November 3, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Some Ohio farmers are flying to Washington today to talk to policymakers about the importance of protecting local and organic family farms.
Congressional agriculture committee members are drafting language for the 2012 Farm Bill to send to the so-called “super committee” this week. MacKenzie Bailey, policy coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, says the bill typically takes an entire year to write, but legislators are crafting it in just two weeks.
“This is the fastest food and farm bill decision-making process in history. And here in Ohio it’s essential that we protect programs that contribute to the success of local and organic family farmers.”
In the past few weeks, advocacy groups have been submitting their suggestions to lawmakers for the farm bill, and Bailey says her association is supportive of a bill introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, this week. The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act would prioritize consumer access to healthy, fresh food and help Ohio farmers by addressing production, aggregation, marketing and distribution needs.
Local and organic farmers rely on programs funded through the farm bill, such as the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program. Ron Meyer, from Strawberry Hill Farm in Coshocton County, says that program eases the financial burden organic farmers annually incur to maintain certification.
“Organic certification is expensive, so it’s very helpful to us to get some of that money back. And it encourages us to continue producing food organically, which helps to produce a healthy environment.”
Meyer supports Brown’s legislation because it strengthens Ohio’s local farming economy.
“Those are systems that promote food that is good for us, that’s good for the planet and is good for farmers to produce. The bill also will help to strengthen local and regional food systems.”