General

2023 OEFFA Policy Retreat Recap

Pictured left to right: Lauren, Heather, Milo, Nicole

We are so thankful to have an impactful and close-knit policy team that plans change-making goals together. At the beginning of December, Policy Director Milo Petruziello, Grassroots Policy Organizers Lauren Hirtle and Nicole Wolcott, and Communications and Media Specialist Heather Seely got together to debrief 2023 and plan for 2024.

The priorities we talked through included:

  • Building our interpersonal relationships;
  • Furthering our state policy and soil health work;
  • Advocating on the farm bill and federal policy;
  • Strengthening impactful connections with our member leaders; and
  • Leaning into the OEFFA Narrative in all the work we do.

Team Relationship Building

One of our favorite activities we did this retreat was taking the 16Personalities test. Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the 16Personalities test assesses four dimensions of personality type, with 23 additional facets. This helps provide insight into how a person makes decisions, processes information, and interacts with people.

We individually hold a diverse range of skills, likes, and dislikes. While reviewing our results together we noticed how our talents and needs currently shine through. The personality test also highlighted what we can do to support one another as coworkers better. Having the backup of a team to “divide and conquer” helps us stay focused on what we like to work on and learn from one another about where we can improve.  

State Priorities

October 2023 meeting with Ohio Representative Juanita Brent

The Ohio Soil Health Initiative (OSHI) has acted swiftly to reconvene and plan our next efforts to ensure soil health is acknowledged and supported in Ohio state policy. We are excited to work on establishing an annual Ohio Soil Health Week in November. While debriefing various state office meetings, it is clear that there is an immense amount of support for making this happen in 2024. We’re hoping to have the bill sponsored and introduced soon. This will be followed up by lots of action and training opportunities for activists in Ohio. 

Across the state, we are also excited to be out in communities with the 2024 Policy Film Screening Series. Our team has spent so much time planning this out to be successful. The sponsors, speakers, and movie theaters we have partnered with have been great at helping us have these important conversations to build community and change. These events offer an opportunity for communities to come together and for OEFFA staff to gain insight and feedback from sustainable food communities. 

Federal Priorities

March 2023 meeting with U.S. Representative Emilia Sykes

While we haven’t had much farm bill movement this past month, we certainly have been busy. Throughout 2023, our federal policy team focused on building relationships with Ohio members of Congress. We also brought together some farmers and member leaders to meet with their legislators’ offices. We will continue this important initiative in 2024. At the end of January, we will bring four Ohio farmers to Washington, D.C. They will join us for partner meetings and lobbying on the Hill, with more fly-in plans later in the year.  

Depending on the movement in Congress regarding the farm bill, we will have our member-developed farm bill pillars at the center of our talking points in these meetings. In addition to the farm bill, we anticipate other federal policy needs in 2024. This includes prioritizing organic integrity and connecting with USDA offices on topics like crop insurance.

We also hope to have many more in-districts next year to show legislators how OEFFA farmers are stewarding the land. The most important thing we can do is share stories of how farmers are on the frontline of the climate crisis, and how they’re responding to it by increasing their resiliency and protecting Ohio’s natural resources. 

Member Leader Policy Spaces

Our team cannot do any of this work without the power of people.

OEFFA’s policy priorities come from our members, and the movement builds from our shared grassroots partnerships. We are part of many statewide and nationwide coalitions that help us formulate goals and seek out information to bolster our advocacy efforts. Between Milo, Lauren, and Nicole, our roles in teams like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the National Organic Coalition, the Ohio Food Policy Network, and the National Healthy Soils Initiative help us connect with shared narratives for building a sustainable food future.

Within OEFFA, our various workgroups are connected around priorities influenced by our experiences in this movement. How our workgroups will be set up and delegated for 2024 will be the main topic of conversation with our policy member leaders at a special meeting in February. We are doing diligent work to bring our stakeholders together to reach a diverse perspective on how to move forward. 

We invite you to join us as we plan for 2024. Please feel free to reach out to the OEFFA Policy team at policy@oeffa.org. Also, connect with us on Instagram, and don’t forget to register for conference