About OEFFA’s Policy Program

OEFFA cultivates a future where sustainable and organic farmers thrive, local food nourishes our communities, and agricultural practices protect and enhance the environment.

To realize that vision, changes in state and federal policy are needed so family farmers can thrive in fair and transparent markets and can access the land they need to grow products that sustain community resilience. OEFFA’s policy program empowers our members to enact that change.

Quick Links:
Our Beliefs | Our Values | Policy Team | Grassroots Team | National Partners | State Partners | Foundation Partners

OEFFA's policy program grassroots team to enact policy change
Tools to empower OEFFA members to enact policy change
People, power, and purpose are what drives OEFFA's policy program

Our Beliefs

OEFFA's policy program beliefs environment

All living things have intrinsic value.

We are part of an ecosystem and exist in community, connected with and dependent on land, water, air, animals, and other people, all which require our care and gratitude. They are not commodities to exploit.

Soil, nature, and people are diverse, and that diversity builds strength and resilience.

We believe in being good neighbors. We cultivate a culture of care for each other and the Earth.

OEFFA's policy program beliefs community

Farming builds valuable knowledge of place and land over time. We honor and respect the generations of people who have contributed to that knowledge.

Farming needs to prioritize the well-being of the land, air, water, and community because we are stewards for future generations.

Healthy communities are powerful, resilient, joyful, and sustaining. Empowered, they are a force for change.

Good, healthy, nutrient-rich and sustaining food is a human right. It is also an expression of love.

OEFFA's policy program beliefs equity

Food connects us to the Earth, history, culture, and each other. When these connections are broken, we lose appreciation and respect for our food and those who produce it.

It is possible to create a more equitable agriculture system, although the current system is based on stolen land, labor, and appropriated knowledge. We invite everyone to participate in creating a better future.

Strong markets are inclusive, transparent, recognize natural limits, and benefit regional and diverse communities.

OEFFA's policy program beliefs democracy

Democracy belongs to all of us, and it is up to us to ensure it meets the needs of the whole community.

Government and public institutions have a responsibility to protect our health and well-being and support healthy ecosystems.

True individual freedom incorporates shared responsibility. It is informed and guided by our relationships and respect for the land, water, and people.

Our Values

OEFFA's policy program values think global farm local
Agriculture should feed and support local communities.

Strong and resilient food systems rely on and support biodiversity.

Regional food systems and small-scale agriculture make good neighbors.

In caring for plants, animals, and the soil we are caring for ourselves and our communities.

OEFFA's policy program values people and planet first
Each plant, animal, and person has inherent worth beyond its economic value.

Farmers are an integral part of communities and farms are a critical part of the ecosystem.

Good farming respects and enhances the health of the land, people, and natural world.

OEFFA's policy program values wholesome food not cheap food
Access to nutrient dense food is foundational to community health.

People have a right to fresh, nourishing, locally grown food.

Growing and preparing food can be an act of love, generosity, and gratitude.

OEFFA's policy program values abundance and cooperation
The earth is rich and abundant.

Local farmers who value all living things foster bounty.

When we work together and with nature, we create the foundation for a good life, where our needs are met.

Diverse regional food systems are essential for our future.

OEFFA's policy program values stronger together
Rural and urban communities are stronger together.

We value and respect rural and urban voices. Both are vital to shaping our future.

Aligning urban and rural community efforts brings greater prosperity to all.

OEFFA’s Policy Program Team

OEFFA's policy program staff team Amalie Lipstreu

Amalie Lipstreu

Policy Director

Amalie has worked in public and social service for more than 25 years, including as director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Office of Sustainable Agriculture.

She was instrumental in establishing the Ohio Food Policy Council and farmland preservation efforts in northeast Ohio.

When she is not working for a more sustainable food and agriculture system, she has her hands in the soil of her garden, holding a good book, or is in her kitchen creating with food.

OEFFA's policy program staff team Julia Barton

Julia Barton

Organic Policy Specialist

Julia has worked in sustainable and organic agriculture since 2006, and has served on OEFFA’s Certification, Education, and Policy teams. 

She loves working with farmers, especially identifying barriers and brainstorming solutions to challenges. 

When she’s not busy advocating for organic integrity, Julia and her family operate a certified organic farm in northeast Ohio where they raise soay sheep, grow vegetables, and are constantly learning.

OEFFA's policy program staff team Heather Dean

Heather Dean

Grassroots Policy Organizer

Heather has been part of OEFFA’s policy team since 2021.

Previously, her nonprofit service helped to address the intersection between the climate crisis and racism. She is the author of Gardening for the Earth and Soul, a handbook for community gardeners

When she is not at work for Ohio’s farmers, she provides support for Guatemalan indigenous communities defending their lands from extractive “development” projects.

OEFFA's policy program staff team Lauren Hirtle

Lauren Hirtle

Grassroots Policy Organizer

Lauren has worked for OEFFA since 2018, previously in OEFFA’s Organic Certification Program as a Food Justice and Organic Certification Specialist.

She has worked on farms and for non-profits throughout central Ohio and New York as a field worker, educator, and community organizer.

When she is not working toward a just, equitable food system, she enjoys running her small landscaping business, making art, and spending time with her husband and dog.

OEFFA’s Grassroots Team

OEFFA’s members are the heart of our grassroots food and farm policy work. OEFFA’s policy program cultivates leaders and lifts up the voices of our members. Contact us to learn more about how you can join the farmers below in being a strong advocate for a just, equitable, and sustainable agricultural system!

OEFFA's grassroots policy team helps family farmers thrive

Policy Steering Committee

OEFFA’s Policy Steering Committee is a dedicated and thoughtful group of OEFFA farmers and members who help ensure our grassroots policy program is rooted in lived farm experience and representative of our diverse community.

The current steering committee members are:

  • Sherry Chen
  • Jeff Dean
  • Alex Dragovich
  • Alexis Dragovich
  • Steve Edwards
  • Jonathan Greer
  • Greg Hargett
  • Christine Hughes
  • Emily Jackle
  • Mardy Townsend

Contact us if you’re interested in serving on OEFFA’s Policy Steering Committee.

OEFFA's grassroots policy team helps sustain community resilience

Farm Bill Work Groups

OEFFA’s policy program staff met with farmers and consumers across Ohio, revealing five key values which comprise the OEFFA 2023 Farm Bill Platform

OEFFA’s Farm Bill work groups continue to meet throughout 2023, and include about 70 OEFFA members, who are using their grassroots power to build policy change.

The five work groups focus on:

  • Soil Health and Climate Resilience
  • Local and Regional Food Systems
  • Consolidation in the Food System
  • Organic and Sustainable Research
  • Beginning and BIPOC Farmers

Contact us if you’re interested in joining a work group.

OEFFA's grassroots policy team empowers members to enact policy change

More Grassroots Opportunities

There are many ways to be a part of OEFFA’s grassroots team, including:

  • Share your story with us! Tell us your vision for the future, the policy obstacles you face, or how climate change is impacting your farm.
  • Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed for your local newspaper.
  • Attend meetings, public hearings, lobby days, or farmer fly-ins with elected officials.
  • Provide comments to the National Organic Standards Board.
  • Attend leadership and skill-building trainings.
  • Host a farm tour, film screening, or workshop.

Contact OEFFA’s policy program to get started!

Policy Grounded in National Expertise

OEFFA’s policy program collaborates with national leaders in organic and sustainable agriculture, whose expertise and resources are critical to OEFFA’s policy work.

In addition to the national groups listed below, OEFFA also collaborates with the Real Organic Project, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Beyond Pesticides, American Farmland Trust, National Young Farmers Coalition, Land Stewardship Project, Center for Food Safety, Rodale Institute Midwest Organic Center, Rural Advancement Foundation International, and others.

OEFFA's policy program national partners National Organic Coalition

National Organic Coalition

The National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a “Washington voice” for organic farmers and consumers.

NOC seeks to advance organic food and equity in agriculture and ensure a united voice for organic integrity.

OEFFA is a member of NOC, partnering with them to advocate for strong organic standards and help Ohio farmers attend and speak at National Organic Standards Board meetings.

OEFFA's policy program national partners National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance sustainable agriculture.

By bringing grassroots perspectives to the table, NSAC helps level the playing field and gives voice to sustainable and organic farmers.  

OEFFA is an active member of NSAC, participating in working groups and committees, attending lobby days, and serving as Ohio’s voice for national agriculture policy reform.

OEFFA's policy program national partners Organic Farmers Association

Organic Farmers Association

The Organic Farmers Association (OFA) provides a strong and unified national voice for domestic certified organic producers.

OFA develops and advocates for policies that benefit organic farmers, strengthen and support organic farmers. They also support collaboration and leadership among state, regional, and national organic farmer organizations.

OEFFA was instrumental in the creation of OFA. OEFFA is a member of OFA, and serves on the governing council and policy committee.

OEFFA's policy program national partners National Healthy Soils Policy Network

National Healthy Soils Policy Network

The National Healthy Soils Policy Network is an incubator for state-level, climate-centered, healthy soils policy.

This group of farmer-centered organizations advocates for state and federal policies that facilitate the widespread adoption of organic and sustainable farming practices.

OEFFA is a member of the network and serves on the steering committee. We are working to advance soil health policy through the Ohio Soil Health Initiative.

Policy Grounded in Local Experience

OEFFA’s policy program also partners with Ohio’s grassroots policy network of state and local organizations to work toward our shared goals and strengthen Ohio’s food and farm system. Our state and local partners include:

OEFFA's policy program state partners Ohio Food Policy Network
OEFFA's policy program state partners Ohio Farmers Market Network
OEFFA's policy program state partners Ohio Farmer's Union
OEFFA's policy program Ohio partners Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions

OEFFA’s Philanthropic Supporters

In addition to the generous support of OEFFA’s members, OEFFA’s policy program would not be possible without the support from the following foundations:

Farm Aid
The George Gund Foundation
GRACE Communications Foundation
McKnight Foundation
Schmidt Family Foundation 11th Hour Project

Quick Links:
Our Beliefs | Our Values | Policy Team | Grassroots Team | National Partners | State Partners | Foundation Partners

OEFFA
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
41 Croswell Rd.
Columbus OH 43214

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OEFFA:(614) 421-2022 (614) 421-2022
OEFFA Certification:(614) 262-2022 (614) 262-2022
Fax:(614) 421-2011 (614) 421-2011