This is What Democracy Looks Like: OEFFA Hits Capitol Hill to Talk About the Farm Bill
From January 29-February 1, OEFFA members and staff were on Capitol Hill as part of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s winter meeting and lobby day. It’s the first of four times OEFFA will be meeting with federal legislators to discuss the farm bill in the first three months of 2023!
Policy Director Amalie Lipstreu, Organic Policy Specialist Julia Barton, organic grain farmer Eli Dean, and Celeste Treece with Ag Noire and the Jackson Street Produce Market met with five of Ohio’s Congressional offices to discuss OEFFA’s priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill:
- Promoting soil health and climate resilience through conservation policy
- Increasing investments in local and regional food systems
- Addressing consolidation in the food and agriculture system
- Investing in organic and sustainable research
- Providing more support for beginning and BIPOC farmers
OEFFA Meets with Members of U.S. House of Representatives
With new legislators and their staff still getting settled in, it was visibly a time of transition in Washington D.C., particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Senate and House offices are surprisingly small, so when OEFFA met with Julia Rossman, staff for Representative Shontel Brown, Eli and Julia sat on a pallet in the makeshift meeting space in a library. Celeste talked to Brown’s office about the importance of investing in urban agriculture and Eli spoke about the need to ensure better access to crop insurance.
Brown was elected to Ohio’s 11th Congressional district in 2021 after Marcia Fudge resigned to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. She is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, an important position for influencing federal agricultural policy. Brown is the first woman and first African American to serve as Cuyahoga County Democratic party chair, a position she held until 2022.
Nathaniel Dullea, a staffer for Representative Marcy Kaptur (D, OH-9), met with OEFFA and we asked for the Representative’s support for one of our priorities: state assistance for soil health. With a district stretching along Ohio’s north coast from Toledo to Erie County, Kaptur is the longest-serving woman in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives and ranks among the most senior Members of Congress. She currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which has authority over federal discretionary spending.
Next, OEFFA met with Mitch Caine, an aide to Representative Max Miller. Eli talked to Mitch about the economic development benefits of organic agriculture and about flame weeding systems, a tool used by organic farmers to control weeds without chemicals or cultivation. Miller represents Congressional district 7 in northeast Ohio, and is a former aide to Donald Trump.
OEFFA Meets with Both Ohio Senators
Additionally, OEFFA met with Wes King, legislative assistant to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Celeste talked about support for urban agriculture in the farm bill and Eli talked about the importance of crop insurance reform, including setting payment limits. Wes said that the Senator is committed to introducing five farm bill marker bills related to crop insurance payment limits, increased support for local meat processing, cover crops, local and regional food systems, and an agroforestry bill focused on the Conservation Reserve Program.
Brown has represented Ohio in the U.S. Senate since 2006, and has consistently supported investments in local and regional food systems. He serves on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, where he has been instrumental in strengthening the farm safety net and addressing childhood hunger.
Finally, OEFFA met with a legislative director and agricultural staffer for the newly elected Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH). Eli was able to make a connection by sharing his story about his organic family farm and OEFFA staff helped introduce him to the organization and our work.
OEFFA Returns to Capitol Hill in March: Will You Join Us?
Both Eli and Celeste were amazing ambassadors for Ohio’s organic and sustainable farming community. We appreciate them taking time away from their farms, families, and businesses to advocate for their farm bill priorities!
With the current farm bill set to expire this year, OEFFA will be returning to Washington D.C. in March for a Rally for Resilience and days of action with the Organic Farmers Association and National Organic Coalition.
We will continue to advocate for a farm bill that helps achieve our vision of a future where sustainable farmers thrive, local food nourishes our communities, and agricultural practices protect and enhance the environment.
If you share these values and would like to attend future days of action or meetings with legislators, please contact us. We’d love to help raise your voice for a stronger farm bill!