We are so thankful to have an impactful and close-knit policy team that plans change-making goals together. At the beginning of December, Policy Director Milo Petruziello, Grassroots Policy Organizers Lauren Hirtle and Nicole Wolcott, and Communications and Media Specialist Heather Seely got together to debrief 2023 and plan for 2024.
The priorities we talked through included:
- Building our interpersonal relationships;
- Furthering our state policy and soil health work;
- Advocating on the farm bill and federal policy;
- Strengthening impactful connections with our member leaders; and
- Leaning into the OEFFA Narrative in all the work we do.
Because of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the 2018 Farm Bill, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has nearly $5 billion in funding for conservation practices in 2024. Agricultural producers and forest landowners are encouraged to apply now to receive support for participation in voluntary conservation programs and the adoption of climate-smart practices.
Well suited for a wide variety of producers—including organic and urban producers—USDA is now accepting applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).
It’s been a while since we’ve shared in-depth updates on our soil health policy efforts in Ohio. But rest assured, behind the scenes and at the Statehouse, OEFFA’s policy team, the Ohio Soil Health Initiative (OSHI), member leaders, and partners have been working hard to make progress to prioritize soil health in Ohio.
This winter, with the previously proposed Soil Health Task Force Bill (HB 669) on pause and the legislative session heading towards a state budget review process, OSHI saw an opportunity. We set forth a budget proposal for the Soil Health Pilot Program. The program would fund innovative projects around the state focused on improving soil health, establishing farmer networks to share their knowledge on soil health practice implementation, and helping to increase farm resilience and profitability while alleviating Ohio’s water quality concerns and more.