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.

A First-Hand View of Sustainable Agriculture in Ohio

By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service
May 16, 2016
A summer farm tour in Ohio features operations that use sustainable and organic practices. (OEFFA)
Photo: Mile Creek Farm

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dozens of farmers and growers around the state will kick off summer by opening their gates and sharing their agricultural know-how with Ohioans.

Thirty-two farm tours and 10 workshops will be featured between June and November during the 2016 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association is sponsoring 21 of the events, and communications coordinator Lauren Ketcham says it’s a chance to see, taste and experience life on a farm and learn about where food comes from.

“Consumers gain a greater understanding of how food gets from the field to the dinner table,” says Ketcham. “Seeing can be a more powerful experience than reading something in a book or on a website.”

The tours include opportunities to see sustainable beekeeping, as well as operations that produce grass-fed beef, poultry, vegetables and herbs. And Ketcham notes they are free and family-friendly.

Ketcham says consumer interest in sustainable, local foods continues to grow, and those who attend the tours will get an inside look at organic practices at some of the farms.

“Operations that are using chemical-free production methods, who are raising heritage-breed livestock and pasturing those animals rather than raising them in confinement,” says Ketcham. “Implementing sustainable production practices like cover crops and crop rotation.”

The tour series has been offered by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association for more than 40 years, and Ketcham notes the farmers and growers have developed a support network.

“They’ve made life-long connections,” she says. “So it’s a great chance for farmers and gardeners to share that production and marketing know-how; to share the wisdom that they’ve developed through their hands-on experiences.”

A tour guide is available online at oeffa.org.

See, Taste, and Experience Life on the Farm During Annual Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series: 2016 Guide Now Available

For Immediate Release: May 10, 2016

Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209, eric@oeffa.org
.

Columbus, OH—Do you want to learn about sustainable beekeeping, biochar, profitable poultry production, raising high quality grass-fed beef, or improving your forages? Would you like to enjoy a leisurely stroll through organic fields and pastures and visit with farm animals? Or take a farm stand with an organic farmer threatened by pipeline development?

You’ll have opportunities to do all this and more during the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s 21 summer farm tours and workshops, which are part of the 2016 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

“This is a great chance for everyone interested in local foods to grow their farm knowledge and to build bridges with others who share a passion for sustainable agriculture,” said Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA’s Communications Coordinator. “These tours and workshops allow farmers and gardeners to share production and market know-how with each other and help consumers gain a greater understanding of how food gets from the field to the dinner table.”

Meet knowledgeable local farmers ready to share their wisdom, and experience sustainable agriculture up close during these farm tours:
  • Tuesday, June 7: Take an Organic Farm Stand Tour—Bluebird Farm, Harrison Co.
  • Saturday, June 25: Pasture-Raised, Rotationally Grazed Livestock Farm Tour—Pastured Providence Farmstead, Ross Co.
  • Saturday, July 9: Historic Farm Tour and Biochar Workshop—Gorman Heritage Farm, Hamilton Co.
  • Saturday, July 9: Sustainable Beekeeping Farm Tour and Workshop—Stratford Ecological Center, Delaware Co.
  • Friday, July 15: Quality Forage for Dairy Operations Farm Tour—Heckman Family Dairy, Darke Co.
  • Saturday, August 13: Quality Hay and Grass-Fed Beef Farm Tour—Wood Farm, IN
  • Friday, August 19: Organic Compost Farm Tour—Hirzel Canning Company and Farms, Wood Co.
  • Friday, September 16: On-Farm Research Farm Tour—Crumrine Farms, Ashland Co.
  • Saturday, October 11: Pasture-Raised Multi-Species Livestock Farm Tour—Sweet Grass Dairy, Knox Co.

Develop your production skills and gain important food safety knowledge during these practical on-farm workshops:

  • Saturday, June 11: Loin Eye Carcass Ultrasound Scanning—The Spicy Lamb Farm, Summit Co.
  • Monday, June 20: Find Your Path to Clean Water: Food Safety Water Quality Standards and Testing Protocols for Produce Growers—MTSO’s Seminary Hill Farm, Delaware Co.
  • Friday, June 24: Raising the Steaks: Finishing the Finest Beef on Grass—White Clover Farm, Highland Co.
  • Friday, August 5: Profitable Poultry in Motion: Maximizing Performance From Your Pastured Flock—Breakneck Acres, Portage Co.
  • Thursday, September 22 and November 10: Season Creation: Pay for Your High Tunnel in Six Months Harvesting Food Through the Winter—Mustard Seed Market at Highland Square, Summit Co., Gorman Heritage Farm, Franklin Co.

Visit with OEFFA member farms during these annual open houses:

  • Saturday, June 11: Snowville Creamery and Find A Way Farm, Meigs Co.
  • Sunday, June 26: Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, Franklin Co.
  • Sunday, September 18: Carriage House Farm, Hamilton Co.

This series is promoted in cooperation with The Ohio State University Extension Sustainable Agriculture Team, Advancing Eco Agriculture, Ashtabula Local Food Council, Columbus Agrarian Society, and Our Harvest Research and Education Institute, who are sponsoring additional tours and workshops.

All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise indicated in the series brochure.

For more information and complete details for all workshops and farm tours, click here.

Ohio Group: Food Labeling Shouldn’t be Controversial

By Mary Kuhlman, Ohio News Service, 3/7/16

COLUMBUS, Ohio – While the issue of genetic engineering is controversial, some Ohio groups say giving people honest information about the foods they consume should not be.

Last week, the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee approved its version of what opponents call the DARK Act, which stands for Deny Americans the Right to Know.

It essentially would block any mandatory labeling of food that contains genetically modified ingredients.

Amalie Lipstreu, policy program coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, argues the bill denies consumers information about the food they eat and feed their families.

“Any legislation that codifies voluntary labeling fails to respond to the will of the American people, who reiterated in numerous surveys that they want this information,” she states.

Those in favor of the measure say mandatory food labeling would be expensive for both businesses and consumers.

The legislation introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) also would call for the Department of Agriculture to promote the benefits of agricultural biotechnology.

Lipstreu contends that would create an uneven playing field that would hinder organic farming practices.

Lipstreu explains that consumers are concerned about the use of pesticides, and want to know more about the nutritional value of the food they purchase. She says these opinions are reflected by changes in the marketplace.

“As they become more educated, they can see some of the negative effects of the corporate industrial food system and have been increasing their purchase of food that is organic, local, and sustainably grown,” she points out.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association is among food and farm policy groups pledging to fight the DARK Act. And Lipstreu is hopeful Ohio’s congressional leaders do not succumb to pressure.

“We hope as this bill advances to the full Senate, Sens. (Sherrod) Brown and (Rob) Portman do not support that bill,” she says. “There are options to find common ground and to advance some legislation that truly reflects the will of the American people. ”

Brown is on the Senate Agriculture Committee and did not support the bill in committee.

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