Monthly Archives: November 2012

Organic farmers and consumers will be hurt by congressional inaction that let the farm bill lapse: letter to the editor

 
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
November 14, 2012

On Oct. 1, the farm bill officially expired due to inaction by the U.S. House of Representatives. Their fumbling over budget cuts and money allocation has led us to the first full expiration of the farm bill in history, leaving many programs without funding to continue their essential actions toward advancing agriculture in this country. One such program is the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which stopped accepting applications after Oct. 31.

Organic farmers are required to pay an annual fee for certification. The NOCCSP gives farmers the opportunity to offset those costs by up to $750 per year. Without this low-cost program, we are likely to see the number of enrollments to organic certification programs in Ohio slow and re-enrollments decline. Being organically certified helps consumers know that their food is held to the standards set by the National Organic Program, which approximately one-third of Ohio’s organic operations utilize.

The loss of such a program could have devastating effects on the growing organic movement, but all hope is not lost. Congress can replenish funding by voting in its current lame-duck session to reauthorize the farm bill. A call to your congressmen can help make this a reality.

Shane Richmond, Granville

Tomatoes make way to Harding

November 15, 2012
By Bonnie Hazen
Tribune Chronicle

WARREN – Students in Warren City Schools soon will enjoy salsa made from locally grown tomatoes.

Five bushels of tomatoes were delivered this week to Warren G. Harding High School.

Warren Schools Department of Food Service director Laureen Postlethwait poses with locally grown tomatoes delivered Tuesday at Warren G. Harding High School.

“We were really happy with what came today,” said Laureen Postlethwait, director of the Warren Schools Department of Food Service, explaining the aroma and vibrant color of the tomatoes was surprising for a November delivery.

The tomatoes were the last pickings of the field-grown tomatoes from Anguili’s Farm Market in Canfield. The produce was purchased from the Lake to River Food Cooperative, a member-owned cooperative comprising a local group of food producers, processors and institutional and commercial buyers, including a number of area farms, schools and businesses.

The cooperative was formed in 2011 and is supported in part by a $75,000 USDA grant. It offers a variety of foods, including fresh produce, meat, cheese, eggs and other products.

“Our goal is to keep food dollars in our community,” said Lake to River Food Cooperative produce manager Greg Bowman of Salem, who made the delivery.

Though this was the first delivery to Warren, he said the co-op has also served Austintown, Youngstown, Girard, Boardman, Springfield, Labrae and Badger schools.

The food co-op is helpful both to schools and farmers because it serves as an intermediary and helps provide fresh produce that is grown locally to schools while helping farmers wrap up the season after their stands close, said Melissa Miller, marketing manager for the Lake to River Food Cooperative.

The variety of produce offered by the co-op assists local schools in providing more nutritious ingredients in their school lunches, helping them comply with the stricter dietary guidelines initiated this year, Postlethwait said.

The federal meal program guidelines, signed into law by President Barack Obama as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, require schools to offer healthier food choices to students, such as lower-calorie and lower-fat foods.

“It’s a challenge to change the mindset of the students’ meal patterns,” Postlethwait said, adding that students have been very receptive to the fresh salads, and they recently made salsa from tomatoes grown at school.

The tomatoes delivered Tuesday were the first of three shipments to be delivered within the next two weeks, and will primarily be used for salsa in nacho and burrito lunches at the high school.

Postlethwait said apples also will be purchased from the co-op in the winter months.

Editor’s Note: The Lake-To-River Food Cooperative’s  (L2R) $75,000 grant was provided by the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) in the Farm Bill. The FMPP provides grants to community supported agriculture programs (CSAs), farmers’ markets, and farm markets to develop marketing information and business plans, support innovative market ideas, and educate consumers. L2R’s FMPP funding supports the group’s efforts to sell produce to 10 local school districts feeding nearly 14,000 school children and bring fresh food to low-income neighborhoods in Youngstown and Warren. Go to http://policy.oeffa.org/farmbill2012 to urge Congress to pass a 2012 Farm Bill that funds the FMPP and other important programs.

Congress Urged to Pass Equitable, Sustainable Farm Bill This Year

For Release on: Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Contact: MacKenzie Bailey, Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 208, mackenzie@oeffa.org

COLUMBUS –Congress’ lame duck session starts today. An array of important issues are demanding their attention, including the expired Farm Bill, our nation’s most comprehensive food and farming legislation.

Every five years, Congress is responsible for reauthorizing the Farm Bill, which funds federal nutrition, agricultural commodities, land conservation, rural development, and organics programs. This year Congress failed to reauthorize the Farm Bill before it expired on October 1.

While the largest programs, including those for nutrition and commodities, have some continued funding, the expiration effectively halts new enrollment for programs that help drive innovation, support the next generation of farmers, conserve our natural resources, and invest in local economic development.

“Congress failed to do its job when it allowed the Farm Bill to expire,” said MacKenzie Bailey, Policy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). “It’s time they get down to business and pass an equitable and sustainable Farm Bill–one that addresses rural job creation, training opportunities for beginning farmers, natural resource conservation, and access to healthy, organic food,” said Bailey.

One of the Farm Bill programs at stake is the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which invests in beginning farmers by helping them access land, credit, and crop insurance; launch and expand new farms and businesses; and receive training, mentoring, and education.  Although this important program helps to address the problems associated with America’s aging farm population and encourages a new generation of farmers to take the tractor wheel, the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee proposed cutting this program in half.

“Starting a new business is difficult, particularly in agriculture where the owner is subject to so many unpredictable variables that may impact their annual yield, such as a drought or early frost,” said Bailey. “The BFRDP provides meaningful and cost-effective support to these individuals, helping them to jumpstart their businesses by equipping them with knowledge and skills they need to succeed.”

In 2010, the Ohio State University received a three year BFRDP grant that launched the Beginning Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Networks (B.E.A.N.) project, which provides resources and information to young farmers in northeast Ohio.  Annually, this project trains and assists approximately 125 aspiring farmers.

“Without the educational resources and opportunities provided by my local Ohio State extension office, I would not have been as successful in the start-up of my small, urban farm,” said Linde Collingwood of Collingwood Farm in Solon, Ohio. “Cuts to BRFDP would be a huge loss for northeast Ohio’s new and beginning farmers.”

In recent years, farmers’ markets in Ohio and across the nation have grown in popularity, benefiting communities by bolstering the local economy, creating jobs, and providing increased access to fresh, nutritious food.  In 2011, Ohio had more than 260 farmers’ markets, which provide low-cost entry points for small-scale and beginning farmers to direct market their products.

The Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) provides grants to community supported agriculture programs (CSAs), farmers’ markets, and farm markets to develop marketing information and business plans, support innovative market ideas, and educate consumers.  In 2012, six Ohio markets received FMPP funding.

One such market is the Toledo Farmers’ Market, which used FMPP funding to recruit new vendors, help establish and promote an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) system for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) recipients, and build relationships with community partners to leverage additional funding and support. As a result, SNAP sales increased from $500 in 2008 to $50,000 in 2011, the market added 1,000 new EBT customers, overall market sales increased by 20 percent, and the number of vendors at the market grew by 38 percent.

“Thanks to the FMPP funding, we’ve attracted thousands of new customers, increased sales, and built more economically-sustainable businesses,” said Liz Bergman, a Toledo Farmers’ Market Manager. “This year has been the best year yet for the EBT program. Word has spread in the community and we now feed more Lucas County residents in need of healthy food.”

Another example is the Lake-To-River Food Cooperative (L2R), a member-owned cooperative of food producers, processors, and institutional and commercial buyers who grow, add value to, market, and prepare agricultural products in the Mahoning Valley and throughout northeast Ohio.  The FMPP funding their received supports their efforts to sell produce to ten local school districts and bring regular farmers’ markets to neighborhoods in Youngstown and Warren.

“With this support, L2R has been able to serve nearly 14,000 school children with fruit and vegetables sourced from farms oftentimes less than 30 minutes from their school,” said Melissa Miller, Marketing Manager for Lake-to-River Food Cooperative. “Additionally we’ve begun the difficult process of providing quality food by working with retailers in low-income neighborhoods, whose patrons would otherwise have little access to wholesome food.”

The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, another Farm Bill program vital to Ohio’s growing sustainable agriculture sector, reimburses participating organic producers and handlers for 75 percent (up to $750) of their certification fees, making organic certification affordable, and enabling farmers and processors to meet the growing demand for organic food. In 2011, 251 Ohioans utilized cost-share funds, or about 40 percent of the state’s organic operations.

“As a farmer currently enrolled in this program, I have found it quite valuable,” said Ron Meyer of Strawberry Hill Farm in Coshocton County. “Organic certification fees are high. The cost-share program helps me continue to provide fresh and safe food, building the health of humans and the environment. Allowing programs like this to wither on the vine defies common sense.”

“These examples demonstrate how low cost, effective Farm Bill programs can support Ohio’s family farmers,” said Bailey. “It’s time for Congress to stop kicking the can down the road and pass a Farm Bill this year that makes real reforms, protects conservation programs, and invests in a sustainable future for food and farms in America.”

In addition to funding successful programs, OEFFA is calling on Congress to level the playing field for working farmers in Ohio by eliminating wasteful direct payments, closing loopholes that benefit the wealthiest agribusinesses, and putting a cap on farm and crop insurance subsidies.

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OEFFA is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and consumers who are committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to http://policy.oeffa.org/farmbill2012/.

 

National Sign-on Letter to Support Beginning and Minority Farmers and Ranchers

November 12, 2012
Dear Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Members Pat Roberts and Collin Peterson,

Opportunities in the agricultural sector are thriving and strong, despite current disaster-related setbacks. The contributions of farm families are the economic and social lifeblood of many towns, cities and counties through-out America. Agriculture is a jobs creator, where the dedication and commitment of farmers and ranchers ultimately feed, clothe, and fuel our nation.

Yet as a profession farming and ranching continues to be one of the most difficult careers to enter. Even with encouraging market conditions in many parts of agriculture – be it local, regional or international; or organic, conventional or niche – those who want to farm face daunting challenges. Access to land, high input and start-up costs, and insufficient training and networking options can deter prospective new agricultural producers.

The 2008 Farm Bill made significant progress in addressing some of the struggles beginning farmers and ranchers wrestle with. The bill included improved beginning farmer conservation and credit measures, and more training and assistance support, than ever before.

The inability to date to pass a new farm bill so far this year, however, has brought a dozen critical programs to a screeching halt. As of October 1, many of the most innovative, forward looking farm bill programs have at least temporarily been terminated.

Two of those programs have proven their ability to help new farmers and ranchers — the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program.

These two programs are uniquely situated to help new agricultural producers. The programs enable community-based organizations and educational institutions to provide and strengthen local training and assistance efforts that support new farmers and ranchers. Considering the broad diversity of agriculture and regional variability this decentralized approach is smart and practical.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) awarded 145 projects in the past four years providing nearly $75 million to grow a base of new farmers and ranchers. From community groups to land grant universities, this program has reached 48 states and, according to USDA, by 2011, had served 38,000 beginning farmers and ranchers. While 145 projects have received awards, 528 projects have requested support since 2009, demonstrating that there remains an unmet need.

The Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program is specifically aimed at one of the exploding areas of growth in agriculture — farmers and ranchers from communities of color, first nations people and military veterans. Individuals in these communities, who are often just getting started, come to agriculture with very distinctive and specific needs such as language barriers, cultural differences, and service disabilities. In the most recent three years for which data is available, 158 grants worth $45 million were made to groups and university programs in 34 states around the country in both rural and urban communities.

These competitive grant programs are the only federal programs exclusively dedicated to training beginning and minority farmers and ranchers. The projects funded through these programs make a real and lasting difference for new farmers and ranchers. Allowing these programs to lapse within a stalled farm bill is unacceptable and irresponsible.

In a new farm bill Congress has the opportunity to re-invest in these highly successfully and much in-demand programs. We appreciate the fact that the Senate-passed and House Committee-passed farm bills include some mandatory funding for both programs but strongly urge you to increase the funding level for each program to $100 million over 5 years ($20 million annually) during negotiations over the final bill.

We, the undersigned organizations, request that Congress advance a 2012 Farm Bill, before the end of the calendar year, which helps foster the next generation of agriculture producers. You have the support in the countryside, the need is real, and the time to act is now. Public policy that supports and promotes new farmers and ranchers is an investment worth making.

Sincerely,

Adelante Mujeres, OR

Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, CA

AgriSystems International, PA

Alabama State Association of Cooperatives, AL

Alternative Energy Resources Organization, MT

American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), MO

American Sustainable Business Council, DC

Angelic Organics Learning Center, IL

Ashley Ridge High School, SC

Beginning Farmers LLC, MI

BioRegional Strategies, NM

Black Farmers & Agriculturalists Association, NC

Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living, IL

California Certified Organic Farmers, CA

California FarmLink, CA

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, NC

Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, KS

Center for Rural Affairs, NE

Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, CA

Centro Ashé, MD

Centro Campesino, MN

ChangeLab Solutions, CA

Chicago Botanic Garden, IL

Clemson University New and Beginning Farmer Program, SC

Community Food and Justice Coalition, CA

Cultivating Community, ME

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, WI

Dakota Rural Action, SD

Delaware Local Food Exchange, DE

Delta Land & Community, AR

Dreaming Out Loud, Inc., DC

Earth Learning, FL

Ecological Farming Association, CA

EcoPraxis, DC

Empire State Family Farm Alliance, Inc., NY

Fair Food Network, MI

Family Farm Defenders, WI

Farley Center, WI

Farm Aid, MA

Farm Business Development Center, IL

Farm Fresh Rhode Island, RI

Farmer Veteran Coalition, CA

Farmers’ Egg Co-op, MI

Farms Not Arms, CA

Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc., FL

Federation of Southern Cooperatives, GA

Flats Mentor Farm, MA

Florida Certified Organic Growers, FL

Food & Water Watch, DC

Food Democracy Now!, IA

Food Field, IA

Food Works, IL

Friends of Family Farmers, OR

Georgia Organics, GA

Gorge Grown Food Network, OR

GrassWorks, Inc, WI

Green Party of Seattle, WA

Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming, NY

GrowNYC New Farmer Development Project, NY

Haitian International Youth Leadership Institute, Inc., NC

Hawthorne Valley Farm, NY

Healthy Farms Healthy People Coalition, DC

Hmong National Development, Inc., DC

Housing Assistance Council, DC

Illinois Stewardship Alliance, IL

Independent Living Services of Northern California, CA

Indian Springs Farmers Association, MS

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, MN

Intertribal Agriculture Council, MT

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, IA

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, MD

Just Food, NY

Kansas Farmers Union, KS

Kansas Rural Center, KS

Kids At Work!, NC

Land For Good, NH

Land Stewardship Project, MN

Latino Economic Development Center, MN

Latino Farmers Cooperative of Louisiana, Inc., LA

Liberty Prairie Foundation, IL

Living Agriculture Aquaculture Sanctuary, SC

Local Food HUB, VA

Lowcountry Local First, SC

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, ME

Maine Rural Partners, ME

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, WI

Michigan Land Trustees, MI

Michigan Land Use Institute, MI

Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance, MI

Michigan State University Extension, MI

Michigan Young Farmer Coalition, MI

Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), WI

Minnesota Catholic Conference, MN

Minnesota Citizens Organized Acting Together, MN

Minnesota Farmers Union, MN

Minnesota Food Association, MN

Minnesota National Farmers Organization, MN

Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, MS

Missouri Farmers Union, MO

Missouri Rural Crisis Center, MO

Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, OK

National Catholic Rural Life Conference, IA

National Center for Appropriate Technology, MT

National Family Farm Coalition, DC

National Farmers Organization, IA

National Farmers Union, DC

National Hmong American Farmers Inc., CA

National Immigrant Farming Initiative, DC

National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, DC

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, DC

National Wildlife Federation, DC

National Women In Agriculture Association, OK

National Young Farmers’ Coalition, NY

Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, NE

New England Farmers Union, VT

New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, MA

New Mexico Acequia Association, NM

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut, CT

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire, NH

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, NJ

Northeast Organic Farming Associations of Vermont, VT

Northeast Organic Farming Associations of New York, NY

Northeast Pasture Consortium, NC

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, MA

Northern California Regional Land Trust, CA

Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, WA

Nutrition First, WA

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, OH

One in Ten San Diego, CA

Organic Farming Research Foundation, CA

Organic Valley, WI

Organizacion en California de Lideres Campesinas, Inc., CA

Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success, NH

Our Local Food – Twin Rivers, KS

Pesticide Action Network North America, CA

Practical Farmers of Iowa, IA

Rogue Farm Corps, OR

Rural Coalition, DC

School Food FOCUS, NY

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, TN

Silas H Hunt Community Development Corporation, AR

South Carolina Agricultural Council, SC

South Carolina New and Beginning Farmers Program, SC

Southeast North Carolina Food Systems Program, Feast Down East, NC

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, AR

Stonybrook Meadows Farm, NJ

Sustainable Tompkins, NY

Texas Mexico Border Coalition, TX

The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, OK

Union of Concerned Scientists, MA

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth, Green Sanctuary Committee, MN

United Farmers USA, SC

University of the District of Columbia, DC

Virginia Association for Biological Farming, VA

Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, NV

WhyHunger, NY

Winston County Self Help Cooperative, MS

Wisconsin Farmers Union, WI

Women, Food and Agriculture Network, IA

World Farmers Inc., MA

Youth Farm Project, NY

 

Cc:
Senate and House Agriculture Committee Members
Sen. Harry Reid
Sen. Mitch McConnell
Sen. Dick Durbin
Rep. John Boehner
Rep. Eric Cantor
Rep. Nancy Pelosi

OEFFA and Countryside Conservancy Partner to Help Farmers Scale Up and Expand Availability of Local Produce

       

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 12, 2012

Contact:

Beth Knorr, (330) 657-2542 x 228, farmersmarket@cvcountryside.org

Mike Anderson, (614) 421-2022 x 209, mike@oeffa.org

Countryside Conservancy and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) are partnering again to offer a variety of educational programming to specialty crop growers across the state of Ohio.

Building on a 2011 study released by The Ohio State University’s Center for Farmland Policy Innovation, the two-year project focuses on utilizing conventional distribution outlets, like grocery stores and restaurants, to increase the amount of local fruits and vegetables available to consumers, and create new market opportunities for specialty crop growers.  While most local food systems advocacy and education has focused on direct-to-consumer sales at farmers’ markets and through community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, almost 90 percent of food is purchased at retail outlets, such as grocery stores.

The project is funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the State of Ohio, and the United States Department of Agriculture, under the provisions of the Specialty Crop Block Grant.

Beginning in January 2013, the collaboration will provide both business and production skills workshops and webinars that will help growers meet the challenge of diversifying their markets beyond direct-to-consumer outlets.

Additionally, OEFFA and Countryside Conservancy will work with regional distributors on developing best practices for working with small to medium-scale growers, with a focus on keeping farm identity in tact from field to final outlet.  This will make it possible for grocery store customers, as well as restaurant diners, to feel connected to their farmers, a desire that has fueled the growth of the local and sustainable food movement.

As more information becomes available, including program dates and registration information, it will be posted to www.cvcountryside.org and www.oeffa.org. Growers interested in receiving information on the upcoming workshop and webinar offerings are encouraged to visit these websites or contact Beth Knorr at Countryside Conservancy at (330) 657-2542 x 228 or Mike Anderson at OEFFA at (614) 421-2022 x 209.  Chefs and grocers interested in sourcing local produce are also encouraged to contact OEFFA or Countryside Conservancy to learn how to participate in the project.

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About Countryside Conservancy

Countryside Conservancy advances the vision of a Northeast Ohio filled with thriving farming and food entrepreneurs: where farms are viable businesses, farmland is a treasured resource, and local food is commonplace. Countryside Conservancy supports up-and-coming farmers, share innovative land-use and business models, facilitate networking opportunities, and advocate community-based agriculture. They connect communities and farmers, provide alternate market choices, and create venues that foster civic engagement through fun and informal education. For more information, go to www.cvcountryside.org.

About OEFFA

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit coalition of farmers, gardeners, consumers, retailers, researchers, and educators who share a desire to build a healthy, sustainable food system. Since 1979, 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.

Farm Bill Letter to Congress

November 8, 2012

Dear Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, Minority Leader Pelosi, and Minority Whip Hoyer:

The undersigned organizations, representing the farming, livestock, specialty crop, feed, rural development, nutrition, health, conservation, woodland owners, municipalities, trade, agricultural research, crop insurance and renewable energy communities, respectfully request passage of a new five-year farm bill to be signed into law before the end of the legislative session in December 2012.

This legislation is of paramount importance to the diverse, bipartisan constituencies our organizations represent. Failure to pass a new five-year farm bill before the year’s end will create significant budget uncertainty for the entire agricultural sector, including the rural businesses and lenders whose livelihoods are dependent upon farmers’ and livestock producers’ economic viability.

Additionally, our country is recovering from the largest drought since the 1930s, with most of the counties across the nation being declared agricultural disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at some point during 2012, and 55 percent of the nation’s pasture and rangeland rated in poor to very poor condition. This year alone, several states have ranked in the driest third percentile on record. These historic conditions and their damaging economic effects cannot be ignored.

For these reasons, we stand united in our strong support for a new five-year bill; any temporary extension would be a short-sighted, inadequate solution that would leave our constituencies crippled by uncertainty. Both the Senate and the House Committee on Agriculture passed versions of a five-year farm bill with strong bipartisan support. We urge you to lead your colleagues in passing a new 2012 Farm Bill this year. We thank you for your consideration.

 
Sincerely,

25x’25 Alliance
Advanced Biofuels USA
American Association of Crop Insurers
American Beekeeping Federation
American Biogas Council
American Corn Growers Institute for Public Policy
American Farmland Trust
American Feed Industry Association
American Forests
American Horse Council
American Nursery & Landscape Association
American Sheep Industry Association
American Veterinary Medical Association
Associated Milk Producers, Inc.
Association of Equipment Manufacturers
Biomass Power Association
California Cherry Export Association
California Fresh Tomato Growers
California Grape and Tree Fruit League
California Pear Growers
California Table Grape Commission
Center for Rural Affairs
Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage
Ecological Farming Association
Fair Food Network
Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc.
Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association
Growth Energy
Hmong National Development, Inc.
Illinois Stewardship Alliance
International Biochar Initiative
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future
Land O’Lakes
Livestock Marketing Association
Michigan Apple Association
Midwest Dairy Coalition
National Aquaculture Association
National Association of Clean Water Agencies
National Association of Conservation Districts
National Association of Counties
National Association of Farmer Elected Committees
National Association of State Conservation Agencies
National Biodiesel Board
National Cooperative Business Association
National Farm to School Network
National Farmers Organization
National Farmers Union
National Grange
National Potato Council
National Watermelon Association
National Wild Turkey Federation
National Woodland Owners Association
Nature Abounds
ND Association of Soil Conservation Districts
New Hampshire Institute of Agriculture and Forestry
Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG)
Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
Northwest Horticultural Council
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
Oregon Association of Nurseries
Organic Farming Research Foundation
Pollinator Partnership
Produce Marketing Association
Renewable Fuels Association
Rural Community Assistance Partnership
Society of American Florists
Soil and Water Conservation Society
Spartanburg Water
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance
State Agriculture and Rural Leaders
Sun-Maid Growers of California
The Nature Conservancy
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
U.S. Apple Association
United Dairymen of Arizona
United Egg Producers
United Fresh Produce Association
US Composting Council
Washington State Potato Commission
Western Growers
Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine

 
cc: U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives

OEFFA Launches New Investment Fund: $500,000 Available to Grow Opportunities for Sustainable Agriculture in Ohio

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 1, 2012                             
Contact: Carol Goland, Executive Director, Office: (614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, oifinfo@oeffa.org  

Columbus, OH – The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has partnered with a group of socially-motivated local investors who are making $500,000 available to launch a groundbreaking initiative: the OEFFA Investment Fund.  The purpose of the fund is to promote sustainable agriculture in Ohio by making flexible and affordable capital available to OEFFA member farmers and farm-related businesses.

The traditional sources of farm and small business financing are often not receptive to small- and mid-sized sustainable and organic farmers and entrepreneurs who may lack personal capital, an equity base, sufficient credit, and the needed tools and training to convert farm production plans to the kinds of business plans that many financial institutions require. These challenges are compounded by the national trends of agricultural lending over the last few decades, and the turmoil in the financial industry more recently.

Despite the increasing demand for local, healthy food and the economic opportunities it creates, many business ideas are not pursued because of a lack of financing. By helping to mobilize additional sources of capital, OEFFA hopes to build the supply and availability of local, sustainably grown fresh food in Ohio, enhance farm and farm-related business viability, and encourage expansion of ecological agricultural practices.

“The OEFFA Investment Fund is the farmers’ source for financing. The launch could not be more timely and appropriate as we search for and deploy new solutions for capitalizing a better food system,” said OEFFA’s Executive Director Carol Goland.

With an initial capitalization of up to $500,000 to fund the pilot of this project, additional funding is planned once the model is proven successful.

The OEFFA Investment Fund will start accepting applications on November 1, 2012 with the first funding decisions excepting in January 2013. Additional information and application forms are available online at http://www.oeffa.org/invest.php.

“We expect most of the successful applications to be for business loans in the $5,000 to $50,000 range, but other structures such as equity and revenue-sharing agreements will be considered based on applicants’ requests and individual circumstances. During the first year, the minimum funded amount will be $2,500 and the maximum will be $250,000,” added Goland.

“As a potentially critical contribution to our mission, the OEFFA Investment Fund is also a new challenge for our organization. We hope to gradually expand our programming to include both financial management and other technical assistance, tapping into existing networks and resources as we build our capacity. In that regard, we express our thanks to the Dr. Thelma I. Schoonover Fund of The Columbus Foundation for support to help OEFFA initiate this endeavor,” Goland continued.

The fund is only open to Ohio-based OEFFA members in good standing, who will be required to submit an application package, be a farm or a related business supporting the supply chain of agricultural products from farm to consumer, and commit to support sustainable agricultural practices throughout the life of the investment. Applications will be approved by the fund’s investment committee based on its review of the information contained in the application.

For more information, go to http://www.oeffa.org/invest.php or contact Carol Goland at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 202 or oifinfo@oeffa.org.

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The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.
 
For more information about the OEFFA Investment Fund, go to http://www.oeffa.org/invest.php or contact Carol Goland at (614) 421-2022 Ext. 202 or oifinfo@oeffa.org.