Monthly Archives: October 2010

OEFFA Announces Free, Public Tour Series Featuring Ohio’s Organic and Sustainable Farms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2010

Contact: Mike Anderson, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 204, mike@oeffa.org

OEFFA Announces Free, Public Tour Series Featuring Ohio’s Organic and Sustainable Farms

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has announced its 2010 series of free public tours of some of Ohio’s finest sustainable and organic farms. For the past 28 years, OEFFA has offered this series so that Ohioans can learn more about how farmers are meeting the growing demand for sustainably-produced food.

Consumers interested in local foods, farmers and market gardeners wanting to learn from each other’s successes and mistakes, aspiring and beginning farmers, and anyone interested in learning more about the production and marketing techniques of sustainable farmers in Ohio, are invited to attend.

“The food production system is a mystery for many consumers. This series of free tours shows that some farmers are eager to open their doors to share their experiences with other farmers and with the general public,” said Mike Anderson, Organic Education Program Coordinator at OEFFA.  “The more consumers know about how their food is grown, the better prepared they are to make informed choices about who to support with their food dollars,” added Anderson.

Eleven tours will be held between June and October, featuring livestock producers; a poultry processing facility; certified organic farmers; farms that incorporate renewable energy and green building techniques; and farmers using a wide range of direct-to-consumer marketing strategies, including farmers’ markets, restaurants, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The tours are:

  • June 10–Muddy Fork Farm, Wooster, Ohio (Wayne County)
  • June 16–Blue Rock Station, Philo, Ohio (Muskingham County)
  • June 27–Starline Organics, Athens, Ohio (Athens County)
  • July 17–Mapleside Farm, Hiram, Ohio (Portage County)
  • July 18–Sandy Rock Acres, Rockbridge, Ohio (Hocking County)
  • August 7–Mockingbird Meadows, Marysville, Ohio (Union County)
  • August 14–Crown Point Ecology Center, Bath, Ohio (Summit County)
  • September 18–Bluebird Farm, Cadiz, Ohio (Harrison County)
  • September 25–Central Ohio Poultry Processing, Bellville, Ohio (Richland County)
  • October 2–Clearview Farm, Pataskala, Ohio (Licking County)
  • October 16–Carriage House Farms, LLC, N. Bend, Ohio (Hamilton County)

The Ohio State University Sustainable Agriculture Team and the Innovative Farmers of Ohio (IFO) also sponsor farm tours. For a complete list of farm tours, and for more information about OEFFA’s farm tours, go to http://www.oeffa.us/oeffa/pdfs/OEFFA_2010farmtoursSMALL.pdf.

The Ohio Ecological Food & 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.

Court Restores Right to Know in Ohio and Throughout the U.S.

Statement of Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Executive Director Carol Goland, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter, and Ohio Environmental Council Director of Agriculture Joe Logan

September 30, 2010

“Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit struck down a significant part of a pending rule in Ohio that would restrict the information consumers get about whether milk was produced with the artificial growth hormone rBGH. Today’s decision, the result of a lawsuit filed by the International Dairy Foods Association and the Organic Trade Association, threw out a part of the rule created by the Ohio Department of Agriculture that essentially prohibited labeling dairy products as ‘rBGH-free.’ The court also rejected a portion of the rule that had placed severe restrictions on other types of labeling that referred to the use of rBGH.

“This means that farmers in Ohio will be able to label their milk as produced from cows that were not treated with rBGH, and that consumers will still be able to use this information when they purchase dairy products.

“Today’s ruling will hopefully encourage dairy producers that have already gone rBGH-free to label their products accordingly. We also hope that the state of Ohio has learned that attempts to restrict milk labeling are a waste of time and money.

“Because much of the milk produced in Ohio is sold across state lines, this ruling is a victory for consumers in Ohio and throughout the U.S.”

Ohio’s “Eat Local Challenge Week” – The Challenge is Trying It All

By Chris Thomas, Public News Service – OH
October 1, 2010

WOOSTER, Ohio – Get out those skillets and saucepans! Saturday kicks off “Eat Local Challenge Week,” a celebration of products made and grown in Ohio. With the enormous variety available, the biggest challenge may be deciding which to try.

One way to pare down the choices is to look for the organic foods, offered by producers who pass up pesticides and growth hormones and use farming methods that are easy on the environment. That tip comes from Lauren Ketcham with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.

“Just because a food is being made or produced locally does not mean that it’s being raised in a way that safeguards the environment and protects public health. The best thing you can do as a consumer is look for food that’s produced both organically and here in Ohio, locally.”

The Ohio Agriculture Department says the idea of the challenge is to fix one meal a day using local foods. Ketcham suggests just a few of the mouth-watering menu possibilities, all easy to prepare.

“Fall salads are a good choice right now, with sliced apples or feta cheese. Bell peppers are in season and are great stuffed with grass-fed beef, garden herbs and local cheese. Another simple option is a frittata: farm-fresh eggs, baby spinach, broccoli and local bacon.”

She lists several good reasons to buy locally, including knowing exactly where your food comes from, supporting Ohio’s family-farm businesses, and helping the environment.

“Buying local keeps food from traveling far distances to your plate, allows it to be picked and sold ripe and full of flavor and nutrition, and helps reduce some of the environmental impacts of long-distance shipping.”

It will take more than a week to sample everything Ohio food producers are selling, Ketcham says, adding that there are locally-made wines and beers to wash it down. Farmers markets and farmstands are good places to start looking. The Association also has a directory of organic producers online at www.oeffa.org.

More information about Eat Local Challenge Week is available at www.agri.ohio.gov.

Story first appeared: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/16254-1

OEFFA Comments to the Livestock Care Standards Board

October 4, 2010

Dear Director Boggs, Dr. Forshey, Livestock Care Standards Board, and Technical Research Advisory Committee members,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments on behalf of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) for your consideration.

Our comments largely pertain to the draft veal standards document and the draft handling of disabled and distressed livestock document discussed by the Technical Research Advisory Committee (TRAC) on September 28. As these standards are still in early draft form, our comments at this point focus principally on big picture issues, not specific line-by-line language. We urge you to consider and act on the following:

Standard Operating Procedures (901:12-3-04 Veal Standards, 901:12-2-04 Disabled and Distressed Livestock Standards) and Emergency Action Plans (901:12-3-08 Veal Standards, 901:12-2-08 Disabled and Distressed Livestock Standards)

We do not support a requirement that all livestock producers, regardless of scale, produce written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Emergency Action Plans. Although this may be appropriate, and in fact desirable, for larger commercial facilities that have multiple employees, this requirement would be impractical and burdensome for small-scale producers. Moreover, requiring this documentation is relatively meaningless unless there is a review and approval of these plans, which would be impractical for the ODA given the number of livestock farms in Ohio (unless the board decides to target only larger operations).

Additionally, 901:12-3-04 A1c calls for each farm to have a “training program that addresses animal welfare, signs of disease, routine and special care and handling, and euthanasia.” Again, requiring every livestock producer in the state, regardless of size, to offer a training program, regardless of whether they have employees, is impractical and burdensome.

Instead, the OLCSB should recommend that livestock producers have written SOPs and Emergency Actions Plans, as well as recommend training for farmers and hired personnel if they are not able to meet established standards.

Caretaker Training (901:12-3-04 Veal Standards, 901:12-2-04 Disabled and Distressed Livestock Standards)

We do not support required trainings for all livestock caretakers and transport personnel. By mandating training, these standards would assume farmers do not have these skills and create a potentially costly and time consuming process to train the thousands of livestock farmers in Ohio. The OLCSB will be establishing standards and allowable practices that must be met; it is up to the farmer to comply with those standards. The farmer can determine, after review of the standards and practices, whether they require training in order to be in compliance with the standards or whether they already have the skills to comply. If a farmer can comply with the standards competently, it should not matter whether they have attended a training.

Furthermore, it is unclear what is meant by “training.” Would completing a short online course or reading a fact sheet be considered training? What about learning from your father, an experienced neighbor, or through real-life experience? Would trainings be state-administered or would industry offer trainings? Requiring farmers to attend industry-led trainings is concerning, given the bias these trainings could have toward certain production practices, and farmers should not be required to participate in a certain industry group, if they choose not to.

Instead, the OLCSB should recommend training for farmers and hired personnel if they are not able to meet established standards.

Veal Standards

Veal Definition (901:12-3-02)—As currently written, the definition of veal is unclear, and could apply to both calves raised for veal and calves raised for beef. The definition should be clarified, so that beef producers are not subject to two sets of standards.

Disabled and Distressed Livestock Standards

Generally speaking, what appears absent in this document is an emphasis on prevention. There is currently no language in the document about responsibility of a livestock caretaker to understand why there are disabled and/or distressed animals on the farm, so that future problems can be minimized or avoided entirely.

Health (901:12-2-05)—Section 3 indicates that if an animal becomes non-ambulatory disabled, a veterinarian must be consulted. While this may well be an appropriate course of action, veterinary assistance should not be required. The farmer should also have the option of on-farm slaughter or euthanasia.

Subcommittees and Academic Research

As other subcommittees have begun to meet, we would also like to address the request from Dr. Forshey that subcommittee members provide peer-reviewed scientific articles to justify their production practices. Although we understand the rationale behind this request and recognize the merit of animal care standards based on science, we would like to draw your attention to the bias in the scientific research that is available. There simply is not the volume of scientific research on small-scale, diversified, and organic production systems that there is for industrial livestock production. Simply because research is not available, does not mean that small-scale, pasture-based, and diversified production systems lack merit.

Moreover, the role of the subcommittee members is to represent their production model and offer comment on the workability of any regulations, not to produce scientific evidence. In our mind, this is the important role that the TRAC can play in helping to inform the LCSB about the relative merits of different production practices.

In conclusion, any animal care standards need to protect alternative production, processing, and distribution models. Consumer demand is at an all-time high for grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and pastured pork.  Small, diversified, and organic farms are meeting this demand while strengthening our local economies, increasing our food security, and protecting our vanishing farmland and rural traditions. Ohio needs to be creating a climate which encourages beginning farmers to raise livestock and provide viable pathways for the next generation of farmers to see a future in farming. We should not discourage new farmers by putting unnecessary and impractical obstacles in their way, and create a situation in which small-scale and diversified farming is not practical or profitable.

Sincerely,
Renee Hunt
Program Director

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a 31-year-old membership based organization of farmers, backyard gardeners, consumers, retailers, educators, researchers and others who share the desire to build a healthy food system that brings prosperity to farmers, helps preserve farmland, offers food security for all Ohioans, and creates economic opportunities for our rural communities. OEFFA also offers organic certification.  We are one of 55 domestic USDA accredited certification agencies, all which certify to the same standard, the National Organic Program (NOP).