It matters to the sustainable and organic growers who have valuable knowledge of place over time and work to care for land and water. It matters if everyone is to have access to safe, local, and sustainably-raised food which we believe is a right. State and federal policies, programs, and administrative actions shape our environment, communities, and family health whether we are involved or not. Being involved gives us the opportunity to shape these systems in ways that serve us best.
Too often, the livelihood of sustainable and organic family farmers—and those of us who count on them—are under threat from policies that support farm concentration and a system of industrial agriculture.
OEFFA works to counter the special interest influence over our decision-makers, give voice to the needs of small- and mid-sized producers, and advocate for policies that are truly in the interest of the family farmers who enhance our rural communities and safeguard the environment.
If we are to realize OEFFA’s vision for a future where sustainable and organic farmers thrive, local food nourishes our communities, and agricultural practices protect and enhance the environment, we need state and federal policy change. OEFFA’s policy program empowers our members to enact that change.
Farm bill legislation governs U.S. food and agriculture policy. We advocate for beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access, and remove disincentives to ecological stewardship and farm viability for small- to mid-scale farmers. We fight for these programs to continue, be funded at full capacity, and ensure they are implemented in ways that work for sustainable and organic farmers. We also work toward positive changes to improve the farm safety net, provide greater funding for organic research, and promote effective farm conservation.
The 2023 Farm Bill will shape the future of agriculture for years to come. The OEFFA policy team is working with members to shape this transformative bill so that it supports our vision for a future in which sustainable and organic farmers thrive, local food nourishes our communities, and agricultural practices protect and enhance our environment.
The organic industry has grown to more than $40 billion per year, providing an opportunity for new and existing farmers to prosper at a sustainable scale, but only as long as organic agriculture represents the best in sustainable agriculture. OEFFA works with the National Organic Coalition to maintain and improve the integrity of organic agriculture. We have resources to help OEFFA members provide written comments to the National Organic Standards Board, which advises the National Organic Program.
The Ohio Soil Health Initiative (OSHI) is a coalition of farmers, organizations, and agencies committed to improving soil health. Our goal is to advance positive soil health outcomes that are based on sound principles and increase the adoption of validated health soils practices by securing Ohio’s commitment to healthy soils policy and programs.
The farm share of the food dollar continues to shrink every year. Farmers struggle to survive as they face increased consolidation of markets, input providers and seed companies. More money goes to processing, packaging, delivery, and marketing than to the people who grow our food. Often, government supports go to the people who least need it, creating incentives for industrial agriculture, which stack the deck against sustainable farmers and conservation. We have the power to change the system, one step at a time. Markets should benefit all but the current market fails too many people. We fight for strong markets that are inclusive, transparent and recognize natural limits.
More than 90 percent of the corn, soybean, cotton, sugar beets, and canola grown in this country is GE. OEFFA has worked for clear and transparent labeling of food produced using genetic engineering (GE) inputs and techniques. We’ve also stood up for organic farmers. When pollen or pesticides from these crops drift onto an organic farm, it is the organic farmer that loses. The government and biotech industry have looked the other way for decades leaving sustainable farmers bearing all of the costs and burdens that come with biotechnology. It is time to turn this unfair situation around.
Over the past few years OEFFA members successfully advanced the Family Farm ReGeneration Act. This legislation will provide incentives for owners of agricultural assets who transition them to a beginning farmer. The program also provides a small credit for beginning farmers to offset the costs of farm management programming. This success demonstrates the real change that we can make working together and in partnership. OEFFA is working to educate policy-makers about the economic, environmental, and social benefits to investing in policies and programs that support these efforts, including the Ohio Soil Health Initiative.
Farmers across the Midwest are experiencing more frequent extreme weather events. Whether it is unforgiving spring rains that prevent planting, summer drought, or increased weed, pest, and disease pressure, the changing climate is having real impacts on growers. Global market changes are making synthetic inputs more expensive and harder to obtain. The good news is that with committed action at the state and federal levels we can limit the worst effects of climate change and promote systems of farming that grow their own nitrogen. Investments in soil health, conservation programs, and organic agricultural systems will help ensure farmers can adapt and be a critical part of the climate solution.
At the same time, fossil fuels negatively impact our climate, jeopardize farmers’ organic certification, and affect the quality of life for our communities. OEFFA works to help farmers mitigate the damages caused by non-renewable fuels.