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.
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.