OEFFA is a leading grassroots policy voice for organic and sustainable farmers in Ohio. We represent a coalition of nearly 4,000 members and certified organic operations. Our farmers are stewards for future generations, building strong and resilient soils that yield nutritious food for our community. But, Ohio’s leaders must work together to protect our vanishing soil, farmland, and local food and farm system.
OEFFA has worked in the Ohio Statehouse to successfully pass farmland preservation legislation, the Family Farm ReGeneration Act. Currently, we’re building support for soil health-based climate solutions in the state.
Without a doubt, our members are central to this work. They attend meetings and hearings and contact decision-makers to advocate for policies that support farmers and fight climate change. Contact us to get involved!
State Assistance for Soil Health
Ohio Soil Health Policy
Healthy soil is essential to our future. Healthy soils are resilient; they hold more water, reduce run-off, and protect water quality. Best soil practices build soil fertility reducing the need for fertilizer and keeping more money in farmers’ pockets. They also help combat climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil and building on-farm resilience to withstand extreme weather events.
As a result, OEFFA is working to make sure Ohio’s commitment to soil health is more than just seed-deep. We’ve been holding listening sessions to gather feedback on current soil health practices, additional practices farmers want to use, and barriers and challenges. Contact us to learn more and get involved!
Ohio Soil Health Initiative
Working with the National Healthy Soils Policy Network, OEFFA led the effort to create the Ohio Soil Health Initiative (OSHI).
OSHI is a coalition of farmers, organizations, soil scientists, and agencies. They are committed to advancing soil health policy and programs. They also provide farmer-informed resources and support to accelerate the widespread adoption of soil health practices.
During their meetings, the initiative has worked to establish a Healthy Soils Task Force and to review legislation implemented in other states to identify best practices for Ohio.
Soil Health Ambassador Program
Our Soil Health Ambassador program is rooted in OEFFA’s value of farmer-to-farmer peer networking and education. It connects farmers who need help meeting their soil health goals with friendly growers, who often have decades of ecological farming experience.
OEFFA’s Soil Health Ambassadors, like the ones highlighted below, can assist you in identifying ways to improve soil health on your farm. If you are interested in connecting with one, or if you’d like to volunteer to share your knowledge and expertise with others, contact OEFFA today.
Henry Anton Peller
Vegetable and perennial crops, Roseville, OH
Henry Peller’s 125-acre family farm includes crop fields, orchards, forests, wetlands, and prairie. He grows produce on 4 acres, where he mobilizes an armada of soil health practices in zero-herbicide, minimum tillage production systems. Specifically, he sows cover crops each fall, terminates them using a homemade roller crimper and occultation tarps the following spring, then direct seeds or transplants crops using no-till planting tools.
Birdsong Farm, Garrettsville, OH
Matt Herbruck uses no-till, regenerative techniques to grow about 5 acres of vegetables, herbs, and flowers in permanent beds. He uses occultation to suppress weeds and adds microorganisms and fungi with fall leaf litter and wood chips. Matt is motivated by his desire to positively impact the environment and his community through his daily connection with nature.
Organic grain, Laura, OH
Since 1997, fourth-generation farmer Bruce Kress has grown organic, small grains on his 75 flat, tillable acres of heavy Brockston-Crosby soils. Bruce is in awe of life below and above the soil, so about 15% of his land is left to regenerate with cover crops year-round. The other land is kept covered in the dormant season to build soil life and microbiology.
White Clover Farm, Hillsboro, OH
On his 300-acre farm, Jim Linne raises 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Through rotational grazing of perennial pasture, Jim builds soil organic matter. He doesn’t use herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides, or antibiotics to protect the trillions of soil microbes. Jim strives to produce healthy, nutrient-dense food using only grass, water, and sunshine—the way nature intended.
Ohio Farmland Preservation Policy
OEFFA is committed to promoting policies that protect farmland for future generations. But, we can’t do that work without YOU. Contact us to get involved!
Losing Ohio’s Farmland
The American Farmland Trust has identified Ohio as a priority state in need of land protection. For example, between 2001-2016, Ohio lost 312,200 acres of agricultural land to development. Nationally, 100 million acres of land will change hands in the next few years, putting even more land at risk.
Ohio has many tools in place to stem the tide of this land conversion. They include the Clean Ohio Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program, Agricultural Security Areas, Agricultural Districts, and Current Agricultural Use Valuation Program.
Despite the success of these programs, they are not enough. Ohio needs to encourage communities to develop comprehensive plans and identify policies to protect agricultural resources. And, our state leaders need to continue to incentivize land transfer between farmers to help address rising land prices and farm consolidation.
Ohio’s Beginning Farmer Tax Credit
Access to affordable, high-quality farmland is the number one challenge young farmers face.
The Ohio legislature passed House Bill 95, an important first step for getting Ohio’s next-generation farmers on the land. In April 2022, Governor Mike DeWine signed the OEFFA-backed bill into law. It was co-sponsored by Representatives Susan Manchester (R-84) and Mary Lightbody (D-19). The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit went into effect on January 1, 2023.
Over the course of more than two years, OEFFA members met with legislators, testified during hearings, and participated in lobby days to convey the importance of land access for Ohio’s 33,000 beginning farmers.
The Family Farm ReGeneration Act (FFRGA) encourages those with farmland, livestock, buildings, or equipment to sell to beginning farmers to receive income tax credits. Beginning farmers are also eligible for tax credits.
Ohio Food and Farm Policy Priorities
OEFFA’s other state policy priorities can help more farmers work in concert with nature, increase profitability, and grow the next generation of farmers. Contact us to learn more and get involved!
Making Investments in Regional Food Economies
OEFFA advocates for making investments in Ohio’s local food system, including the Ohio Food Policy Network and institutional purchasing and processing facilities that open up markets for local producers. We support the strategic use of federal farm bill funding, including the Local Food and Farmers Market Promotion Program, the Value-Added Producer Grant Program, and the Regional Food Economies Investment Program.
Supporting Agriculture That Pays Ecosystem Dividends
Ohio is sixth in the nation in the number of organic producers and second only to California in the amount of land in transition to organic. OEFFA supports investing in Ohio’s growing organic sector, including resources for farmers transitioning to organic; research, education, and Extension services for organic production; and a state organic working group.
Facilitating Agriculture for the Next Generation
Finally, OEFFA supports resources for farm succession planning, expanding tax incentives for beginning and BIPOC farmers, continued funding for the Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (AEPP), and helping Soil and Water Conservation District staff to facilitate participation in AEPP.
Ohio Food and Farm Policy News
In this blog, OEFFA Grassroots Policy Specialist, Lauren Hirtle, summarizes the efforts of OEFFA and the Ohio Soil Health Initiative (OSHI). Over the span of several months and numerous trips to the Ohio Statehouse, member leaders like the late, great David Brandt provided testimony in the hopes of getting the Soil Health Pilot Program in the state budget.
The Beginning Farmer Tax Credit went into effect on January 1, 2023! The Family Farm ReGeneration Act helps Ohio beginning farmers access farmland by offering tax credits for owners of agricultural assets who transfer them to the next generation.
OEFFA, Ohio Farmers Market Network, Ohio Food Policy Network, and Produce Perks Midwest offer eight policy recommendations Ohio’s decision-makers can implement to invest in farmers and build food security.