• General

    Food Chains Follow-Up

    The sign of a good documentary is that it leaves you with more questions than answers.

    If this is the case, then Food Chains did exactly that. There was hardly enough time to cover all of the thoughts, ideas, and questions that arose during the Sunday film screening and the panel discussion that followed. 

    That said, we’d like to elaborate on some of the points and programs that were brought up by our panelists and engaged members of the audience.

  • General

    New Year, New Organic Rules

    Welcome to 2024! To help us ring in the new year, we wanted to highlight some recent changes to the USDA organic standards and share what’s on the horizon. There have been some notable updates to the standards, some of which will go into effect in 2024. While we still have significant room for improvement, these updates help to strengthen the USDA organic label and foster more consumer trust.  

  • General

    Cultivating Care—and Policy Change: 7 Conference Workshops You Don’t Want to Miss

    February is quickly approaching and our policy team is preparing for another action-packed OEFFA Conference!

    We’ve put together a series of great workshop offerings focusing on a variety of policy-based topics. If you want to see how policy can bring real change in our food and farming system, you’re going to want to make time for these seven workshops at the 45th annual OEFFA conference, Cultivating Care.

    Online registration closes on February 1, so be sure to secure your three days of learning, sharing, connecting, and shopping today!

  • 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.
  • Climate Change,  Conservation,  Farm Bill,  General,  Organic

    Historic Amount of Funding Available for Conservation

    Because of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the 2018 Farm Bill, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has nearly $5 billion in funding for conservation practices in 2024. Agricultural producers and forest landowners are encouraged to apply now to receive support for participation in voluntary conservation programs and the adoption of climate-smart practices.

    Well suited for a wide variety of producers—including organic and urban producers—USDA is now accepting applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

  • Conservation,  Farm Bill,  General

    Farm Bill Extension Update

    On November 16, 2023, President Biden signed a short-term spending bill for the government. But what does this have to do with the farm bill? Well, this also included a one-year extension of the 2018 Farm Bill.

    Farm bill programs and the USDA will now be able to continue operating until September 30, 2024—exactly one year from when the 2018 bill originally expired. This had to happen because the 2023 Farm Bill was not finished being written, debated on, and budgeted for.

    With next year being a big election year, we are hoping that the final farm bill implementation will happen in the springtime. If this does not get moving as soon as the new year comes around, there is a worry that it could get pushed even further.  

  • Climate Change,  Conservation,  General,  Marketplace Equity

    Finding “Common Ground” Around Sustainable, Equitable Food Systems

    In early November, OEFFA Grassroots Policy Organizers Lauren and Nicole had the pleasure of participating in a happy hour and movie screening of Common Ground. The screening was hosted by our partners at the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council.

    The Food Policy Council is an initiative of Green Umbrella and a collaboration between individuals and organizations working toward a vision of a resilient food system.

    Common Ground is a follow-up to the film Kiss the Ground. Both highlight the importance of investing in local food systems and planetary health to foster a resilient food safety net. 

  • Farm Bill,  General

    2023 In-District Recap

    Every August, members of Congress spend time back in their districts. This is a great time for them to connect with their constituents, support local businesses, and be in their community. Between August and October, we had four in-district meetings with legislators directly, or their local staff. We are so grateful for all our member leaders who helped put these together, participated in the visits, and shared their stories.

    Our Midwest state has a lot to offer regarding agriculture and food markets. All are unique and important for creating a food safety net that is sustainable for generations to come.  

  • Farm Bill,  Marketplace Equity,  Organic

    The Organic Cost Share Program—and its Uncertain Future

    The Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) provides cost share assistance to organic producers and handlers. This partial reimbursement of certification fees is critical for attracting new farmers to organic—and encouraging the continued certification of existing operations. Currently, eligible producers and handlers can receive a reimbursement of 75 percent (up to $750) of their certification costs.

    Organic cost share incentivizes participation in voluntary practices that protect our natural resources, build farm resilience, and help to meet the growing demand for organic products. Most importantly, this funding is relied upon by many farmers to support their businesses and provide the organic crops they are so proud of.

  • Farm Bill

    Farm Bill Update: October 2023

    Has it been a busy couple of weeks or what? With the government continuing to work towards funding resolutions, the 2023 Farm Bill timeline has been up in the air. The current version expired at midnight on Saturday, September 30, but we do have some idea of when we can expect a draft of the new farm bill.  

    Currently, the government is funded through November 17 and more resolutions will need to be made to avert another potential government shutdown. So, what does this mean? Well, programs through the USDA have been said to be viable until the end of the crop year (December 31).