Monthly Archives: May 2013

Good Earth Guide Connects Consumers with Local Farmers

Directory lists more than 400 farms and businesses in Ohio and surrounding states

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 30, 2013

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

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.

The Good Earth Guide includes information on 412 farms and businesses, including 180 certified organic farms and businesses and 94 community supported agriculture (CSA) programs.

“Since the first Good Earth Guide in 1990, it’s grown from a list of a dozen or so to more than 400 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.

“You can find just about anything you’d want being grown or produced right here in Ohio. The Good Earth Guide helps provide a blueprint for consumers interested in eating locally and in season,” said Hunt.

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.

“The purpose of the Good Earth Guide is 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, like restaurants and other retailers, with farmers who together are building the links that bring local food from field to fork,” concluded Hunt.

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.

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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.

Letter to Congress: Equity Amendments for a Fair 2013 Farm Bill

This Letter is sent on Behalf of the Undersigned Groups. For more information contact Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition at lpicciano@ruralco.org or 202-628-7160; Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition at kozer@nffc.net or 202-543-5675; Y. Armando Nieto, Community Food and Justice Coalition at yanieto@cafoodjustice.org or 510-547-1547

 
May 23, 2013

Dear Senator,

As the Senate considers the Farm Bill on the Senate floor, we write to express our support for passage of a full and fair 2013 Farm Bill that will increase economic opportunity for the nation’s diverse family farmers, farmworkers, rural and urban communities, and Indian Tribes; protect the environment; and ensure proper nutrition for all families and communities.

We, the undersigned organizations, have recommendations for the farm bill that extend beyond the specific issues in this letter, but we focus here on equity considerations. We support a full and fair package that balances any reductions across all areas of the Farm Bill; mitigates disasters especially for the most vulnerable producers; protects natural resources; enhances equity and inclusion; constructs a new and economically viable future for agriculture and rural communities; and assures healthy food for all consumers.

As written the bill under debate, S. 954 saves $24.2 billion. The Committee originally committed to saving $23 billion. Two of the amendments (#1055 and #1088) listed below would direct $210 million of the additional and unexpected savings to the programs listed below. The total savings for the bill would still exceed $24 billion and these amendments would make a small but significant investment in our diverse producers, new generation farmers, and the growing food systems in rural and urban communities across our country.

We ask you to co-sponsor and vote for the following still-pending amendments to restore funding for critical programs charged with serving chronically underserved segments of agriculture and the food system, and make additional policy changes to improve rural development, local food systems, urban agriculture including programs serving Indian Tribes, socially disadvantaged, beginning and veteran producers and farmworkers while assuring healthy food for all.

We urge Senators to SUPPORT the following priority amendments:

Udall (NM) – Heinrich (NM) (#1055) Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Producer Training –SUPPORT
The Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Rancher (also known as the 2501 Program) is a historic program that provides competitive grants to educational institutions, Extension, and community-based organizations to assist African- American, American-Indian, Asian-American and Latino farmers and ranchers in owning and operating farms and participating in USDA programs. The committee-passed bill expands program eligibility requirements to include veteran farmers and ranchers and funds this program at $10 million annually, about half of previous funding. The amendment would restore funding of $17 million annually in order to serve both the traditional and new producers now eligible for the program.

• Udall (NM) – Heinrich (NM) (#1045) Receipt for Service – SUPPORT
This amendment adds authority to require the issuance of a receipt for service or denial of service to any current or prospective participant in USDA programs serving farmers and ranchers as operated by the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources and Conservation Service and in any other USDA program directly serving producers. In a time of tight resources, a receipt for service will help assure that all farmers and ranchers receive clear information on programs available to them and what they need to do to access them, and verify that information has been provided.

• Udall (NM) – Heinrich (NM) (# 1048) EQIP Community Irrigation Association Language –SUPPORT
The amendment defines eligible community irrigation associations and would allow USDA to make alternate payment arrangements so members of irrigation associations including acequias could receive support for conservation practices through their association so long as the payment limit for any individual producers in the association is not exceeded. This would allow NRCS to do a single contract for an irrigation-wide community project rather than a series of individual producer contracts for the same project.

• Udall (NM) – Heinrich (NM) (# 1049) EQIP Irrigation Water Saving – SUPPORT
This amendment would strengthen in the requirements Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to assure producers who use EQIP funds for irrigation not only to improve their irrigation systems but also to achieve true water savings. This would ensure that USDA payments for irrigation efficiency also generate water conservation benefits, such as enhanced in-stream flow and water storage.

• (Seeking Sponsor) Expansion of the Substantially Underserved Trust Area Initiative with USDA Rural Development – SUPPORT
This amendment expands the Substantially Underserved Trust Area (SUTA) Initiative in USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Service to all programs under Rural Development. The amendment will improve access to family housing and community facilities financing and business and economic development funding, providing RD with added flexibility to invest in individuals, businesses and organizations developing private sector jobs and local economies in rural trust land communities.

• Brown (OH) – Tester (MT) – Heinrich (NM) – Schatz (HI) – Gillibrand (NY) – Reed(RI) – Wyden (OR) – Cowan (MA) (#1088) To Encourage Food And Agriculture Market Development, Entrepreneurship, And Education – SUPPORT
This comprehensive amendment provides much-needed funding and a few important technical policy changes to a handful of key programs that support development of a more resilient food system. These changes and the funding the amendment provides make strides towards aligning our agriculture, health, and economic policy in ways that ensure farmers get a fair price for their product, all Americans have access to affordable, healthy food, and that both contribute to strong communities and a thriving economy. The amendment increases mandatory funding in the Community Food Program from $5 million to $10 million per year, in the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program to $15 million in mandatory funding over the life of the farm bill, and in the Value-Added Producer Grants Program from $12.5 million to $20 million per year, in the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program from $20 million to $30 million per year and in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program from $20.6 million to $23.1 million in FY2014 and to $25.6 million per year in FY2015 – FY2018. In the Business and Industry Loan Program it modifies the existing set-aside for loans for local food enterprises to eliminate a burdensome third party labeling requirement, to clarify that project priorities include creating new market opportunities for farmers, increasing good food access in underserved communities, and supporting comprehensive regional economic development strategies, and to provide flexibility for USDA to reduce barriers to participation.

• Casey (PA) – Harkin (IA) (#986) Microloans – SUPPORT
The amendment would authorize micro-lending opportunities within the Department of Agriculture by creating a new simplified loan category within the Farm Service Agency’s direct operating loan portfolio. If adopted, this provision would authorize USDA’s Farm Service Agency to make small loans up to $35,000. The new loan program would be funded out of the existing direct operating loan portfolio, and would streamline the application process to facilitate participation. This amendment would also give FSA discretionary authority to establish a cooperative lending program to allow USDAselected intermediaries (such as non-governmental or community-based organizations, state departments of agriculture, and economic development councils) to make microloans to eligible borrowers.

• Tester (MT) Public Breeding for Food Security- SUPPORT
Farmer access to seeds and breeds adapted to their regions and specific farming and market needs is paramount to fostering the competitiveness of agriculture and ensuring future national food security. This amendment would designate conventional breeding for public cultivar and breed development as a high priority research area within the Department of Agriculture. The amendment would also remove hurdles that have hindered USDA’s efforts to address this need, including establishing a unified definition to ensure public breeding research is being funded through USDA.

• Leahy (VT) – Collins (ME) EQIP Organic Initiative Payment Limit Elimination – SUPPORT
This amendment eliminates the separate payment limit for farmers participating in the EQIP Organic Initiative so that all farmers are subject to the same payment limitations in EQIP.

• Grassley (IA) and Brown (OH) (#969) Special Counsel for Livestock Competition – SUPPORT
This amendment establishes an Office of Competition and Fair Practices headed by a Special Counsel for Competition Matters for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting violations under the Packers and Stockyards Act and coordinating antitrust enforcement between the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Agriculture is one of the most consolidated sectors in the U.S. economy, but the federal antitrust and competition oversight of the food and agriculture sector is fragmented, with uncoordinated oversight shared among USDA, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The lack of coherent jurisdiction is further complicated by the increasing vertical integration in the sector, where some firms and combinations of firms require monitoring by more than one agency. The Grassley amendment creates a USDA special counsel on agricultural competition to coordinate and oversee competition and antitrust enforcement activities among the federal agencies.

• Rockefeller (WV) – Tester (MT) and Johnson (D-SD), Prohibiting Retaliation Against Farmers Who Speak Up – SUPPORT
It has become common for livestock and poultry companies to retaliate against contract farmers who speak up about abusive contracting practices. The amendment clarifies that it is a clear violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act for companies to retaliate against farmers for exercising their legal rights, such as talking to federal agency officials or members of Congress about their farming operations and contracts. It would prohibits meatpackers from taking any kind of retaliatory action against livestock producers who speak out and would put an end to the ongoing actions by meatpackers who retaliate against producers who complain to federal agencies and to their members of Congress.

• Tester (MT) (#971) Requiring An Annual USDA Report On Concentration In the Agriculture And Food Industries – SUPPORT
Despite the dramatic concentration of the agriculture and food sectors, USDA lacks comprehensive, sector-wide and timely information about the overall state of competitiveness in the agriculture and food sector from seed to supermarket. The Tester amendment requires USDA to collect information on the consolidation levels throughout the food and farm sector and issue an annual report to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees that includes statistics relating to the four largest firms in agriculture markets.

• Enzi (WY) – Johnson (SD) (#982) Livestock Marketing – SUPPORT
A large portion of cattle are sold through formula contracts and marketing agreements are negotiated in secret, which gives packers all the information and market power and forces livestock producers to accept “formula” prices that are finalized on delivery instead of firm, base prices when the contracts are signed. The Enzi amendment prohibits the use of anti-competitive forward contracts, otherwise known as un-priced formula contracts and requires all marketing arrangements to use firm, fixed base prices for marketing arrangements to ensure that cattle producers are fairly paid for their livestock. This amendment is absolutely critical as it will immediately stop the packers from accumulating large volumes of un-priced captives supply livestock, which they use to drive down the cash market.

• Boxer (CA) (#1026) GE Labeling Amendment – SUPPORT
This amendment expresses the sense of the Senate that the United States should join 64 other nations in giving their consumers the right to know whether there are genetically engineered ingredients in their food. At least 93 percent of Americans want to know whether there are GE ingredients in their food, regardless of race, income, education, or party affiliation and 26 states are moving to require GE labeling.

• Merkley (OR) – Tester (MT) – Blumenthal (CT) – Begich (AK) – Heinrich (NM) – Boxer (CA)(#978) – Repeal of Biotechnology Rider in the Continuing Resolution – SUPPORT
The Continuing Resolution passed by Congress earlier this year contained a provision that strips federal courts of the authority to halt the sale or planting of biotechnology products that have not been adequately reviewed for their economic and environmental impacts. This amendment would strike that harmful provision.

• Coburn (OK) – Durbin (IL) – McCain (AZ) (#999) Limit crop insurance subsidies for wealthiest farmers – SUPPORT
This amendment would reduce the level of federal premium support for crop insurance participants with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) over $750,000 by 15 percentage points for all buy-up policies beyond catastrophic coverage. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates this amendment, which affects less than 1 percent of farmers, would save more than $1.2 billion dollars over ten years. Furthermore, we support any amendment that would extend the premium reductions and waivers for supplied in crop insurance to beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. All three groups are provided premium reductions in the NAP (Non Insured Disaster Assistance Program) in the Miscellaneous Title.

We urge Senators to OPPOSE the following amendments:

• Roberts (KS) – The following amendments reduce SNAP funding:

• Roberts (#949)To eliminate the low-income home energy assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – OPPOSE
This amendment eliminates the SNAP ‘Heat and Eat’ Program by reducing benefits to those who also receive energy assistance.

• Roberts (#950)To eliminate duplicative employment and training programs from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – OPPOSE
This amendment eliminates the SNAP employment and training program.

• Sessions (AL) – Both of the following amendments reduce SNAP funding:

• Sessions (#946) — To terminate the current Partnership for Nutrition Assistance Initiative between the United States and Mexico – OPPOSE
This amendment terminates the current Partnership for Nutrition Assistance Initiative between the U.S. and Mexico. This Partnership, established by the Bush Administration, helps low-income, legal immigrant (often citizen) children access food, allowing them to be healthier, better educated children with brighter futures.

• Sessions (#947)— To require the use of the systematic alien verification for entitlements program in the administration of the supplemental nutrition assistance program – OPPOSE
This amendment requires all members of a household applying for SNAP to provide documentation of citizenship or immigration status. If each household member could not meet the documentation requirements, then the entire household would be ineligible. Currently, states may not deny SNAP to eligible individuals based on the status of other family members who are not seeking services. Research shows that this new requirement would adversely impact senior citizens, especially African Americans, who live in rural areas because they do not have a birth certificate. Some may have never been issued a birth certificate because their birth was not officially registered – in some cases due to racial discrimination in hospitals, or poverty which prevented access to hospital care. Imposing these new requirements would create enormous administrative hurdles for the most vulnerable, delay benefits for needy households who must seek original birth certificates, and terminate benefits to individuals who cannot access such documentation.

• Thune (SD) (#991) Cuts to SNAP Education – OPPOSE
Would cut SNAP Nutrition Education by $2.1 billion by reducing state’s funding to $5 per SNAP participant.

We are continuing to review more amendments as information becomes available and will forward any additional recommendations that will also benefit these communities and we have also attached an earlier letter signed by more than 130 groups affirming the priorities reflected here.

As you move to complete action on this important bill, we urge you to make all funding and policy recommendations relative to farm bill programs with an eye toward the future: concern for the next generations of our nation’s farmers and ranchers; healthy and nutritious for food for all; and inclusivity of all women, minority, tribal, and limited resource farmers, farmworkers, and communities who are often in greatest need of these important programs.

Sincerely,
Agricultural Missions, Inc., New York, NY
Alabama State Association of Cooperatives, Forkland, AL
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Oxnard, CA
American Indian’s Truths – WPFW 89.3 FM – Pacifica Radio, Washington, DC
Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Brinkley, AK
Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake Counties Farmers Union, Windsor, OH
Atlantic States Legal Foundation, Inc., Syracuse, NY
Atrisco Land Grant, Albuquerque, NM
BioRegional Strategies, Albuquerque, NM
Canjilon Grazing Allotment, Canjilon, NM
Center for Social Inclusion, New York, NY
Colorado Hispanic Ranchers & Farmers, Antonito, CO
ColorOfChange.org, Oakland, CA
Community Food and Justice Coalition, Oakland, CA
Community to Community, Bellingham, WA
Delaware Local Food Exchange, Wilmington, DE
Fair World Project, Portland, OR
Farm to Table, Santa Fe, NM
FarmBillPrimer.org, Baltimore, MD
Farmworker Association of Florida, Apopka, FL
Federation of Southern Cooperatives Rural Training and Research Center, Epes, AL
Federation of Southern Cooperatives, East Point, GA
Fernandez Ranch, Centerville, WA
Food & Water Watch, Washington, DC
Food Chain Workers Alliance, Los Angeles, CA
Grassroots International, Boston, MA
Hispanic Organizations Leadership Alliance (HOLA), Washington, DC
Hunger Action Network of New York, Albany, NY
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN
Intertribal Agriculture Council, Billings, MT
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Baltimore, MD
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., Frankfort, KY
La Merced del Pueblo de Chilili, Chilili, NM
La Plazita Farm, Albuquerque, NM
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Hereford, TX
Lennon Ranch, Lookout, CA
Live Real, Oakland, CA
Maine Rural Partners, Orono, ME
Minnesota Food Association, Marine on St Croix, MN
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, Jackson, MS
Morning Star Farm of Taos, Arroyo Seco, NM
National Dignity Campaign, San Francisco, CA
National Family Farm Coalition, Washington, DC
National Hmong American Farmers, Inc., Fresno, CA
National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, Washington, DC
National Women In Agriculture Association, Oklahoma City, OK
New England Small Farm Institute, Belchertown, MA
New Mexico Acequia Association, Santa Fe, NM
New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, Santa Fe, NM
North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project, Durham, NC
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Deerfield, MA
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG), New Paltz, NY
Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association, Taos, NM
Northwest Forest Worker Center, Albany, CA
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Columbus, OH
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project Inc., Oklahoma City, OK
Pesticide Action Network, Oakland, CA
Pululu Farm, Arroyo Seco, NM
Root ‘N Roost Farm, Livingston Manor, NY
Rooted in Community, Oakland, CA
Rural Advancement Fund, Orangeburg, SC
Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Washington, DC
San Diego Hunger Coalition, San Diego, CA
School Food FOCUS National Office, New York, NY
Shoreline Study Center, Encinitas, CA
Southwest Workers Union, San Antonio, TX
Taos County Economic Development Corporation, Taos, NM
Torrez Family Farm, Arroyo Seco, NM
United Farmers USA, Manning, SC
Valencia County Older American Program, Belen, NM
Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Lexington, VA
Winston County Self Help Cooperative, Jackson, MS
World Farmers, Inc., Lancaster, MA
Attachment: Equity Letter 5/13/13, Signed by 130 Organizations
This letter was prepared and circulated by the signatories who regularly participate in the “Getting Our Act Together
(GOAT) on the Farm Bill” Collaboration, which promotes a fair farm bill with equity and sustainability.

Attention: Agriculture LA

This Letter is sent on Behalf of the Undersigned Groups. For more information contact Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition at lpicciano@ruralco.org or 202-628-7160; Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition at kozer@nffc.net or 202-543-5675 and Ferd Hoefner, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition at fhoefner@sustainableagriculture.net, 202-547-5754.

Supporting Equity in the 2013 Farm Bill

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman, Senate Agriculture Committee

The Honorable Thad Cochran, Ranking Member, Senate Agriculture Committee

The Honorable Frank Lucas, Chairman, House Agriculture Committee

The Honorable Collin Peterson, Ranking Member, House Agriculture Committee

May 13, 2013

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members,

As Congress continues its work on a new farm bill, we write to express our support for the Agriculture Committee efforts to complete a full and fair 2013 Farm Bill that will increase economic opportunity for the nation’s diverse family farmers, farmworkers, rural and urban communities and Indian Tribes; protect the environment; and ensure proper nutrition for all families and communities.

We, the undersigned organizations, all have recommendations for the farm bill that extend well beyond the specific issues in this letter, but we focus here on specific equity considerations. We support a full and fair package that balances any reductions across all areas of the Farm Bill, mitigates disasters especially for the most vulnerable producers, protects natural resources, enhances equity and inclusion, constructs a new and economically viable future for agriculture and rural communities, and assures healthy food for all consumers.

For years we have struggled to achieve a fair share of federal farm spending for all the communities we serve. Working with you in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, we have made significant strides forward to allocate a small but growing portion of overall US farm and food policy to enhance equity for our nation’s diverse producers and farmworkers, secure a future in agriculture for new entry farmers and rural, urban and tribal communities, and provide fresh, local food for all consumers. Unfortunately, the farm bill extension we are currently operating under has shut down many of these very programs, setting back the modest progress achieved earlier.

We urge you to provide long-term protection and continued funding to this critical subset of small programs and offices charged with serving the most chronically underserved segments of agriculture. These represent a fraction of the full agriculture budget but are the lifeblood of a sustainable agriculture, rural development and food policy, including Indian Tribes, socially disadvantaged, beginning, and veteran producers, and farmworkers.

As you continue to shape your policy and budget proposals, we urge you to assure strong farm bill mandatory funding support at no less than $20 million a year each for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and Value-Added Producer Grants, as well as at least $4 million a year for Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program.

A fairer farm bill would also provide appropriate waiver, premium reduction, targeting, and advanced payment provisions for beginning, limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers within the farm bill conservation, credit, crop insurance, NAP, specialty crop, and rural development programs. In this light, we urge you to include all of the provisions of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act and the 2013 Farm Bill Equity and Access Priorities Package in the new five-year farm bill (summaries attached; noting that a number of priorities are included in both packages).

As you proceed with your farm policy deliberations, we urge you to make all funding and policy recommendations relative to farm bill programs with an eye toward the future, a concern for the next generations of our nation’s farmers and ranchers and healthy and nutritious for food for all, and great care to being inclusive of women, minority, tribal and limited resource farmers, farmworkers and rural and urban communities who are oftentimes in most need of these important programs.

Sincerely,
African American Farmers of California, Fresno, CA
Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI), New York, NY
Alabama State Association of Cooperatives, Forkland, AL
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Oxnard, CA
American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3354, St. Louis, MO
American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (ARMPPA), Kendall, WI
Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Brinkley, AK
Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake Counties Farmers Union, Windsor, OH
Atrisco Grant-Merced, Albuquerque, NM
BioRegional Strategies, Albuquerque, NM
California Climate and Agriculture Network, Sacramento, CA
California FarmLink, Sacramento, CA
Cape Cod Community Supported Fishery, Chatham, MA
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Pittsboro, NC
Cedarville Band of the Piscataway Indians, Inc., Waldorf, MD
Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, NE
Center for Social Ecology and Public Policy, Honolulu, HI
Center for Social Inclusion, New York, NY
Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CeSoSS), Albuquerque, NM
Colorado Hispanic Ranchers & Farmers, Antonito, CO
Community Alliance for Global Justice, Seattle, WA
Community Food and Justice Coalition, Oakland, CA
Community Servings, Boston, MA
Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound and Mora County, Wagon Mound, NM
Connections Unlimited, LLC, Yachats, OR
Cultivating Community, Portland, ME
Dakota Rural Action, Brooking, SD
Dixon Farmers Market, Dixon, NM
Dockery Group, LLC, Elm City, NC
Ecological Farming Association, Soquel, CA
Equal Exchange, West Bridgewater, MA
Family Farm Defenders, Madison, WI
Farm Aid, Cambridge, MA
Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Providence, RI
Farm to Table, Santa Fe, NM
Farms Not Arms, Petaluma, CA
Farms to Grow, Oakland, CA
Farmworker Association of Florida, Apopka, FL
Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Epes, AL
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, East Point, GA
Food & Water Watch, Washington, DC
Food Chain Workers Alliance, Los Angeles, CA
Food First, Oakland, CA
Foodshed Alliance, Blairstown, NJ
Franciscan Fraternity Espiritu Santo, Albuquerque, NM
Grassroots International, Boston, MA
Healthy Farms Healthy People Coalition, Washington, DC
Hispanic Organizations Leadership Alliance (HOLA), Washington, DC
Hmong National Development, Inc., Washington, DC
Hunger Action Network of New York State, New York, NY
Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Springfield, IL
Indian Country Agriculture and Resource Development Corporation (ICARD), Anadarko, OK
Indian Nations Conservation Alliance, Twin Bridges, MT
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Baltimore, MD
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., Frankfort, KY
La Minga Cooperative Farm, Prospect, KY
La Plazita Farm, Albuquerque, NM
La Semilla Food Center, Anthony, NM
Land Management Partners, Hilton Head Island, SC
Land Stewardship Project, Minneapolis, MN
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Hereford, TX
Lideres Campesinas, Oxnard, CA
Live Real, Oakland, CA
Local Food Hub, Charlottesville, VA
Los Jardines Institute (The Gardens Institute), Albuquerque, NM
Maine Rural Partners, Orono, ME
Matthews Family Farm, Eighty-Four, PA
Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, East Troy, WI
Michigan Coalition of Black Farmers, Detroit, MI
Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS), East Lansing, MI
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, Jackson, MS
National Council of La Raza, Washington, DC
National Family Farm Coalition, Washington, DC
National Hmong American Farmers, Inc., Fresno, CA
National Immigrant Farming Initiative, Washington, DC
National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association, Washington, DC
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Washington, DC
National Women In Agriculture Association, Oklahoma City, OK
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, Ceresco, NE
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Lowell, MA
New Jersey SNAP-Ed , Clayton, NJ
New Mexico Acequia Association, Santa Fe, NM
New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, Santa Fe, NM
North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project, Durham, NC
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Deerfield, MA
Northeast Organic Farming Association- Interstate Council, Stevenson, CT
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG), New Paltz, NY
Northern New Mexico Stockmens Association, Espanola, NM
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Gloucester, MA
Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Eugene, OR
Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, Seattle, WA
Northwest Forest Worker Center, Albany, CA
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Columbus, OH
Oklahoma Black Historical Resear ch Project Inc., Oklahoma City, OK
Operation Spring Plant, Inc., Oxford, NC
Panola Land Buyers Association Housing Development Corporation, Eutaw, AL
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Millheim, PA
Pesticide Action Network, Oakland, CA
Positive Action Now, Inc., Richmond, VA
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington, DC
Progressive Agriculture Organization, LaFargeville, NY
Pululu Farm, Arroyo Seco, NM
Root ‘N Roost Farm, Livingston Manor, NY
Rooted In Community, Oakland, CA
Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA), Pittsboro, NC
Rural Advancement Fund, Orangeburg, SC
Rural American Network, Estancia, NM
Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Washington, DC
Rural Vermont, Montpelier, AL
School Food FOCUS National Office, New York, NY
Shoreline Study Center, Carlsbad, CA
Silas H Hunt CDC, Texarkana, AR
Slow Food USA, Brooklyn, NY
Sofi’s Rock Farm, Halifax, MA
South Valley Economic Development Center, Atrisco, NM
South Valley Regional Association of Acequias (SVRAA), Albuquerque, NM
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG), Fayetteville, AR
Sustainable Farming Association, Princeton, MN
Taos County Economic Development Corporation, Taos, NM
The Border Agricultural Workers Project, El Paso , TX
The Cornucopia Institute, Cornucopia, WI
The Eye of Heru Study Group, Detroit, MI
The Second Chance Foundation, New York, NY
Tilth Producers of Washington, Seattle, WA
Torrez Farm, Arroyo Seco, NM

This letter was prepared and circulated by the signatories who regularly participate in the “Getting Our Act Together (GOAT) on the Farm Bill” Collaboration, which promotes a fair farm bill with equity and sustainability.

Go Behind the Scenes of Ohio’s Sustainable Growing

 
May 28, 2013
Ohio News Service
Mary Kuhlman

COLUMBUS, Ohio – All those who have ever wanted to see how their food is produced can get a sneak peek in Ohio this summer. Over two dozen sustainable and organic farms are being featured as part of a farm tour series.

According to Lauren Ketcham, communications coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, the more consumers know, the better prepared they are to make informed choices about who to support with their food dollars. And, she added, the participating farmers are more than happy to let Ohioans see the inner workings of their operations.

“It’s really a lot to ask of a farmer to take the time during the growing season to hold these farm tours, but we’re always encouraged by the willingness of farmers to really want to open up their doors and let consumers know how they’re raising their food,” Ketcham said.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association has been offering the tours for more than three decades. This year’s series includes tours and workshops on a variety of topics including: dairy farming and processing, composting, specialty crops, cut flowers, urban farming, food preservation, and farm business skills.

Lauren Ketcham said that as the popularity of local and organic food has grown, so has interest among young farmers in getting into the business. She remarked that the tour is a great networking opportunity for aspiring and beginning farmers and even backyard growers.

“Farmers and gardeners see first-hand how their colleagues are incorporating sustainable agriculture methods on their lands, ask questions of each other, and take home information that they can put to use on their own farms or in their backyard gardens,” she said.

Ketcham said the tours can also be a fun experience for families, couples or anyone interested in Ohio’s agriculture system. Last year, more than 600 people attended.

More information is online at OEFFA.org.

In addition to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, the tours are also sponsored by Ohio State University and the Coalition of Ohio Land Trusts.

Letter to Congress: Seeds and Breeds in the Farm Bill

May 17, 2013

On behalf of more the undersigned agricultural businesses, organizations, and scientists, we respectfully ask for your support of Senator Tester’s amendment to the Senate Farm Bill. This amendment aims to enhance farmer access to improved crop cultivars and livestock breeds adapted to diverse and regional farming needs. Directing more public dollars toward classical breeding projects that result in finished seeds and breeds increases the competitiveness of agriculture across the U.S. Classical breeding projects also improve food security for our growing population.

Classical breeding is a proven approach to meeting our food and fiber needs

Classical plant and livestock breeding is a proven science. It is our most successful and benign approach to crop improvement, accounting for about half of our dramatic food and fiber crop yield increases throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Classical breeding, using field-based selection, complements newer forms of breeding and fills important roles that lab-based approaches, such as genomics, are not well suited to. Lab-based breeding has value, and may become more important as these technologies improve, but cannot be relied upon currently or in the foreseeable future to fulfill many breeding needs. Classical breeding, in particular, is highly cost-effective.

Senator Tester’s amendment reinforces and builds on a 2008 Farm Bill mandate

The need to better support classical breeding becomes more pressing each year. The 2008 Farm Bill included a congressional mandate that classical plant breeding be a priority within the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). There have been other requests by congressional agriculture and appropriations committees for USDA to make classical plant and animal breeding a priority.

To date, USDA has not fulfilled the 2008 congressional mandate. USDA is aware of the problem, and Senator Tester’s amendment would support the agency’s efforts by clarifying the urgent need to prioritize classical breeding as an essential approach to improving traits of broad interest, and addressing the demand for new cultivars that meet the diverse needs of farmers, especially cultivars adapted to regional conditions – a critical requirement for developing highly productive crop cultivars and diverse cropping systems that are resilient.

Senator Tester’s amendment corrects problems in AFRI breeding grants that have become apparent since the last Farm Bill by prioritizing public cultivar and breed development through classical breeding. It also removes hurdles that hinder USDA’s progress toward this goal. Genomics methods would continue to receive substantial funding.

U.S. farmers face diminished seed choices to meet specific farming needs

Farmers constantly face changing insect, weed, and disease pressures that vary by region and that rapidly change. Crops must continuously be adapted to meet these changes. Similarly, climate, growing season length, soils, and water availability all greatly affect crop growth and vary across the U.S. The most productive approach is to have seeds that are adapted to the same environment as their intended use.

The large investments currently made in molecular breeding programs do not adequately support the development of complex traits necessary for adapting seed to regional needs. It is not cost-effective to use these approaches to develop crop cultivars or livestock breeds adapted to the diverse needs of farmers. The lack of seed options is especially apparent for farmers seeking a range of cultivars in major crops. Options are even less for farmers seeking cultivars that are held in the public domain.

Meeting food security needs

Beyond farmer choice, the lack of seed availability and the narrowing of genetic resources are making our food system less secure. Classical breeding can provide the genetic tools farmers need to manage evolving pest, disease, and weather challenges, creating a source of seeds and breeds adapted to changing needs and opportunities. Of course, one of these needs includes feeding our growing population. The maintenance and improvement of genetic diversity through classical breeding is essential for the success of productive food systems and the greater global food supply, both now and into the future. This is a national issue and should be addressed, at least in part, through national programs such as AFRI.

Summary

Farmer access to regionally adapted seeds and breeds is paramount to fostering the competitiveness of agriculture in all regions of the U.S. As agricultural research has shifted toward an emphasis on lab-based and molecular breeding, seed choice has not kept up with demand, and the diversity of our plant genetic resources has narrowed. Farmers need access to seeds that are bred specifically for their regions and cropping systems. In particular, farmers lament limited cultivar options in major crops, especially publicly held cultivars released by land grant universities that are adapted to regional farming needs to satisfy the national market. By improving agricultural productivity and resilience, classical breeding also improves food security for our growing population.

Senator Tester’s amendment seeks to reinvigorate classical plant breeding in the public sector to better ensure farmers have the seeds and breeds they need to be successful.

Sincerely,

Arkansas Rice Growers Association (Arkansas)
California Farmers Union (California)
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (North and South Carolina)              
Center for a Livable Future Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Maryland)
Center for Rural Affairs (Nebraska)
Dakota Resource Council (North Dakota)
Dakota Rural Action (South Dakota)
Delta Land & Community (Arkansas)
Draper Family Farm (Iowa)
Family Farm Defenders (Wisconsin)
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (Texas)
Food For Maine’s Future (Maine)
Friends of Family Farmers (Oregon)
Grain Millers, Inc. (Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon)
Hawai’i Public Seed Initiative (Hawaii)
Idaho Rural Council (Idaho)
Kansas Farmers Union (Kansas)
Kansas Rural Center (Kansas)
Land Stewardship Project (Minnesota)
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (Mississippi)
Missouri Farmers Union (Missouri)
Missouri Rural Crisis Center (Missouri)
Montana Farmers Union (Montana)
National Cooperative Grocers Association (National)
National Family Farm Coalition (National)
National Farmers Union (National)
National Hmong American Farmers (National)            
National Organic Coalition (National)
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Nebraska Farmers Union (Nebraska)
New England Farmers Union  (New England)
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (Ohio)
Oregon Rural Action (Oregon)
Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing, Inc. (National)
Organically Grown Company (Oregon)
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (National)
Organic Trade Association (National)
Organic Valley (Wisconsin)
Organization for Competitive Markets (Nebraska)
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (Pennsylvania)
Prairie Quest Farm (Iowa)
Progressive Agriculture Organization (Pennsylvania)
R-CALF (National)
Ranch Foods Direct (Colorado)
Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA (National)
Rural Vermont (Vermont)
Seed Matters (California)
South Agassiz Resource Council (North Dakota)
Steve’s Seed Conditioning (Illinois)
Stonebridge Ltd. (Iowa)
The Land Institute (Kansas)
The National Young Farmers’ Coalition (National)
Union of Concerned Scientists (National)           
United Natural Foods, Inc. (National)
Virginia Association for Biological Farming (Virginia)
Western Colorado Congress (Colorado)
Western Organization of Resource Councils
Women, Food and Agriculture Network (Iowa)                                         

Agricultural Scientists and Professionals

Catherine Badgley, Ph.D.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Michigan           
 
Zach Bouricius, Consultant
Plant, Soil and Insect Science from University of Massachusetts at Amherst
 
Liz Carlisle, Ph.D. Candidate
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
Center for Diversified Farming Systems
University of California – Berkeley
 
John E. Carroll, Ph.D.
College of Life Sciences and Agriculture                                                      
University of New Hampshire
 
Eric Casler, Ph.D. Candidate 
Conservation Biology Program
University of Minnesota
 
Martha L. Crouch, Ph.D.
Consultant on Agriculture and Technology    
 
Julie Dawson, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics      
Cornell University, New York
 
George M. Diggs, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor of Biology   
Austin College, Texas             
 
J. Franklin Egan, Ph.D.
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences     
Pennsylvania State University                    
 
David Ehrenfeld, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey                                      
 
Les Everett, Ph.D.
Agronomist Water Resources Center        
University of Minnesota                 
 
Jan Garrett, Ph.D.
Organic Vegetable Production Research        
Auburn University, Alabama              
 
Michael Glos
Department of Plant Breeding
Cornell University, New York
           
Walter Goldstein, Ph.D.      
Executive Director
Mandaamin Institute (Wisconsin)
 
Major Goodman, Ph.D.
William Neal Reynolds Professor and Distinguished University Professor of Crop Science, Genetics, and Statistics
Member of the National Academy of Sciences   
North Carolina State University
 
Julie Grossman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Soil Fertility Management in Organic Cropping Systems       
North Carolina State University
 
John Patrick Hart, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Plant Breeding & Genetics (Vegetable Breeding)
Cornell University (New York)                  
 
Lori Hoagland, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Specialty Crop Production Systems
Purdue University (Indiana)
 
Philip H. Howard, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Community Sustainability
Michigan State University
 
Alastair Iles, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Science, Technology & Environment
Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
University of California – Berkeley    
 
Krista Isaacs, Ph.D. Candidate in Agroecology
Michigan State University
 
Allison L H Jack, Ph.D.
Professor of Agroecology
Prescott College (Arizona)
 
Sibella Kraus
Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE)
David Brower Center (California)
 
Matt Liebman, Ph.D.
Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture
Professor of Agronomy           
Iowa State University 
 
Claire Luby, Graduate Student
Department of Horticulture           
University of Wisconsin – Madison           
           
Alexandra Lyon, Graduate Student
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies   
University of Wisconsin – Madison    
 
Jennifer MacAdam, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Plant Physiology and Forage Production
Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate
Utah State University                      
 
Michael Mazourek, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Calvin Noyes Keeney Professor of Plant Breeding
Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics      
Cornell University (New York)                  
           
Kathleen McAfee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, International Relations  
San Francisco State University, California
 
V. Ernesto Méndez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Agroecology & Environmental Studies
Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group    
Environmental Program and Plant & Soil Science Department
University of Vermont                        
 
Maywa Montenegro, Ph.D.
Student Environmental Science, Policy, and Management      
University of California – Berkeley
 
Kevin Murphy, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor/Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Washington State University
 
James Myers, Ph.D.
Professor of Vegetable Breeding and Genetics
Oregon State University
 
John Navazio, Ph.D.
Organic Seed Research & Extension Specialist
Washington State University/Organic Seed Alliance
 
Dan Nuckols, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Economics
Austin College, Texas
Founding Board Member, Council for Healthy Food Systems
           
Ivette Perfecto, Ph.D.
George W. Pack Professor of Natural Resources and Environment   
University of Michigan                       
           
Chris Picone, Ph.D.
Department of Biology       
Fitchburg State University (Massachusetts)                               
 
Gerald Presley
Research Assistant
Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering
University of Minnesota
 
Dianne Rocheleau, Ph.D.
Professor of Geography Director
Global Environmental Studies Clark University (Massachusetts)
 
Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Agroecology Education        
North Carolina State University         
 
Adrienne Shelton, Graduate Student
Department of Agronomy  
University of Wisconsin – Madison
 
Annie Shattuck
Department of Geography
University of California – Berkeley
 
Gerald R. Smith, Ph.D.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology    
University of Michigan
 
Richard G. Smith, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Agroecology
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment          
University of New Hampshire
 
Allison A. Snow, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
Ohio State University             
 
Doreen Stabinsky, Ph.D.
College of the Atlantic Bar Harbor (Maine)        
           
Seth Swanson
Montana State University Extension
Missoula County Extension Horticulturist
 
William F. Tracy, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Friday Chair of Vegetable Research
Department of Agronomy
University of Wisconsin – Madison           
 
Joel Wainwright, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Geography
Ohio State University

Letter to Congress: Make Common Sense Reforms to Crop Insurance

May 16, 2013

Dear Senators and Representatives:

Our organizations strongly support common sense crop insurance reforms and urge you to support amendments designed to provide farmers an equitable and fiscally responsible safety net.

Taxpayers pay for the majority of crop insurance premiums.  Unlike other farm supports, however, crop insurance is not subject to payment limits, means testing, or conservation requirements. As a result, some crop insurance policy holders annually receive more than $1 million in premium support and more than 10,000 annually receive more than $100,000 in premium support.  By contrast, 80 percent of farmers receive about $5,000 in premium support, tilting the playing field in favor of the largest and most profitable operations  and harming family farmers.

In addition, unlimited crop insurance subsidies encourage landowners to convert wetlands and grasslands they would not farm if they were simply responding to market forces. In recent years, farmers and farmland investment companies have plowed up millions of acres of wetlands and grasslands, which reduces habitat for wildlife, releases more carbon, and compounds our water quality challenges.

We believe that crop insurance is a critical component of the farm safety net and warrants support from taxpayers. However, we believe that reforms designed to require basic environmental protection, improve transparency, and place reasonable limits on the amount of premium subsidies for the largest and most profitable farm businesses would have no impact on program participation but would create a more equitable, sustainable, and fiscally responsible safety net.

We urge you to strengthen the federal crop insurance program by supporting common sense reforms, including proposals designed to strengthen America’s family farms while making crop insurance more equitable, transparent, and fiscally responsible.

Signed,

Center for Rural Affairs
Defenders of Wildlife 
Environmental Working Group
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Letter to Congress: We Want a Full and Fair Farm Bill

This letter is sent on behalf of the undersigned groups. For more information contact Lorette Picciano, Rural Coalition at lpicciano@ruralco.org or 202-628-7160; Katherine Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition at kozer@nffc.net or 202-543-5675 and Ferd Hoefner, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition at fhoefner@sustainableagriculture.net, 202-547-5754.

 
The Honorable Debbie Stabenow
Chairwoman
Senate Agriculture Committee
 
The Honorable Thad Cochran
Ranking Member
 Senate Agriculture Committee
 
The Honorable Frank Lucas
Chairman
House Agriculture Committee
 
The Honorable Collin Peterson
Ranking Member
House Agriculture Committee

May 13, 2013

Dear Chairs and Ranking Members,

As Congress continues its work on a new farm bill, we write to express our support for the Agriculture Committee efforts to complete a full and fair 2013 Farm Bill that will increase economic opportunity for the nation’s diverse family farmers, farmworkers, rural and urban communities and Indian Tribes; protect the environment; and ensure proper nutrition for all families and communities.

We, the undersigned organizations, all have recommendations for the farm bill that extend well beyond the specific issues in this letter, but we focus here on specific equity considerations. We support a full and fair package that balances any reductions across all areas of the Farm Bill, mitigates disasters especially for the most vulnerable producers, protects natural resources, enhances equity and inclusion, constructs a new and economically viable future for agriculture and rural communities, and assures healthy food for all consumers.

For years we have struggled to achieve a fair share of federal farm spending for all the communities we serve. Working with you in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, we have made significant strides forward to allocate a small but growing portion of overall US farm and food policy to enhance equity for our nation’s diverse producers and farmworkers, secure a future in agriculture for new entry farmers and rural, urban and tribal communities, and provide fresh, local food for all consumers. Unfortunately, the farm bill extension we are currently operating under has shut down many of these very programs, setting back the modest progress achieved earlier.

We urge you to provide long-term protection and continued funding to this critical subset of small programs and offices charged with serving the most chronically underserved segments of agriculture. These represent a fraction of the full agriculture budget but are the lifeblood of a sustainable agriculture, rural development and food policy, including Indian Tribes, socially disadvantaged, beginning, and veteran producers, and farmworkers.

As you continue to shape your policy and budget proposals, we urge you to assure strong farm bill mandatory funding support at no less than $20 million a year each for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and Value-Added Producer Grants, as well as at least $4 million a year for Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program.

A fairer farm bill would also provide appropriate waiver, premium reduction, targeting, and advanced payment provisions for beginning, limited resource and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers within the farm bill conservation, credit, crop insurance, NAP, specialty crop, and rural development programs. In this light, we urge you to include all of the provisions of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act and the 2013 Farm Bill Equity and Access Priorities Package in the new five-year farm bill (summaries attached; noting that a number of priorities are included in both packages).

As you proceed with your farm policy deliberations, we urge you to make all funding and policy recommendations relative to farm bill programs with an eye toward the future, a concern for the next generations of our nation’s farmers and ranchers and healthy and nutritious for food for all, and great care to being inclusive of women, minority, tribal and limited resource farmers, farmworkers and rural and urban communities who are oftentimes in most need of these important programs.

Sincerely,
African American Farmers of California, Fresno, CA
Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI), New York, NY
Alabama State Association of Cooperatives, Forkland, AL
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Oxnard, CA
American Federation of Government Employees, Local 3354, St. Louis, MO
American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (ARMPPA), Kendall, WI
Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation, Brinkley, AK
Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake Counties Farmers Union, Windsor, OH
Atrisco Grant-Merced, Albuquerque, NM
BioRegional Strategies, Albuquerque, NM
California Climate and Agriculture Network, Sacramento, CA
California FarmLink, Sacramento, CA
Cape Cod Community Supported Fishery, Chatham, MA
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Pittsboro, NC
Cedarville Band of the Piscataway Indians, Inc., Waldorf, MD
Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, NE
Center for Social Ecology and Public Policy, Honolulu, HI
Center for Social Inclusion, New York, NY
Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CeSoSS), Albuquerque, NM
Colorado Hispanic Ranchers & Farmers, Antonito, CO
Community Alliance for Global Justice, Seattle, WA
Community Food and Justice Coalition, Oakland, CA
Community Servings, Boston, MA
Connections Unlimited, LLC, Yachats, OR
Cultivating Community, Portland, ME
Dakota Rural Action, Brooking, SD
Dixon Farmers Market, Dixon, NM
Dockery Group, LLC, Elm City, NC
Ecological Farming Association, Soquel, CA
Equal Exchange, West Bridgewater, MA
Family Farm Defenders, Madison, WI
Farm Aid, Cambridge, MA
Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Providence, RI
Farm to Table, Santa Fe, NM
Farms Not Arms, Petaluma, CA
Farms to Grow, Oakland, CA
Farmworker Association of Florida, Apopka, FL
Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Epes, AL
Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, East Point, GA
Food & Water Watch, Washington, DC
Food Chain Workers Alliance, Los Angeles, CA
Food First, Oakland, CA
Foodshed Alliance, Blairstown, NJ
Franciscan Fraternity Espiritu Santo, Albuquerque, NM
Grassroots International, Boston, MA
Healthy Farms Healthy People Coalition, Washington, DC
Hmong National Development, Inc., Washington, DC
Hunger Action Network of New York State, New York, NY
Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Springfield, IL
Indian Country Agriculture and Resource Development Corporation (ICARD),
Anadarko, OK
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Baltimore, MD
Kentucky Resources Council, Inc., Frankfort, KY
La Minga Cooperative Farm, Prospect, KY
La Plazita Farm, Albuquerque, NM
La Semilla Food Center, Anthony, NM
Land Stewardship Project, Minneapolis, MN
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Hereford, TX
Lideres Campesinas, Oxnard, CA
Live Real, Oakland, CA
Local Food Hub, Charlottesville, VA
Los Jardines Institute (The Gardens Institute), Albuquerque, NM
Maine Rural Partners, Orono, ME
Matthews Family Farm, Eighty-Four, PA
Michigan Coalition of Black Farmers, Detroit, MI
Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS), East Lansing, MI
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, Jackson, MS
National Council of La Raza, Washington, DC
National Family Farm Coalition, Washington, DC
National Hmong American Farmers, Inc., Fresno, CA
National Immigrant Farming Initiative, Washington, DC
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Washington, DC
National Women In Agriculture Association, Oklahoma City, OK
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, Ceresco, NE
New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, Lowell, MA
New Mexico Acequia Association, Santa Fe, NM
New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, Santa Fe, NM
North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project, Durham,
NC
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Deerfield, MA
Northeast Organic Farming Association- Interstate Council, Stevenson, CT
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG), New Paltz, NY
Northern New Mexico Stockmens Association, Espanola, NM
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Gloucester, MA
Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, Eugene, OR
Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, Seattle, WA
Northwest Forest Worker Center, Albany, CA
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Columbus, OH
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project Inc., Oklahoma City, OK
Panola Land Buyers Association Housing Development Corporation, Eutaw, AL
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Millheim, PA
Pesticide Action Network, Oakland, CA
Positive Action Now, Inc., Richmond, VA
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington, DC
Progressive Agriculture Organization, LaFargeville, NY
Pululu Farm, Arroyo Seco, NM
Root ‘N Roost Farm, Livingston Manor, NY
Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA), Pittsboro, NC
Rural Advancement Fund, Orangeburg, SC
Rural American Network, Estancia, NM
Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, Washington, DC
Rural Vermont, Montpelier, AL
School Food FOCUS National Office, New York, NY
Shoreline Study Center, Carlsbad, CA
Silas H Hunt CDC, Texarkana, AR
Slow Food USA, Brooklyn, NY
South Valley Economic Development Center, Atrisco, NM
South Valley Regional Association of Acequias (SVRAA), Albuquerque, NM
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG), Fayetteville, AR
Sustainable Farming Association, Princeton, MN
Taos County Economic Development Corporation, Taos, NM
The Border Agricultural Workers Project, El Paso , TX
The Cornucopia Institute, Cornucopia, WI
The Eye of Heru Study Group, Detroit, MI
The Second Chance Foundation, New York, NY
Tilth Producers of Washington, Seattle, WA
Torrez Farm, Arroyo Seco, NM
United Farmers USA, Manning, SC
Valencia County Older American Program, Belen, NM
Verley Family, LLC, Annandale, VA
Vian Peace Center, Vian, OK
Virginia Association for Biological Farming, Lexington, VA
Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network, Mount Vernon, WA
WhyHunger, New York, NY
Winston County Self Help Cooperative, Louisville, MS
World Farmers, Inc., Lancaster, MA
Youngsville Livestock Association, Espanola, NM
Attachments:
2013 Farm Bill Equity and Access Priorities Package
Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act Summary

This letter was prepared and circulated by the signatories who regularly participate in the “Getting Our Act Together (GOAT) on the Farm Bill” Collaboration, which promotes a fair farm bill with equity and sustainability.

2013 Farm Bill Equity and Access Priorities Package

The 2013 Farm Bill Equity and Access Priorities Package will promote balanced rural development and job opportunities in all rural communities across the nation and will expand opportunities for the nation’s diverse producers, including socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers.

• Disadvantaged Producer Training – The Outreach and Assistance Program for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Rancher (also known as the 2501 Program) is a historic program that provides competitive grants to educational institutions, Extension, and community-based organizations to assist African-American, American-Indian, Asian- American and Latino farmers and ranchers in owning and operating farms and participating in USDA programs. Language to expand program eligibility requirements to include veteran farmers and ranchers as approved in both the House and Senate in 2012 should be including and adequate funding of not less than $20 million per year included in order to serve both the traditional and new producers now eligible for the program.

• Establishment of a USDA Office of Tribal Relations – Language to permanently establish an Office of Tribal Relations within the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture, as included in 2012 versions of the Farm Bill, will ensure Tribal Consultation and Tribal Access to USDA programs and spurring job creation and economic development in rural communities across America.

• Expansion of the Substantially Underserved Trust Area Initiative with USDA Rural Development – Retaining the 2012 language to expand the Substantially Underserved Trust Area (SUTA) Initiative in USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Service to all programs under Rural Development would improve access to family housing and community facilities financing and business and economic development funding, and provide RD with added flexibility to invest in individuals, businesses, and organizations developing private sector jobs and local economies in rural trust land communities.

• Expansion of the Highly Fractionated Land Loan Program – Legislative changes are necessary to make the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Highly Fractionated Land Loan Program practicable. Today, many land parcels on Indian lands have multiple owners – due to the historical lack of legal services and estate administration, residual owners can range into the hundreds or thousands of owners – resulting in situations which make it virtually impossible for such land to be economically viable. As ownership of tribal land passes from one generation to another, the owners’ ability to derive economic benefits from the land decreases as fractionation increases. Language included in 2012 would ensure implementation of the Highly Fractionated Land Loan Program within the Farm Service Agency by disconnecting that program from Bureau of Indian Affairs processes, to spur productive land use and job-creating development in Indian Country.

• Crop Insurance for Socially Disadvantaged Producers – Crop insurance is the center of the new farm safety net, but current programs do not work well for small scale producers of multiple fresh crops, or for organic producers. It is a priority to assure that socially disadvantaged producers as well as beginning and limited resource farmers and ranchers all receive the same premium waivers. Also necessary is an expansion of authority for the USDA’s Risk Management Agency to develop flexible new insurance products that better serve diverse producers of multiple fresh products on small-scale operations.

• Non Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) – Many small scale producers find the cost of NAP coverage for noninsurable crops prohibitive for small scale diverse operations (the cost for 1-3 commodities is the same for a 5 acre farm as for a much larger farm). As such, their income remains at great risk in times of natural disasters. Disaster coverage should be increased by expanding the current NAP premium waiver for Limited Resource Farmers and Ranchers to Socially Disadvantaged and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.

• Improving the Farm Labor Workforce – The farm labor force faces a growing number of obstacles in obtaining training and services in methodology, technology, and environmental concerns. Previous statutory and funding authority of 10 million annually in authorizations for Grants to Improve the Agricultural Labor Workforce Program to provide training and other services to Farmworkers should be continued.

• USDA Coordination Activities for Socially Disadvantaged, Beginning and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers – Statutory and funding authority of $2 million annually to continue the work of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach to coordinate activities within the department to advance participation of socially disadvantaged, beginning, veteran and other small farmers and ranchers and farmworkers in the programs of the department should be continued and a USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison Position charged with facilitating the process of educating returning veterans about and connecting them with training and/or agriculture vocational and rehabilitation programs should be added.

• Resource and Marketing Management Coordination – Additional authority would help producers improve resource management by allowing FSA, NRCS and FS to provide funding for loans, projects and practices serving socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers that require the participation of multiple farmers and ranchers to be successful directly to entities directly managed and governed by farmers and ranchers who meet the definition of socially disadvantaged, including cooperatives, acequias and land grants (include definitions). A waiver of restrictions on the funding of governmental units should be provided for entities which meet the above definitions and which do not have independent tax collection authority.

• Strengthen Farm Service Agency Micro Loan and Youth Loan Program Authority – Term limits should be waived for youth loans and for socially disadvantaged, beginning and veteran farmers and ranchers in direct loans, including the new micro loan program. Authority should also be provided to expand eligibility for youth loans to youth in urban areas.

• Receipt for Service – Authority should be added to require the issuance of a written receipt for service or denial of service to any current or prospective participant programs serving farmers and ranchers as operated by the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources and Conservation Service and any other program directly serving producers.

• Conservation and Forestry Access – The following policies would expand conservation and forestry access including:
• Continue and expand the existing set asides for socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers and ranchers in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) from 5 percent to 10 percent of the total EQIP funds and to 10 percent of total CSP acres and extends these set asides to all conservation and forestry programs serving farmers and ranchers.
• Expand the existing EQIP increased cost shares for SDFR and BFR to all Conservation and Forestry Programs serving farmers and ranchers which include a cost share, including community forestry and the Forest Stewardship Program.
• Extends and expands the advance payment authority for socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers from 30% to 50% in all conservation and forestry programs with cost shares.
• Add protection of the land of owned and operated by socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as a purpose for the use of Farm and Ranch Land Protection funds and to authorizes payment of up to 90 percent of the value of development rights in areas with high loss of land owned by socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
• Add a 10% set aside for BFRs and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in the Conservation Innovation Grant subprogram.                                                                                   • Whole Farm Conservation and Forestry Planning: Farm bill authority for special incentives for beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers should be continued and authority added that Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Forest Service to provide these farmers and ranchers with technical and financial assistance (through EQIP, CSP, Conservation Technical Assistance or other programs) to develop whole farm resource management system plans.

• Treatment of Farms With Limited Base Acres – The Farm Bill 2008 exemption for limited resource, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers from the base-acreage minimum should be extended for producers receiving any direct, counter-cyclical, or average crop revenue election payments provided in the 2013 Farm Bill.

• Enhanced Access to Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program – Previous setasides for projects serving socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in the BFRDP should be continued and the matching requirements for these projects reduced to 10%.

• Enhanced Opportunities in Value-Added Producer Grants – Priority for Value-Added Producer grant projects benefitting beginning farmers and ranchers should be expanded include socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, as well as the set-aside of program funding for these projects, and the match requirement reduced to 10% for projects benefitting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

• Rural Cooperative Development Access – Set-asides for projects serving socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers should be continued.

• Assistance with Transitioning to Bioenergy Crops – Access to the Biomass Crop Assistance Program should be expanded by adding programs serving more than 51% beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as a selection criteria for projects.

• Access to Rural Energy for America Program – Matching requirements for project serving tribes and socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers and communities in the REAP program should be reduced to 10% for Feasibility Studies and for Projects and an annual report required on amount and percentage of funds provided to these groups in each program.

• Report on Specialty Crop Production by Certain Farmers – Language should be included as passed in the House 2012 Committee bill to require USDA to conduct a study on specialty crop production by small, women, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, who are significantly represented in specialty crop production. This provision would also require USDA to assess the public and private sector tools available to help expand, improve, and add value to the agricultural operations of these producers which are also an important source of varieties of products for preferred by expanding markets of growing diverse cultures. Data is a critical first step in bolstering production for these sectors of agriculture.

• Specialty Crop Block Grants – The requirement in the conference report in the 2008 farm bill that requires states to stipulate a plan for reaching and meeting the needs of small-scale, women, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, who are significantly represented in specialty crop production, in their applications for Specialty Crop Block Grants should be continued.

• Emergency Disaster Relief Program for Farmworkers– The current program authority for emergency disaster relieve for farmworkers should be expanded to add a $2 million replenishable standing disaster fund and authority provided to the Secretary to require Farm Service Agency to assess conditions among farmworkers when assessing any disaster and to address the needs of farmworkers in any disaster declaration or response.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2013
Sponsored by Representative Tim Walz and Senator Tom Harkin
H.R. 1727 / S. 837
Section by Section Summary

Title I — Conservation
(Title III of the Farm Bill)

Sections 101, 102 & 131 — Conservation Reserve Program Transition Incentive Program (CRP-TIP) – Amend Sections 1231 and 1235 of the Food Security Act to to reauthorize CRP-TIP through 2018 and provide $50 million in mandatory funding over the life of the farm bill. Additionally, include provisions to strengthen the conservation language, create a comprehensive conservation plan option, create an easement option through the Grassland Reserve Program or the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program, and allow transition between family members who meet the eligibility criteria but only in the case of land sales to the younger generation

Section 111 — Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) – Amend Section 1238I of the Food Security Act of 1985 to make preserving farm viability for future generations a part of the purpose of the program, and to give funding priority to easements with an option to purchase at the agricultural use value, to deals that transfer the land to beginning and farmers and ranchers, to applicants with detailed farm succession plans, and other similar mechanisms to maintain the affordability of protected farm and ranch land, keep it as working land, and foster new farming opportunities.

Sections 121 & 132 — Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) – Amend Sections 1240B of the Food Security Act of 1985 to continue the existing cost share differential for beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers within EQIP), and reaffirm the advance payment option allowing beginning and socially
disadvantaged producers to receive an advance payment for the project’s costs for purchasing materials or contracting services, but increase the limit on the advance payment from 30 percent to 50 percent of costs. Also, increase the rate at which USDA can provide conservation technical assistance to beginning farmers, and include a
priority on beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers within the Conservation Innovation Grants subprogram.

Section 133 — Whole Farm Conservation Planning – Amend Sections 1244(a) of the Food Security Act of 1985 to strengthen special incentives to beginning farmers and ranchers and limited resource producers to participate in federal agricultural conservation programs by authorizing NRCS to provide these farmers and ranchers with technical and financial assistance through EQIP, CSP, or other programs to develop whole farm resource management system plans.

Title II — Credit
(Title V of the Farm Bill)

Sections 201 & 203 — Direct Farm Ownership Experience Requirement – Amend Section 302(b)(1) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to provide the Secretary with greater discretion in determining the number of years of farm management experience required for “qualified beginning farmers and ranchers” to be eligible for direct farm ownership loans. Also raise the cap on these loans by indexing the loan cap to farmland inflation rates.

Section 202 — Conservation Loans – Amend Section 304 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to raise the guarantee amount under USDA Conservation Loans from 75 to 90 percent, create a 50 percent target participation rate for beginning farmers and ranchers similar to the targets for other loan programs, and delete the existing provision that waives the family farm eligibility requirement which is required for all other FSA loan programs.

Section 205 — Down Payment Loan Limits – Amend Section 310E(b)(1)(C) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to increase the limit on the size of the land value that can be FSA-financed from $500,000 to $677,000, consistent with other FSA direct loan programs.

Section 211 — Microloan Authorization – Amend Section 313 of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to create a new simplified loan category within USDA’s direct operating loan portfolio to provide flexible capital through microloans (not to exceed a balance of $35,000) that shall be available to any eligible borrower, but
will have special incentives for young, beginning and veteran farmers, including a lower interest rate and exempting microloans to these borrowers from counting towards their loan history term limits. Also establish a cooperative lending program to allow USDA-selected intermediaries to make microloans to eligible borrowers.

Section 221 — Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Accounts Pilot Program – Amend Section 333B of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to reauthorize this matched savings program per the 2008 Farm Bill but with $5 million per year in mandatory funding to jump start the program. IDAs will be administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) through pilot programs in at least 15 states.

Section 222 — Graduation to Commercial Credit – Amend Sections 311(c) and 319of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to modify the FSA loan term limits provisions to not more than 15 consecutive years for guaranteed loans and not more than 9 consecutive years for direct loans.

Sections 204 & 223 — Priority for Participation Loans – Amend Section 346(b)(2)(A) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to give priority within direct farm ownership loans to joint financing participation loans and down payment loans that involve private lenders. Also, decrease the unreasonably high minimum interest rates on these loans to make them more relevant in the current low-interest rate climate.

Section 206 — Limited Resource Interest Rate – Amend Section 316(a)(2) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to adjust the minimum interest rate on direct loans to low-income borrowers so that it reflects the current low-interest rate climate.

Section 207 — Definition of Qualified Beginning Farmer – Amend Section 343(a)(11)(F) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act to modify the definition of “qualified beginning farmer and ranchers” so that the average, not median, farm size is used to determine FSA loan eligibility.

Title III — Rural Development
(Title VI of the Farm Bill)

Section 301 — Value-Added Producer Grants – Amend Section 231 of the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000 to retain the priority and set-aside for projects benefitting beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, but clarify the language to make both individual farmer grants and farm business and coop grants practical and effective. Direct USDA to develop an outreach and technical assistance strategy to reach underserved states and regions. Renew mandatory farm bill funding at $20 million a year.

Title IV — Research, Extension, and Related Matters
(Title VII of the Farm Bill)

Section 401 — Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program – Amend Section 7405(c) of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to reauthorize this highly successful flagship training program through 2018 and provide with $20 million per year in mandatory funding. Also, include a new priority on agricultural rehabilitation and vocational training programs for military veterans, and food safety training. Include a 10 percent cooperative agreement alternative to higher negotiated administrative reimbursement rates.

Section 402 — Beginning Farmer and Rancher Research Priority – Amend Section 2(b) of the Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Act of 1965 to include a new program area to support research, education, and extension projects related to beginning, socially-disadvantaged and immigrant farmers and ranchers, farm transition and entry, new marketing and farm viability alternatives, and related issues. Also clarify the authorizing legislation to ensure that all AFRI programs (including integrated) are fully competitive and open to all eligible entities.

Title V — Crop Insurance
(Title XI of the Farm Bill)

Section 501 — Risk Management Partnership Programs – Amend Section 522 of the Federal Crop Insurance Act to add a strong emphasis on beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers within this partnership grant program that funds projects to inform farmers about crop insurance products and broader risk management topics.

Title VI — Miscellaneous
(Title XIV of the Farm Bill)

Section 601 — Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison – Add a new section in Subtitle A of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 to create a new Veterans Agricultural Liaison position at USDA charged with facilitating the process of educating returning veterans about and connecting them with beginning farmer and rancher training and agriculture vocational and rehabilitation programs.

Ohio Farmers Ask for a “Sustainable” Farm Bill

 
Mary Kuhlman
Public News Service – OH
May 15, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As Congress works this week on a new Farm Bill, Ohio farmers say policy changes are needed to support practices that improve public health, spur the rural economy and enhance natural resources.

Programs they say are critical to the success of sustainable farming could be cut, including the National Organic Certification Cost-Share program, which is used by about 40 percent of organic farmers in Ohio.

Abbe Turner of Lucky Penny Creamery in Kent said these programs help businesses such as hers grow.

“When funding is allocated to small food- and farm-based entrepreneurs that are farming in a way that is sustainable, it’s good for everyone,” she said. “You get healthy, nutritious products to market, you get healthy food systems, and economic development in areas where there might not have otherwise been.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, reintroduced the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act as part of this year’s Farm Bill. It includes money and reforms for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share and Farmers Market Promotion programs, both of which have not been funded since October.

The House Agriculture Committee is to debate funding for these programs today. On Tuesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill, fully funding both programs.

Farm Bill programs can boost business for the small guys, said Turner, who used the Value-Added Producer Grant to develop a dessert sauce made with goat’s milk and take it to a food show in Washington, D.C.. She said her product will be launched this fall.

“Just the exposure we got at the national show – we have a teeny little manufacturing plant in Kent, Ohio, and getting national exposure regarding what wonderful products can come out Ohio,” she said. “Without the VAPG we never would have been able to do the science or the marketing. It’s an exciting thing.”

Congress hasn’t passed a Farm Bill since 2008. Many Ohio farmers that rely on Farm Bill programs that have been without funding since fall are waiting eagerly to find out which programs and reforms will be included in the final bill.

Statement from MacKenzie Bailey, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Food and Drug Administration Listening Session on Proposed Food Safety Rules
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, OH

Good Afternoon. My name is MacKenzie Bailey and I am the Policy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

Since our start 34 years ago, OEFFA has been dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable, ecological, and healthy food systems. Today we have a membership of more than 3,200 dedicated farmers, consumers, gardeners, chefs, researchers, and retailers. Together, we are working to recreate a regionally-scaled farming, processing, and distribution system that move food from farm to local fork.

OEFFA is also an accredited organic certifier, and certifies more than 750 operations throughout the Midwest, many of whom are growers or food processors that will be required to either fully or partially adhere to the FDA’s proposed preventative controls and produce rules.  For this reason we are diligently working to educate and engage our members in the rulemaking process.

We understand the importance of providing safe food, free from dangerous pathogens, and have recently offered a training workshop to our members on methods for meeting Good Agricultural Practices.

Nevertheless, the proposed rules are daunting to many producers and I’d like to address several areas of concern:

First is that of cost. Under the proposed rule Ohio’s many small family farmers will incur expenses, perhaps higher than they can afford. According to the FDA’s own estimates a “small” farm would bear a more than $27,000[1] initial cost of compliance and from then on an average annual cost of nearly $13,000[2]. The average net cash income for farmers nationally was 10 percent of sales in 2011[3]. In other words, initial compliance with the produce safety rule could consume more than half of a small farm’s yearly profits [i.e., a farm with sales of $450,000 making $45,000 profit per year, would see their profits drop to $17,434 in the first compliance year].

This scenario is only more extreme for the “very small” farm, which is estimated to incur more than $22,000[4] in initial compliance expenses [i.e., a farm with sales of $200,000 making $20,000 profit per year, would lose money their first year of compliance].

If the FDA does not address the cost of the proposed rule, many of America’s farmers may face the real risk of going out of business and our nation’s ability to attract future generations of farmers will only become more difficult.

Second is that of conflict with the organic standards. The Food Safety Modernization Act stated that produce standards should not conflict with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) regulations for certified organic production. For example, the NOP allows farms to use raw manure fertilizer if it is applied 120 days (approximately four months) before harvest if the crop’s edible portions come into contact with the soil. Under the proposed rule a nine month restriction period would be required, which is excessive in comparison to the organic standards[5].

Third is that of exemptions. The smallest farms (those making less than $25,000) will be exempted from the produce safety rule, while others fall under a modified requirement status. There are many questions about the withdrawal of such statuses, as well as the restitution process. There need to be clear, predictable steps leading to a withdrawal, rather than a “one strike and you’re out” approach.

Finally, every farmer I have met strives to provide safe food, free of pathogens that cause illness. Training and education for preventing food safety outbreaks is necessary for farmers to succeed. Adequate funding will be needed for plain speak training materials, workshops, and outreach.

Maintaining safe food in this country is essential, but it should not create unnecessarily burdensome regulations that put diversified, sustainable, and organic farms at risk of going out of business. Many of these farms are already at lower risk of creating large foodborne illness outbreaks due to their size, scope, and, for some, alternative farming practices that maintain soil and water integrity.

Thank you for your time.

Statement from MacKenzie Bailey, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Addressed to the Franklin County Planning Commission on a Zoning Amendment Regarding Chickens, Ducks and Rabbits
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Good afternoon and thank you for accepting my request to speak today about the proposed zoning amendment to allow chickens, ducks, and rabbits on lots less than 5 acres.  My name is MacKenzie Bailey and I am the Policy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, or OEFFA.

Since our start 34 years ago, OEFFA has been dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable, ecological, and healthy food systems.  Today we have a membership of more than 3,200 dedicated farmers, consumers, gardeners, and homesteaders, including more than 300 members in Franklin Co.

Together we are working to recreate regionally-scaled farming, processing, and distributions systems that move food from farm to local fork.  We are extremely encouraged to hear about the county’s efforts to make allowances for small livestock that will strengthen local food security, give consumers more of a connections to their food, and potentially save Franklin Co. residents money,

In February, OEFFA submitted comments to the County Economic Development and Planning Department that we felt would improve the practical application of the Zoning Amendment.

After reading the most recent draft of the amendment, it is clear that the County looked carefully at each comment submitted and made thoughtful adjustments – changes that have both simplified and clarified the requirements, and which will allow animal owners to more easily comply with the regulations.

Namely, OEFFA was pleased to see a reduction in the fencing requirements for lots more than 1 acre; more flexibility in the disposal, storage, and application of manure; and reference to the standards established by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.

For us, one area of concern remains – the restriction on the number of animals allowed on lots larger than 1 acre. In our original comments we recommended two dozen birds for every acre of land. We stand by that recommendation for two primary reasons:

1)      The first is that – The current allotment is too small for a family to sustain themselves.  According to Harvey Ussery, author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, a family of four requiring two eggs per day per person would need a flock of a dozen laying hens.

If the same family would like to raise chickens for meat, they would need many more animals.  In our original comments, we provided a conservative estimate that if a family of four ate one bird a week they would need 52 birds for the year.  I spoke with a chicken farmer who explained to me that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a family to bring those birds to slaughter on a quarterly basis.  Meaning at any one point in time this family of four would need a minimum of 25 birds.

Depending on a family’s individual circumstances, they may need more birds.

When OEFFA originally submitted comments, the rule appeared to count rabbits separate from birds, now it counts all animals on a point system. This change would further restrict a family who preferred to produce their own supply of meat and eggs.

2)      The other point I’d like to make is that birds do not require much space, and as acreage increases the likelihood that they would create a nuisance or public health concern decreases. In fact, as a comparison, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards allow for as many as 43,560 laying hens per acre. Granted those allotments are intended for commercial use, but it illustrates just how little space two dozen birds would require.

For these reasons, and because it is important to OEFFA and our members that the rules meet their intent, I ask the County to consider raising the number of animals allowed to two dozen per acre.

I’d like to end my comments today on a personal note.  I am not an Ohio native. I transplanted here five years ago from Buffalo, NY. One of the reasons I’ve stayed in Ohio, and plan to remain here, is that the local food economy is thriving. I appreciate the value of keeping my dollars local and even more so, I enjoy the strong sense of community that is associated with the local food movement.  I’m proud to live in a county that is proactively creating policies that support homesteaders, farmers markets, and food cart businesses. In the future, I hope the County considers expanding the rules to cover commercial production.

Nevertheless, I want to emphasis how appreciative OEFFA is to have these new allowances in place and thank you again for your efforts, as well as to have the opportunity to provide input on this important issue.

Free Public Tour Series Features Ohio’s Organic and Sustainable Farms and Businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2013

Contact: Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has announced its farm tours and workshops that will be included in the 2013 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series, featuring free public tours of some of Ohio’s finest sustainable and organic farms. OEFFA has offered these tours for more than 30 years, providing unique opportunities for Ohioans to see, taste, feel, and learn what sustainable food and fiber production is all about from the farmers themselves.

Consumers interested in local foods, farmers and market gardeners wanting to learn more and network with other farmers, and aspiring and beginning farmers are encouraged to attend.

“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 are opening their barn doors this summer to show 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,” added Ketcham.

Seventeen tours and workshops are being sponsored by OEFFA and will be held between June and November. The 2013 farm tour and workshop series is promoted in cooperation with the Ohio State University Sustainable Agriculture Team and the Coalition of Ohio Land Trusts, who are sponsoring additional tours. In total, the series features 24 farms and food businesses, three university research centers, and three educational workshops.

OEFFA’s tours and workshops feature: dairy farming and processing, diversified organic production, pasture-raised livestock and poultry, composting, Permaculture, specialty crops, cut flowers, agri-tourism, urban farming, cover crops, season extension, food preservation, and farm business skills.

OEFFA’s events are:

OEFFA’s 2013 farm tours are supported in part by the Jim Rosselot Memorial Fund.  Jim, a third generation farmer from Butler County, passed away last summer at the age of 57. Jim was a staunch supporter of sustainable agriculture and an active OEFFA member. He and his family grew vegetables and produced free range meat, poultry, and eggs, sold through a successful community supported agriculture (CSA) program, the local farmers’ market, and restaurants.

For additional information and a complete list of all farm tours, including dates, times, farm descriptions, and driving directions, click here.

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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.