Growing Better Taste: Huntertown farm first USDA certified organic poultry farm in Indiana

By Ryan Schwab, 7/18/16, KPCNews

Growing better taste
Dorothy “Dotsie” Hoffman works daily at Huntertown-based Hoffman Certified Organics, Indiana’s first and only 100 percent USDA Certified Organic pasture-raised poultry farm. Her sons, Don and Ben, are co-owners.

HUNTERTOWN — Don Hoffman doesn’t eat a chicken at a restaurant.

“I remember how chicken used to taste. Today, it taste like cardboard,” he said.

And the chicken you buy in the stores?

“It is just awful. It’s not what I grew up on and prefer,” he said.

Don and his brother, Ben, are co-owners of Hoffman Certified Organics, which operates on their family farm at 2606 Chapman Road in Huntertown. Their company is the first and only 100 percent USDA certified organic pasture-raised poultry farm in Indiana, specializing in pasture raised chickens.

“Our motto is that we are going to raise our chickens to taste like it used to taste back in the day when they farm-raised chickens,” Don Hoffman said. “Today, we marinate it or we brine it. You shouldn’t have to.”

Added brother Ben, “There is a big movement in knowing your farmer and the ‘farm to fork’ atmosphere. We decided to go organic because we saw a need for it in our area. It is very difficult to find an organic, pasture raised bird. There is a fine line between what is organic and what is pasture-raised organic. The flavor is in the chicken. That is the difference between a confined operation and a place like ours, where the birds can go out when they want, come in when they want and eat what they want.”

The Hoffman family has owned the property since 1976, but it sat idle for 35 years until the brothers decided to take on the new venture. Don had raised chickens on his property for nearly 25 years and together with Ben, began the road to organic pasture-raised birds three years ago. The company was incorporated in 2015.

“It needs to be done,” Don said.

They raise a White Mountain Broiler, which can grow to 4.5 to 6 pounds. The females grow on the lighter end of the scale while the males are heavier. The bird is more popular in Ohio, but has a smaller mortality rate than the cornish crossbird, which is more popular in Indiana. The birds have a 56-day life cycle.

The brothers pick up the chicks just after they are hatched from Eagles Nest Poultry in Oceola, Ohio. They are driven back to their farm and are housed in their brooder, where they are cared for with feed, water and an introduction to clover. Over time, the birds will eat less feed and more clover and grass.

The organic feed comes from a certified distributor in Wolcotville and the brothers are certified to grow their own organic clover.

Once the chicks are about four weeks old, they are moved them from the brooder to the pasture. They are housed in chicken coops — known as “chicken tractors” — to keep them safe from predators. Each tractor is loaded up with water and feed bins and the birds will eat the clover and grass as they are moved up and down the family farm each day.

Ben Hoffman said before they utilized the chicken tractors and allowed the birds to roam free, 142 of 400 birds were killed by area predators. He said they have had no deaths since utilizing the “chicken tractors.”

At full growth, the birds are then transported to a processing center in Colfax, Indiana, located halfway between Lafayette and Indianapolis along Interstate 65. There, between 600 and 800 birds are processed in a 3-day period. The first run of 2016 produced 642 birds.

They will make eight or nine trips to processing center of the course of a year.

“You want to make sure the birds are familiar with people handling them, that way your losses during transport decrease, because they are familiar with people handling them,” Ben Hoffman said. “As much interaction you have with these birds, decreases the shock value when you do handle them and have to transport them over two hours away. It can be five seconds. You can pick one up, set it down, and that can be the end (of its life). We only lost two birds of the 642 on the first run. The processor said they had never seen (a successful transport) like that before.”

Although there are other organic chicken farms in Indiana, Hoffman Certified Organics is the only farm of it’s kind that allows their chickens to be raised outdoors at pasture. It’s location is a fortunate one, with ACRES Land Trust, Issak Walton League and the Girl Scout Camp of Northern Indiana on its borders.

“It can be virtually impossible to guarantee your product will be organic. Out here, we are just so fortunate,” Don Hoffman said. “Being sandwiched between so many amazing preservationists makes over spray concerns nonexistent. It allows our farm property to exceed the USDA Organic regulations and ensure that our USDA Organic seal is trusted.”

Neither described the certification process as difficult, just that it provided a lot of hoops to jump through. The cost of certification through the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Agency is $1,300, but the farm was reimbursed $750 through a USDA grant. Water and soils must be tested, a daily feed log must be provided as well as a mortality rate. The farm is inspected on site and the certification must be renewed annually.

Hoffman Certified Organics will have its chicken for sale every Saturday at the Fort Wayne Farmer’s Market from 9 .a.m to 1 p.m. near the corner of Barr St. and Wayne St. It is also available at LaOtto Meats and can also be ordered for on-farm pickup. The brothers hope to start a delivery service in 2017.

“The whole organic idea is to grow local, be local and know who is raising the birds. Keep transportation and fuel costs low and be environmentally-friendly. That is how we wanted to start,” Don Hoffman said.

The company has just three other employees. Don’s wife, Stephanie, runs the office and handles accounting and sales operations. Ben’s fiance, Natalie, handles is the marketing and social media manager. Lastly, the boys’ mother, Dotsie, provides daily help.

Don also works for Asphalt Drum Mixer in Huntertown as a steal fabricator, parts cutter and welder and Ben works as a general contractor. They both still find time each day to spend 4-5 hours on the farm, where they also grow organic sweet corn. That, however, is not yet certified for resale.

“Chickens is enough for our plates right now, since we still have two jobs. Once we get used to it, we can ease into something else,” Don Hoffman said.

And they won’t eat them from anywhere else.

In Memory: Gene Logsdon

By Wendell Berry

Gene Logsdon was the first friend I made away from home who loved farming as much as I did. In 1970 I published a book of poems, Farming: A Hand Book. A copy went to the office of Farm Journal where Gene was then working, where he and my book were about equally misplaced, and where he and my book came together perhaps by mutual attraction. Gene, anyhow, read the book and came to see me.

https://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50235/images/Gene-and-his-wife-Carol-signing-books-at-the-2014-OEFFA-Conference.gif
Gene and wife Carol, OEFFA Conference 2014 book signing table

He drove in here on a bright morning in, as I remember, late spring, after my garden was well started. As I would eventually know, he was almost a perfect gardener. He also had been properly brought up and had good manners. He noticed politely that my strawberries were not quite as good as his. But as we stood looking and talking at the row-ends, I deduced easily that he was in general a better gardener then I was. He was in fact a better gardener than I was ever going to be. Like all the incidental differences between us, that hardly mattered.

From the garden, we went down to the rockbar by the river, sat down, and talked a long time. Our conversation revealed further differences, for we had grown up in different places and different cultures. But we had grown up farming, and with close to the same old ways of feeling and thinking about farming, ways that had come to Gene, I believe, mostly from his mother, and to me mostly from my father. And so our talk that day was full f the excitement at discovering how well we understood each other and how much we agreed. That was the start of a conversation that lasted 46 years and was for me a major life-support. It involved much talking face-to-face, much letter-writing, and phone-calling. It dealt with farming, gardening, our families and histories, other subjects of importance, but also unimportant subjects, and it was accompanied always by a lot of laughter. I have needed his writing, and have been especially delighted by his late-coming fiction, but I have needed even more his talk and his company. Gene was a great companion.

I have always enjoyed especially my memory of one of the trips we made together. It was another fine day, and we were driving in northeastern Ohio, looking for a land-restoration project we both were much interested in seeing. But we fell into our ongoing conversation as we might have fallen into a river that just carried us along. We talked intensely on and on about our urgent-as-usual agenda of subjects. When it finally occurred to us to wonder where we were, we found that we were a good many miles inside the state of Pennsylvania. It was a good day.

Gene’s last days were spent at home in the care and company of his family. His participation in this life ended on the morning of May 31. Not long before, when we lasted talked on the telephone, we were still in our conversation, telling our news, remembering things, thinking together, laughing. I’m sure it would be wrong to wish Gene had lived longer, for that would be only to wish him a longer illness. But for me, as I am sure for many others, his absence is large. I won’t cease to miss him. But I’m glad to think that my missing him will always remind me of him.

This article originally appeared in OEFFA’s summer newsletter, with the following editor’s note:

Prolific writer, farmer, and OEFFA member Eugene (Gene) Logsdon, age 84, passed away on May 31 at his home. Gene was born in Tiffin, Ohio and lived the majority of his life in his beloved Wyandot County with Carol, his wife of almost 55 years.

He inspired and entertained many readers and farmers through his collection of written work. He wrote more than 30 books and countless magazine articles on small-scale farming and sustainable living. Beginning in 1974, he wrote a weekly column for the Progressor Times and more recently began a popular blog called The Contrary Farmer.

OEFFA was privileged to have Gene as a supporter, advocate, and member; an annual guest of the conference, and a newsletter contributor. We’re deeply grateful to novelist, poet, activist, and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry for generously sharing memories of his friend Gene.

Flawed Genetic Engineering Labeling Bill Passes in the Senate

Statement by Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator

For Immediate Release: July 8, 2016

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org

The U.S. Senate passed S.764 last evening. The bill included a provision to address the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) food. The statement below is from OEFFA’s Policy Program Coordinator, Amalie Lipstreu.

We are disappointed that this bill, negotiated behind closed doors with a handful of special interests, was fast tracked on the Senate agenda with not a single hearing, despite the repeated finding that 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers want clear labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients. What has been hailed as a great “compromise” is a gift to biotech and food manufacturing companies, who will have three options for disclosure, one of which is a digital code that will require shoppers to stand in grocery store aisles with their smartphones, scan their purchases, and visit a website, before they have the information they need to make purchases. The bill contains no enforcement provisions and many—perhaps most—GE ingredients will be exempt from any labeling requirement. Passage of this bill means that U.S. citizens will be prevented from having the same rights as those in 64 other nations: the right to know if they are consuming food containing GE ingredients.

The USDA and the FDA issued what appear to be conflicting analyses of the bill. Questions remain as to what GE products will be labeled and how the labeling requirements will co-exist with other federally mandated labeling requirements. Despite these outstanding issues, the Senate passed the measure by a 63:30 margin.

Now is the time for President Obama to act on his campaign statements that the public has a right to know if their food is genetically engineered and veto the bill if it comes to his desk.  We have time to develop a national standard in the light of day and with the input of concerned citizens, scientists, and sustainable agriculture and food interests that relies on a clear label that simply states that the food includes GE ingredients.

Labeling Bill Leaves Public in the Dark

Contact: Amalie Lipstreu, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org; Renee Hunt, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org

For Immediate Release: June 24, 2016

Columbus, Ohio—A bill released by the U.S. Senate will continue to hide information about food with GE ingredients, according to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), a statewide sustainable food and farm not-for-profit.

“Although its being called a ‘national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods,’ this bill will keep Americans in the dark about what they eat and feed their families,” said Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator.

The bill gives food manufacturers three options for labeling of GE food: text on the label, a scan code for use with smart phones, and a symbol.

“The reality is that companies already have the option to use clear and honest labeling on the package and none have labeled their products until the threat of the Vermont law loomed,” said Lipstreu. “The action by the Senate protects chemical industry groups that want to obscure information on food produced using bioengineering and pesticides.”

Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) released the compromise bill on June 24, days before a Vermont law requiring mandatory on-package labeling of GE food is set to go into effect. This bill would preempt Vermont’s law and prevent any other state laws from taking effect.

The compromise bill would reduce label transparency by giving manufacturers the choice of replacing a clear and factual statement with an unfamiliar symbol or scan code—the latter a special burden for those without smart phones. The law would also exempt all meat, poultry, and egg products raised on GE feed and food where those GE products are the main ingredient.

“This so-called compromise puts the interests of the biotech industry ahead of the public and does not serve the people of this country,” said Lipstreu.

More than 60 countries have laws for straightforward labeling of GE food, which have not disrupted trade, or had negative impacts on consumers or the agricultural industry. “The marketplace is demanding a clear on-package statement. This bill will not deliver the information consumers seek,” said Lipstreu.

###

OEFFA is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

 

Correcting organic misinformation

Rural Life Today, 5/4/16

By Carol Goland, Ph.D

OEFFA Executive Director

COLUMBUS — Don “Doc” Sanders’ question (In his April Rural Life Today column) —“So, what’s better, organic or traditional farming”— is the wrong one to ask. Instead: “What do consumers want?” and “What will benefit farmers?” are the relevant questions.

Dr. Sanders brought up rbST; however, this issue has been decided in the court of consumer opinion. Consumers don’t want milk from cows injected with this drug. Arguing the merits of its benefits is beside the point. When grocery stores such as Kroger and juggernaut dairy processor Dean Foods state they don’t want to buy milk from farmers who use this product, it’s time to acknowledge the marketplace has spoken.

And the marketplace continues to speak: consumer demand for organic products has grown by double digits every year since the 1990s, with 84 percent of Americans now reporting they purchase organic food. Fresh produce and dairy are in the highest demand.

Consumers want what organic delivers: farming practices that maintain and improve the soil and water resources on which we all depend; eliminating the reliance on synthetic fertilizers that run off fields and pollute our waterways; enhancing biodiversity; animal health care practices that emphasize prevention; allowing ruminants to forage on grass and exhibit their natural behaviors; traceability from farm to table, and a prohibition on genetically engineered seeds and feed.

It’s unfortunate that Dr. Sanders’ column shared some misinformation about organic dairy production, such as the idea that antibiotic treatment is denied to cows that need it. The National Organic Program regulations require that “all appropriate medications must be used to restore an animal to health when methods acceptable to organic production fail.” If antibiotics are needed, they must be used; the animal must then be removed from the organic herd.

Organic is not about substituting an unacceptable input for an acceptable one. Instead, it’s about managing a system. It is that production system – in which a variety of clever and effective natural practices are used – that allows organic farmers to avoid using synthetic pesticides that, in turn, remain as residues on food.

Organic farmers have access to 25 synthetic active pest control products which have been evaluated for their environmental and human health effects and which are only allowed under a restricted set of conditions; over 900 pesticides are registered for use in conventional farming. It is these contrasts in production systems that produce the demonstrable differences in what Dr. Sanders calls “quality, purity, and nutritive value of organic versus conventional food.”

An organic livestock system relies on preventative health practices to reduce the risk of common diseases, and to ensure animal welfare and productivity.

We need veterinarians like Dr. Sanders to help organic livestock farmers understand what they can do to reduce risks in their farming operations, and help them manage those animals if they do get sick. This approach to livestock farming, and the systems used in organics, can benefit all herds— whether the farm is organic or conventional.

For more information about organic certification and livestock management, go to http://certification.oeffa.org/.

Carol Goland, Ph.D, is Executive Director of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.

Calls for Better Fracking Regulations on Day of Action

By Mary Kuhlman, 6/6/16, Ohio Public News Service

COLUMBUS, Ohio – While oil and gas drilling has slowed in Ohio in the past year, fracking opponents say the impacts continue to threaten the fabric of communities.

The Frackfree America National Coalition, based in Youngstown, on Tuesday is sponsoring a National Day of Action on fracking with events scheduled in Ohio and other states to call attention to problems associated with fracking, including toxic waste, pipelines, spills and leaks, and earthquakes linked to injection wells.

Amalie Lipstreu, policy program coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, says communities need more protection.

“People who depend on our government to protect us from these harmful environmental impacts are concerned because we don’t have those necessary regulations in place to protect communities from the harmful impacts of fracking,” she states.

Lipstreu notes that most gas drilling and extraction is exempt from the Safe Water Drinking Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

More than a dozen actions will be held Tuesday in Ohio, including an event at Bluebird Farm in Harrison County, an organic operation currently threatened by the proposed Utopia pipeline.

Supporters argue fracking supports more than 2 million jobs nationally and boosts local economies.

But Lipstreu counters that the short-term benefits do not outweigh the long-term costs to the water and land that communities rely on.

“The land is our grocery store, the grocery store for our families and communities,” she stresses. “And for those communities to thrive and survive, we really depend on that healthy land. ”

Lipstreu adds organic farms, which must meet strict guidelines for certification, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of fracking with 20 percent of all organic farms in the U.S. located within close proximity to a hydraulic fracturing operation.

Consumer Demand Pushes Cage-Free Egg Production In Ohio

By Sam Hendren • WOSU • 5/31/16

Ohio is the second largest egg-producing state in the U.S., and that means big industry changes as consumer demand pushes more retailers to move to cage free hens.

Several months ago, McDonald’s joined other retailers that want their eggs produced by cage-free hens. The fast food chain has considerable clout – they buy 2 billion eggs every year. Why the shift? Lauren Ketcham of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association says they’re responding to consumer demand.

“The more the public knows about how their food is produced, the more that environmental and animal welfare concerns are brought into the spotlight and industry is forced to change,” Ketcham says.

Hens that live in cage-free operations are fortunate. They live in larger enclosures, feasting on insects and and plantlife they can find.

Most hens used in ‘industrial’ egg production never go outside. Millions live out their lives in cages with about 60 square inches of space. Their warehousing is directly linked, say experts, to consumer expectations for low food prices.

“We have the richest country in the world but yet we pay the least amount of our per capita income for food. And so a lot of our management practices per se have really been driven by what consumers expect or are willing to pay for food,” says Michael Lilburn an Ohio State University animal science professor..

But now it seems consumers are willing to pay more if their eggs are produced under different conditions. In response, egg producers want the Ohio Department of Agriculture to allow them to make changes in their operations. The department’s Kevin Elder.

“There are several facilities that are asking to change their permit to allow them to go construct or remodel to newer styles for the cage free,” Elder says.

Elder says that converting to cage-free egg production will be expensive. Fewer hens can be housed in cage-free buildings so additional housing has to be constructed.

“It will cost a lot of money. The cost is tremendous. Many of these buildings, just to remodel, are millions of dollars for 100,000 birds. So as you get more and more numbers and more buildings and new facilities the investment is pretty amazing,” Elder says.

Those cage-free hens need more heat and eat more feed than their caged counterparts, says OSU’s Lilburn, who says the price-tag for all of this is a mystery.

“I don’t know that we really know what the cost of the cage-free systems are going to be over time,” Lilburn says.

On its website, Versailles, Ohio-based egg producer Weaver Brothers ‘crows’ about building new organic, cage-free farms that will house several million birds. Repeated phone calls requesting an interview went unanswered. I asked the Ohio Poultry Association’s Jim Chakeres about that. He told me, “Mr. Weaver will not be talking.” I asked Chakeres if producers are reluctant to speak.

“Maybe reluctant’s not the right word. They’re just not sure how all of this is coming together and so there’s just not a lot to discuss at this time,” Chakeres says.

It’s unclear what the cage-free conversion means for Ohio’s economy. Ohio produces approximately 9 billion eggs a year.

Cage-free is also not a panacea says the agriculture department’s Kevin Elder.

“The cost per bird is a lot higher with the cage-free. The loss of eggs is higher because there’s more of a chance for damage. There’s potentially more exposure to Salmonella and other diseases because of those changes,” Elder says.

Experts say the cost of cage-free produced eggs will be more expensive, but still affordable.

Canal Market could be game changer for county farmers

By Anna Jeffries, 5/24/16, The Newark Advocate

NEWARK – The last few weeks have been busy on Janell Baran’s farm.

She’s working to get hundreds of logs ready for mushroom season while also harvesting new crops of shiitakes. As she prepares to plant her next crop of herbs, she’s also working on drying plants and organizing her inventory.

She loves what she does. But there’s nothing cute or whimsical about it. It’s hard work, and it’s how she makes her living.

A regular vendor at the Granville and Worthington farmers markets, she’ll start selling her herbs, teas and mushrooms at the Canal Market District in a few weeks.

She’s hoping new clients will increase her bottom line. If the market is a success, it can make a big difference for her business, Blue Owl Garden Emporium, and many other small businesses in the area.

“Licking County is one of the largest agriculture counties in the state, and we have a lot of small farmers, especially in the eastern part of the county,” she said. “I see small farmers (at the market) having the opportunity to get their foot in the door.”

An opportunity for smaller farms

Licking County has strong roots in agriculture, which is a major driver in the local economy. But in a more urban area such as downtown Newark, that isn’t always clear, said Jeremy King, sustainability coordinator for Denison University and a board member for the Canal Market District and Enterprise Hub.

“It’s a huge industry here, and I don’t think people always fully comprehend that,” he said.

But the current economic system focuses on large farms growing commodity crops, such as corn and soybeans.

Smaller farms have to diversify their crops to stay afloat. And the Canal Market gives those businesses a chance to get their products directly to consumers, said Carol Goland, executive director of Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association and a member of the Canal Market board.

“Farmers markets are a great outlet for small scale farmers who have relatively small volumes of produce, compared to an enormous distributor,” she said.  “I think it potentially helps people stay in farming. But the economic benefit goes beyond the farms and farmers themselves.”

There’s a perception out there that farmers markets are quaint experiences or tourist attractions. But Bryn Bird, director of the Canal Market, said the vendors at the market have a different perspective.

“(Farming) is our lives, and with this market, Newark is putting local food as a leader of economic development,” she said. “We want people to see us as small businesses.  A lot of citizens act like farm markets are ‘cute.’ We are saying this is going to revitalize Newark.”

Benefits beyond the market

The success of the Canal Market will do much more than just increase the availability of fresh food, Bird said.

Permanent markets have many “spinoff benefits” for their communities, including job creation and increased revenue.

A 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture study on local food marketing channels found that farms that sell some of their produce locally offer more full time jobs than farms with no local sales.

Another study by Arizona found that farmers markets and other forms of “agricultural tourism” generate $1 million a year, which lead to additional economic activity of $900,000 in each county studied.

And those positives don’t include the benefits to other downtown businesses near the Canal Market.

Goland cited a 2003 study from the Project for Public Spaces, which surveyed 800 farmers market shoppers across the country

About 60 percent of the people surveyed said they visited nearby stores the same day they visited the farmers market. Those shoppers said they visited those stores only on the days they went to the market.

Harder to measure, but equally as important, is the ability for small farmers and businesses to come together at the market, Goland said.

“A farmers market is low risk, almost like an incubator for an entrepreneur or farmer to grow their business and test out new products,” she said. “They learn from their customers and they get feedback.”

When Baran was just starting out, going to farmers markets helped her realize she wanted to continue to grow her business.

“It’s a tough economic decision to decide to expand,” she said. “(A market is) a great place to figure out if they want to do that. They can make connections and figure out what’s involved and see if they want to do this for a living.”

Focus on the future

Another reason Baran was drawn to the Canal Market was its board’s commitment to thinking about the future.

“They are thinking the right way of making it a local food economy, not just a tourism economy. The tourism economy is going to come if they do it right,” she said. “They are making it about people.”

The first priority is to get the Canal Market up and running. But the district also is focused on long-term planning through its enterprise hub, Bird said.

She’s hoping to add a bulk market for people looking for large quantities of produce. She also is working toward starting a wholesale market so local restaurants can do their shopping downtown.

The board is working on a feasibility study to try to open a food processing facility in Newark that would include cold storage and equipment to package and process produce, King said.

That would be a game changer for local farmers in many ways, he said.

Large buyers, such as schools or hospitals, need lots of produce every day to meet their needs. Most small farmers don’t grow enough on their own to fulfill those requests.

But if 10 farmers each sell 100 pounds of potatoes to the processing hub, they could be combined there and made in to hash browns to sell to a larger business.

That’s just one example of how the hub could be a win for the farmers and local businesses, King said.

“You can set up relationships with other farmers or a large entity,” he said. “You can set up a business relationship between farms.”

Access to a processing facility would help Baran expand her inventory. She could start making new dehydrated items, mustards, oils, vinegars and other items that her customers would be excited to buy.

“Right now I can either build my own (facility) or go to one in Columbus, and for me that’s too far,” she said. “It’s not really cost effective, and I can’t make forward progress.”

But first, she’s looking forward to setting up her booth at this year’s market and seeing how things progress through the season.

“They are focused on evolution, on innovation and change,” she said. “That’s what our markets nowadays need to be doing.”

Ohio Organic Farm in Path of Pipelines Joins National Day of Action on Fracking

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2016
 .
Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Mick Luber, Bluebird Farm, (740) 945-0217, bluebirdorganicfarm@gmail.com
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

Cadiz, OH—One of Ohio’s first certified organic farms, under threat by fracking and pipeline development, will be hosting a farm tour as part of a National Day of Action on Fracking Tuesday, June 7.

For decades, Mick Luber of Bluebird Farm in Cadiz, Ohio has grown organic vegetables and other crops on his 65 acre farm, which serves markets in Wheeling and Pittsburgh.

Luber’s farm is located within a half mile of three wells and a compressor station, and two pipelines are being built and planned just south of the farm. Now, if a legal agreement is not reached, a third pipeline—Kinder-Morgan’s Utopia pipeline—would cross his farm’s most productive field, carrying ethylene and propane to plastics manufacturing plants in Canada.

“Organic farms across Ohio are in the path of fracking, pipelines, and injection wells. We’re inviting the public to stand with Mick and other farmers who are stewarding the land, to see firsthand what’s at stake if we lose these farms, and to learn how they can join us in saving organic farmland,” event organizer Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) said.

Luber says, if built, the Utopia pipeline would permanently damage his land and his business.

“You can’t work on soil for 30 plus years, adding compost to make the soil enliven with bacteria, earthworms, and mycelium and watch it be destroyed by bulldozers and track hoes,” Luber said, noting his farm could not be restored to its present state of soil life and structure no matter how good the company’s reclamation efforts.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. at Bluebird Farm, 86663 Fife Rd., Cadiz, OH and is part of a National Day of Action on Fracking organized by the Frackfree America National Coalition based in Youngstown designed to bring attention to the impacts of fracking, including property damage, water pollution, earthquakes, fires, and explosions.

According to a 2015 report by FracTracker analyzing 703 organic farms in Ohio, 220 were near current drilling activity, 105 were near waste disposal injection wells, and 510 were within a U.S. shale basin. Water or soil contamination from fracking activities or accidents could jeopardize a farm’s organic certification.
 .
“In addition to production and injection wells, the energy industry is now weaving a web of pipelines and compressor stations across Ohio, impacting waterways, farmland, forests, cultural resources, and residential communities,” Lipstreu said. “Besides the potential risks of explosions and contamination, these pipelines threaten the future of some of Ohio’s most sustainable farms.”
 .
This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is encouraged. To register, contact Eric Pawlowski at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209 or eric@oeffa.org by June 3. Visitors are invited to bring a dish to share and drinks for a potluck and social following the tour. Representatives from the nonprofit environmental law firm, Fair Shake Legal Services, will be available to discuss landowner rights and answer pipeline questions.
.

###

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Cost-Share Program Helps Make Organic Certification Affordable for Farmers and Processors

For Immediate Release:
May 23, 2016

Contact:
Carol Goland, OEFFA, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, cgoland@oeffa.org
Lori Panda, Ohio Department of Agriculture, (614) 466-8798, lori.panda@agri.ohio.gov
Peter Wood, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, (202) 720-6179, peter.wood@ams.usda.gov

Columbus, OH—This May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that $369,100 is available through the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program to make organic certification more affordable for organic producers and handlers in Ohio. A total of approximately $11.6 million is available to organic operations across the country.

This funding covers as much as 75 percent of an individual applicant’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 annually per certification scope. Four scopes of certification are eligible for reimbursement: crops, wild crops, livestock, and handler.

“The organic market is booming, with more and more producers taking advantage of the economic opportunities it presents,” AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer said.  “The cost-share program makes it easier for organic businesses throughout the supply chain to get certified, helping them meet growing consumer demand.”

Retail sales of organic products grew to more than $39 billion in the United States in 2014 and more than $75 billion worldwide, according to the USDA.

Since 2011, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has partnered with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) to administer Ohio’s cost-share program.

“The cost-share program is utilized by about 45 percent of Ohio’s nearly 800 organic farmers,” OEFFA Executive Director Carol Goland said. “We encourage more organic farmers to take advantage of this opportunity, which can help make becoming—or staying—certified more affordable.”

Reimbursable costs include application fees, certification fees, travel costs for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments, and postage. The program is currently reimbursing for expenses paid between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016.  Applications for reimbursement must be postmarked by November 15, 2016, although requests are processed monthly.

Organic farmers and processors in Ohio can access the reimbursement application from OEFFA’s website at http://certification.oeffa.org/costshare or by calling (614) 262-2022.

Certified organic producers and handlers outside of Ohio can find the contact information for their administrating agencies at www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostSharing.

###

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

About OEFFA
Investment Fund
OEFFA Policy
News
Growers Resources
Apprentice Program
OEFFA Store