Organic Certification: Creating a Sustainable Future

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service – OH, 11/12/18

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The end of the harvest signals the start of prep work for the next planting season.

And an increasing number of farmers and producers in Ohio also are preparing for a transition to organic certification.

Kim Bayer operates a mixed vegetable operation, and recently became certified as an organic producer. She says the process is a bit tedious, but well worth it.

Bayer was already doing some outreach to community members about what it takes to bring food to the table, and she sees becoming organic as part of creating a sustainable future.

“It’s kind of a shorthand way of communicating that this food was grown with the highest standards of promoting health for the environment, for the community and for individuals,” she states. “When people know the farm that they’re buying the food from, they care more about the place where they live.”

According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data, there are 575 certified organic operations in Ohio – a number that rose 24 percent between 2015 and 2016.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association currently certifies more than 1,300 organic farms and food operations in Ohio and eight other states in the region, and it offers resources to farmers who want to make the transition.

Bayer says one of the educators there helped her feel less intimidated by the process, which can take more than three years.

“Honestly, I was scared to death at the beginning of it, but she really helped me understand step-by-step what was needed,” Bayer relates. “So, she really provided a lot of guidance and made me see that it was really, really doable. ”

At Bayer’s farm, people can pick their own produce, which she says allows them to see, smell, touch, and better understand local foods.

“It gives people a different and a deeper experience of the incredible range of flavors and colors, and shapes and sizes, and people start thinking about how little choice there is in a grocery store,” she states. “We don’t even know the names of the varieties in the grocery store that were grown to travel well instead of taste good.”

Ohio ranks seventh among states for its number of organic farms, with more than 54,000 acres of certified cropland.

Ohio Coal Mine Permitting Process Fails to Protect Rural Communities and Taxpayers: Westmoreland Bankruptcy Leaves Future of Ohio Mines Uncertain

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), a statewide organization promoting sustainable and organic agriculture, is raising serious questions about the state of Ohio’s coal mine permitting and remediation funding processes, following news that Westmoreland Coal Company, which has 64 mines in Ohio, has filed for bankruptcy.
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“It’s unbelievable that the state could issue permits to a mining company currently in bankruptcy proceedings,” said OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu. “We shouldn’t be gambling Ohio taxpayer money and our rural communities on a collapsing industry.”
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Westmoreland, and its local subsidiary Oxford Mining Company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 9. Despite being financially insolvent, the company has sought permission from a Texas bankruptcy court to continue operations and seek new permits in Ohio, including a 554 acre proposed coal mine in the Perry State Forest. Permit applications for the project are pending with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).
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While Westmoreland seeks to auction its current Ohio mines by the spring, it’s unclear if any companies will be interested in acquiring Oxford’s mines and the company has no sales contracts beyond 2019.
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Currently, a company’s financial health is not usually considered as part of the state’s permitting process. If a company posts $2,500 per acre to Ohio’s bond pool, the Reclamation Forfeiture Fund (RFF), and they meet other requirements, ODNR and OEPA will issue the required permits.
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The bond payment is designed to ensure that mine sites are reclaimed if a company should forfeit its obligations, but the actual costs of reclamation between 2000-2016 averaged more than $7,000 per acre. Last summer, Ohio transferred $5 million out of the RFF, further underfunding this emergency reserve, and leaving it up to $130 million short to cover Westmoreland’s outstanding reclamation costs, according to a 2018 analysis by the Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council. As a direct result of the transfer, the federal government has called into question Ohio’s ability to meet its obligations under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Adding to concerns about abandoned coal mines, in its bankruptcy filing, Westmoreland described its obligations for reclamation and restoration of sites and protection of water quality as “burdensome regulations.”
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“For mines that are no longer producing, it will be difficult for Westmoreland to find buyers and there is great risk that the company will forfeit its bonds and not reclaim the land, leaving Ohio’s rural communities with nothing but empty promises and degraded lands,” said Lipstreu. “It’s unclear what steps are being taken to ensure Ohio receives funds for reclamation costs from Westmoreland and the bankruptcy court.”
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“Public lands are a solid investment, generating economic and social returns for the state and local communities. In the case of the Perry State Forest proposal, the farmers adjacent to the land operate in a way that protects natural resources, provides nutrient-dense food to their community, and contributes to the social and economic viability of the region. In addition to being a net economic loss to Ohioans, the lack of fiscal and social responsibility epitomized by this project will lead to a considerable loss of social and economic capital.”
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With $1.4 billion in debt and only $770 million in assets, Westmoreland’s bankruptcy has been long-anticipated. The announcement came as local farmers and community members fight a proposed Oxford coal mine in the Perry State Forest, which would impact thousands of local residents and recreational visitors. OEPA held a hearing in New Lexington, Ohio earlier this month which drew more than 100 community members who universally expressed opposition to the project. Under pressure from the community, Oxford withdrew its plans for its Johnson Run mine in Athens County earlier this summer.
“State legislators must protect Ohioans and our public lands from projects that leave taxpayers and local residents holding the bag. We can and should invest in clean energy solutions that contribute to strong local and regional economies,” Lipstreu concluded.
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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.
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Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, amalie@oeffa.org

Reimbursement for Certification Makes Organic an Even Better Deal for Farmers and Processors

For Immediate Release:

June 20, 2018

Contact:

Carol Goland, OEFFA, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, cgoland@oeffa.org

ODA Communications, (614) 752-9817, agrcommunications@agri.ohio.gov

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) announced that $285,000 is available through the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program to make organic certification more affordable for organic producers and handlers in Ohio.

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.

Retail sales of organic products grew to nearly $50 billion in the United States in 2017, an increase of 6.4 percent from the previous year, and six times faster than the overall food market, according to the Organic Trade Association.

Since 2011, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has partnered with OEFFA to administer Ohio’s cost-share program.

“Ohio is a national leader in the number of organic farms and top 10 in terms of the value of organic milk, eggs, and spelt produced in the state,” said Carol Goland, executive director of OEFFA.

Not all of the nearly 1,000 Ohio organic operations fully utilize the cost-share program. “We encourage more organic businesses to take advantage of this opportunity, which can help make becoming—or staying—certified more affordable,” said Goland.

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, 2017 and September 30, 2018. Applications for reimbursement must be postmarked by November 15, 2018, although requests are processed monthly. County Farm Service Agency offices also accept and process requests for cost-share reimbursements.

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.

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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.

Strong Bipartisan Farm Bill Passes Senate Agriculture Committee: OEFFA Commends Senator Brown and Committee in Supporting a Strong Draft Bill

For Immediate Release:

June 13, 2018

Contact:

Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator (614) 421-2022, amalie@oeffa.org

Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org

Columbus, OH–Today, in the process of passing a 2018 Farm Bill, the Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry passed a strong draft farm bill by a vote of 20 to 1.

“The Senate Agriculture Committee worked across party lines and produced a comprehensive bill correcting many of the shortfalls in the failed House bill,” said Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

The Senate bill scales up investments in local and regional food and farm markets which provide opportunities for increased farm profitability, community health, and economic viability through the Local Agriculture Market Program championed by Senator Sherrod Brown.

This provision provides permanent mandatory funding for local food production initiatives that can be utilized by the more than 20 local food councils in Ohio, small to mid-scale farmers that direct market their products, and those that process those products and create more jobs in their communities.

It makes important policy improvements to crop insurance and conservation programs, invests in domestic organic agriculture, provides the resources and authority to protect the integrity of the organic marketplace and, according to Ranking Member Senator Debbie Stabenow, “builds the bench for the next generation” by making long-term investments in beginning farmer and rancher programs.

During the committee debate Senator Sherrod Brown spoke to the importance of conservation programs as farmers work to mitigate the water quality issues we face. The Senate bill makes no overall cuts to the conservation title; the House version cut this by more than $800 million.

“While the bill fails to make meaningful reforms to farm subsidy programs to limit economic and farm concentration, it provides a solid foundation for farm bill negotiations on the Senate floor and in future negotiations with the House of Representatives,” said Lipstreu.

“OEFFA appreciates Senator Brown’s strong leadership on this bill and for representing the needs of family farmers, organic and sustainable agriculture, and communities working to increase health through the provision of local and regionally produced and organic food,” Lipstreu concluded.

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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.

2018 Farm Tour and Workshop Series Gives Public Opportunity to Experience Life on the Farm

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2018
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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—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and its partners invite you to stroll through organic fields, learn about pastured livestock production and forest farming, consider a career in farming, discover how to grow and prepare nutrient-dense food, learn how to scale up vegetable production and improve marketing strategies, or take advantage of other learning opportunities during the 2018 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

In addition to OEFFA’s 20 summer farm tours, workshops, and special events, five urban agriculture-focused farm tours, presented by Central State University Extension, will showcase ideas for how to farm in the city and address community food security.
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“This series allows farmers and gardeners to share production know-how with each other, build connections among our farming community, and strengthen our food system,” said Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator at OEFFA. “It also helps the public learn how sustainably produced food is grown from farmers ready to share their knowledge.”
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Tour guests can experience sustainable agriculture up close during these OEFFA farm tours:

  • Thursday, June 7: Cultivation and Weed Control in Organic Systems Field Day—University of Kentucky Horticulture Research Farm, Kentucky
  • Wednesday, June 13: Mechanical Weed Control Farm Tour—Venture Heritage Farm, Wayne Co.
  • Saturday, June 16: Poultry Processing Tour—King and Sons Poultry Services, Darke Co.
  • Sunday, July 22: Diversified Direct Marketing Farm Tour—Thistle Rock Farm, Indiana
  • Friday, August 3: Organic Cash Grain Farm Tour—Kauffman Farms, Madison Co.
  • Saturday, August 11: Transitional Orchard Farm Tour—Honey Blossom Orchard, Henry Co.
  • Tuesday, August 14: Pastured Beef, Hay, and Grain Farm Tour—Mound View Farms, Adams Co.
  • Saturday, August 25: Pastured Beef and Conservation Easement Farm Tour—Marshy Meadows Farm, Ashtabula Co.
  • Thursday, August 30: Organic Grain Trials and Transition Farm Tour—Sonlight Acres/Morning Sun Farm, Preble Co.
  • Saturday, September 22: Native Medicinal Plant Conservation Forest Farming Tour—United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary, Meigs Co.

The public can tour urban agriculture projects during these Central State University Extension farm tours:

  • Saturday, July 7: Non-Profit Urban Educational Farm Tour—Project Aquastar at St. Stephens Community House Franklin Co.
  • Saturday, July 21: Value-Added Urban Production Farm Tour—Hooper Farm, Cuyahoga Co.
  • Saturday, August 18: Changing the Landscape of Urban Agriculture Tour—Urban Agriculture Alliance at Jackson Industries, Lucas Co.
  • Saturday, August 25: Urban Farm Collective Farm Tour—Urban Earth Farms, Hamilton Co.
  • Sunday, September 23: Regenerative, Year-Round Urban Market Farm Tour—Dayton Urban Grown Training Farm/Mission of Mary Farm, Montgomery Co.

Attendees can develop their production and marketing skills, explore a dream to farm, learn how to select farmland, and more during these OEFFA workshops:

  • Saturday, June 23: Listening to the Land: Tools and Strategies for Land Assessment Workshop—Agraria, Greene Co.
  • Sunday, July 22: Growing and Preparing Nutrient-Dense Food for Better Health and Resilient Communities Workshop—Wyatt Run Farm and Ecology Center, Athens Co.
  • Sunday, August 5: Farm Vision Workshop—OEFFA, Franklin Co.
  • Saturdays, October 13-February 2: Heartland Farm Beginnings® Training Course—OEFFA, Franklin Co.
  • Friday, November 30-Saturday, December 1: Scale Your Farm Production and Marketing Strategies So You Can Grow Profits Workshop—Mustard Seed Market & Cafe at Highland Square, Summit Co.
Other opportunities include these OEFFA member open houses and special events:
  • Saturday, June 9: Snowville Creamery Open House, Meigs Co.
  • Sunday, July 15: Foraged & Sown Open House, Franklin Co.
  • Sunday, August 19: 4th Annual Dinner Celebration at Maplestar Farm—Maplestar Farm, Geauga Co.
  • Sunday, September 9: Carriage House Farm Open House, Hamilton Co.
  • Saturday, October 27: Pastured Providence Farmstead Open House, Ross Co.

“OEFFA has offered annual farm tours for nearly four decades; farmers sharing knowledge with other farmers has always been at the core of our work. This series provides unique on-farm opportunities for growers, educators, and conscientious eaters to learn about sustainable agriculture and local foods from growers and producers with years of practical experience,” Pawlowski said.

This series, which features 31 total events, is also promoted in cooperation with the Clintonville Farmers’ Market and the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance, who are sponsoring additional tours.

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.

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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.

Draft Farm Bill Needs Significant Improvement to Address the Needs of Today’s Farmers

For Immediate Release:
April 16, 2018

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org
 
COLUMBUS, OH—The draft farm bill released last week by House Agriculture Chairman Conaway (R-TX) does not adequately address farmers’ needs or protect natural resources, according to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

While the 2014 Farm Bill included mandatory funding for the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program, the current House draft eliminates all mandatory funding, necessitating a yearly battle to secure resources for programs that provide local communities with healthy food and provide high value markets for many beginning and organic farmers. These farmers will also be hurt by the total elimination of funding for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, which helps offset the annual costs of U.S. Department of Agriculture organic certification.

“OEFFA vehemently opposes cutting the cost-share program. We have more demand for organic food than farmers are able to supply, and this program helps beginning and transitioning farmers enter what is a real bright spot in American agriculture,” said OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu.
    
“The draft farm bill also leaves out many other important provisions critical for beginning farmers at a time when they are needed most,” continued Lipstreu.

The House draft eliminates the Risk Management Education Partnership Program, which helps ensure that beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers better understand and use risk management tools. It also fails to include an innovative proposal within the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (HR 4316) that would make it easier for new farmers to access revenue-based crop insurance policies.

“As the next farm bill is implemented, due to an aging farmer population, almost 100 million acres will change hands,” said Lipstreu. “It is important that we equip the next generation of farmers with the tools they need for success.”

According to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office released Friday, funding for working lands programs would be cut by about $5 billion. The largest conservation program for working agricultural land, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), would be totally eliminated, withlimited aspects of the program rolled into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
  
“Cherry picking a few components of CSP to be included in the EQIP program is detrimental to comprehensive conservation planning and a disincentive to farmers who choose to implement advanced conservation practices on an ongoing basis,” said Lipstreu. “These programs have a small budget footprint but they deliver high value to our communities, including local economic development, job creation and retention, and quality of life.”

Lipstreu said OEFFA is pleased to see some positive provisions in this bill, but they are overshadowed by the elimination of tools and resources to help farmers and communities become more sustainable.
  
“We urge members of the House and Senate to recognize the value of these programs and work toward a bill that fully supports beginning farmers, local and regional food systems, and community health,” Lipstreu concluded.
 
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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

OEFFA Announces 2018 Award Recipients: Larry and Cynthia Ringer and Sean McGovern Recognized

For Immediate Release:
February 19, 2018
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Contact:
Carol Goland, OEFFA Executive Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, cgoland@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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Press Release
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COLUMBUS, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has named the 2018 recipients for the Stewardship and Service awards.
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Larry and Cynthia Ringer of Stark County received the Stewardship Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community, and Sean McGovern of Franklin County received the Service Award, which recognizes extraordinary service in support of sustainable agriculture.
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The announcements were made on Saturday, February 17 in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change.
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2018 Stewardship Award Winner—Larry and Cynthia Ringer
Larry and Cynthia Ringer founded Ohio Earth Food in 1972 with Cynthia’s family, in the midst of the chemical agriculture boom. At the time, they were working on the vegetable farm of Cynthia’s dad and early organic farmer, Glenn Graber. After observing the benefits of kelp and concerned about the effects of conventional farming on the environment and human health, they realized there could be an emergent market for organic fertilizers, and started selling kelp products and rock phosphate.
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“We were in the organic business before organic was the buzzword it is today,” Larry said. “If we work with nature, nature responds better than we expect it to.”Larry and Cynthia started the company on the Graber farm in Hartville, where they’ve lived for more than 70 years. Today, Ohio Earth Food has expanded to sell custom fertilizer blends, feed supplements, natural pesticides, potting soils, and other products to customers throughout the U.S. They retired in 2010, but remain involved in the business as consultants.“We really didn’t know what we were doing. We just knew that we had a desire and we believed in it,” said Larry. “If we hadn’t believed in it, we never would have stuck it out. Because it wasn’t an easy thing to do.”

They have been active in OEFFA since its beginning. Larry served seven years on the OEFFA certification committee and has taught conference workshops, and Ohio Earth Food has been a fixture at every OEFFA conference trade show for nearly 40 years.

“In many ways, Larry, Cynthia, and Ohio Earth Food helped support a quickly evolving organic movement in Ohio, at a time that farmers were first beginning to look for alternatives to chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” said OEFFA Executive Director Carol Goland.

2018 Service Award Winner—Sean McGovern
Sean McGovern has been the National Outreach Manager at the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program since 2004. There, he helps to educate farmers and agricultural professionals about the results of SARE-funded farmer-led research projects; develop educational partnerships between organizations, educators, and producers; evaluate the impact of programs, and develop and improve SARE communications and database tools.

Sean has worked at OEFFA since 1994, continuing as an OEFFA employee in his capacity with SARE. He was first hired by OEFFA as a part-time secretary, about a year after graduating from Ohio State University. As OEFFA grew, Sean’s title shifted to Executive Administrator and eventually to Executive Director. He worked to develop productive partnerships with Ohio State University Extension and advocated for the creation of a new Organic Food and Farming Education and Research (OFFER) program, leading to the first organic production research at OSU. He focused on providing affordable educational programs that OEFFA’s members wanted, growing the membership base, and putting administrative systems in place that facilitated future growth.

“I will tell you that I am blessed to have learned so much from the OEFFA family,” Sean said. “What an opportunity it was for a young, impressionable young man like myself to be invited into a community of people wrestling with the practical issues of building a more sustainable world. I will forever be thankful to all of the OEFFA members who are living proof that leading a kind and mindful life is a choice, not a pipe-dream.” He received a standing ovation from the audience following his remarks.

“We at OEFFA are grateful to Sean McGovern for his nearly 25 years of service to OEFFA and to the sustainable agriculture community. His early leadership was instrumental to OEFFA and to the development of today’s local food movement in Ohio,” said Goland.

“The sustainable food and farm economy we have today is a reflection of the vision, commitment, and hard work of our thousands of OEFFA members over the course of almost four decades,” said Goland. “We are grateful for all of their collective efforts in pioneering organic and sustainable farming in Ohio, but it is a special pleasure to be able to recognize three truly remarkable individuals for their contributions and accomplishments.”

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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

For photos of the award recipients, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 947-1643 or lauren@oeffa.org. Please provide photo credit to Ed Chen.

Senator Sherrod Brown Honored for Promoting Investments in Local Agriculture

For Immediate Release:  February 17, 2018

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 947-1607, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 947-1643, lauren@oeffa.org

Dayton, OH—At a gathering of more than 1,100 farmers and local food advocates, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) received the Food and Farm Champion Award from the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). The announcement was made in Dayton on Friday, February 16 as part of OEFFA’s 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change.

The award recognizes Senator Brown’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and his leadership in making positive investments in local food systems, community economic development, and public health.
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“Senator Brown has consistently supported investments in local and regional food systems that contribute to farmer viability, create jobs, and improve public health,” said OEFFA’s Policy Program Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu, who presented the award.

“Through his introduction of the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (S. 1947), we can fully develop the policies and programs that spur economic development in communities in Ohio and throughout the nation.”
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“Local farmers feed Ohio families and grow Ohio’s economy. I’m proud to work with partners like OEFFA to help connect family farms with their communities, grow their bottom lines, and create jobs across our state. It’s an honor to receive the Food and Farm Champion award,” said Senator Brown, who provided remarks to the conference’s 1,100 guests.
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Ohio is home to 24 local food councils, a state food policy network, and a growing number of farm to institution programs, food hubs, and direct to consumer outlets. Senator Brown’s farm bill advocacy efforts have supported more than 90 food system projects and resulted in more than $7 million dollars in investments in Ohio’s communities. For example, the Lake to River Food Cooperative established a food hub and a shared retail space, the Youngstown Online Market pick-up site, which helps farmers market their products through a shared online platform.
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Senator Brown serves on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, where he has been instrumental in strengthening the farm safety net and addressing childhood hunger.

“OEFFA is pleased to recognize Senator Brown’s leadership and looks forward to continue working with him in the future,” said Lipstreu.
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Since 1979, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has been working to build a healthy food system that brings prosperity to family farmers, meets the growing consumer demand for local food, creates economic opportunities for our rural communities, and safeguards the environment. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.
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For high resolution photos of Senator Brown’s appearance at the OEFFA conference, please contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 947-1643 or lauren@oeffa.org. Please provide photo credit: Ed Chen.

Beginning farmers key focus of upcoming Ohio food conference

DAYTON, Ohio — Early-career farmers and those considering an agricultural vocation will get a lot of the information they need during a dedicated “Begin Farming Workshop” that is part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Assoc.’s (OEFFA) annual conference Feb. 15-17 at the Dayton Convention Center.

This 39th annual conference is titled A Taste for Change.

“Our goal is to help people increase their knowledge and skills, find leads on farmland, and make business and professional connections,” said OEFFA Begin Farming Program Coordinator Kelly Henderson.

On Feb. 16-17, six 90-minute workshops, totaling nine hours of education, will cover a wide range of topics, from organic certification to farming with children. OEFFA sustainable ag educator Julia Barton will address the top 10 organic transition questions most people ask, while Mike Durante of the National Young Farmers Coalition will discuss land access and affordability for the beginning farmer.

Other beginning farming experts will discuss government regulations, how to market your farm produces, health insurance and risk management and much more.

And this annual event is not just for the beginning farmer. Additional workshop sessions on production, marketing, business and green living will be offered, giving attendees nearly 80 workshops from which to choose.

This year’s keynote speakers include Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute and Stacy Malkan of U.S. Right to Know.

“If you look at the food market system in the U.S., ours is the fastest growth of all,” Moyer said. “This is great news for those in the organic industry – not only for the growers, but the impact on the health of the people. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

His talk will focus on the food of the future rather than that of the present or past.

“We want to look at the history only so we don’t make the same mistakes and to see how we got where we are. I will explain what the future holds for organic growers, as this will give us a picture of the changes and how we as farmers can impact that change.”

Moyer is a renowned authority in organic agriculture with expertise in organic crop production systems, weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use and facilities design. He conceptualized and popularized the No-Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture and wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a resource for farmers throughout the world.

Malkan’s keynote address, entitled “Fake News, Fake Food”, will be urging attendees how to stand up for organic foods and their right to know in the era of Big Ag. She is an author, investigative journalist and leading consumer advocate for safer products.

She is also co-founder and co-director of the nonprofit group U.S. Right to Know, whose mission is to educate and inform consumers about the often hidden practices that shape the food system.

Sarah Flack, a consultant, speaker and author of The Art and Science of Grazing, will cover the basic principles of good grazing management systems, as well as soils and management systems that improve pasture quality and productivity.

Dr. Barbara Utendorf, a nutrition and personal wellness expert, will discuss how to incorporate key health-restoring foods and herbs in a cultivated environment. She will review the multiple benefits of plants.

Matt Fout, ODA food safety supervisor, will train fruit and vegetable farmers to meet the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule. He will cover worker health, hygiene and training.

Other topics found among the workshops include lessons in soil biology and soil health; growing organic foods in the face of imports; key principles of well-managed grazing systems; cover crops for small-scale vegetable production; changing customer expectations; planting trees for profit; how to store grain properly; raising pastured turkeys; cool-season vegetable production; underground greenhouse design; inroads into food deserts; and uses for alpaca fibers.

The OEFFA conference also has entertainment opportunities for attending children, with an abundance of arts and crafts.

The Dayton Convention Center is located at 22 E. 5th Street, Dayton, OH 45402. For more information about this event, call OEFFA at 614-421-2022.

A Call To Boost Local Foods in 2018 Farm Bill

By Mary Kuhlman, Ohio Public News Service

2/6/18

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Federal lawmakers are ramping up their work on the 2018 Farm Bill, and some Ohio farm groups and producers say measures to boost local foods should be included.

Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown says the Local FARMS Act he introduced in the Senate can help family farmers and local growers reach new markets and improve access to fresh foods for Ohioans.

That was the exact mission of Betsy Anderson and others in Wooster when they created Local Roots Market and Café eight years ago.

“The connection to the food is just so different when you grow it yourself,” she says. “And our market gives people an opportunity to meet with the farmers and really see exactly where their food’s coming from. People just seem really happy.”

The Local FARMS Act includes investments in programs such as the Local Food Promotion Program, which Local Roots have utilized to enhance the cooperative over the years. The House Committee on Agriculture is holding a hearing on the 2018 Farm Bill today.

Anderson says Local Roots and the area economy have both benefited thanks to funding from the program. She explains the market was able to expand its advertising, and bring in more local shoppers and sellers.

“The producers are from our communities,” she notes. “We had about 200 already selling products, and then we got up to about 284. And sales continue to increase. We saw a bit over half a million dollars a year in local product.”

According to USDA data, more than 167,000 U.S. farms produced and sold food through farmers markets and other similar channels in 2015, generating nearly $9 billion in earnings for local producers. The 2018 Farm Bill could move to the full House by mid-March and be in the Senate in May.

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