Category Archives: OEFFA Press Releases

FDA Responds to Farmer Concerns, Releases Revised Draft Food Safety Rules

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Columbus, OH—Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued revised proposed food safety regulations for farmers and food businesses under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA). The FDA is inviting a new round of public comments to respond to the revised language.
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“The FDA is to be commended for listening to farmers and the public and for realizing that a second draft was necessary,” said Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). “This is the first major overhaul of food safety rules in 75 years. It is critical the FDA gets it right by setting regulations that protect consumers, but do not put small farmers and processors out of business.”

The original regulations, issued in fall 2013, contained several requirements that would jeopardize sustainable and organic farmers, discourage growth of local food systems, and negatively impact the conservation of natural resources. In response, OEFFA and other state and national groups mobilized more than 18,000 farmers, consumers, and food businesses to submit comments to the FDA.

“Based on our initial review, there are some encouraging improvements. For example, the FDA has clarified that activities that happen on a farm—like packing and holding produce—should be treated the same whether the produce was grown on that farm or a neighboring farm. This is important for community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, aggregating produce from multiple farms,” said Lipstreu.

“We also are encouraged by the FDA’s reconsideration of the criteria used to determine farm size and eligibility for certain exemptions. Basing farm size on sales of covered produce, rather than total sales, is incredibly important for diversified farming operations.

“However, the FDA’s revised proposals regarding water and manure standards for produce farms will require a closer look. OEFFA and our partners will be undertaking a thorough review of the revised language in the weeks ahead to make sure that sustainable and organic farmer concerns are represented. We will continue work to ensure that the rules are finalized and implemented in a way that supports a flexible, scale- and supply-chain appropriate framework that supports the growth and success of a more sustainable food and agriculture system,” concluded Lipstreu.

The official public comment period will begin Monday, September 29. Farmers, organizations, and the public are encouraged to submit feedback during the 75 day public comment period. The revised draft rules are available at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection under the Food and Drug Administration section.

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, amalie@oeffa.org
Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209, eric@oeffa.org

Webinar and On-Farm Workshop to Help Veterinarians and Livestock Professionals Manage Organic Dairy Herd Health

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Veterinary Extension at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) are offering two upcoming events to help veterinarians and other livestock professionals manage organic dairy herd health.

On Monday, June 23 at 1 p.m., Ohio State University Assistant Professor and Extension Veterinarian Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann will lead a webinar, “CSI for Dairy: On-Farm Audits to Assess Risks.” During this webinar, participants will learn about transition herd management with an emphasis on calving-related disease prevention and on-farm risk assessment.

On Thursday, June 26 at 1 p.m., Dr. Schuenemann will lead an on-farm dairy herd health workshop at Pleasantview Farm, a family-owned certified organic dairy farm managed by Perry Clutts and his family since 1899. He will cover herd health monitoring, record-keeping, and perform an on-farm risk assessment with an emphasis on herd health and productivity to identify areas for improvement. Participants will gain hands-on experience in conducting an audit using an instrument designed to identify and rank risk factors, enabling veterinarians to offer this service to their clients. Pleasantview Farm is located at 20361 Florence Chapel Pike in Circleville.

Both events are geared toward veterinarians, Extension educators, farmers, and other animal health professionals who work with certified organic farmers and dairy herds.

There is no cost to attend the webinar or workshop, but pre-registration is required. To register for the June 23 webinar, click here. To register for the June 26 on-farm workshop, contact Eric Pawlowski at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209 or eric@oeffa.org.

Veterinary Continuing Education (CE) credits will be granted on an “hour for hour” basis.

These events are part of an educational livestock health series offered by OSU and OEFFA designed to help veterinarians and other livestock professionals gain new knowledge and expand services offered by providing important information on working with certified organic livestock and poultry.

For more information about the series or to see other scheduled events, click here, call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209, or email education@oeffa.org.

This series is made possible with funding from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education’s (NCR-SARE) Professional Development Program.

Good Earth Guide Connects Consumers with Local Farmers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 10, 2014

Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
Renee Hunt, Program Director, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
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Columbus, OH – Ohio summers are a time to enjoy the bounty of fresh garden vegetables, ripe off the vine berries, farm fresh eggs, and orchard harvests bursting with juicy flavor. The Good Earth Guide to Organic and Ecological Farms, Gardens, and Related Businesses produced by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) can help bring these delicious tastes of summer to any kitchen.
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The Good Earth Guide includes information on 450 farms and businesses, including 193 certified organic farms and businesses and more than 100 community supported agriculture (CSA) programs.
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“Since the first Good Earth Guide in 1990, the directory has grown from a list of a dozen or so to  450 farms and businesses, reflecting the tremendous growth in locally-sourced and sustainably-produced foods, fibers, products, and services,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

The searchable online directory identifies sources for locally grown vegetables; fruits; herbs; honey; maple syrup; dairy products; grass-fed beef, pork, and lamb; free-range chicken and eggs; fiber; flour and grains; cut flowers; plants; hay and straw; seed and feed, and other local farm products.
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“The Good Earth Guide gives consumers out there a one-stop shop to find not only vegetable growers, but people who are raising poultry and beef, and  a whole range of products that are close to them and grown and raised organically,” said certified organic farmer Jake Trethewey of Maplestar Farm in Geauga County.
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Each listing includes name and contact information, products sold, a farm or business description, and whether the farm or business is certified organic. Many listings also include locations and maps for where the farm or business products are sold. The directory includes tools that make it easy to search the listings for a specific product, business or contact, by county, or by sales method.
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“One of the other primary benefits of the Good Earth Guide is that it helps growers get together with other growers, finding out what worked for them, and passing on ideas, techniques, and products that work for you to other growers,” Trethewey said.
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That’s the purpose of the Good Earth Guide, said Hunt—making connections. “Connecting consumers to local farms and businesses so that their dollars support the local community and sustainably grown food and farm products. Connecting farmers with one another so they can network and develop business relationships that support a successful farming community. And, connecting businesses with farmers who can supply local food for restaurants and other retailers,” concluded Hunt.
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The Good Earth Guide is available free to the public in an easy to use online searchable database at http://www.oeffa.org/search-geg.php.

Organic Livestock and Poultry Health Series Provides Comprehensive and Convenient Education for Veterinarians and Other Livestock Professionals

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 15, 2014
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Contact:
Jeffrey D. Workman, PhD, Veterinary Extension, Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University, (614) 292-9453, workman.45@osu.edu
Renee Hunt, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, (614) 421-2022, renee@oeffa.org
An upcoming educational series will give veterinarians and other livestock professionals the opportunity to gain new knowledge and expand services offered by providing important information on working with certified organic livestock and poultry.
The series is being offered by Veterinary Extension at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and includes both webinars and in-person workshops.

“The objective of this educational series is to help veterinarians and their clients design best herd health management practices that comply with federal and state regulations and organic standards when considering the health and well-being of the animal,” said Ohio State University Assistant Professor and Extension Veterinarian Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann.

As part of this series, participants will learn how to perform an on-farm risk assessment, or audit, to identify and rank risk factors associated with herd health and performance. “This audit will be a valuable service they can offer clients—certified organic or otherwise,” said Schuenemann.

The educational series will also demystify the organic standards, and clarify the requirements for individual animals to obtain and maintain their organic status. “Understanding the certification process will benefit everyone—the animal, the farmer, the service provider, and the consumer,” said OEFFA Organic Certification Program Manager Julia Barton.

Demand for organic products continues to increase, including organic meat, poultry, dairy, and fiber. Ohio ranks second for the number of dairy farmers that produce milk for Organic Valley, for example. Approximately 270 Ohio farms are certified organic livestock and poultry operations.

The series will cover the following topics:

  • Transition cow management, emphasizing calving-related disease prevention and on-farm risk assessment
  • Organic standards for livestock, allowed inputs, and the certification process
  • Management of somatic cell counts and mastitis control
  • Parasite management and control
  • Pain management, regulatory medicine, and science-based treatments
  • Organic poultry flock health
  • Nutrition-related diseases
  • On-farm health audits to assess herd risk factors
  • Defining, monitoring, and recordkeeping of health events
Free events currently scheduled include:
  • CSI for Dairy: On-Farm Audits to Assess Risk Webinar—Monday, June 23, 1 p.m. EDT
  • Certified Organic Dairy Tour and Workshop—Thursday, June 26, 1 p.m. EDT at Pleasantview Farm in Circleville, OH
  • Certified Organic Livestock Standards Webinar—Thursday, July 10, 1 p.m. EDT
  • Organic Livestock Inputs Webinar—Wednesday, October 1, 1 p.m. EDT
Veterinary Continuing Education (CE) credits will be granted on an “hour for hour” basis.

In addition, veterinarians and other agriculture professionals that work with poultry and livestock can join a network to share ideas and find answers to questions. “Their work will be strengthened as this network bridges the gaps between educators, certifiers, farmers, and veterinarians,” said Eric Pawlowski, OEFFA Sustainable Agriculture Educator.

This series is made possible with funding from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education’s (NCR-SARE) Professional Development Program.

For more details, or to register for scheduled events, go to www.oeffa.org or http://vet.osu.edu/extension, call (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209, or email education@oeffa.org.

Solar Electric Workshop Scheduled for June: Farmers and Others Can Learn How to Design and Install Photovoltaic Systems

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For Immediate Release: May 13, 2014
Contact: Milo Petruziello, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 206, milo@oeffa.org

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association and Jay and Annie Warmke of Blue Rock Station will be offering a five-day solar electric workshop designed for people who want to make their farm, home, or business energy independent, or who are looking to start their own business installing photovoltaic (PV) systems.

The workshop will be held Monday, June 16 through Friday, June 20 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at OEFFA’s offices in the Lumbermens Building at 41 Croswell Rd., Columbus, OH.

“During previous courses, we’ve helped many people to enter a new career field or gain the skills necessary to design and install their own PV system,” said instructor Jay Warmke. Jay is the author of numerous textbooks on the subject, teaches renewable energy classes at Central Ohio Technical College, and serves as vice president of Green Energy Ohio. He and his wife Annie put this knowledge into practice at Blue Rock Station, a 38 acre educational center which is home to Ohio’s first Earthship and a 6kW solar array.

During this training course, participants will learn how to design and install photovoltaic systems through lectures and hands-on labs. They will learn with a working PV system, dismantling and reinstalling it, troubleshooting, and testing its proper operation. The class will also learn how to integrate a working wind turbine into the PV system. As part of the class, registrants can nominate a site to serve as a “real world” model; one site will be selected and together the class will evaluate, size, and design a system for that site. At the end of the week, participants will have the opportunity to sit for an internationally recognized certification Level 1 examination offered by the Electronic Technicians Association (ETA).

“Many farmers and homesteaders are looking for a way to be energy independent and reduce their reliance on polluting fossil fuels. With prices for PV systems falling and demand on the rise, systems are becoming economical for nearly every home or farm,” said OEFFA program assistant Milo Petruziello. “Finding qualified personnel to install and maintain systems remains a challenge, however. We hope this course will give people the tools they need to harness the power of the sun.”

The cost of the workshop is $930 for OEFFA members and $970 for non-members. The cost includes ETA fees, an installation toolkit, and a course workbook. Lunch is provided on each class day.

Pre-registration is required. Space is limited. Register at www.oeffa.org by Wednesday, June 11. To register by mail, send a check made out to OEFFA along with the names of all attendees, addresses, phone numbers, and emails to OEFFA Solar Workshop, 41 Croswell Rd., Columbus, OH 43214.

For more information, or to register by phone, please contact Milo Petruziello at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 206 or milo@oeffa.org. For more information about Blue Rock Station, call (740) 674-4300 or go to www.bluerockstation.com.

Free Public Tour Series Features Ohio’s Organic and Sustainable Farms: 2014 Guide Now Available

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2014
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
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The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has announced th farm tours and workshops that will be included in the 2014 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series, featuring free public tours of some of Ohio’s finest sustainable and organic farms.
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OEFFA has offered these tours for more than 30 years, providing unique opportunities for growers, educators, and conscientious eaters to learn about sustainable food and farm products in a real world setting from farmers with years of practical experience.
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“Consumer demand for fresh, locally produced food and farm products continues to grow, along with the desire to understand how food gets from the field to the dinner table. Farmers know all the dirt and this summer, they’re sharing that knowledge about how sustainably produced food is grown,” said Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA’s Communications Coordinator. “The tours are also designed to help farmers and gardeners learn from each other so they can improve their production and marketing techniques and grow their operations.”
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Fifteen tours, six workshops, and a farm to table dinner are being sponsored by OEFFA and will be held between June 7 and November 14. The 2014 farm tour and workshop series is promoted in cooperation with the Ohio State University Sustainable Agriculture Team, who is sponsoring additional tours. In total, the series features 21 farms, four university research center tours, six educational workshops, a film screening, and a benefit dinner.
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OEFFA’s tours and workshops are:
For additional information and a complete list of all farm tours, including dates, times, farm descriptions, and driving directions, click here.

GMO OMG! Free Screenings of Film to Explore Risks of Genetically Modified Organisms and Role Consumers Can Play

Columbus, OH—This month, Horizon Organic, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), will be offering free screenings of the film, GMO OMG in Athens and Columbus.

“While unlabeled genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have filled our supermarket shelves, biotech companies are hoping that consumers like you and me won’t ask questions,” said MacKenzie Bailey, OEFFA’s  Policy Program Coordinator. “However, more and more consumers and farmers are raising concerns about seed and crop contamination, superweeds, and the other health and environmental risks of these under-regulated foods.”

The screenings will take place on Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m. at the Athena Cinema located at 20 S. Court St. in Athens and on Sunday, April 27 at 2 p.m. at the Gateway Film Center located at 1550 N. High St. in Columbus.

Limited space is available; RSVP to MacKenzie Bailey at policy@oeffa.org.

The terms “GMO” and “genetic engineering” (GE) refers to a set of technologies used to change the genetic make-up of cells to produce novel organisms that exhibit a desired trait, such as pesticide resistance.

Promised higher yields, labor savings, and lower weed pressure, GE seeds have been widely adopted by U.S. farmers. Today, more than 80 percent of the soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets, and canola grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered.

“The new reality of the world is that giant chemical companies are feeding us…and our children,” said GMO OMG film director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert.

In this documentary, Seifert sets out on a journey across the globe to uncover the truth about GMOs. Seifert explores how GMOs affect our children and the health of our planet and whether it’s possible for consumers to make informed choices in the absence of labels identifying GMO foods. Along the way, he helps to reveal our current industrial food system and answer a question that is of growing concern to consumers everywhere: What’s really on our plate?

GMO OMG sheds light on the complexity of today’s food production system,” said Perry Clutts, the owner and operator of Pleasantview Farm, a dairy farm that supplies Horizon Organic. “As an organic dairy producer, I see the benefits of farming without the use of synthetic chemicals or genetically engineered feed. It’s important that farmers, like me, are offering Ohio families an alternative. The organic sector is growing and I believe it will keep on growing as consumers learn more about where their food is coming from.”

Following the film, there will be a question and answer session with the director and Horizon Organic’s Kelly Shea.
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Go to www.gmofilm.com to learn more about the documentary or to watch the trailer.

Seifert and Sara Loveday of Horizon Organic, along with local farmers, food advocates, and business leaders, are available for interviews with the media. To schedule an interview, contact MacKenzie Bailey at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208 or policy@oeffa.org.

This film screening is sponsored by Horizon Organic and Chipotle Mexican Grill with support from Pleasantview Farm, Shagbark Seed & Mill, Snowville Creamery, Northstar Cafe, Green Edge Organic Gardens, and Rich Gardens Organic Farm.

Former U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary to Keynote Ohio’s Largest Food and Farming Conference: Kathleen Merrigan to Discuss Federal Agricultural Policy and Programs

2/4/14

Granville, OH—Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan will be the featured keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground, on Sunday, February 16 in Granville (Licking County).

“We are pleased to welcome Kathleen Merrigan to this year’s conference as we look back over the past 35 years,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the event’s lead organizer. “As one of the nation’s foremost organic agriculture advocates, she has played a significant role in the achievements the organic food movement has realized.”
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Merrigan will speak as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest. In addition to Merrigan, this year’s conference will feature organic farmer and author Atina Diffley as keynote speaker on Saturday, February 15; more than 100 educational workshops; two in-depth pre-conference workshops on Friday, February 14; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.
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Merrigan served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture from 2009 to 2013. Before joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Merrigan spent six years as a top aide to Senator Patrick Leahy, former chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. There, she helped write the original law that created the National Organic Program to establish organic standards and a certification process for organic farms and processors. From 1999 to 2001, she helped to implement the new organic rules as head of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency which oversees the organic program.
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As Deputy Secretary, Merrigan oversaw the day-to-day operations of the USDA, along with its $149 billion budget. She played a vital role in developing the department’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, championed a national farm-to-school program and funding for farmers to build hoop houses, increased crop insurance and conservation support for organic producers, and served as a strong advocate for the organic program, organic farmers, and local food systems.
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Merrigan holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and spent eight years as an assistant professor and director of the Agriculture, Food, and Environment graduate program at Tufts University in Boston. She has also been engaged in agricultural policy through positions at the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture, the Texas Department of Agriculture, and the Massachusetts State Senate. In November 2009, Merrigan made history by becoming the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations. In 2010, Time magazine named her as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” She is currently a consultant and professional speaker at Merrigan Consulting.
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“It has been an honor to play a small part in history. I hope that during my tenure I was able to help open USDA’s doors a little wider, inviting new and discouraged constituencies to participate in USDA programs,” Merrigan told the National Journal.
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Her keynote address, presented by Chipotle Mexican Grill, is titled “Dysfunctional DC Matters: Ten Reasons to Stay Engaged in Federal Agricultural Policy,” and will take place on Sunday, February 16 at 2:45 p.m. Between government shutdowns, endless multi-year Farm Bill negotiations, and other political gridlock, it can be hard for consumers and farmers to believe in the federal government anymore. Merrigan will explore why federal agricultural policy still matters, identify targets for policy reform, and explain why producers and conscientious eaters can achieve real social change by getting involved.
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On Sunday, February 16 at 10:35 a.m., Merrigan will also lead a one hour workshop, “Show Me the Money: Farming Federal Programs.” Using the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, Merrigan will explore what federal programs are available to farms, nonprofits, and businesses seeking assistance to build local and regional food systems.
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The OEFFA conference will be held at Granville Middle and High schools, 248 New Burg St. in Granville. For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014.
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Our Sponsors
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Northstar Café/Third and Hollywood, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Northridge Organic Farm, Organic Valley, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market, Albert Lea Seed Company, Around the World Gourmet, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earth Tools, Eban’s Bakehouse, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Green Field Farms, Lucky Cat Bakery, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Swainway Urban Farm, Andelain Fields, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, Glass Rooster Cannery, King Family Farm, Law Office of David G. Cox, Metro Cuisine, Two Caterers Contemporary Cuisine, Whole Hog BBQ, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bluebird Farm, CaJohns Fiery Foods, Carriage House Farm, Charlie’s Apples at Windy Hill Farm, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Lucky’s Market, Marshy Meadows Farm, Middlefield Original Cheese, Nourse Farms, Pâtisserie Lallier, Schmidt Family Farms, Stonyfield Farm, Stutzman Farms, Sunsprout Farms of Central Ohio, and Wayward Seed Farm

About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, 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.

Conference Registration Update
Saturday meals are now SOLD OUT; a very limited number of Sunday meals are still available. Online registration for the conference and pre-conference will remain open until Tuesday, February 11 or until sold out. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, featured presenters and workshops, pre-conference descriptions, workshop listings, hotel options, and a schedule, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org.

Artwork and Images
For the conference art image, speaker photographs, or pictures from past conferences, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.

Press Passes and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.

Event Calendar and Public Service Announcement
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground, is February 15-16, 2014 in Granville, Ohio. This is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference and will feature keynote speakers Kathleen Merrigan and Atina Diffley; more than 100 workshops on sustainable farming, gardening, and homesteading; local and organic meals; a kids’ conference, teen conference, and childcare; a trade show; Saturday evening entertainment, and pre-conference events on produce wholesale marketing and soil health and biodiversity on Friday, February 14. To register, or for more information, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014 or call (614) 421-2022.

Bipartisan Deal Reached on Farm Bill: Includes Important Investments in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, But Much-Needed Reforms Missing

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2014

Contact:

MacKenzie Bailey, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator—(203) 545-3909, mackenzie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
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Washington, D.C.—The Farm Bill agreement announced yesterday by the conference committee renews funding for a number of important programs that were left stranded by last year’s Farm Bill extension, but fails to make much-needed reforms in the structure of farm policy.

The bill renews critical investments in important programs for beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access. The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which has been without funding for more than a year, will receive $11.5 million in mandatory annual funding. The program, which is utilized by more than 40 percent of Ohio organic growers, reimburses farmers for up to 75 percent of their certification fees.

In addition to NOCCSP, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative will receive $20 million annually in mandatory funding, and the Organic Data Initiative and the National Organic Program will each receive $5 million in one-time mandatory funding. The bill also links conservation requirements to the receipt of crop insurance premium subsidies and rejects a series of extreme proposals to eliminate market and contract protections for livestock and poultry farmers.

“Although this bill is a mixed bag, innovative programs that invest in beginning farmers, organic agriculture, local food systems, and rural communities—which have been stranded without funding for more than a year—can now be revived,” said MacKenzie Bailey, Policy Program Coordinator with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). “We applaud Senator Sherrod Brown, who served on the conference committee, for his vital role in advocating for sustainable agriculture programs.”

Unfortunately, the bill jettisons long-overdue payment limitation reforms included in both the House and Senate bills passed last year that target farm subsidy payments to working farmers. It also drops a provision passed twice by the Senate that would have modestly reduced insurance subsidies to millionaires. Additionally, the bill cuts billions from conservation programs that help farmers address production challenges and protect natural resources and the environment. The final bill also reduces benefits for a portion of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.

“At a time of fiscal restraint, growing income inequality, and economic distress in rural communities, it is appalling for the new Farm Bill to continue uncapped, unlimited commodity and crop insurance subsidies for mega-farms,” said Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). NSAC is an alliance of grassroots sustainable agriculture organizations, including OEFFA, that advocates for federal policy reform.

“This Farm Bill falls short of achieving the changes needed to support a sustainable food and farm system, and the secretive process used to achieve this agreement which reverses reforms backed in previous Senate and House versions of the bill is very disappointing,” Bailey added. “However, given that our farming communities have been without a full Farm Bill for so long and the importance of the organic and conservation programs at stake, we support the bill, but will continue to work for reform.”

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Farm Bill as soon as tomorrow, and the Senate vote is anticipated shortly after, before going to the President for his signature.

Ohio’s Largest Food and Farming Conference to Feature Intensive Pre-Conference Workshop on Soil Health

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 16, 2014
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Contact:
Renee Hunt, OEFFA Program Director—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 205, renee@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator—(614) 421-2022 Ext. 203,
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The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) will host a full day pre-conference workshop, Eco-Farming, Biodiversity, and Soil Health: A Systems Approach to Enhancing Productivity, on Friday, February 14 as part of its 35th annual conference, Affirming Our Roots, Breaking New Ground.
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“This in-depth event is designed to help ecological growers improve their productivity and profitability by learning how to enhance their use of natural soil amendments, cover crops, plasticulture and other methods to maximize their land’s agroecosystem services,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.
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The pre-conference workshop will be offered as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest.
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In addition to the soil health intensive pre-conference workshop, the 2014 conference on Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16 will feature keynote speakers Atina Diffley and Kathleen Merrigan; more than 100 educational workshops; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment. A second pre-conference workshop on wholesale marketing will also be offered on Friday, February 14.
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Rafiq Islam of Ohio State University’s South Centers, along with OSU extension educators Randall Reeder, Jim Hoorman, Brad Bergefurd, Harit Kaur Bal, Alan Sundermeier, and Vinayak Shedekar, will lead the workshop, which will focus on the eco-farming systems approach, plasticulture production of organic fruits and vegetables, organic agroecosystems and biocontrol services, soil amendment and nutrient recycling, soil organic matter calculators, and soil health tests.
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The pre-conference workshop will be held from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Cherry Valley Lodge, 2299 Cherry Valley Rd. SE, Newark, Ohio. Pre-registration is required and costs $60 for OEFFA members and $70 for non-members. For more information, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014.
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On Saturday and Sunday, the OEFFA conference will be held at Granville Middle and High schools, 248 New Burg St., Granville, Ohio. Separate registration is required for all conference events. For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014.
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Our Sponsors
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, Northstar Café/Third and Hollywood, UNFI Foundation, Granville Exempted Village Schools, Mustard Seed Market and Café, Northridge Organic Farm, Organic Valley, Snowville Creamery, Whole Foods Market, Albert Lea Seed Company, Around the World Gourmet, Canal Junction Farmstead Cheese, Casa Nueva, Earth Tools, Eban’s Bakehouse, Edible Cleveland, Green BEAN Delivery, Green Field Farms, Lucky Cat Bakery, OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources, Raisin Rack Natural Food Market, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, Swainway Urban Farm, Andelain Fields, Curly Tail Organic Farm, C-TEC of Licking County, DNO Produce, Eden Foods, Glass Rooster Cannery, King Family Farm, Law Office of David G. Cox, Metro Cuisine, Two Caterers Contemporary Cuisine, Whole Hog BBQ, Bad Dog Acres, Bexley Natural Market, Bluebird Farm, Carriage House Farm, Charlie’s Apples at Windy Hill Farm, Fedco Seeds, Flying J Farm, Hartzler Dairy Farm, The Hills Market, Lucky’s Market, Marshy Meadows Farm, Middlefield Original Cheese, Nourse Farms, Pâtisserie Lallier, Schmidt Family Farms, Stonyfield Farm, Sunsprout Farms of Central Ohio, and Wayward Seed Farm
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Conference Registration
To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, featured presenters and workshops, pre-conference descriptions, workshop listings, hotel options, and a schedule, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2014. For additional questions, contact Renee Hunt at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 205 or renee@oeffa.org. Past conferences have sold out in advance, so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment.

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Artwork and Images
For the conference art image, speaker photographs, or pictures from past conferences, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.
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Press Passes and Media Inquiries
OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre-conference events. We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters. To arrange an interview or request a press pass, contact Lauren Ketcham at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203 or lauren@oeffa.org.