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Consumer Advocate and Investigative Journalist Stacy Malkan to Address Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2017

Contact:
Renee Hunt, Program Director, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
  
As evidence mounts about the health and environmental harms associated with pesticides, some corporations are responding with tobacco-style propaganda campaigns designed to undermine organic and non-genetically modified agriculture.

Who’s behind these attacks and how they are doing it will be the focus of a keynote address by author, journalist, and leading consumer advocate Stacy Malkan at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change, this February in Dayton.

In her Saturday, February 17 talk, “Fake News, Fake Food: Standing Up for Organic and Our Right to Know in the Era of Big Ag,” Malkan will cut through the spin, unmask the messengers, and share strategies for rewriting the narrative about our food system.

“With Monsanto’s spin operation in full swing, it’s getting harder to find unbiased information in the media… With top reporters basing stories on Monsanto’s ‘consensus of safety’ talking points… it can be hard to know what to believe or who to trust to get the facts about genetically engineered foods that most of us are eating every day,” Malkan wrote in Civil Eats in 2014.

Malkan is co-founder and co-director of U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit public interest group whose mission is to educate and inform consumers about the often hidden practices that shape the food system and advocate for safer products and our right to know what’s in our food.

She served as media director for the 2012 ballot initiative in California to label genetically engineered foods, and is the former communications director for Health Care Without Harm. Malkan previously worked as a journalist and published an investigative newspaper.

“A core industry narrative is that the science on GMO safety is settled. Pro-industry messengers focus on possible future uses of the technology while downplaying, ignoring, or denying the risks; make inaccurate claims about the level of scientific agreement on GMOs; and attack critics who raise concerns as “anti-science,” Malkan wrote in The Ecologist in 2016. “Facts on the ground expose the PR spin, half-truths, and outright propaganda that has come to dominate a public conversation that is not so much about engineering genes, but engineering truth for the benefit of multinational corporations.”

Malkan is also author of the award-winning book, Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry and a co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

She has generated thousands of media stories about safer products and has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show, NBC, ABC, Democracy Now, in the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and many other outlets, and writes for the Huffington Post.

On Saturday, February 17, Malkan will also lead a 90 minute workshop, “A Future Worth Fighting For: How You Can Stand Up to Big Ag and Make a Big Difference,” where she’ll explore the powerful role that farmers and consumers can play in standing up for truth and transparency in our food system.

“We’re excited to have Stacy join us at conference to connect the dots between the messages we hear about our food system, who’s funding them, why it matters, and what we as consumers and sustainable farmers can do about it,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

Malkan will speak as part of Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which will run Thursday, February 15 through Saturday, February 17 at the Dayton Convention Center.

In addition to Malkan, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Jeff Moyer on February 16; nearly 80 educational workshops; four full-day Food and Farm School classes on February 15; a three-day trade show; networking events; activities for children; locally-sourced meals; a raffle; book sales and signings, and more.

For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2018.

Organic Advocate Jeff Moyer to Address Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

For Immediate Release: December 11, 2017

Contact:
Renee Hunt, Program Director, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
  
The role that technology, biology, consumers, and farmers play in changing agriculture and food will be the focus of a keynote address by long-time organic farmer and advocate Jeff Moyer at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change, this February in Dayton, Ohio.

In his Friday, February 16 keynote address, “Welcome to the Future of Change!,” Moyer, Executive Director of the Rodale Institute, will share his perspective on the organic movement and organic agriculture’s role in our present and future food system.

“We are in the midst of an expanding food fight, a fight for how our food will be produced and marketed. To be successful, farmers will need to rethink their practices to meet the rapidly changing landscape technology is creating,” said Moyer.

Moyer is a world 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.

In September 2015, Moyer was appointed as Executive Director of Rodale Institute after spending the last four decades at the Institute, helping countless farmers make the transition from conventional, chemical-based farming to organic methods. The Rodale Institute, a 330 acre research farm and non-profit in eastern Pennsylvania dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach, is home to the Farming Systems Trial, America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture.
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In 2016, farmers from across the country came together to launch the Organic Farmers Association to unite organic farmers for a better future together. Rodale Institute supports this initiative as fiscal sponsor and partner with OFA’s farmer leadership.

“A lot of people say they speak for farmers,” Moyer said in a Rodale Institute press release. “But there are no national organizations that exist specifically for organic farmers, by organic farmers. A lot of organic farmers are still isolated in their communities. We’d like to unite the nearly 20,000 organic farms around the country to provide that voice, provide a network, and provide the resources that farmers need to be successful.”

He conceptualized and popularized the No Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture and in 2011, he wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a resource for farmers throughout the world.

Moyer is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board; a founding board member of Pennsylvania Certified Organic; board chair of The Seed Farm; board member of the Soil Health Institute, PA Farm Link, and IFOAM North America, and a past board member of the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

On Friday, February 16, Moyer will also be a panelist in a 90 minute conference workshop, “Better On-Farm Research for Better Organic Farming,” along with Tim Kline of Meandering Creek Farm, Elizabeth Maynard of Purdue University, and Douglas Jackson-Smith of Ohio State University. He will address the components of quality on-farm research and the importance of organic research to farming practices and growing the industry economically and politically.

“We’re excited to welcome Jeff to this year’s conference,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “As a leader in the organic movement for decades, and as one of the country’s leading authorities on organic farming and research, he has a wealth of knowledge to share.”

Moyer will speak as part of Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which will run Thursday, February 15 through Saturday, February 17 at the Dayton Convention Center.

In addition to Moyer, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Stacy Malkan on February 17; nearly 80 educational workshops; four full-day Food and Farm School classes on February 15; a three-day trade show; networking events; activities for children; locally-sourced meals; a raffle; book sales and signings, and more.

For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2018.

 

Ohio Foodies, Farmers Can Taste the Change

December 4, 2017
By Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service-OH
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Farmers, foodies and anyone hungry to know more about local, sustainable foods are invited to an annual event that draws more than 1,000 people from Ohio and beyond.

Registration is now open for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s 39th annual conference, Feb. 15-17.

Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA’s communications coordinator, says it’s a great chance to learn more about a variety of topics, including gardening and urban agriculture, farm business management, food safety and homesteading.

“The goal of the conference really is to bring farmers and food advocates together to learn, network, share and break bread with the goal of inspiring, empowering and growing the local foods and organic farming community,” Ketcham states.

The conference theme is “A Taste for Change.” It will be held at the Dayton Convention Center, and information on registration is online at oeffa.org.

Ketcham says about 1,200 people are expected to attend this year, and she notes the conference has something for everyone, not just farmers working on large tracts of land.

“Folks that are interested in maybe being an effective advocate for the food and farm policy issues that they care about – we have sessions that deal with that,” she states. “We have sessions that are focused on green living, so people that want to learn how to incorporate fresh, healthy foods into their urban landscape, onto their dinner table.”

World-renowned organic expert Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute is the keynote speaker on Friday, Feb. 16. The next day, author and safe-products advocate Stacy Malkan takes the stage for her keynote speech, “Fake News, Fake Food.”

Registration Now Open for Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

For Immediate Release: November 29, 2017

Contact:
Renee Hunt, Program Director, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
  
Registration is now open for Ohio’s premier educational and networking event for ecological farmers, backyard growers, and others committed to sustainable agriculture, local food, and green living.
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The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change, will run Thursday, February 15 through Saturday, February 17 at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, Ohio.
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“The conference is three days of learning, networking, sharing, and breaking bread with an inspiring and growing community of farmers and local food advocates,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “Each year, we draw more than 1,200 attendees, and our diverse schedule offers something for all tastes.”

Online registration is now open at www.oeffa.org/conference2018.

OEFFA’s popular conference will feature:
  
Keynote Speakers 
 
Friday keynote speaker Jeff Moyer is a world renowned authority in organic agriculture. He conceptualized and popularized the No Till Roller Crimper and wrote Organic No-Till Farming. He is the Executive Director of the Rodale Institute, which helps farmers make the transition from conventional, chemical-based farming to organic methods. He is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board.
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Saturday keynote speaker Stacy Malkan is an author, journalist, and leading consumer advocate for safer products. Stacy is 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. She served as media director for the 2012 ballot initiative in California to label genetically engineered foods.
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Food and Farm School
Four full-day Thursday Food and Farm School class options are designed to help gardeners take control of their health and assist farmers in honing their farm skills and meeting new challenges:
Workshops, Networking, and More
This three day event offers more than 100 hours of workshops, abundant networking opportunities in the Exhibit Hall and beyond, moments to unwind and share a drink with new friends, activities to please the whole family, and more including:

For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2018. OEFFA is offering a special registration rate for members who register by December 14. A limited number of beginning farmer scholarships and reduced rate volunteer spaces are also available. Online registration will be open until January 29. On-site walk-in registration will also be available for an additional fee.

Our Sponsors

 
Ag Organic | Albert Lea Seed Co. | Certis USA | Columbus Irrigation | Dale Filbrun and Family, Morning Sun Farm |  The Fertrell Company | Food + AgriCultural Transformation at Ohio State (InFACT) | Hiland Supply Co. | Lucky Cat Bakery | Paul Hall & Associates | Ohio Earth Food | Stauf’s Coffee Roasters | SuperGro of Iowa | WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio
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Andelain Fields | Chelsea Green Publishing | Curly Tail Organic Farm | Eden Foods | Kevin Morgan Studio | Lucky Penny Farm | OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter | Plant Talk Radio | Tea Hills Farms | Trader Joe’s Easton Town Center Store
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Ag Credit, Agricultural Cooperative Association | Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition | Bexley Natural Market |  Blue Jacket Dairy| Branstool Orchards | Carfagna’s | Carriage House Farm | Fedco Seeds | Great Lakes Organic Feed Mill | Hartzler Family Dairy | IBA | Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream | Marshy Meadows Farm | Mockingbird Meadows  | Nourse Farms | Storehouse Tea | Stutzman Farms

Madison County ag retreat looks at crops and profit

The Madison Press, Michael Williamson, 11/3/17

“Grow More Vegetables, Make More Money,” was the theme of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) two-day retreat at the Procter Camp and Conference Center just outside of London Friday morning through Saturday evening. OEFFA started in 1979 by a collection of farmers dedicated to the growth and promotion of ecological and organic farm systems. The goal of the workshop was to inform farmers on practices that could enhance their management plans and advance their earning potential.

“This particular workshop is geared towards farmers who are already farming mixed vegetables, specialty crop-growers who are kind of at a certain scale where they’re looking to expand their operation and implement more efficient mechanization and systems on their operation in order to sell to larger buyers,” said Kelly Henderson, the Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator with OEFFA.

Linda Halley, an expert in organic farming from Bryn Farm in Wisconsin, led the workshop. This is the second time Halley has presented this workshop to interested farmers, the first time being in 2013.

“From talking to a lot of our farmers, they’ve implemented a lot of the practices that they’ve learned at that workshop,” Henderson said. “So it was really important for us to be able to bring that opportunity back again.”

Although the two-day workshop focused on what OEFFA calls “Early Career Farmers,” — people who have been farming for their whole career — their programs extend to both seasoned farmers and beginners.

In August 2016, OEFFA received a three-year, USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program grant which allows the organization to bring best practices education to farmers just starting out. The grant allows them to work toward their goal of bringing information and skills to farmers to get the most out of their operations.

Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator with OEFFA, said they’re working to get the farmers to a place where they can do wholesale distribution of their produce and not be so concerned with the marketing side of farming.

“The farmer’s wearing a number of hats. He’s a business manager, he’s a farmer, he’s handling produce but then he’s got to take the other side of the coin in marketing. And now it’s a direct market,” Pawlowski said. “We’re trying to get efficiencies on the production end so that maybe the farmer can stay on the farm and have a volume, a scale at an appropriate level where they can get into wholesale distribution where they don’t have to be the marketer as well.”

Some of the topics of the workshop included direct seeding, how farmers can meet the demands of business partners and even information on the picking and packaging of their produce for sales.

OEFFA has a number of programs in place to help farmers of varying experience. Henderson is at the head of a whole farm planning course that is not yet available for registration but will be presented next year. The program allows farmers to attend 60 hours of in-class training to assist with putting together a whole-farm business plan.

Their next large event is the 39th annual OEFFA Conference in Dayton which will be held Feb. 15-17 and will feature a number of workshops and speakers. The opening day will also have a scheduled time that will be open to the public for anyone interested in the organization and their programs.

 

Business of Ohio’s organic farms is growing

The Columbus Dispatch, JD Malone, 11/2/17

Ohio’s big corn and soybean farmers haven’t seen much in the way of sales growth the past few years, but that can’t be said for some of the state’s smaller players — those who produce organic produce, grains and dairy products.

Ohio’s organic farmers reported sales of $101 million in 2016, a 30 percent jump from 2015, while both the number of organic farms and acreage grew year over year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Certified Organic Study. Ohio ranks seventh nationally in number of organic farms — 575. That’s up from eighth in 2015.

“The 2016 survey illustrates the strength of organic production and sales in the state,” said Amalie Lipstreu, policy coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, in a news release.

“Organic” is a designation for food and other products produced under specific guidelines, including which fertilizers and pesticides can be used on crops and how much pasture and outdoor access animals have, enforced by the USDA’s National Organic Program.

For example, organic practices bar the use of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, and the housing of animals completely indoors.

Ohio has more than 54,000 acres in organic production, which is tiny by agricultural standards, given that Ohio’s largest commodity crop, soybeans, covers more than 4 million acres. But given that organic farming only really put down roots fairly recently, it has been an achievement.

Byron Kauffman was one of the state’s pioneers in organic farming. He started growing organic crops 25 years ago on his Mac-O-Chee Valley Farm in West Liberty. He worked as a school teacher and farmed as a side gig because it was something he felt strongly about.

“There were not too many markets for products back then. You really had to search for a place to sell your goods,” Kauffman said. “That is not so much the way it is now.”

The number of venues has grown from just farmers markets and specialty grocers decades ago to major chain groceries.

Sales of organic products, especially of food, have grown by double digits every year for at least two decades, according to the Organic Trade Association. Organic food sales are growing at about triple the rate of ordinary food. Overall organic sales jumped from $3.6 billion in 1997 to more than $43 billion in 2015.

Kauffman has grown a lot of crops over the years, from soybeans and oats to spelt and popcorn. Popcorn has become his niche. Surprisingly, spelt is something of a hit in Ohio. The state has more spelt growers than any other.

“It’s a good crop,” Kauffman said of spelt, a type of wheat prized for its nutritional value. “It’s vigorous and competes well with weeds.”

He worries now that organic food has become so popular that he is now competing with foreign sources of crops like spelt.

Ohio’s other big organic crops are milk — the state ranks ninth in the United States for its production — as well as eggs and vegetables.

Overall, the United States experienced a 23 percent rise in sales by organic farms in 2016, totaling more than $7.5 billion.

California is by far the leader in number of farms and sales. Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania and Iowa round out the top five states for organic farming.

Kauffman has enjoyed the boom in organic production, and he thinks it has moved from fad to trend as more people have embraced organic food.

“At first, I just wanted to see if I could do it, and it just became more and more as the market grew,” Kauffman said.

“In one sense, I am not surprised because the demand for healthier food is real now,” he said. “It’s a good thing for everybody.”

OH Farmers Apply “You Are What You Eat” to What They Farm

Public News Service, 11/1/17

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Harvest season is winding down in Ohio, and sustainable-farming advocates say it’s a great time for growers and producers to learn more about what it takes to go organic. In some cases it’s a matter of making the personal professional.

Renee and Alan Winner, dairy farmers in central Ohio, have been selling into the conventional milk market for years, but now are transitioning the four dairies they and their children operate. Renee Winner said switching to organic was important for them because their farming practices didn’t mesh with their personal lifestyle.

“For the last 30 years, we have eaten organic,” she said. “To be able to marry the way that we live and how we make our living is really something that we’ve talked about and planned about for years, but just didn’t think we’d be able to get it done.”

The Winners began the process with help from organic transition services available through the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. They just finished their third year of transition and recently had their official organic inspection.

Ohio currently ranks seventh nationally for the number of organic farming operations. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, organic sales in Ohio rose more than 30 percent between 2015 and 2016.

In order to stay viable, Renee Winner said, they felt they needed to “get big or get out,” and made the decision to go organic.

“Being a smaller, organic dairy is still viable,” she said, “where in the conventional market, everything is trending to larger, so you lose the ability to be yourself and to farm as a family.”

She encouraged those curious about transitioning to organic to speak with other organic farmers and organic inspectors, adding that services available through the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association also are very beneficial.

“They have people there that will help you though the transition,” she said. “That’s been phenomenal for us, because you don’t know what you don’t know. They’re there to tell you, ‘No, this is the way to go,’ and to lead you.”

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association has education staff who can explain the Organic System Plan, review transition applications and provide mock inspections. There are an estimated 950 organic farming operations in Ohio.

More information is online at oeffa.org.

Government survey ranks Ohio No. 7

Tribune Chronicle, Virginia Shank, 10/22/17

It’s no surprise to Jonathan Woodford that a new government survey ranks Ohio at No. 7 in the nation when it comes to its number of organic farms.

Woodford, who operates SugarWood Acres — the West Farmington farm his great-grandparents established that his family still owns — has seen evidence that interest in “growing organic” is increasing.

“Just in the past year to year-and-a-half, a lot of people seem to be transitioning to organic from conventional,” Woodford said. “I think a lot of it depends on the type of farming they’re doing, or amount of crops they’re growing and what they’re familiar with.”

Ohio is seeing double-digit growth in the number of organic farms, organic land in production and organic sales, illustrating the role of organic production in economic development, according to the 2016 Certified Organic Survey of U.S. organic farms. The report, published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service, shows Ohio’s organic sales increased by more than 30 percent since 2015 and the number of certified organic farms in Ohio is up by 24 percent. Since 2015, Ohio moved up from 8th to 7th in the nation in the number of organic farms.

As of Thursday, of the 18,262 farms certified organic, 952 were in Ohio and five were in Trumbull County, according to the USDA. California had the most with 4,903 and the District of Columbia had the fewest with nine.

Overall, the U.S. saw $7.6 billion in organic sales, as well as an 11 percent increase in the number of organic farms. More than 5 million acres of certified organic acreage are in production in the U.S., up 15 percent since 2015.

“The 2016 survey illustrates the strength of organic production and sales in the state of Ohio. Organic production continues to be a bright spot in U.S. agriculture,” said Amalie Lipstreu, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association policy coordinator. “As more farmers move land into organic production, it is important that we make sure we are doing all we can to support their success.”

For Woodford, 34, going organic seemed like a practical approach when he started running the farm about five years ago. Although he was raised on the land his family bought in the early 1930s, he said he “wasn’t really raised farming” and had “little to no” experience farming. There had been about a 15-year-gap from the time his grandfather retired until Woodford resumed operations.

This summer marked his fifth growing hay that is now certified organic by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.

“I didn’t have a lot invested in equipment or supplies,” he said. “So, I could start from scratch. I didn’t have much money to put into it, so I just went the least expensive way I could and for me that was organic. I don’t have to add anything, so I don’t.”

Woodford works in maintenance for the Bristol Local School District, where his wife is a teacher.

His grandfather, who grew row crops, was a conventional farmer, using techniques that rely on technology, pesticides, chemicals and other synthetic, or man-made, tools to cultivate.

Woodford’s neighbor introduced him to growing organic, a farming approach that limits or excludes synthetic elements. Woodford uses chicken manure for fertilizer that isn’t chemical based. His farm, spread across 160 acres, where his grandmother, Martha Woodford, still lives, also produces maple syrup — a product his grandfather continued harvesting even after he retired. He has grown small grains like corn, wheat and oats.

To maintain his organic certification, Woodford follows national operating standards with a set of procedures and protocol.

Basically, each year he fills out about 30 pages of paperwork, sends it into the association, which then reviews it and sends out a certified inspector to walk the property and make sure he’s doing what he says he’s doing and following the necessary steps to operate an organic farm.

“I didn’t have fertilizer or the farming equipment you’d associate with conventional farming,” he said. “I was starting out fresh. My neighbor did organic farming and when I saw what was involved with both options I went with that. “

Woodford said his farm is part of the local supply chain, providing hay other area farms need to feed their animals.

“I think growing organic is still pretty new to a lot of people,” he said. “I can tell it’s been growing. You see more and more organic products in stores. There’s a market for it. Some people are afraid of conventional for whatever reason. They like seeing labels that say organic.”

Woodford said four out of five farms he delivers to along the same stretch of road are classified organic.

Despite the growth and strong consumer demand, investments in organic research through USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Institute represent an average of just two-tenths of one percent of overall funding each year and Ohio has no extension educator positions dedicated to serving organic farmers.

“Organic production has not been able to keep up with demand, so this is a good time to review our agricultural funding as well as state and federal agency services to make sure investments are made in this growth industry so more Ohio farmers are equipped with the information, resources, and support they need to take advantage of this economic opportunity,”concluded Lipstreu.

Investments in organic farming could have larger economic impacts as well. According to a Penn State research paper on organic hotspots, on average, county poverty rates drop by 1.3 percent and median household incomes rise by more than $2,000 in counties with high organic activity that neighbor other high organic counties.

“I think many people go with what they know,” Woodford said. “If I were raised in conventional farming, and I was invested in that, I might have chosen that option. I’m not saying that conventional isn’t safe. I think a lot depends on what you’re farming, growing, producing and the amount.

“I personally stay with organic because it is natural. I can see the benefit. Hey, the earth has made it this far taking care of itself naturally. Why would I want to interfere with that?”

Ohio ranks high for number of organic farms

Akron Beacon Journal, 10/18/17

COLUMBUS: Ohio ranks seventh in the nation when it comes to the number of organic farms, according to a new survey.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2016 Certified Organic Survey shows Ohio’s organic sales increased by more than 30 percent since 2015 and the number of certified organic farms in Ohio is up by 24 percent. The Buckeye State also moved from eighth to seventh in the country for the number of organic farms.

“The 2016 survey illustrates the strength of organic production and sales in the state of Ohio,” Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association policy coordinator Amalie Lipstreu said in a prepared statement. “Organic production continues to be a bright spot in U.S. agriculture.”

Overall, the U.S. saw $7.6 billion in organic sales, as well as an 11 percent increase in the number of organic farms. More than 5 million acres of certified organic acreage are in production in the U.S., up 15 percent since 2015.

With the growth, the government needs to invest more in organic farming, the association said. The USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Institute spends an average of two-tenths of 1 percent of overall funding each year on organic farming, and Ohio has no extension educator positions dedicated to serving organic farmers, according to the association.

“Organic production has not been able to keep up with demand, so this is a good time to review our agricultural funding as well as state and federal agency services to make sure investments are made in this growth industry so more Ohio farmers are equipped with the information, resources and support they need to take advantage of this economic opportunity,” Lipstreu said.

OEFFA releases food safety planning guide

Farm and Dairy, 11/2/17

COLUMBUS — A publication released by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) will help produce farmers understand what it means to develop a farm food safety plan and meet new federal food safety rules.

Food Safety Planning Down on the Farm: Examples from Ohio Certified Organic Farms features eight vegetable and fruit farms of various scales and serving diverse markets.

OEFFA Education Program Director Renee Hunt said they hope these case studies will help produce growers be less intimidated by food safety planning.

FSMA. Produce farmers face new regulations with the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

While the law exempts the smallest farms (those selling less than $25,000 in covered produce, such as lettuce, strawberries, and radishes), some buyers may require those operations meet FSMA standards as well.

The publication identifies challenges and discusses changes that reduce risk.

“Many times, farmers are already doing the right thing,” said OEFFA Sustainable Agriculture Educator Eric Pawlowski. “It is just a matter of codifying their practices and documenting the actions they have taken.”

The new report, along with additional resources, are available at policy.oeffa.org/foodsafety.