Restoration of Funding for Vital Local and Sustainable Food Programs in Ohio’s 2012-2013 Budget

May 31, 2011

Dear Members of the Ohio Senate,

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) urges you to restore general revenue funding in the pending budget bill for the Office of Farmland Preservation and for the Ohio Proud program. OEFFA also requests that you restore funding for the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator and Farmers’ Markets Coordinator, positions that were eliminated earlier this year.

OEFFA is a nonprofit, grassroots coalition of 2,700 farmers, gardeners, consumers, retailers, educators and researchers. OEFFA works to promote local and organic food systems that bring prosperity to family farmers, help preserve farmland, and create economic opportunities for our rural communities. OEFFA also provides organic certification services for nearly 700 farms and processors.

General Revenue Fund appropriations for the Office of Farmland Preservation were $200,000 per year for both 2010 and 2011.  However, Am. Sub. HB 153 currently seeks to slash GRF funding for the office to $72,750 per year for 2012 and 2013. The Ohio Office of Farmland Preservation protects the state’s best and most productive farmlands from conversion to non-agricultural uses. Ohio is losing farmland at a much faster rate than other states. We rank second in the nation for prime agricultural lands converted to development, but only 31st in the nation for numeric population growth.  Please restore GRF funding for the Office of Farmland Preservation so Ohio can preserve and protect its agricultural heritage.

Please restore GRF funding for the Ohio Proud program. In 2010 and 2011, GRF funding for the Ohio Proud program was $196,895 per year. The pending budget bill slashes Ohio Proud GRF funding to $50,000 per year for both 2012 and 2013. The Ohio Proud program markets Ohio food and agriculture products to increase sales and create jobs for food processers, manufacturers, growers, and producers. As a result, every dollar spent on Ohio Proud is an investment in the state’s economy. Please support local farmers and food processors and Ohio’s rural economies by restoring Ohio Proud’s GRF funding.

Finally, two important positions were eliminated from the Department of Agriculture earlier this year: the Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator and the Farmers’ Markets Coordinator. We respectfully request that you restore funding for these positions, which are important for promoting local and sustainable food and farm products.

Sincerely,

Carol Goland, Ph.D.
Executive Director