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    Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis: A Faltering Start and an Uncertain Future

    While the highly consolidated global food supply chain has broken under the pressure of the COVID-19 crisis, our diverse and distributed local and regional food system has proven more resilient. Many OEFFA farmers have been able to adapt to the market disruptions that occurred as restaurants and schools closed, by pivoting to other strategies like online pre-ordering and taking advantage of strong customer demand. Farmers’ markets moved quickly to adapt to the new reality of social distancing by implementing drive-thru markets, online ordering systems, and other market modifications. While these adaptations helped keep local food flowing, they did not come without cost, both financial and human. These changes included things…

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    Economic Assistance for Farmers through the Paycheck Protection Program

    UPDATE: Since this article was originally published, the initial round of PPP funding under the CARES Act has been exhausted, but small farms can apply for another set of federal disaster loans under a new deal reached April 21 by Congress and the Trump Administration. The agreement allows agricultural operations with fewer than 500 employees to qualify for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which offers up to $10,000 in advance to businesses that are losing revenue amid the pandemic. Learn more and apply for EIDL. The deal also replenishes the depleted PPP, setting aside an additional $321 billion for the program, including $60 billion for small businesses without access to…

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    Comprehensive Climate Bill Invests in Farm-Based Solutions

    One of very few farmers in Congress, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) recently introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), the most comprehensive climate and agriculture bill ever introduced. It lays out 12 bold and necessary goals to meet over the next 20 years to restore lost soil carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost on-farm renewable energy, and reduce food waste, among other laudable goals. According to the Congresswoman, “Farming has always been a risky business, but unpredictable, extreme weather patterns are creating immense challenges that threaten our nation’s food production and jeopardize the livelihood of American farmers.” Currently, agriculture contributes more than 8 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the…

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    OEFFA’s Top 10 Policy Highlights for 2019

    Making policy change is often a long and slow process. It can be difficult to identify “big wins” sometimes, but there are so many milestones we can look back on in 2019 that helped move sustainable agriculture forward into 2020 and beyond. Here are 10 positive strides we made this year: Family Farm ReGeneration Act Advances in the Ohio Legislature The National Young Farmers Coalition conducted a survey of young farmers across the country which found the top challenge these farmers face is access to land. Since 2017 when OEFFA launched its Begin Farming program, we’ve seen first-hand the difficulty Ohio farmers experience getting on the land. That’s why, beginning…

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    New Report Provides Roadmap on Climate Solutions in Agriculture

    Multiple adverse effects of the climate crisis have been documented in U.S. agriculture, including: Intensified droughts, floods, and storms; Stresses on crops, livestock, and farm personnel from higher summer temperatures; Disruption of seasonal development, flowering, and fruiting in horticultural crops; Shifting pest, weed, and disease life cycles and geographic ranges; and Disproportionate impacts on economically disadvantaged rural communities Certainly, farmers in the Midwest experienced some of these impacts this spring and summer with hurricanes, record setting rains, and summer drought. Although agriculture currently affects our climate through direct greenhouse gas emissions and the indirect loss of carbon in our soil, a report released this week demonstrates how organic and ecological…

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    Nourishing People, Nurturing the Planet: A Call to Action on World Food Day

    Today is “World Food Day,” an international day of action when people from around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicating global hunger. As we join with the state, national, and international community today, it is important to critically consider the ways in which our food system so often fails us. Millions of people suffer from obesity and obesity-related diseases and more than a billion people globally are overweight. At the same time, 10 percent of the world—821 million people—currently experience chronic hunger. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a report saying the impact of the climate crisis on agriculture will result in growing world…

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    National Climate Week: Agriculture Solutions to the Climate Crisis

    Since 1961, food production has increased by 240 percent, the use of synthetic nitrogen has increased by 800 percent, and land degradation has increased by 200 percent. As a result, agriculture accounts for about 13 percent of carbon dioxide, 40 percent of methane, and 82 percent of nitrous oxide greenhouse gas emissions. But, while agriculture is a significant contributor to the greenhouse gases causing the climate crisis, it can also be part of the solution. Resilient, sustainable agricultural systems can sequester carbon and benefit our climate, while improving public health. Land management-based responses to climate change can also help improve public health, eradicate poverty and hunger, and decrease food waste. This year’s extreme rains, floods, and…

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    Working Through Challenging Times and Building Resiliency

    This season’s weather has brought not only tremendous amounts of rain, but also exacerbated the problems many farmers already face. In these challenging times, it’s important that we stay in touch, share resources, brainstorm strategies, and empathize with each other’s experiences.  In late June, OEFFA hosted a “Rainy Day Exchange” conversation offering farmers space to discuss the challenges they are facing, ask questions, and share ideas.  Nearly 60 producers, agricultural service providers, and researchers joined the call by phone and computer to share their experiences and offer feedback, resources, and solidarity.  The discussion and feedback focused on several topics that warranted attention, including stress management; alternative production options; pest, disease,…

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    An End to Gerrymandering: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

    A U.S. District Court in Cincinnati recently released a unanimous ruling that Ohio Congressional district boundaries were manipulated for partisan gain by Republican mapmakers and violate the rights of the public to democratic elections. They also went a step further and said the map needed to change before any future elections. But, not so fast! Ohio Attorney General David Yost asked the court for a stay, which would postpone the drawing of new maps for an undetermined period of time. While the district judges denied the request for a stay, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to put a hold on any potential changes to the district maps in Ohio and…

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    Ohio Legislator Leads on Healthy Food for Kids

    The Kids Eat Local Act (SB 1817) was introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME). If passed, the new law will make it easier for schools to utilize locally grown food in the National School Lunch program. Current law does not allow schools to specify “local” as a product specification in school food procurement requests and while they can currently use a “geographic preference” option, most schools have found that process confusing and burdensome. Simplifying local food procurement will improve the ability of schools to source produce from Ohio farmers. The interest in Farm to School (F2S) has increased in Ohio. Whether in large urban districts or…