• Farm Bill,  General

    What’s OFF with Checkoff Programs?

    Dairy cows in an indoor barn

    The history of checkoffs is full of controversy, greed, and legal challenges. The initial idea was for farmers to pool their resources to boost product sales and increase farm profitability. But, over time, checkoff programs have become a way for corporations to consolidate wealth and power into ever-fewer hands.

  • Climate Change,  Farm Bill,  Organic,  State Policy

    OEFFA Members Making Change

    Amalie Lipstreu and other organic advocates on the steps of the US Capitol Building

    There are few windows of opportunity to make changes to something as big as our food and farming system. When those opportunities present themselves, we have to be prepared to act. Fortunately, OEFFA staff and members have been working for months to advance positive change.

    Last year, OEFFA members attended community and virtual listening sessions or participated in an online survey leading to the development of OEFFA’s 2023 Farm Bill priorities. During the fall, member leaders and staff formed groups to support beginning and BIPOC farmers, increase investments in organic and sustainable research and regional food systems, address consolidation, and promote soil health and climate resilience.

  • Organic

    The End of Organic Farming… As We Know It

    Organic farmer Jim Riddle out in his field

    Guest blog post by Jim Riddle, Organic Independents LLP, Blue Fruit Farm

    The fundamental concepts of organic farming have always been, “Feed the Soil, not the Plant,” and “Healthy Soil leads to Healthy Crops, Healthy Animals, Healthy People, and a Healthy Planet.” Now, those concepts have been turned on their head, with a recent Appeals Court ruling that you don’t even need soil for growing terrestrial crops, in order to be certified organic in the United States.

    If the ruling is allowed to stand, it will mean that crops grown using hydroponic methods can officially be certified as “organic,” as has been done by a handful of renegade certification agencies for a number of years. Consumers will continue to be deceived when they buy organic products, thinking that such products were grown in healthy soil, using methods that “foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity,” as required by the legal definition of “organic production.”

  • Farm Bill

    Representatives Kaptur, Bustos Bring Farm Bill Listening Session to Ohio

    The week of August 22, U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) joined the House Agriculture Committee and held a listening session in Fremont, Ohio. More than 200 members of the public participated in the session in person or online.

    Crop Insurance Reform

    One of the prominent topics was crop insurance. While some major commodity groups repeat a refrain often heard during the 2018 Farm Bill discussions, “Don’t touch crop insurance,” sentiments may have shifted a bit since then. President of the Ohio Farmers Union and organic farmer Joe Logan reiterated the importance of the crop insurance program and talked about the need to “…reconfigure it in a way that rewards farmers for building soil health.”

  • State Policy

    Moving the Needle on Land Access

    Organic grain farmer Dean Mcilvaine providing testimony at the Ohio Statehouse in December, 2021

    When the National Young Farmers Coalition formed, they started their work by assessing the challenges faced by beginning farmers. It came as no surprise to many that access to farmland was, and remains, a huge hurdle for farmers just getting started. The cost of land to purchase or lease continue to climb and, combined with the significant investments in starting a new operation, often put a farming career out of reach for many.

    We know secure land tenure ensures that farmers are able to invest in place and provide culturally relevant food, medicine, and connection to their communities. That tenure also allows them to invest in practices and management systems that are sustainable, provide resilience, and strengthen the viability of our food system.

  • General

    Making a Difference Together: Six Conference Conversations You’ll Want to Be a Part of

    2022 OEFFA conference poster

    For many, getting the OEFFA conference schedule of workshops, keynotes, and networking events can make you feel like a kid in a candy store.

    There’s so much good material to choose from and opportunities to connect with old friends and make new ones, all while working collectively toward a healthier future.

    The 2022 conference will be no exception.

    If you want to see real change in our food and farming system—changes that support organic and regenerative farmers and invest in healthful local and regional food choices—you’re going to want to be a part of these key conversations at the 2022 OEFFA conference, Rooted and Rising, February 12 online and February 17-19 at the Dayton Convention Center:

  • State Policy

    Beginning Farmer Bill on the Move

    Beginning farmers work in an Ohio farm field

    The end of first year of Ohio’s 134th General Assembly brought the passage of Ohio House Bill 95 (HB 95).

    The Family Farm ReGeneration Act passed with almost unanimous support (Republican House Member Thomas Brinkman, Jr. was the only dissenting vote).

    OEFFA has been championing legislation to alleviate the overwhelming challenges beginning farmers face in finding affordable farmland for several years.

  • Marketplace Equity

    Biden Expands Anti-Trust Protections in Agriculture, Part 2

    Seed diversity is critical for the resilience of our food system

    Last month, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. This EO is exciting in many ways, from the sheer scope of its ambition to its acknowledgment of some of the many ills that have plagued American farmers, from unfair contract farming to retaliation.

    More on that EO can be found here.

    One of the most exciting facets of the Order, however, only received a few sentences’ worth of attention.

  • Marketplace Equity

    Biden Expands Anti-Trust Protections in Agriculture, Part 1

    A raised bed in a community garden planted with diverse vegetable crops

    On July 9th, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, which covers a variety of industries including the agricultural sector.

    The Order identifies consolidation as a threat to the survival of small family farms and proposes a number of antitrust measures to bolster support for these farmers. 

    This EO is the latest in a long tradition of antitrust regulations spurred on by the agricultural industry.

  • Organic

    Organic Animal Welfare Rule to Move Forward

    The USDA will reinstate the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule

    Animal welfare rules for organic livestock farmers have been in limbo for more than a decade.

    In 2017, the Obama administration published the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule, which the Trump administration subsequently withdrew.

    When the Biden administration took office, many organizations, including OEFFA, asked that three pending organic rules be first on the list of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) actions. OLPP was key among them. In mid-June, USDA Secretary Vilsack announced that the agency plans to reinstate animal welfare standards.