Agricultural Justice Advocate Onika Abraham to Keynote 40th Annual Ohio Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

Healing a history of oppression in agriculture by honoring the contributions of our ancestors will be the focus of a keynote address by farmer and educator Onika Abraham at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 40th annual conference, Just Farming: The Path Before Us, this February in Dayton, Ohio.
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In her Saturday, February 16 keynote address, “Unearthing Our Roots,” Abraham, Executive Director of Farm School NYC, will explore why it’s as important for farmers to know where their farming comes from as it is for the public to know where their food comes from. Abraham will explore the history of sustainable growing practices, the contributions of black and brown people, and why these often obscured stories are an obstacle to beginning farmers of color claiming power and autonomy in this movement.
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During remarks made before the 2018 Northeast Organic Farming Association-Vermont (NOFA-VT) conference, Abraham notes the stories of slaves, immigrants, and oppressed people  can “connect us to traditional practices of our ancestors, practices that are reverent to the land, and these stories are the rich, intricate, fibrous roots of organic agriculture.”
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“It’s important to recognize the very real ways farming has been used as a tool of oppression in the past, so we don’t replicate them in the present,” Abraham said. “Our current food system is still used as a tool of oppression in so many ways, against people of color, against people with disabilities, against immigrants and women and farm workers. It’s important to share these stories as a way to join together and to dismantle the system and build something better and more just in its place.”
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Abraham is a farmer and educator with more than 15 years of experience in teaching, nonprofit management, marketing, and entrepreneurship.
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She was a teacher at Farm School NYC, before becoming its Executive Director in 2014, where she works to train residents in urban agriculture in order to build self-reliant communities and inspire positive local action around food access and social, economic, and racial justice issues.
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She has completed the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Brooklyn Urban Gardener certification program and the 1,000 hour Farm and Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) in Santa Cruz. She served on CASFS’s Social Justice Action Committee, helping expand the curriculum, diversify of staff and faculty, and create more support systems for apprentices of color.
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Abraham is one of the co-founders of Black Urban Growers and has helped organize three national Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conferences. She is a founder and teacher of A Farmers’ Yoga and a founding member and volunteer at Seedkeepers Collective, a people of color-led seed saving initiative. She previously managed communications for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and has previously served as Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Safe Horizon, which empowers victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
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“We’re so pleased to have Onika at our 2019 conference, which is focused on agricultural justice,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “Acknowledging the roots of agriculture and considering the ways in which injustice continue to permeate it is essential for forging a path to a healthier food system.”
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On Friday, February 15, Abraham will also lead a 90-minute workshop, “Rooting Up,” for attendees who want a deeper, more personal exploration of the themes she will explore in her keynote.
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Abraham will speak as part of Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which will run Thursday, February 14 through Saturday, February 16 at the Dayton Convention Center.
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In addition to Abraham, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Elizabeth Henderson on February 15; nearly 80 educational workshops; four full-day Food and Farm School classes on February 14; a three-day trade show; evening entertainment; activities for children; locally-sourced meals; a raffle; book sales and signings, and more.
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A limited number of scholarships are available to persons of color and beginning farmers, along with reduced rate volunteer spaces.
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For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2019
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Our Sponsors
  
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Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition | Chelsea Green Publishing | Columbus Irrigation |  The Fertrell Company | Great River Organics | Green Field Farms Co-Op | Greenacres Foundation | Hartzler Family Dairy | Hiland Supply Co. | Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) | Lucky Cat Bakery | Pastured Providence Farmstead | Paul Hall and Associates | Shagbark Seed and Mill | Snowville Creamery | Stauf’s Coffee Roasters | SuperGro of Iowa | Tiger Mushroom Farms | WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio
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Andelain Fields | Casa Nueva | Certis USA | Curly Tail Organic Farm | Dale Filbrun/Morning Sun Organic Farm | Eden Foods | Grassroots Farm and Foods | Kevin Morgan Studio | Lucky Penny Farm | OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter | Ohio Environmental Council | Rosebud’s Ranch and Garden | Plant Talk Radio | Tea Hills Farms
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Ag Credit, ACA | Ann’s Raspberry Farm | Bexley Natural Market |  Blue Jacket Dairy| Branstool Orchards | Flying J Farm | Fox Hollow Farm | Herbruck Poultry Ranch | Nourse Farms | Pure Life Organic Foods | Storehouse Tea | Stutzman Farms | VanBuren’s All/Buckeye Highlands | Warped Wing Brewing

Farm Bill a Win for Farmers and Consumers

Columbus, OH— Yesterday afternoon, the Senate passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, and the House is expected to weigh in on the measure Thursday. If passed by the House and signed by the President, Congress would overcome an impasse that has stalled the 2018 Farm Bill for weeks, agreeing on programs that will serve farmers and the food insecure for years to come.

The new farm bill will invest in local and regional foods demanded by the public through the Local Agriculture Market Program and support the next generation of farmers through the Farming Opportunities, Training, and Outreach Program.

“OEFFA is very pleased to see permanent, mandatory funding to support the next generation of farmers and programs that will increase access to healthy food choices, build strong communities, and create jobs,” said Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Policy Director Amalie Lipstreu. “However, we’re disappointed that measures are included that will expand subsidies and promote farm consolidation, negatively impacting family farms across the country.”

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) who serves on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, was instrumental in advancing programs to rebuild local and regional food markets that increase vitality in rural and urban communities throughout the state. Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH11) serves as the ranking member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry where she worked to protect critical conservation programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program, the most comprehensive program to promote whole-farm conservation on working lands.

“We are encouraged that the new farm bill makes critical investments in organic research and certification to support the positive ecosystem services certified organic farming provides to communities across the country by providing mandatory funding for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program and Organic Research and Extension Initiative. OEFFA’s members fought hard for these provisions and we are grateful to the organic champions in Congress for their support of organic family farmers,” said OEFFA Executive Director Carol Goland. “We are also pleased with additional and stringent enforcement provisions for imported organic products, to protect both our organic farmers and consumers.”

However, according to OEFFA, this bill falls far short of making the real changes to the structure of American farm policy sought by many family farmers. Commodity program payments are now being expanded to cousins, nieces, and nephews who may never set foot on the farm.

“As large farms continue to amass subsidy payments, the future of family farms is increasingly threatened. OEFFA will continue to advocate for a future farm bill that invests in family scale farmers and ecological agriculture at its core,” said Lipstreu.

Ohio is seventh in the nation in the number of organic farms, and has a growing number of food hubs, farm to institution programs, and local food councils.

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Since 1979, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has been working to build a healthy food system that brings prosperity to family farmers, meets the growing consumer demand for local food, creates economic opportunities for our rural communities, and safeguards the environment. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

Organic Farmer Elizabeth Henderson to Keynote 40th Ohio Sustainable Food and Farm Conference 

The need to connect soil and human health with social justice and fairness on the farm will be the focus of a keynote address by long-time organic farmer, agricultural justice advocate, and writer Elizabeth Henderson at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 40th annual conference, Just Farming: The Path Before Us, this February in Dayton, Ohio.

In her Friday, February 15 keynote address, “Agrarian Justice: Creating a Food System Worth Sustaining,” Henderson will explore why we need to support fair pricing for farmers, instead of subsidizing corporate control of our food system. She’ll also explain why we need to unite family-scale farmers with other food workers and build a coalition powerful enough to bring to life a food system grounded in agroecology, health, freedom, justice, and equity.

“If we are honest, we have to admit that for the most part social relations in organic agriculture mimic those of the dominant industrial food system, and organic farmers, even farmers who sell direct in local markets, have a hard time making ends meet,” Henderson said. “By stretching towards fairness, organic can take its rightful place in the struggles for freedom and justice, for civil liberties for all. We will not reach the promised land of sustainability based on the environment and humane treatment of livestock alone. Farmers and farmworkers, the people who do the work of farming, must have justice.”

Henderson is a core leader behind the Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) and its Food Justice Certification label, working to create fairness for farmers and farmworkers.

“The basic premise of AJP is that supportive relations of mutual respect and cooperation among the people who grow and sell food will result in a triple win for farmers, food workers, and ultimately the people who eat the food,” she said.

Henderson is also a pioneer of the community supported agriculture (CSA) model. She co-founded the Genesee Valley Organic CSA in Rochester, NY in 1989, and later Peacework Farm in Newark, NY in 1998, one of the country’s longest running CSAs.

“For me, farming for a community of people whom I know well is very satisfying,” she told the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. “It’s not like shipping crates off somewhere, where I never see the customers. I know everyone, and I know most of their children.”

She co-authored the definitive work on CSA farming, Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture, and is honorary president of the international CSA network, Urgenci.

On Friday, February 15, Henderson will also lead a 90-minute workshop, “CSAs Around the World.”

“Around the planet there are many different ways of doing [CSA]. And that’s part of what’s so exciting, that CSA isn’t an orthodoxy, nobody certifies it, nobody dictates that you have to do it this way or that way. It’s a concept of the direct connection between a group of eaters and one or several pieces of land. And after that you can do it however you want,” she told the Farmer to Farmer podcast in 2015.

Deeply involved in the organic movement, Henderson is a founding member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) in Massachusetts. She has served on the Board of Directors for NOFA-New York and other farming organizations.

She is also co-author of Whole Farm Planning: Ecological Imperatives, Personal Values, and Low-Input Practices, and her writings on organic agriculture appear in Grist, The Natural Farmer, and other publications.

“We are honored to welcome Elizabeth to our 40th annual conference,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt. “As we reflect on how far we’ve come and the work ahead, her decades of experience and leadership in the organic movement and thoughtful ability to explore the themes of justice and diversity make her a perfect fit for helping to shape our work for the next 40 years.”

On Saturday, February 16, Henderson will co-present the 90-minute workshop, “OEFFA’s Advocacy Agenda: Policy Priorities Past, Present, and Future.”

Henderson will speak as part of Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which will run Thursday, February 14 through Saturday, February 16 at the Dayton Convention Center.

In addition to Henderson, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Onika Abraham on February 16; nearly 80 educational workshops; four full-day Food and Farm School classes on February 14; a three-day trade show; evening entertainment; activities for children; locally-sourced meals; a raffle; book sales and signings, and more.

A limited number of scholarships are available to persons of color and beginning farmers, along with reduced rate volunteer spaces.

For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2019

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Our Sponsors
  
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Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition | Chelsea Green Publishing | Columbus Irrigation |  The Fertrell Company | Great River Organics | Green Field Farms Co-Op | Greenacres Foundation | Hartzler Family Dairy | Hiland Supply Co. | Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) | Lucky Cat Bakery | Pastured Providence Farmstead | Paul Hall and Associates | Shagbark Seed and Mill | Snowville Creamery | Stauf’s Coffee Roasters | SuperGro of Iowa | Tiger Mushroom Farms | WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio
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Andelain Fields | Casa Nueva | Certis USA | Curly Tail Organic Farm | Dale Filbrun/Morning Sun Organic Farm | Eden Foods | Grassroots Farm and Foods | Kevin Morgan Studio | Lucky Penny Farm | OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter | Ohio Environmental Council | Rosebud’s Ranch and Garden | Plant Talk Radio | Tea Hills Farms
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Ag Credit, ACA | Ann’s Raspberry Farm | Bexley Natural Market |  Blue Jacket Dairy| Branstool Orchards | Flying J Farm | Fox Hollow Farm | Herbruck Poultry Ranch | Nourse Farms | Pure Life Organic Foods | Storehouse Tea | Stutzman Farms | VanBuren’s All/Buckeye Highlands | Warped Wing Brewing

40th Annual Ohio Sustainable Food and Farm Conference Opens Registration

Registration is now open for Ohio’s premier educational and networking event for ecological farmers, backyard growers, and other committed to sustainable agriculture, local food, and green living.
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The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 40th annual conference, Just Farming: The Path Before Us, will run Thursday, February 14-Saturday, February 16, 2019 at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, Ohio.
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“The conference will kick off our milestone anniversary and celebrate OEFFA turning 40, as we explore the theme of justice in our food system and creating a more equitable and ecological path for the next 40 years,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.
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Each year, the conference draws more than 1,200 attendees. 
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Online registration is now open at www.oeffa.org/conference2019.
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OEFFA’s popular conference will feature:
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Keynote Speakers
Friday keynote speaker Elizabeth Henderson is a pioneer of the community supported agriculture (CSA) model and outspoken advocate working to address the many injustices of our food system. She is an author with more than 30 years of experience as an organic farmer and is the core leader behind the Agricultural Justice Project.
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Saturday keynote speaker Onika Abraham is a farmer, educator, and social justice leader. She is Executive Director of Farm School NYC, where she works to cultivate diverse future leaders in the food justice movement. She is one of the co-founders of Black Urban Growers and served on the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems Social Justice Action Committee.
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Food and Farm School
Four full-day Thursday Food and Farm School class options provide in-depth learning opportunities:
  • Agroforestry in the Century of Cities and Climate Change: Blurring the Lines Between Fields, Forests, and Backyards—led by John Munsell, Catherine Bukowski, John Fike, and Katie Trozzo of Virginia Tech
  • Poultry-Centered Regenerative Agriculture Systems—led by Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin and Tony Wells of the Main Street Project
  • Using the Lean System to Increase Profits with Less Work for Market Growers—led by Ben Hartman of Clay Bottom Farm
  • Want Clean Organic Grain Crops? Successful Weed Control Starts in the Soil—led by Gary McDonald of Organic Resources
Free Soil Health Workshop
The Ohio State University is offering a free 3.5 hour Thursday workshop to help farmers and gardeners understand soil tests and improve soil health:
  • Digging into Soil Health: What Tests Can Tell Us About Our Soil
Workshops, Networking, and More
This three day event offers more than 100 hours of workshops, abundant networking opportunities in the Exhibit Hall and beyond, moments to unwind and share a drink with new friends, activities to please the whole family, and more including:
  • Nearly 80 90-minute workshops on topics including sustainable farming, gardening, homesteading, livestock, business management, and policy, and more;
  • An expanded three-day trade show featuring dozens of businesses, non-profits, and government agencies, along with areas for large equipment display and live demonstrations;
  • The Contrary Farmers’ Social on Thursday at 2nd Street Market;
  • The Cream of the Crop Banquet on Friday;
  • A free farm land and labor mixer on Thursday;
  • A kids’ conference for children ages 6-12 and a playroom for young children; and
  • Locally-sourced, from-scratch lunches; raffle; book table; book signings, and much more.
OEFFA is offering a special registration rate for members who register by December 13. A limited number of scholarships are available to persons of color and beginning farmers, along with reduced rate volunteer spaces. Online registration will be open until January 28. On-site walk-in registration will also be available for an additional fee. For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2019.
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Our Sponsors
  
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Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition | Chelsea Green Publishing | Columbus Irrigation |  The Fertrell Company | Great River Organics | Green Field Farms Co-Op | Greenacres Foundation | Hartzler Family Dairy | Hiland Supply Co. | Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) | Lucky Cat Bakery | Pastured Providence Farmstead | Paul Hall and Associates | Shagbark Seed and Mill | Snowville Creamery | Stauf’s Coffee Roasters | SuperGro of Iowa | Tiger Mushroom Farms | WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio
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Andelain Fields | Casa Nueva | Certis USA | Curly Tail Organic Farm | Dale Filbrun/Morning Sun Organic Farm | Eden Foods | Grassroots Farm and Foods | Kevin Morgan Studio | Lucky Penny Farm | OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter | Ohio Environmental Council | Rosebud’s Ranch and Garden | Plant Talk Radio | Tea Hills Farms
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Ag Credit, ACA | Ann’s Raspberry Farm | Bexley Natural Market |  Blue Jacket Dairy| Branstool Orchards | Flying J Farm | Fox Hollow Farm | Herbruck Poultry Ranch | Nourse Farms | Pure Life Organic Foods | Storehouse Tea | Stutzman Farms | VanBuren’s All/Buckeye Highlands | Warped Wing Brewing

Organic Certification: Creating a Sustainable Future

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service – OH, 11/12/18

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The end of the harvest signals the start of prep work for the next planting season.

And an increasing number of farmers and producers in Ohio also are preparing for a transition to organic certification.

Kim Bayer operates a mixed vegetable operation, and recently became certified as an organic producer. She says the process is a bit tedious, but well worth it.

Bayer was already doing some outreach to community members about what it takes to bring food to the table, and she sees becoming organic as part of creating a sustainable future.

“It’s kind of a shorthand way of communicating that this food was grown with the highest standards of promoting health for the environment, for the community and for individuals,” she states. “When people know the farm that they’re buying the food from, they care more about the place where they live.”

According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data, there are 575 certified organic operations in Ohio – a number that rose 24 percent between 2015 and 2016.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association currently certifies more than 1,300 organic farms and food operations in Ohio and eight other states in the region, and it offers resources to farmers who want to make the transition.

Bayer says one of the educators there helped her feel less intimidated by the process, which can take more than three years.

“Honestly, I was scared to death at the beginning of it, but she really helped me understand step-by-step what was needed,” Bayer relates. “So, she really provided a lot of guidance and made me see that it was really, really doable. ”

At Bayer’s farm, people can pick their own produce, which she says allows them to see, smell, touch, and better understand local foods.

“It gives people a different and a deeper experience of the incredible range of flavors and colors, and shapes and sizes, and people start thinking about how little choice there is in a grocery store,” she states. “We don’t even know the names of the varieties in the grocery store that were grown to travel well instead of taste good.”

Ohio ranks seventh among states for its number of organic farms, with more than 54,000 acres of certified cropland.

Ohio Coal Mine Permitting Process Fails to Protect Rural Communities and Taxpayers: Westmoreland Bankruptcy Leaves Future of Ohio Mines Uncertain

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), a statewide organization promoting sustainable and organic agriculture, is raising serious questions about the state of Ohio’s coal mine permitting and remediation funding processes, following news that Westmoreland Coal Company, which has 64 mines in Ohio, has filed for bankruptcy.
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“It’s unbelievable that the state could issue permits to a mining company currently in bankruptcy proceedings,” said OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu. “We shouldn’t be gambling Ohio taxpayer money and our rural communities on a collapsing industry.”
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Westmoreland, and its local subsidiary Oxford Mining Company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 9. Despite being financially insolvent, the company has sought permission from a Texas bankruptcy court to continue operations and seek new permits in Ohio, including a 554 acre proposed coal mine in the Perry State Forest. Permit applications for the project are pending with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).
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While Westmoreland seeks to auction its current Ohio mines by the spring, it’s unclear if any companies will be interested in acquiring Oxford’s mines and the company has no sales contracts beyond 2019.
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Currently, a company’s financial health is not usually considered as part of the state’s permitting process. If a company posts $2,500 per acre to Ohio’s bond pool, the Reclamation Forfeiture Fund (RFF), and they meet other requirements, ODNR and OEPA will issue the required permits.
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The bond payment is designed to ensure that mine sites are reclaimed if a company should forfeit its obligations, but the actual costs of reclamation between 2000-2016 averaged more than $7,000 per acre. Last summer, Ohio transferred $5 million out of the RFF, further underfunding this emergency reserve, and leaving it up to $130 million short to cover Westmoreland’s outstanding reclamation costs, according to a 2018 analysis by the Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council. As a direct result of the transfer, the federal government has called into question Ohio’s ability to meet its obligations under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. Adding to concerns about abandoned coal mines, in its bankruptcy filing, Westmoreland described its obligations for reclamation and restoration of sites and protection of water quality as “burdensome regulations.”
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“For mines that are no longer producing, it will be difficult for Westmoreland to find buyers and there is great risk that the company will forfeit its bonds and not reclaim the land, leaving Ohio’s rural communities with nothing but empty promises and degraded lands,” said Lipstreu. “It’s unclear what steps are being taken to ensure Ohio receives funds for reclamation costs from Westmoreland and the bankruptcy court.”
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“Public lands are a solid investment, generating economic and social returns for the state and local communities. In the case of the Perry State Forest proposal, the farmers adjacent to the land operate in a way that protects natural resources, provides nutrient-dense food to their community, and contributes to the social and economic viability of the region. In addition to being a net economic loss to Ohioans, the lack of fiscal and social responsibility epitomized by this project will lead to a considerable loss of social and economic capital.”
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With $1.4 billion in debt and only $770 million in assets, Westmoreland’s bankruptcy has been long-anticipated. The announcement came as local farmers and community members fight a proposed Oxford coal mine in the Perry State Forest, which would impact thousands of local residents and recreational visitors. OEPA held a hearing in New Lexington, Ohio earlier this month which drew more than 100 community members who universally expressed opposition to the project. Under pressure from the community, Oxford withdrew its plans for its Johnson Run mine in Athens County earlier this summer.
“State legislators must protect Ohioans and our public lands from projects that leave taxpayers and local residents holding the bag. We can and should invest in clean energy solutions that contribute to strong local and regional economies,” Lipstreu concluded.
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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.
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Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, amalie@oeffa.org

Reimbursement for Certification Makes Organic an Even Better Deal for Farmers and Processors

For Immediate Release:

June 20, 2018

Contact:

Carol Goland, OEFFA, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 202, cgoland@oeffa.org

ODA Communications, (614) 752-9817, agrcommunications@agri.ohio.gov

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) announced that $285,000 is available through the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program to make organic certification more affordable for organic producers and handlers in Ohio.

This funding covers as much as 75 percent of an individual applicant’s certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 annually per certification scope. Four scopes of certification are eligible for reimbursement: crops, wild crops, livestock, and handler.

Retail sales of organic products grew to nearly $50 billion in the United States in 2017, an increase of 6.4 percent from the previous year, and six times faster than the overall food market, according to the Organic Trade Association.

Since 2011, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has partnered with OEFFA to administer Ohio’s cost-share program.

“Ohio is a national leader in the number of organic farms and top 10 in terms of the value of organic milk, eggs, and spelt produced in the state,” said Carol Goland, executive director of OEFFA.

Not all of the nearly 1,000 Ohio organic operations fully utilize the cost-share program. “We encourage more organic businesses to take advantage of this opportunity, which can help make becoming—or staying—certified more affordable,” said Goland.

Reimbursable costs include application fees, certification fees, travel costs for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments, and postage.

The program is currently reimbursing for expenses paid between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. Applications for reimbursement must be postmarked by November 15, 2018, although requests are processed monthly. County Farm Service Agency offices also accept and process requests for cost-share reimbursements.

Organic farmers and processors in Ohio can access the reimbursement application from OEFFA’s website at http://certification.oeffa.org/costshare or by calling (614) 262-2022.

Certified organic producers and handlers outside of Ohio can find the contact information for their administrating agencies at www.ams.usda.gov/NOPCostSharing.

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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.

Strong Bipartisan Farm Bill Passes Senate Agriculture Committee: OEFFA Commends Senator Brown and Committee in Supporting a Strong Draft Bill

For Immediate Release:

June 13, 2018

Contact:

Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator (614) 421-2022, amalie@oeffa.org

Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org

Columbus, OH–Today, in the process of passing a 2018 Farm Bill, the Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry passed a strong draft farm bill by a vote of 20 to 1.

“The Senate Agriculture Committee worked across party lines and produced a comprehensive bill correcting many of the shortfalls in the failed House bill,” said Amalie Lipstreu, Policy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

The Senate bill scales up investments in local and regional food and farm markets which provide opportunities for increased farm profitability, community health, and economic viability through the Local Agriculture Market Program championed by Senator Sherrod Brown.

This provision provides permanent mandatory funding for local food production initiatives that can be utilized by the more than 20 local food councils in Ohio, small to mid-scale farmers that direct market their products, and those that process those products and create more jobs in their communities.

It makes important policy improvements to crop insurance and conservation programs, invests in domestic organic agriculture, provides the resources and authority to protect the integrity of the organic marketplace and, according to Ranking Member Senator Debbie Stabenow, “builds the bench for the next generation” by making long-term investments in beginning farmer and rancher programs.

During the committee debate Senator Sherrod Brown spoke to the importance of conservation programs as farmers work to mitigate the water quality issues we face. The Senate bill makes no overall cuts to the conservation title; the House version cut this by more than $800 million.

“While the bill fails to make meaningful reforms to farm subsidy programs to limit economic and farm concentration, it provides a solid foundation for farm bill negotiations on the Senate floor and in future negotiations with the House of Representatives,” said Lipstreu.

“OEFFA appreciates Senator Brown’s strong leadership on this bill and for representing the needs of family farmers, organic and sustainable agriculture, and communities working to increase health through the provision of local and regionally produced and organic food,” Lipstreu concluded.

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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.

2018 Farm Tour and Workshop Series Gives Public Opportunity to Experience Life on the Farm

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2018
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Contact:
Lauren Ketcham, Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 203, lauren@oeffa.org
Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator, (614) 421-2022 Ext. 209, eric@oeffa.org

 

Columbus, OH—The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and its partners invite you to stroll through organic fields, learn about pastured livestock production and forest farming, consider a career in farming, discover how to grow and prepare nutrient-dense food, learn how to scale up vegetable production and improve marketing strategies, or take advantage of other learning opportunities during the 2018 Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

In addition to OEFFA’s 20 summer farm tours, workshops, and special events, five urban agriculture-focused farm tours, presented by Central State University Extension, will showcase ideas for how to farm in the city and address community food security.
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“This series allows farmers and gardeners to share production know-how with each other, build connections among our farming community, and strengthen our food system,” said Eric Pawlowski, Sustainable Agriculture Educator at OEFFA. “It also helps the public learn how sustainably produced food is grown from farmers ready to share their knowledge.”
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Tour guests can experience sustainable agriculture up close during these OEFFA farm tours:

  • Thursday, June 7: Cultivation and Weed Control in Organic Systems Field Day—University of Kentucky Horticulture Research Farm, Kentucky
  • Wednesday, June 13: Mechanical Weed Control Farm Tour—Venture Heritage Farm, Wayne Co.
  • Saturday, June 16: Poultry Processing Tour—King and Sons Poultry Services, Darke Co.
  • Sunday, July 22: Diversified Direct Marketing Farm Tour—Thistle Rock Farm, Indiana
  • Friday, August 3: Organic Cash Grain Farm Tour—Kauffman Farms, Madison Co.
  • Saturday, August 11: Transitional Orchard Farm Tour—Honey Blossom Orchard, Henry Co.
  • Tuesday, August 14: Pastured Beef, Hay, and Grain Farm Tour—Mound View Farms, Adams Co.
  • Saturday, August 25: Pastured Beef and Conservation Easement Farm Tour—Marshy Meadows Farm, Ashtabula Co.
  • Thursday, August 30: Organic Grain Trials and Transition Farm Tour—Sonlight Acres/Morning Sun Farm, Preble Co.
  • Saturday, September 22: Native Medicinal Plant Conservation Forest Farming Tour—United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary, Meigs Co.

The public can tour urban agriculture projects during these Central State University Extension farm tours:

  • Saturday, July 7: Non-Profit Urban Educational Farm Tour—Project Aquastar at St. Stephens Community House Franklin Co.
  • Saturday, July 21: Value-Added Urban Production Farm Tour—Hooper Farm, Cuyahoga Co.
  • Saturday, August 18: Changing the Landscape of Urban Agriculture Tour—Urban Agriculture Alliance at Jackson Industries, Lucas Co.
  • Saturday, August 25: Urban Farm Collective Farm Tour—Urban Earth Farms, Hamilton Co.
  • Sunday, September 23: Regenerative, Year-Round Urban Market Farm Tour—Dayton Urban Grown Training Farm/Mission of Mary Farm, Montgomery Co.

Attendees can develop their production and marketing skills, explore a dream to farm, learn how to select farmland, and more during these OEFFA workshops:

  • Saturday, June 23: Listening to the Land: Tools and Strategies for Land Assessment Workshop—Agraria, Greene Co.
  • Sunday, July 22: Growing and Preparing Nutrient-Dense Food for Better Health and Resilient Communities Workshop—Wyatt Run Farm and Ecology Center, Athens Co.
  • Sunday, August 5: Farm Vision Workshop—OEFFA, Franklin Co.
  • Saturdays, October 13-February 2: Heartland Farm Beginnings® Training Course—OEFFA, Franklin Co.
  • Friday, November 30-Saturday, December 1: Scale Your Farm Production and Marketing Strategies So You Can Grow Profits Workshop—Mustard Seed Market & Cafe at Highland Square, Summit Co.
Other opportunities include these OEFFA member open houses and special events:
  • Saturday, June 9: Snowville Creamery Open House, Meigs Co.
  • Sunday, July 15: Foraged & Sown Open House, Franklin Co.
  • Sunday, August 19: 4th Annual Dinner Celebration at Maplestar Farm—Maplestar Farm, Geauga Co.
  • Sunday, September 9: Carriage House Farm Open House, Hamilton Co.
  • Saturday, October 27: Pastured Providence Farmstead Open House, Ross Co.

“OEFFA has offered annual farm tours for nearly four decades; farmers sharing knowledge with other farmers has always been at the core of our work. This series provides unique on-farm opportunities for growers, educators, and conscientious eaters to learn about sustainable agriculture and local foods from growers and producers with years of practical experience,” Pawlowski said.

This series, which features 31 total events, is also promoted in cooperation with the Clintonville Farmers’ Market and the Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance, who are sponsoring additional tours.

All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise indicated in the series brochure.

For more information and complete details for all workshops and farm tours, 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.

Draft Farm Bill Needs Significant Improvement to Address the Needs of Today’s Farmers

For Immediate Release:
April 16, 2018

Contact:
Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, amalie@oeffa.org
Lauren Ketcham, OEFFA Communications Coordinator, (614) 421-2022, lauren@oeffa.org
 
COLUMBUS, OH—The draft farm bill released last week by House Agriculture Chairman Conaway (R-TX) does not adequately address farmers’ needs or protect natural resources, according to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

While the 2014 Farm Bill included mandatory funding for the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program, the current House draft eliminates all mandatory funding, necessitating a yearly battle to secure resources for programs that provide local communities with healthy food and provide high value markets for many beginning and organic farmers. These farmers will also be hurt by the total elimination of funding for the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, which helps offset the annual costs of U.S. Department of Agriculture organic certification.

“OEFFA vehemently opposes cutting the cost-share program. We have more demand for organic food than farmers are able to supply, and this program helps beginning and transitioning farmers enter what is a real bright spot in American agriculture,” said OEFFA Policy Program Coordinator Amalie Lipstreu.
    
“The draft farm bill also leaves out many other important provisions critical for beginning farmers at a time when they are needed most,” continued Lipstreu.

The House draft eliminates the Risk Management Education Partnership Program, which helps ensure that beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers better understand and use risk management tools. It also fails to include an innovative proposal within the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (HR 4316) that would make it easier for new farmers to access revenue-based crop insurance policies.

“As the next farm bill is implemented, due to an aging farmer population, almost 100 million acres will change hands,” said Lipstreu. “It is important that we equip the next generation of farmers with the tools they need for success.”

According to an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office released Friday, funding for working lands programs would be cut by about $5 billion. The largest conservation program for working agricultural land, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), would be totally eliminated, withlimited aspects of the program rolled into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
  
“Cherry picking a few components of CSP to be included in the EQIP program is detrimental to comprehensive conservation planning and a disincentive to farmers who choose to implement advanced conservation practices on an ongoing basis,” said Lipstreu. “These programs have a small budget footprint but they deliver high value to our communities, including local economic development, job creation and retention, and quality of life.”

Lipstreu said OEFFA is pleased to see some positive provisions in this bill, but they are overshadowed by the elimination of tools and resources to help farmers and communities become more sustainable.
  
“We urge members of the House and Senate to recognize the value of these programs and work toward a bill that fully supports beginning farmers, local and regional food systems, and community health,” Lipstreu concluded.
 
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About OEFFA
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is a statewide, grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.
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