• Farm Bill,  Organic,  Soil Health

    Celebrating Earth Day with Representative Max Miller

    Written in collaboration with the Organic Farmers Association.

    An Ohio Congressman pictured with Ohio farmers and their families.

    There are few more impactful ways to celebrate Earth Day than by inviting a Congressperson to see some of Ohio’s organic farms! It was an honor learning from farmers at Woodlyn Acres Farm in Dalton, Ohio, and County Line Family Farm in Wadsworth, Ohio with Representative Max Miller (OH-7).

    The Organic Farm Day was planned in partnership with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) and the Organic Farmers Association (OFA).

  • General,  Organic

    Amplifying Farmers’ Needs at the 2024 NOC Fly-In

    Last month, Milo and Nicole on our federal policy team were in DC for the National Organic Coalition (NOC) fly-in. NOC is an alliance of organizations across the country that advocate for organic farmer and consumer needs. During the fly-in, we focused on the following priorities:

    • Supporting the Organic Certification Cost Share Program and producers transitioning to organic
    • Addressing regulatory USDA bottlenecks
    • Advancing equity within agricultural programs and policies
    • Solving the organic dairy crisis
    • Supporting organic research
    • Advancing conservation practices and programs
  • Climate Change,  Conservation,  Organic

    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.  

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Climate Change,  Conservation,  Farm Bill,  Marketplace Equity,  Organic,  Soil Health

    Holistic Needs to Address in the 2023 Farm Bill

    This post was written by OEFFA Grassroots Policy Organizer, Nicole Wolcott, and originally appeared on the Marbleseed blog.

    A sustainable and resilient agriculture system is built from the ground up: from the grassroots. Our food system has a foundation in the soil, the very base of the earth. Keeping with this theme, our support building, education, and advocacy must be centralized in our communities. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has done deep work to cultivate a narrative that is centered in this thinking.

    We believe that all living things have intrinsic value, and it is up to us to make good, healthy, nutrient-rich, and sustaining food a right. Your voice and your opinions have power. As we continue to push for building a diverse and just food system in the 2023 Farm Bill, we need you to share your stories and truths. No matter your background or understanding of agriculture, you have a stake in our food system. You are a steward of the land; you eat and thrive off the land. Therefore, this groundswell of rich work is crucial to formulate an equitable living world for all.

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

    Here’s Another Acronym: What is NSAC?

    The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is a coalition of grassroots organizations that focuses on advancing sustainable agriculture and food systems. NSAC accomplishes these goals by advocating for federal policy reforms. Across this network, relationships are built so that we can achieve a nationwide reach of fighting for just, sustainable, and equitable food systems

    OEFFA became a member of NSAC when our policy program was developed more than 11 years ago. Being a member means that we bring issues of importance to our members to the table and are part of the decision-making process. We work together to advance policy to support small and mid-size farmers, protect natural resources, promote healthy rural communities, and ensure equal access to healthy, nutritious food.  

  • Climate Change,  Conservation,  Farm Bill,  Marketplace Equity,  Organic

    Key Marker Bills for the 2023 Farm Bill

    The work on a transformational 2023 Farm Bill is underway as climate scientists, activists, food and agriculture businesses, community leaders, anti-monopoly advocates, and policymakers pool together ideas and input for the new legislation. The reauthorization of the farm bill is supposed to be completed by the end of September. Because of the fight over the country’s debt limit and partisan battles, it will likely take until the end of this year or early next before we have a new farm bill.

    Despite a longer timeline, things are moving and we wanted to lay out the key marker bills OEFFA is supporting.

    A marker bill is legislation that is introduced to advance policy proposals and assess their level of support, with the hope of making it into the first bill draft advanced by the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

  • Climate Change,  Farm Bill,  Organic,  State Policy

    OEFFA Members Making Change

    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.

  • Farm Bill,  Organic

    NOC Members Urge Congressional Leaders to Advance Organic Agriculture

    This post originally appeared on the National Organic Coalition (NOC) blog.

    Twenty six farmers, scientists, policy advocates and organic company representatives from the National Organic Coalition advocated for organic agriculture last week in Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, we criss-crossed Capitol Hill, where we met with 56 Congressional Offices. 24 meetings were with Members of Congress (or their staff) who sit on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees – the committees responsible for writing the 2023 Farm Bill.

    During visits with congressional offices, we focused on four themes to advance organic in the 2023 Farm Bill:

    • A proposed Opportunities in Organic Program, which will establish a suite of flexible, easy-to-access tools to reduce barriers to organic agriculture.
    • Strengthening organic integrity, which is all about ensuring the continuous improvement of USDA’s organic standards.
    • Expanding organic research, which will provide tools to address production, marketing and environmental challenges.
    • Strengthening USDA’s conservation programs for organic farmers, which highlights that organic farming is climate-smart and environmentally sound.