Hey there! My name is Nicole Wolcott, and I am new to the OEFFA policy team. I am thrilled to join this amazing group. Over the past five years, I have been so lucky to have incredible mentors who have coached me in building relationships and movements. I am passionate about making connections and helping to build healthy communities. Now, in this role with OEFFA, I can combine my organizing skills with my love for organic foods.
Growing up in the organic food industry, I often thought about why I had such an easy time accessing healthy foods. I found myself wondering, “Why is this a privilege and not a right?” Since moving to Cincinnati, I’ve been diligent in working to broaden my understanding of the inequities and challenges in the food system. Without a background in farming, there is a lot I need to learn.
As I got started in this position, I was introduced to many names, acronyms, policies, and pieces of literature. It was certainly overwhelming and a real example of “drinking through a firehose.”
Diving into all this information, there were key things I was disheartened to notice that I wasn’t taught as a kid or even know as an adult. The modern food system is complicated and contains so many players. It serves certain interest groups for this work to feel too complex to bother learning. If we don’t engage, they keep their power. Whether those with power are stewarding their communities’ best interests is a long conversation—but I believe we all have power. We can use it to have shared responsibility and respect for our communities and natural resources.
Shaping Our Food System
We are at a critical time to make important changes in our food system. Major movement is happening right now in the federal government to create the next farm bill. The reauthorization process only happens every five years.
Critically, the farm bill directly impacts how and where food is grown, what kind of food is grown, and more. This massive legislation is crucial to the health of each of us as individuals and as community members. Whether it is climate change, public health, or the recognition that we depend on the land, air, and water for our survival, this bill will have an impact.
Do you remember food scarcity issues at the height of the pandemic? Currently noticing costs going up at grocery stores? Know a farmer who works one or more off-farm jobs to make ends meet? All of that is greatly affected by the farm bill. More so, food connects us to the earth, history, culture, and each other.
The Farm Bill: Omnibus Legislation That Impacts Every Bite
The 2018 Farm Bill is 530 pages long. This length and density makes it nearly impossible for anyone to really be an expert.
In the spirit of thinking that everyone should know what the farm bill is and how it affects them, I want to map out how I am going into this learning process and how you can too.
Below are some wonderful resources to help you learn about the 2023 Farm Bill, sustainable food systems, ways to engage, and much more. No matter your understanding of policy or agriculture there is a place for you to get involved. I encourage us all to deepen our understanding of this movement!
Sustainable Agriculture and Farm Bill Background
- Ohio Agriculture: The Changing Contours of Farming: OEFFA’s Analysis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) five-year survey of agriculture.
- Marker Bills for the 2023 Farm Bill: OEFFA’s regularly-updated tracker of introduced legislation that may be incorporated into the new farm bill.
- Soil Health Benchmarks 2021 Study: Pasa’s report about 100+ farms and their direct experiences in building and preserving soil health.
- How Washington Bargained Away Rural America: An article in The American Prospect that explores why we need to de-consolidate our food systems and make them for the people.
Organizing and Narrative Resources
- Changing Our Narrative About Narrative: What “narrative” power is and how to build it. “We must remember that a few big clouds do not water the earth below them—millions of drops of rain do the watering.”
- At the Intersection of Power and Hope: Grassroots Policy Project’s framework of storytelling and narrative building that illustrates how communities can make change and use tactics to build impactful movements.
- Talking Climate in a Purple State: Dr. Katherine Hayhoe’s presentation to OSU’s Environmental Professionals Network, which highlights the science behind how our beliefs shape our identity and the key role values and solutions can play in our conversations about the climate crisis.
It is up to us to ensure that we meet the needs of our communities while acknowledging the importance of sustaining a healthy world. Our policy team is eager to answer your questions and provide further resources. If you want to shape the 2023 Farm Bill, we are here to help!
We are actively looking for community members to call their representatives, write a letter to the editor, and more. Read about our 2023 Farm Bill platform and look at our resources page to get started. Reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org for support. We are stronger together!