This post was written by OEFFA Grassroots Policy Organizer, Nicole Wolcott, and originally appeared on the Marbleseed blog.
A sustainable and resilient agriculture system is built from the ground up: from the grassroots. Our food system has a foundation in the soil, the very base of the earth. Keeping with this theme, our support building, education, and advocacy must be centralized in our communities. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has done deep work to cultivate a narrative that is centered in this thinking.
We believe that all living things have intrinsic value, and it is up to us to make good, healthy, nutrient-rich, and sustaining food a right. Your voice and your opinions have power. As we continue to push for building a diverse and just food system in the 2023 Farm Bill, we need you to share your stories and truths. No matter your background or understanding of agriculture, you have a stake in our food system. You are a steward of the land; you eat and thrive off the land. Therefore, this groundswell of rich work is crucial to formulate an equitable living world for all.
OEFFA 2019 Lobby Day a Success!
Support for beginning farmers has been a high priority for OEFFA and its members for years. The policy program has been advocating for the state to adopt a measure successfully implemented in Minnesota that provides tax credits for landowners who sell or lease land or other agricultural assets to beginning farmers.
The recent release of the five-year Census of Agriculture by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed some good news for Ohio agriculture generally, and reveals opportunities for the state to grow healthy food systems, contribute to rural community economic development, and grow the agricultural sector by supporting this industry.
After decades of farm loss, the number of farms is on the rise and Ohio is 6th in the nation in the number of beginning farms. While the growth in the number of beginning farms is positive sign, starting an agricultural business is full of challenges one of which is access to land and capital.
On May 7 about 20 members, staff and supporters gathered at Trinity Episcopal Church to hear from long-time lobbyists from the County Commissioners Association of Ohio. Cheryl Subler and Adam Schwiebert talked about what it’s like to meet with legislators, how to establish good long-term relationships and the importance of follow up. OEFFA Policy Director Amalie Lipstreu and Operations Coordinator and former legislative staffer Greg Hargett role played some possible meeting scenarios for attendees.
In the afternoon, 17 meetings were held between the House and Senate and considerable support was garnered for the Family Farm ReGeneration Act, or HB 183. Two steps are needed to move this from an idea to a program that encourages farmers to sell or lease land to beginning farmers: the first is that it is included in the two year biennium budget, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of June, and the second is that the bill passes both chambers and is signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine.
The House passed its version of the budget on May 9, and it did not include the HB 183 provisions. There is still time to advocate for its inclusion in the Senate version as well as general support for the bill’s passage. Learn more about bill here and sign-on to the petition today!