s 39th annual conference to receive OEFFA's Food and Farm Champion Award and commend OEFFA's work.
OEFFA farmers from across Ohio attended meetings and helped to engage in structural change to the farm bill by working to modernize the crop insurance program.
More than 30 organizations, organic businesses, and certification agencies from across the United States signed a letter, spearheaded by OEFFA, asking that the topic of energy system infrastructure be addressed by the USDA National Organic Program.
OEFFA, in partnership with the Ohio Food Policy Summit planning team, invited candidates for Ohio Governor to come to the 8th annual summit and share their thoughts on local and regional food systems. Two of the three candidates attended and committed to supporting local food system development in Ohio. While Governor-Elect Mike DeWine was not represented, we hope that he will also support this winning strategy for Ohio.
We are thankful for our farmer and member leaders who have met with legislators, written op-eds, attended meetings, made phone calls, and advocated for organic and sustainable agriculture in 2018!
Looking Forward to 2019
In the coming year, OEFFA has identified many state-level priorities for organic agriculture and regional food system development, as well as the continued need to support for beginning farmers, but your input is critically important to chart our course.
Plan to attend OEFFA’s 40th annual conference February 14-16, 2019 and participate in a session on Saturday, February 16 at 10:30 a.m. to discuss what OEFFA should be doing in the months and years ahead.
The conference will feature more than 100 hours of workshops, including numerous policy-related workshops and speakers, like Abby Youngblood of the National Organic Coalition.
Other features include keynote speakers Elizabeth Henderson and Onika Abraham, who will be addressing justice within our food system; evening activities; a three-day trade show; locally-sourced meals; kids' activities, and more. Scholarships for persons of color and early career farmers are available, in addition to reduced rate volunteer spaces.
Key agricultural leaders in Congress are working to finalize the 2018 Farm Bill by December 15. There is still time to make a real difference in the outcome!
Are chemical-free foods important to you? Do you not want to see tax dollars going to people who need it the least? Should we invest in next generation farmers and healthy regional food systems that build prosperity?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, take a minute to click and send a message to your legislator asking that they make sure the next farm bill is a step in the right direction.
World Soil Day is December 5
It takes from 500 to thousands of years to create one inch of topsoil, but we lose about one million acres of farmland a year to development!
Take a look at this video that very simply and effectively illustrates the precious resource we have in soil.
As we celebrate World Soil Day, let us give thanks for the farmers that are using organic and regenerative management practices to protect our soil and nourish healthy soil organic matter. They provide healthful food, protect our natural resources, and sequester carbon.
Make a donation to help OEFFA promote organic and sustainable agriculture now and into the future to protect our soils and clean food!
Food Safety Update
Romaine lettuce was recalled across the nation last month, putting food safety in the national spotlight again. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released guidance documents to help farmers understand how to meet the requirements of the sweeping Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), designed to prevent such outbreaks.
A draft guidance compliance and implementation guide helps explain how FSMA requires farms to put preventive measures in place during growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of their fruits and vegetables to protect against contamination.
To further assist farmers and other stakeholders, the FDA has also published “At-A-Glance” overviews that highlight the key points in each chapter in the draft guidance.
Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture
The Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) recently reported on the National Climate Assessment indicating climate change will bring higher temperatures and more frequent drought to farmers across the United States, resulting in reduced crop and livestock yields. The higher temperatures could also reduce corn yields in the midwest by 25 percent below their expected mid-century levels.
According to the report, “one year out of 10 is projected to have a five-day period that is an average of 13 degrees F warmer than a comparable period at the end of last century.” Soybean yields would also drop 25 percent in the southern half of the midwest, but could increase in the northern half.
Overall, the hot and dry weather “will exacerbate plant stress, yield reduction, fire risks and depletion of surface and ground water resources.” Yields from crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, cotton, and oats decline when it is too hot. Weeds, however, would grow faster and be harder to control. “Expected increase in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme (weather) events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security and price stability," the report continues.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said last month that poverty will increase as climate change alters rainfall and temperature patterns around the world. The panel of scientists said “rapid and far-reaching changes” in human activity are needed to limit climate change to an increase of 1.5 degrees C.
The Poison You Can’t Pronounce Approved Despite Warnings
Environmental Health News reports how industry-sponsored research of the insecticide chlorpyrifos was at odds with Dow Chemical's reporting of the results to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). OEFFA previously shared how this chemical, which the Trump administration recently argued should continue to be used in farming, is linked to learning disabilities in children. According to this report, discrepancies in the industry supported study negatively affect the ability of regulatory authorities to perform a valid and safe evaluation of these pesticides, validating concerns about the bias of industry-funded research.
Similar concerns are now being raised about the weed killer dicamba.
Reveal News documents the plight of individual farmers who have been irrevocably harmed by drift from dicamba and how current use of the product is destroying millions of acres of crops, causing farmer-to-farmer disputes and pitting scientists against manufacturers.
The joint investigation found that the EPA—which is required by law to ensure pesticides don’t impose unreasonable environmental and economic costs—could have averted the destruction. They found that the EPA ignored scientists’ warnings and extensive research that showed dicamba would evaporate into the air and ruin crops miles away. Instead, the EPA based its approval on studies by the companies that manufacture dicamba, which independent scientists say were seriously flawed.
Monsanto lobbied the EPA to allow the chemical to be used on its genetically modified seeds for cotton and soybeans. The seeds—which the company engineered so that farmers could use dicamba to kill invasive weeds without hurting their crops—were worth $3 billion last year.
The EPA recently approved the weed killer for another two years, citing new label instructions that manufacturers believe will minimize damage.
Make OEFFA Part of Your End of Year Giving
Policy, while it impacts all of us on a day-to-day basis, can—at times—be slow, hard to understand, and discouraging. Having staff dedicated to wading through the details, and having members participate at key moments, is critical as we shape a sustainable food and farm system. We appreciate your membership, which allows us to do this work! As you think about end-of-the-year gifts, we encourage you to donate to OEFFA and also give the gift of membership to friends and family!