Archive for March, 2011

Organic Farms and Seed Sellers File Suit Against Monsanto

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Preemptive Action Seeks Ruling That Would Prohibit Monsanto from Suing Organic Farmers and Seed Growers if Contaminated by Roundup Ready Seed

For Immediate Release:

March 30, 2011

Contact:
Dr. Carol Goland, Executive Director, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, (614) 421-2022, cgoland@oeffa.org
Daniel Ravicher, Executive Director, Public Patent Foundation, (212) 545-5337, press@pubpat.org

Press Release

On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations, including the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit today against Monsanto to challenge the chemical giant’s patents on genetically modified seed.

The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past.

The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald.

Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses, and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it.  The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers.

“This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed should land on their property,” said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT’s Executive Director and Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. “It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”

Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed contaminates and destroys organic seed for the same crop.  For example, soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, organic canola became virtually extinct as a result of contamination. Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa now face the same fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops, too.  Monsanto is developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.

“Consumers indicate, overwhelmingly, that they prefer foods made without genetically modified organisms,” said Dr. Carol Goland, OEFFA’s Executive Director. “Organic farms, by regulation, may not use GMOs, while other farmers forego using them for other reasons.  Yet the truth is that we are rapidly approaching the tipping point when we will be unable to avoid GMOs in our fields and on our plates.  That is the inevitable consequence of releasing genetically engineered materials into the environment.  To add injury to injury, Monsanto has a history of suing farmers whose fields have been contaminated by Monsanto’s GMOs.  On behalf of farmers who must live under this cloud of uncertainty and risk, we are compelled to ask the Court to put an end to this unconscionable business practice.”

In the case, PUBPAT is asking Judge Buchwald to declare that if organic farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed, they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement.  One argument justifying this result is that Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don’t meet the “usefulness” requirement of patent law, according to PUBPAT’s Ravicher, plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the case.  Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified seed – increased production and decreased herbicide use – are false.

“Some say transgenic seed can coexist with organic seed, but history tells us that’s not possible, and it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply,” said Ravicher. “Monsanto is the same chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s, and other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not.  Now Monsanto says transgenic seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is not.”

The plaintiffs in the suit represented by PUBPAT are: Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association; Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association; Organic Crop Improvement Association International, Inc.; OCIA Research and Education Inc.; The Cornucopia Institute; Demeter Association, Inc.; Navdanya International; Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association; Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts Chapter, Inc.; Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont; Rural Vermont; Southeast Iowa Organic Association; Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society; Mendocino Organic Network; Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance; Canadian Organic Growers; Family Farmer Seed Cooperative; Sustainable Living Systems; Global Organic Alliance; Food Democracy Now!; Family Farm Defenders Inc.; Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund; FEDCO Seeds Inc.; Adaptive Seeds, LLC; Sow True Seed; Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; Mumm’s Sprouting
Seeds; Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., LLC; Comstock, Ferre & Co., LLC; Seedkeepers, LLC; Siskiyou Seeds; Countryside Organics; Cuatro Puertas; Interlake Forage Seeds Ltd.; Alba Ranch; Wild Plum Farm; Gratitude Gardens; Richard Everett Farm, LLC; Philadelphia Community Farm, Inc; Genesis Farm; Chispas Farms LLC; Kirschenmann Family Farms Inc.; Midheaven Farms; Koskan Farms; California Cloverleaf Farms; North Outback Farm; Taylor Farms, Inc.; Jardin del Alma; Ron Gargasz Organic Farms; Abundant Acres; T & D Willey Farms; Quinella Ranch; Nature’s Way Farm Ltd.; Levke and Peter Eggers Farm; Frey Vineyards, Ltd.; Bryce Stephens; Chuck Noble; LaRhea Pepper; Paul Romero; and, Donald Wright Patterson, Jr.

For a copy of the complaint, go to http://www.pubpat.org/assets/files/seed/OSGATA-v-Monsanto-Complaint.pdf.

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About OEFFA

OEFFA was founded in 1979 and is a grassroots coalition of farmers, backyard gardeners, consumers, retailers, educators, researchers, and others who share a desire to build a healthy food system that brings prosperity to family farmers, helps preserve farmland, offers food security for all Ohioans, and creates economic opportunities for our rural communities. OEFFA also operates one of the oldest and most respected organic certification programs in the nation, certifying more than 650 operations throughout the Midwest. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

About PUBPAT

The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) is a not-for-profit legal services organization affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. PUBPAT protects freedom in the patent system by representing the public interest against undeserved patents and unsound patent policy. For more information, go to www.pubpat.org.

Joan Dye Gussow talks about why the local-food movement matters

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Joan Dye Gussow says she has found the secret to getting a 12-hour day of vegetable gardening out of her 82-year-old body. She has breakfast, works for four hours, comes in for lunch and lies down to get her spine straightened out. Then she gets up and does it two more times before the day ends.

Gussow, a nutritionist by trade, applies this dogged behavior to her 35-year campaign to get the public to think more about what happens to food before they eat it.

Since 1970, she has brought lessons of local and organic food to the nutritional ecology course she teaches at Columbia University. She made it the core of her 1996 book, “This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader,” and part of her newest work, “Growing, Older,” (Chelsea Green, $17.95).

Michael Pollan, best-selling author and the reigning guru of local food, has said that a lot of what he preaches, Gussow said first.

She remembers appearing at the Ohio Ecological Farm & Food Association conference 10 years ago. This weekend, she’s back with the group in Granville near Columbus for another keynote speech.

Gussow talked by phone from her home in Piermont, N.Y., where her garden stretches to the Hudson River — a river that rose and flooded her out in 2009, an act she attributes to global warming.

You’re not bored with teaching nutritional ecology?

It changes every year. And it’s life-changing for the students. This year I gave them Bill McKibben’s “Eaarth” to read. He says your children will never see glacial ice caps at the poles. It’s so clear and brilliantly written. We live on a different planet that requires us to have to live quietly and locally.

Making food more local is no longer what my graduate students of years ago thought was a nutty idea. Still, we just elected five people to Congress who don’t believe global warming is happening. My real impulse is to stake them on a beach at the present high tide mark and wait until they drown. Because they will.

Part of your new book is about becoming widowed. How is that part of your life going?

I was married for 40 years. But I was stunned to realize I didn’t miss him. I spent, really, a lot of years figuring out why.

I deeply believe we are in serious trouble on our planet, so serious that we could cut off the capacity to support human life. I was in grief about that.

Whenever something broke, I’d want to fix it. He’d say, ‘We can get a new one.’ Finally I’d scream, ‘It’s not the money. Somebody’s out there mining that chrome and in a terrible environment.’ It was a puzzle to me after 40 years that he didn’t understand what drove me.

I wasn’t unhappy. The real secret to happiness, and the reason I wanted to write about it, is to be a person who is happy with themselves and the world around them. Somebody else is not going to make you happy.

What’s different since your last Ohio visit?

A lot more people are aware of the local food movement, at least for reasons of freshness and transportation costs. From when I started out in the ’70s to now, it’s stunning how much has changed. It’s very rewarding.

What will you talk about?

I’ll probably give them a history of the movement, and look at the future and how we have to be very conscious of the traps along the way.

What traps?

We have a very, very, very powerful food industry, from seed to table. It’s the biggest industry in the United States. They argue that nothing is wrong with the way we typically raise and slaughter animals. And they have a lot of money to put that message out there in large type.

We just lost a major battle when the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved genetically modified alfalfa, which was fought passionately by a huge number of people. They [the USDA] just took all boundaries off and approved it .

I think it’s extraordinarily dangerous. If you get genetically modified alfalfa pollen spreading around and contaminating all the organic alfalfa crops, organic farmers will either not be able to feed alfalfa to their animals or they’ll have to give up the organic label.

What do you say to people who don’t follow this point of view?

I would think that nutritional and taste benefits were obvious to people. There are people who think this means you can’t have an orange in winter. I get a box of grapefruit every year from Texas. It ships once and I use it for two months. It’s a wonderful winter treat.

It’s about what you do about dinner normally. Two thirds of people don’t understand how well-fed you can be with local food in Ohio in the winter. Or how dysfunctional and dangerous our present food system is. It’s dangerous in terms of toxic things such as E. coli scares of lettuce and in the way our standard meat system handles and slaughters animals.

Or to the degree to which we depend on people who make less than they can live on, all the way down the chain, from growers to shippers to some restaurant workers. These are all minimally paid people whom we really exploit through the system.

The hope is that with a local-food system, you can watch what’s going on. You can be aware where food comes from and be responsible for it.

How do you talk about eating locally and organically to seniors and others on a limited budget?

I sense that the right to eat really well is very upscale at this point. You can go to a store and get lot more calories of junk food for the dollar than you can with fruit and vegetables. So yes, it’s very difficult.

The only thing I can say is that in summers sometimes farmers markets have produce at the peak of season that is cheaper than at the supermarket. The food is fresh and the farmers get the whole benefit. Now there are food stamps given out for seniors, programs for poor seniors, for poor mothers. In some cases you can even double the value of those coupons.

In my view, local is more important than organic. And I think local is not inherently more expensive, as organic sometimes is. It shouldn’t be if we had subsidies for fruits and vegetables as we have for things that go into junk food: corn, soy and wheat. We would not have this disparity in price. It’s something people have to think about politically and push for.

The other thing I’d like to mention is the degree to which people think they need meat all time. If you really study how much protein we need, it’s a little over 50 grams a day. It’s not hard to get to that. People should not spend so much of their budgets on meat. It’s better for them anyway.

- Debbi Snook, Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 15, 2011

To read the original post, click here.

Joan Dye Gussow, outspoken godmother of the local-food movement, comes to Granville this week for Ohio's sold-out organic food conference. Photo Credit: Susan Frieman

Joan Dye Gussow, outspoken godmother of the local-food movement, comes to Granville this week for Ohio's sold-out organic food conference. Photo Credit: Susan Frieman

Local food movement founder hopes it’s not a fad

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Thirty-five years ago, Joan Dye Gussow realized that the food system in America was broken.

She was teaching a nutrition course at Columbia University which covered such topics as the limits to growth, the impact of advertising, and the relationship between people and food.

“It looked at all those issues and where we were headed. I realized that the implications of that course were that we were headed off a cliff and we had to do something about that. We were headed off a cliff in terms of the production of food,” Ms. Gussow said on the phone from her home on the Hudson River just north of New York City.

And so she began to teach and write and lecture about growing one’s own food and buying the rest from local farmers, especially those who do not use chemicals. Her ideas and her passion helped ignite what became the current red-hot interest in foods that are local, organic, and sustainable.

“I am now known officially as the matriarch of the movement. It’s pretty awful to be called the matriarch of anything,” the 82-year-old Ms. Gussow said.

On Sunday, she will be giving the keynote address at the 32nd annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association in Granville, Ohio.

The speech will be about “whether things are moving as they should be. The news is not terrific,” she said.

When she first began thinking about the food supply chain, Ms. Gussow was struck by the fact that the United States exported large amounts of food to countries like India and China, which have huge populations and widespread unemployment. American machine and chemical-based efficiency meant that very little labor was being used in this country to send food to nations with a large pool of idle laborers.

And Americans were consuming food from distant shores as well, and even distant parts of this country. And that unsettled her, too. In order truly to know about something, she determined, you have to live near it and be a part of it.

“I figured we had to have agriculture locally, and in order to keep the agriculture local we had to eat what the [local] farmers produced,” she said. “So we have to be willing to change our diets and not depend on things shipped from across the seas.

“I’ve been playing with that idea for 35 years, and I can tell you 35 years ago it was a big hit,” she said sarcastically. “It was like a piece of lead dropped into the ocean. Some of my students thought I was crazy.”

But she persevered, writing such books as This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader and Chicken Little Tomato Sauce: Who Will Produce Tomorrow’s Food?

And she practiced what she preached, growing vegetables in two long garden plots behind her house. She freezes what she can and plants hardy, winter vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, collard greens, and kale to get through the leaner months. She gets fruit from a few trees including “an apple tree with apples only a mother could love, but they’re very good — if you cut out the insects.”

And her meat, bread, and cheese come from upstate farmers as part of a Community Supported Agriculture arrangement, an increasingly popular way for consumers to purchase their food items straight from the farmers and artisans. The one treat she allows herself in the winter is to order a big box of grapefruit from Texas, which her grandmother used to get for her and which she now gets for her loved ones.

“Nature does not grow fruit in winter,” she said.

Now, in large part because of her efforts, “there is a huge change in the amount of interest in local [food]. It’s almost a fad, and I worry sometimes that it is a fad, and it will end. There has been a tremendous change in people’s awareness. There has been a tremendous spreading of the word, and not just on the coasts, but in the Midwest and the Ecological Farming Association.

“There is a tremendous change, but there is also a tremendous pushback. The people in power are in power because they have so much money. The Department of Agriculture just passed a bill eliminating restrictions on genetically engineered alfalfa. Now you can plant it anywhere. It is disheartening to see how the Department of Agriculture is overwhelmed by the powers that be. We have a congress that has been bought by them.”

The local food movement is growing, but it still remains upscale and out of reach for most people, she said. The efficiencies of conventional farming make it cheaper than organic farming, and one of the fundamentals of the local food movement is to ensure that the farmers and their laborers are paid a decent living, which makes organic foods even pricier.

“The truth is that the food at farmers’ markets is more expensive,” she said. “The poor can’t afford fresh produce, because they can get more food from junk than they buy in the store.”

“I’m fundamentally a person who’s optimistic, but I also think we have a tremendous fight ahead of us. I’m thrilled that we’ve come so far from where we started, but we have a long way to go.”

– Daniel Neman, Toledo Blade, Feb. 14, 2011

To read the original story, click here.

Interview: Steve Bosserman on Building a Local Economy

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farming Association (OEFFA) held their 32nd Annual Conference, complete with a trade show, featured keynote speakers Joan Dye Gussow and Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, and over 70 educational workshops.

The workshop titled, “Networking Food System Businesses to Build Local Economies”, was co-hosted by Steve Bosserman of the Ohio State University USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Regional Partnerships for Innovation grant team. He is also the president of the consulting firm Bosserman & Associates, and the administrator of localfoodsystems.org. Steve sat down with The Erie Wire and gave some insight on how the characteristics of Ohio’s local food systems are being encouraged and strengthened.

To listen to to the interview, go to http://www.eriewire.org/archives/10540/section/agriculture/

Steve Bosserman, of the OSU USDA SCRI Regional Partnerships for Innovation (grant), discussing the development of local food economies from collaborative research made available through a grant. Photo: Joshua B. Pribanic

Steve Bosserman, of the OSU USDA SCRI Regional Partnerships for Innovation (grant), discussing the development of local food economies from collaborative research made available through a grant. Photo: Joshua B. Pribanic

Interview: Charlie Fritsch on Growing Organic Apples in Ohio

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

An Erie Wire interview with Charlie Fritsch, who presented a workshop about organic apple production at OEFFA’s 32nd annual conference. Crisp, tasty, high quality apples can be grown following organic practices, even in Ohio if one starts with disease resistant varieties. Researcher and Windy Hill Apple Farm orchardist Charlie Fritsch will offer strategies for managing insects and fungal diseases as well as horticultural concerns for both commercial and backyard orcharding.

Listen here to an interview with Charlie where he discusses the likelihood of commercial scale organic apple growing within the state of Ohio.

Interview: A Discussion on Emerging Markets for Organic Grain & Feed

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

An interview with OEFFA 2011 conference keynote speakers, Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens, who raise corn, soybeans, small grains, and other crops on 1400 acres.

To listen to the Erie Wire’s interview, go to http://www.eriewire.org/archives/10769/section/agriculture/

Klaas & Mary Howell Martens

Klaas & Mary Howell Martens, (c) Joshua Pribanic

Could Alfalfa Decision Spur “Super Weeds”?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
February 11, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Organic farmers and organizations in Ohio are voicing concerns about the recent deregulation of genetically modified alfalfa. Often referred to as “Round-Up ready,” these genetically modified (G-M) crops enable farmers to use herbicides while crops are in the ground.

Carol Goland, executive director of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, says the problem is that G-M alfalfa can drift and contaminate organic alfalfa that is used in organic dairy and grass-fed beef operations. To make matters worse, she says, the use and overuse of Round-Up has lead to the emergence of what are called “super weeds.”

“The analogy here is with is the overuse of antibiotics leading to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant diseases. We see the same thing with herbicides and the weeds.”

Alfalfa is the nation’s fourth-largest crop, covering 20 million acres. In Ohio, many organic dairy farmers rely on alfalfa as part of their organic feed program. Additionally, alfalfa is often used in organic crop rotation, Goland says. Initially, the USDA proposed planting guidelines for genetically modified alfalfa, but then reversed its position.

Goland says contamination from use of genetically modified seed can do a lot of economic harm to farmers who are responding to the rising consumer demand for organic products.

“The organic standards require that livestock feed for animals be 100 percent organic. So, that potential for contamination puts at risk the organic status of crops, animals and farms.”

She adds that some farmers try to avoid contamination from neighboring farms that use genetically modified seed by planting later in the season, or using production land as a buffer, which she says can also hurt their bottom line.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service – OH

Audio available at http://www.publicnewsservice.org/index.php?/content/article/18410-1

OEFFA Announces 2011 Stewardship Award Recipients

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Ed Snavely and Deborah Stinner Recognized for Contributions to Sustainable Agriculture in Ohio

For Immediate Release: February 21, 2011
Contact: Carol Goland, Executive Director, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, cgoland@oeffa.org
Press Release

COLUMBUS, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has bestowed its highest honor, the Stewardship Award, on Ed Snavely of Knox County and Deborah Stinner of Wayne County. The announcement was made on February 19 as part of OEFFA’s 32nd Annual Conference, Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities. The award recognizes “outstanding contributions to the sustainable agriculture community.”

Dr. Deborah Stinner is a Research Scientist and Administrative Coordinator for the Organic Food and Farming Education and Research Program (OFFER) at The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio.

Stinner’s research specialty is organic farming systems, with a focus on specialty small grains, including hard wheat and spelt, for artisan bread and pasta products. She helped found the OFFER program in 1998 in response to requests by organic producers and supporters to provide science-based information to Ohio’s organic farmers. OFFER is internationally recognized as a leader in organic farming research.

The OFFER Program, which maintains 50 acres of certified research land and 20 organic field experiments, supports “field to table” organic research and education, including organic vegetable, fruit, and grain production; environmental impacts of organic farming; local and international marketing; on-farm research with organic farmers; and the impact of organic production on food quality.

“For more than two decades, Deb Stinner has clearly articulated the challenges facing Ohio farmers.  She has shared her understanding of what makes agriculture truly sustainable and helped farmers see how their farming decisions effect their profitability, their families and their communities.” said Mike Anderson, OEFFA’s Organic Education Coordinator, who presented the award at the Saturday evening ceremony.

Ed Snavely owns and operates Curly Tail Organic Farm, a 114 acre farm in Fredericktown, Ohio. One of Ohio’s longest continuously certified farms, Ed has been certified organic since 1989 and raises pastured pork and feed for livestock.

Snavely has been a member of OEFFA since 1989 and currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Grain Growers Chapter Representative and Vice President.  He has served as President of the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) Ohio Chapter, and also as a former board member of OCIA. Snavely has hosted numerous farm tours; spoken as a featured presenter at OEFFA, OCIA, and American Livestock  Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) meetings; and has been an honored delegate at the first and second Slow Food Terra Madre conferences in Italy.

“I was proud to present the OEFFA Stewardship Award to my good friend Ed. He has long been a proponent of organic and sustainable agriculture and has worked to spread the word not only locally but across our nation and around the world,” said Mike Laughlin, OEFFA Board Member and 2010 Stewardship Award recipient, who presented the award.

“Both Deb and Ed care deeply about creating a sustainable food system. We should all be sincerely grateful for what they have done to advance sustainable agriculture in our community,” said OEFFA Executive Director Carol Goland.

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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, visit www.oeffa.org.

More than 150 Grassroots Groups Oppose House Budget Cuts to Sustainable Agriculture Programs

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

For Immediate Release: March 2, 2011

Contact: Carol Goland, (614) 421-2022, cgoland@oeffa.org

Press Release

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) was one of more than 150 organizations to sign on to a letter to the U.S. Senate in opposition to a House budget bill (H.R.1) that would cut more than $60 billion dollars from the federal budget over the remainder of this fiscal year.   H.R. 1 slashes a disproportional amount from the agriculture budget (22 %) relative to other budget sections.  Worse, it unfairly targets programs that serve sustainable, organic, beginning, and minority farmers.

H.R. 1 makes deep cuts to conservation and renewable energy funding provided by the 2008 Farm Bill—a combined $500 million would be cut under the House bill from programs including the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and Wetland Reserve Program (WRP).

While Conservation, Renewable Energy, Farm Services Agency direct farm lending, and feeding programs for low income families took big hits, no cuts were proposed for commodity payments or crop insurance, two of the biggest line items in the agriculture budget after nutrition programs.  According to the letter submitted by OEFFA and other groups, “In a year of relatively high farm income, the House has focused its cuts instead upon programs that protect the environment, increase economic opportunity, serve beginning and minority farmers, and ensure proper nutrition for low-income families.”

“These cuts are reckless and unfair” said Carol Goland, OEFFA’s Executive Director.   “If cuts must be made then everything must be on the table.  Cuts must be fair, equitable and made based on the merits of each program,” she said.

The House bill would make very major cuts in agricultural research and extension, rural development, and would also eliminate funding completely for a number of small programs of great importance to sustainable, organic, beginning, and minority farmers.  The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA), Organic Transitions Research Program, Office of Advocacy and Outreach (to coordinate policy and outreach to beginning, women, and minority farmers), and the Office of Tribal Relations program would all be terminated.

H.R. 1 also cuts several USDA agency administrative budgets more severely than the programs they manage.   “With the staff cuts this will require, we don’t see how they can possibly do their job effectively,” said Goland.   “The Senate needs to be more responsible and even handed in its approach to deficit reduction.”

To read the full text of the letter, go to http://sustainableagriculture.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/154-Organization-Letter-to-Senate-on-Ag-Section-of-HR-1.pdf.

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The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association was founded in 1979 and is a grassroots coalition of farmers, backyard gardeners, consumers, retailers, educators, researchers, and others who share a desire to build a healthy food system. For more than 30 years, OEFFA has used education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing to promote local and organic food systems, helping farmers and consumers reconnect and together build a sustainable food system, one meal at a time. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.