• General

    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…

  • State Policy

    Land Access Legislation Moves to the House Floor

    OEFFA has been working with members of the Ohio House and Senate to pass legislation that would incentivize land transfer between current landowners and beginning farmers. After months of work, the House Bill 183, the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, passed out of the Ohio House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee unanimously on November 19. OEFFA is thankful to the bill’s co-sponsors Rep. Susan Manchester and Rep. John Patterson. In October, OEFFA’s Begin Farming Program Coordinator, Rachel Tayse, presented testimony to the committee on the need for this bill based on her experience working with aspiring and early career farmers. According to Rachel’s testimony, “… OEFFA’s elder farmer generation call on…

  • General

    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…

  • General

    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…

  • General

    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…

  • Farm Bill

    Rethinking Crop Insurance

    This year, farmers across the Midwest have seen tornadoes, torrential rain, and flooding that made planting difficult, if not impossible. In Ohio, where 40 of 88 counties received disaster designation, many growers were unable to plant at all and those that did face increased disease, pest, and weed pressure and late harvests. Needless to say, the loss of marketable crops and reduced farm income has been devastating for many farmers. In the past, as OEFFA staff talk with growers about crop insurance, the phrase “my diversification is my insurance” has been a frequent refrain. Yet, this spring has many farmers rethinking the decision not to use crop insurance. While organic,…

  • State Policy

    Ohio Governor Signs Hemp Legislation into Law

    Farmers will soon be able to grow and process hemp in Ohio, after Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation this week removing its prohibitions. Before that can happen though, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) must develop a formal program and rules, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will need to approve. Hemp contains a fiber, grain, and oil that can be extracted for cannabidiol (CBD), which is now being used in food and dietary supplements. Both hemp producers and processors need to apply for a license to grow or process their products to be in compliance with state and federal law. Those licenses will be valid for three years.…

  • General

    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,…

  • General

    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…

  • General

    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…