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  • Silver celebration: Organic enthusiasts mark food law’s 25th anniversary | OEFFA News
    trick Leahy D Vt the Se nate Agri cul ture Com mit tee chair man in tro duced the bill in a cham ber with a Demo cratic ma jor ity While the Se nate went along with the bill Mer ri gan said the House was a dif fer ent story When I look back on that time this is a very clas sic David and Go liath story she said Mer ri gan said the USDA had trou ble find ing a Con gress man to in tro duce the leg is la tion be fore Rep Peter DeFazio D Ore agreed to spon sor it He was not on the House Ag Com mit tee and had an up hill bat tle be fore the bill passed and Pres i dent Ge orge H W Bush signed it into law After pas sage the law was slow to get off the ground ham pered by a lack of ap pro pri a tions for USDA staff and the Na tional Or ganic Stan dards Board to de velop the rules The first draft rules were fi nally pub lished in 1997 but con tained what Hoodes de scribed as a head line grab bing al lowance of three con tro ver sial things GMOs ir ra di a tion and sewage sludge Hoodes said grass roots groups pulled to gether and the draft rules re ceived 325 000 com ments in an era be fore In ter net sub mis sions Hoodes said the com ments rep re sented the most sub mit ted on a USDA rule up to that point Dur ing Mer ri gan s ten ure at USDA the rules which she de scribed as a phone book thick were re fined and pub lished in 2002 Mer ri gan said while food safety was the mo ti va tion at the time of the OFPA s pas sage en vi ron men tal health sus tain abil ity and farm struc ture have ben e fited I think we have seen in time that we are ready to start go ing be yond that ini tial food safety con sumers driven to or ganic be cause of con cerns about pes ti cide residues she said Now con sumers in the mar ket place are reach ing for the or ganic la bel be cause of a whole host of at tributes Abby Young blood ex ec u tive di rec tor of the Na tional Or ganic Coali tion said or ganic food sales have grown to 40 bil lion rep re sent ing 5 per cent of U S food sales We have seen re ally as tound ing growth in a short pe riod of time she said How ever re search fund ing has not kept up Young blood said just one tenth of 1 per cent of the re search in the USDA s flag ship pro

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=2222 (2016-02-17)
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  • Ohio activists planning National Day of Action on Tuesday | OEFFA News
    toxic fracking waste are unacceptable The coalition says there is no good or safe solution to the ever growing problem of the constant production of millions of gallons or tons of toxic fracking waste Where will it all go They say that injection or disposal wells are being drilled next to homes or in rural or residential areas that should not be heavy industrial toxic waste sites As evidenced by numerous news reports and other documentation there is damage to family homes or other structures because of fracking or injection well related earthquakes One Oklahoma woman is suing due to injuries she said she experienced during an injection well related earthquake The man made earthquake situation is getting worse not better The truth about fracking waste injection wells and earthquakes is showing itself everywhere The unfolding of this truth can t be stopped even if the oil and gas industry some officials and their allies want to put their heads in the sand or try to deny or minimize the real unacceptable impacts to people and their air water land and property values and their quality and way of life There is no good solution to what to do with or where to put unprecedented massive amounts of toxic fracking waste fluids or solids There is no safe way to dispose of it Since the public is suffering and being negatively impacted by current practices the creation of the waste must stop said Teresa Mills of the Center for Health Environment and Justice CHEJ founded by Lois Gibbs of Love Canal renown The November 17 th National Day of Action is being coordinated by Buckeye Forest Council BFC The Center for Health Environment and Justice CHEJ Faith Communities Together for a Sustainable Future FaCT Frackfree America National Coalition FANC Network

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=2207 (2016-02-17)
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  • Farm Policy | OEFFA News
    specific goal There are a variety of advocacy strategies from talking one on one with politicians testifying in state legislature and litigation to educating community groups hosting speakers or independent film showings and writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper Advocacy also includes attending rallies blogging or even just being on the regulations team of a local Natural Resource District or another agency Just about any activity that is done to promote a certain cause is included in advocacy Lipstreu said With today s media saturated age law and policy makers not to mention any reader listener or viewer of messages online or through traditional media outlets are bombarded with communications advocating for one thing or another While advocacy is getting louder it s not necessarily getting more effective Lipstreu said who recommended that farmers interested in advocacy have the most sway with lawmakers simply by making phone calls or sending personal emails to lawmakers Personal stories are the single most effective tactic she added Personal stories plus why the issue matters to you Politicians respond best to people they have a relationship with Lipstreu said so she also suggests advocates take the time to not only thoroughly research the issue they want to promote whether that be boycotting the construction of a pipeline or protecting crop subsidies but also to research what issues are important to their state lawmakers Don t call about broad issues Call about specific legislation she said adding that as few as 10 calls on a certain angle of an issue can change a lawmaker s stance It s not unusual for farmers to be intimidated by making a phone call but hearing a voice gives more meaning to a story than reading it in an email Lipstreu said To give an overview of a typical phone call to a lawmaker s office Lipstreu introduced Jazz Glastra a college intern who worked with Lipstreu over the summer Glastra said that one of the lawmaker s aides typically answer the phone The person calling in needs to remember to give the aide his or her name residence any relevant association affiliations and the reason for the call citing a specific piece of legislation before giving a personal story and a statement as to why that lawmaker should care about your story This doesn t have to be an intimidating experience Glastra said though she did admit that the first couple of phone calls do feel awkward The aide who takes the phone call is generally able to help the caller through the process The aide will take notes as the caller talks before thanking the caller and hanging up the phone Other tips from Glastra included writing down talking points and being prepared to give an introduction in a voicemail with the caller s name and phone number so that his or her story can be told when the aide calls back The more you make those calls the more you interact the easier Lipstreu said No matter what farmer advocacy is becoming an ever increasing need in agriculture to ensure that farmers who are in the minority of the total U S population are able to keep their rights as to how to do their business We have so many pressing issues around agriculture and food policy right now Lipstreu said Advice offered on effective advocacy November 23 2015 Farm Policy OEFFA in the News Lauren Wisconsin State Farmer 10 6 13 By Ray Mueller COLUMBUS OH When trying to influence a legislator or a federal or state agency one heart felt personal letter is likely to be more effective than the signature of 1 000 persons on a form letter That advice was given by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association s OEFFA policy program coordinator Amalie Lipstreu during a webinar titled Advocacy What Why and How She commented that although advocacy is getting louder it is also less effective You don t have to go to Washington DC or your state capitol to be effective Lipstreu said She noted that merely signing an online petition is easy to do but this is seldom likely to make a difference Take advantage of organized lobby days develop relationships with legislators research a topic properly and demonstrate one s scale or interest in an existing problem Lipstreu suggested Organize or attend rallies because they tend to attract media attention An often overlooked avenue of advocacy is providing input when federal agencies have a formal comment period on the development of regulations She said legislation could be needed to deal with violators or actions which are causing harm Letter writing hints When writing that letter or making a phone call to a legislator be sure to research any existing stance of the legislator on the topic try to make some connection with what the legislator views as a priority and be very specific on the policy or pending legislation Lipstreu said In some cases as few as 10 calls can make a difference on legislation In addition take advantage of any opportunity to meet the legislator in one s home district Lipstreu stressed When making the contact point out that you are a constituent of the legislator identify any organization memberships that you have and tell your story on why the legislator should act in a certain way she stated Writing letters to the editor can also be effective Lipstreu said She noted that the OEFFA s website has a page with guidelines on how to write such a letter Importance of advocacy As farmers gardeners and educators the groups who make up most of the membership of the OEFFA it is important both from a historical perspective and on pending current relevant issues to engage in advocacy for one s beliefs Lipstreu emphasized Lipstreu cited the effectiveness of advocacy in creating the national organic production certification program 35 years ago She said advocacy also includes trying to get large institutions to make corrections in existing practices or policies and that advocacy does not necessarily result in conflict or confrontation Advocacy also applies to arranging community meetings or forums that lead to setting goals and setting strategies on ways to approach problems She also suggested that advocacy should not take the form of a partisan political stance Topics for advocacy In Ohio and other states some of the current topics suited for advocacy are frac sand mining the labeling of foods for genetically modified organisms crop insurance and local food policy councils Lipstreu said She noted that Ohio already has more such councils than any other state due in part to advocacy by OEFFA members More general topics that are appropriate for advocacy include the economy the environment biotechnology and the effect of legislation on local communities Lipstreu said She can be contacted at Amalie oeffa org What s in a Label You May Not Know with DARK Act October 21 2015 Farm Policy OEFFA in the News Lauren Ohio Public News Service By Mary Kuhlman 9 16 15 COLUMBUS Ohio With preservatives flavorings and other unpronounceable ingredients making sense of food labels is difficult enough Opponents say the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act could create even more confusion They refer to it as the Deny Americans the Right to Know or DARK Act The legislation would allow foods made with genetically modified organisms to be labeled as natural and allow some GMO foods to be labeled as non GMO Warren Taylor who produces non GMO milk at Snowville Creamery in central Ohio said the act would take away people s right to know what they re eating The cheapest commodity jug milk at a grocery store can be now labeled non GMO milk he said Every egg sold in America can be labeled non GMO eggs regardless of the fact that those animals are all being fed GMO feed The bill also would ban states from regulating food labeling which supporters say would stop a patchwork of conflicting laws While it would set up a voluntary national labeling system Taylor argued that most companies that actually use GMO foods are not going to advertise it The legislation passed in the U S House with only two Ohio lawmakers voting against it The Senate could introduce the measure soon Taylor contended that the bill undermines existing businesses like his that sell non GMO products For the past eight years he said Snowville Creamery has been breaking even and recently received a game changing offer that would have paid the company a premium for its non GMO milk but the deal didn t last because of the labeling act The day the DARK Act passed the House of Representatives a week later they called me from the cheese plant and rescinded their offer because all cheese in America became non GMO according to the DARK Act if it passes the Senate this month he said Snowville Creamery is like a cat hanging on a wall right now There are global economic concerns Taylor said At least 35 countries have laws that impose labeling or import restrictions on GMO foods Taylor said America s non GMO producers will suffer without proper labeling The purpose of the DARK Act is to not give the American people the GMO labeling that every other industrialized democracy and Russia and China have he said but rather to assure that the American people will never be able to make an informed choice A poll this year found that 87 percent of Ohioans surveyed support the labeling of genetically engineered foods Details of the legislation HR 1599 are online at congress gov The poll is at policy oeffa org Tyson meats to end antibiotic use by 2017 What it means May 11 2015 Farm Policy OEFFA in the News Lauren By Debbi Snook The Plain Dealer 4 29 15 CLEVELAND Ohio Antibiotic use in farm animals got a big push out of the poultry barn this week Tyson Foods announced it intends to stop feeding human grade antibiotics to its broiler chickens by 2017 While antibiotic use once made chickens cheaper to raise by increasing their growth rate it has also been suspected of creating antibiotic resistance in humans The Washington Post reports that antibiotic resistant infections cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23 000 deaths a year more deaths than cause by drug overdoses cars or firearm assaults Antibiotic resistant infections are a global health concern said a statement from Donnie Smith president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods We re confident our meat and poultry products are safe but want to do our part to responsibly reduce human antibiotics on the farm so these medicines can continue working when they re needed to treat illness Smith said the company s antibiotic use is down 80 percent from a few years ago following an industry wide trend Perdue eliminated antibiotic use a year ago and last month McDonald s has pledged to do the same within two years But Tyson is the country s largest producer of chicken This is huge critic Gail Hansen told National Public Radio Hansen is a member of Pew Charitable Trust s Antibiotic Resistance Project which is developing a certification project with the U S Department of Agriculture for antibiotic free chicken Tyson also announced plans to study and possibly reduce antibiotic use in its cattle hog and turkey farms Lauren Ketcham communications chief for the Columbus based Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association called the Tyson decision encouraging but not a huge guarantee Given that Tyson is only voluntarily targeting antibiotics used in human medicine and even then some with exceptions consumers wanting to avoid eating chicken treated with antibiotics should continue to look for the organic label as the gold standard she said in an email Medina County meat animal farmer Jason Bindel said he also worries about the farm use of antibiotics that are not used in human medicine Some animal drugs were not human tested so you have no idea of bad side effects he wrote by email Animal grade drugs are usually the same formula but sometimes may have additives that are not FDA approved for human use so could be harmful due to allergic reactions Ohio Business Owner Fracking Stifling Local Food Movement May 11 2015 Farm Policy OEFFA in the News Lauren By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service 4 6 15 PHOTO Sustainable farmers rely on the integrity of the land soil and water and many say hydraulic fracturing is compromising the growing local food movement in Ohio Photo credit David Foster Flickr COLUMBUS Ohio Sustainably produced foods are becoming more popular among consumers but some Ohioans say the state s fracking boom is stifling the growth of the local food movement According to the EPA dozens of chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing which some growers say puts air water and soil at risk for contamination The Village Bakery and Café in Athens specializes in locally grown and organic foods and owner Christine Hughes says some area farmers were unaware of the risks when they agreed to allow oil and gas companies onto their land Landowners were told Oh no we don t use chemicals it s all safe so I don t blame those people for signing up says Hughes But it has put all these sustainable farms at risk and the conventional farms as well The sustainable farmers are more aware of the damage it will do to their reputation According to Hughes soil and watershed resilience are likely to worsen as drilling continues to expand A recent study found nearly 11 percent of the more than 19 000 organic farms in the U S share a watershed with oil and gas activity and 30 percent of organic farms will be in the vicinity of a fracking site or injection well in the next decade Hughes says many of her restaurant s suppliers are based in Ohio s fracking hotbed The farm that sourced her flour was directly impacted by fracking after an old injection well was re activated near the land They started bringing in truckloads of radioactive frack waste from West Virginia Pennsylvania and Ohio she says So they had to shut down their farm and ended up having to sell off their farm and move away and take jobs from their farm Hughes says many other business owners in her community are concerned about the impacts of fracking and it s not the answer to the country s economic energy and climactic challenges The horse was out of the gate long before the regulations or the science could be shown how dangerous it is says Hughes At this point a moratorium is really the only responsible thing that we could do Hughes is a member of the Ohio chapter of the American Sustainable Business Council which is among organizations calling for mandatory enforceable national standards that will apply to both new and existing gas and oil development House bill proposes national standard on GMO food labeling May 11 2015 Farm Policy OEFFA in the News Lauren From AP and staff reports Farm and Dairy 3 26 15 WASHINGTON A bill introduced in the House of Representatives March 25 would make the Food and Drug Administration the only agency permitted to label food and beverage products made with genetically modified ingredients The bill known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act also includes a U S Department of Agriculture program to label non GMO foods Introduced by U S Reps Mike Pompeo R Kansas and G K Butterfield D North Carolina the bill calls for the FDA to set standards for GMO labeling Foods the department certifies as free of GMOs would have a special government label that companies could use to market their foods User fees would pay for the program Pompeo said a government certified label would allow companies that want to advertise their foods as GMO free to do so but it would not be mandatory for others He said he hopes to see the bill passed this year Overrides state law The voluntary labeling effort would create an industry standard and override any state laws that require the labeling Thus far bills requiring GMO labeling have been introduced in more than 30 states Vermont became the first state to require the labeling in 2014 a law that is set to go into effect in 2016 but is facing a legal challenge from the food industry House Committee on Agriculture Chairman K Michael Conaway said the growing patchwork of mandatory state laws has created confusion and is driving up the cost of food These state laws are not based on science and are both inconsistent and misleading Conaway said We have a federal regulatory process for the approval of biotechnology that is both scientifically sound and works Broad support Response from across the food industry was largely supportive of the bill It would improve clarity in foods carrying a GMO free label by establishing uniform rules and a national certification program for foods that have been produced without bioengineering said Jim Mulhern president and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation Supporters say the bill could also reduce costs to both manufacturers and consumers At a February forum in Albany New York Rick Zimmerman executive director of the Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance pointed to a 2014 Cornell University study that showed a 500 annual increase in food costs for a family of four if mandatory GMO labeling legislation were to be enacted And for small manufacturers the cost of complying with such a law may be too much for their businesses to sustain Zimmerman said Opposing view Advocates for labeling genetically modified products including Consumers Union urged Congress to reject the bill in particular a provision that would allow a natural label on genetically engineered food Allowing the natural label on genetically engineered food would legalize a

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?cat=9 (2016-02-17)
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  • Happy 25th Birthday, National Organic Program! | OEFFA News
    should not be allowed under the organic standards resulting in the labyrinthine rulebook that organic farmers must follow today It s on par with the tax code in terms of its heft and complexity Back then the organic standards were just two sides of an eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper says Mike Laughlin of Northridge Organic Farm in Johnston Ohio who was one of Ohio s first certified organic farms under the new federal standards Now they re more like a telephone book To move forward in the future with organic it s going to be imperative that we devote more money to funding organic research The original proponents of the national organic standard mostly small diversified organic growers got the recognition and legal protection they were after but ironically having a unified code with the weight of the federal government behind it gave large corporations exactly the opening they needed to enter the market and take advantage of the growing demand for organic produce The industry has exploded in an exponential growth curve that would make any Wall Street capitalist sit up in their chair Sales of organic products in the US have risen more than tenfold from 3 6 billion in 1997 to almost 40 billion in 2014 Costco recently rose above Whole Foods as the nation s top organic retailer While organics have grown from less than 1 percent of total US food sales in 1997 to nearly 5 percent today the organic industry receives a disproportionately smaller share of public funding for research and development than the conventional food industry To move forward in the future with organic it s going to be imperative that we devote more money to funding organic research says Abby Youngblood executive director of the National Organic Coalition noting that the USDA currently allocates just 0 1 percent of the budget for its flagship research program the Agriculture Food Research Initiative AFRI for organic farming research We have identified a long list of organic research needs she says We know that farmers are going to need seeds better adapted to our changing climate and better adapted to systems of organic production and we know that we re going to need new ways to control pests and disease that aren t reliant on chemical inputs A huge chunk of the organic food flying off the shelves of Costco and other large retailers is imported from overseas It s not just research dollars that don t match the tremendous sales growth of the organic industry The number of acres in organic production has barely budged since the USDA started keeping track of them in 2002 In 2012 when the most recent agricultural census was conducted the number of organic farms in the US was just 0 6 percent of total US farm acreage In other words a huge chunk of the organic food flying off the shelves of Costco and other large retailers is imported from overseas According to

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=2205 (2016-02-17)
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  • OEFFA in the News | OEFFA News | Page 2
    a spectator sport Lipstreu said Advocacy is the active promotion of a cause or principle she explained Unlike lobbying advocacy does not have to involve confrontation or conflict though it does include actions that lead to a specific goal There are a variety of advocacy strategies from talking one on one with politicians testifying in state legislature and litigation to educating community groups hosting speakers or independent film showings and writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper Advocacy also includes attending rallies blogging or even just being on the regulations team of a local Natural Resource District or another agency Just about any activity that is done to promote a certain cause is included in advocacy Lipstreu said With today s media saturated age law and policy makers not to mention any reader listener or viewer of messages online or through traditional media outlets are bombarded with communications advocating for one thing or another While advocacy is getting louder it s not necessarily getting more effective Lipstreu said who recommended that farmers interested in advocacy have the most sway with lawmakers simply by making phone calls or sending personal emails to lawmakers Personal stories are the single most effective tactic she added Personal stories plus why the issue matters to you Politicians respond best to people they have a relationship with Lipstreu said so she also suggests advocates take the time to not only thoroughly research the issue they want to promote whether that be boycotting the construction of a pipeline or protecting crop subsidies but also to research what issues are important to their state lawmakers Don t call about broad issues Call about specific legislation she said adding that as few as 10 calls on a certain angle of an issue can change a lawmaker s stance It s not unusual for farmers to be intimidated by making a phone call but hearing a voice gives more meaning to a story than reading it in an email Lipstreu said To give an overview of a typical phone call to a lawmaker s office Lipstreu introduced Jazz Glastra a college intern who worked with Lipstreu over the summer Glastra said that one of the lawmaker s aides typically answer the phone The person calling in needs to remember to give the aide his or her name residence any relevant association affiliations and the reason for the call citing a specific piece of legislation before giving a personal story and a statement as to why that lawmaker should care about your story This doesn t have to be an intimidating experience Glastra said though she did admit that the first couple of phone calls do feel awkward The aide who takes the phone call is generally able to help the caller through the process The aide will take notes as the caller talks before thanking the caller and hanging up the phone Other tips from Glastra included writing down talking points and being prepared to give an introduction in a voicemail with the caller s name and phone number so that his or her story can be told when the aide calls back The more you make those calls the more you interact the easier Lipstreu said No matter what farmer advocacy is becoming an ever increasing need in agriculture to ensure that farmers who are in the minority of the total U S population are able to keep their rights as to how to do their business We have so many pressing issues around agriculture and food policy right now Lipstreu said Advice offered on effective advocacy November 23 2015 Farm Policy OEFFA in the News Lauren Wisconsin State Farmer 10 6 13 By Ray Mueller COLUMBUS OH When trying to influence a legislator or a federal or state agency one heart felt personal letter is likely to be more effective than the signature of 1 000 persons on a form letter That advice was given by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association s OEFFA policy program coordinator Amalie Lipstreu during a webinar titled Advocacy What Why and How She commented that although advocacy is getting louder it is also less effective You don t have to go to Washington DC or your state capitol to be effective Lipstreu said She noted that merely signing an online petition is easy to do but this is seldom likely to make a difference Take advantage of organized lobby days develop relationships with legislators research a topic properly and demonstrate one s scale or interest in an existing problem Lipstreu suggested Organize or attend rallies because they tend to attract media attention An often overlooked avenue of advocacy is providing input when federal agencies have a formal comment period on the development of regulations She said legislation could be needed to deal with violators or actions which are causing harm Letter writing hints When writing that letter or making a phone call to a legislator be sure to research any existing stance of the legislator on the topic try to make some connection with what the legislator views as a priority and be very specific on the policy or pending legislation Lipstreu said In some cases as few as 10 calls can make a difference on legislation In addition take advantage of any opportunity to meet the legislator in one s home district Lipstreu stressed When making the contact point out that you are a constituent of the legislator identify any organization memberships that you have and tell your story on why the legislator should act in a certain way she stated Writing letters to the editor can also be effective Lipstreu said She noted that the OEFFA s website has a page with guidelines on how to write such a letter Importance of advocacy As farmers gardeners and educators the groups who make up most of the membership of the OEFFA it is important both from a historical perspective and on pending current relevant issues to engage in advocacy for one s beliefs Lipstreu emphasized Lipstreu cited the effectiveness of advocacy in creating the national organic production certification program 35 years ago She said advocacy also includes trying to get large institutions to make corrections in existing practices or policies and that advocacy does not necessarily result in conflict or confrontation Advocacy also applies to arranging community meetings or forums that lead to setting goals and setting strategies on ways to approach problems She also suggested that advocacy should not take the form of a partisan political stance Topics for advocacy In Ohio and other states some of the current topics suited for advocacy are frac sand mining the labeling of foods for genetically modified organisms crop insurance and local food policy councils Lipstreu said She noted that Ohio already has more such councils than any other state due in part to advocacy by OEFFA members More general topics that are appropriate for advocacy include the economy the environment biotechnology and the effect of legislation on local communities Lipstreu said She can be contacted at Amalie oeffa org 25 Years After Federal Organic Foods Regulation Industry Calls For More Regulation November 23 2015 OEFFA in the News Organic Certification Lauren WOSU 11 23 15 By Mandie Trimble Mike Laughlin R delivers organic butternut squash to a Short North restaurant Organic farmers are celebrating a milestone anniversary It s been 25 years since the federal government started regulating organic farming The Organic Foods Production Act unified a patchwork of different state standards We take a look at organic farming regulation and the areas where industry experts say there s room to improve Mike Laughlin delivers several crates of large organic butternut squash to the Short North restaurant Northstar Laughlin owns Northridge Organic Farms in Johnstown He s been an organic farmer for about 35 years long before the Organic Foods Production Act Back then there was no law that governed labeling of the products so you could just say it was organic he recalls Before the federal regulations states certified farms And the rules varied Some of them were not as strict as others So if you were growing organically in Ohio and selling it you might be competing against somebody across a border that is producing with less stringent standards and maybe can produce that a little bit cheaper Laughlin says Laughlin says the Organic Foods Production Act leveled the playing field And it protected the integrity of the word organic But the law wasn t perfect It received a lot of public outcry and pushback from farmers for being overly broad and not stringent enough That original set of rules would have allowed in organic production genetic engineering sewer sludge and ionizing radiation says Carol Goland Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association director OEFFA is one of the oldest organic certification agencies in the U S As a result of that backlash those three things are explicitly prohibited in organic today Goland says Eventually those rules were revised and they were released in 2000 By 2002 the federal National Organic Program was created to oversee all organic production and labeling On the northwest side of Columbus Amy Shaw shops at Raisin Rack a natural food store Shaw says she has eaten only organic foods for eight years She thinks it s healthier and better for the environment but she wonders about the labels You have to be wary I m big on whole foods I mean you don t have to worry about the labels or the labeling if you re eating an organic apple Shaw says If you know the farmer and you shop locally you can be pretty sure that you re getting what they say you re getting Agencies like OEFFA certify organic farms for the USDA There are about 50 of them in the U S and they hire contracted inspectors Goland admits agencies are stretched thin OEFFA for example oversees nearly 900 farms and 70 processors across 10 states But the reality is that farmers and organic food processors have to go through the certification process every year Goland says As a whole we are keeping up but it represents an area of growth since organics is growing Goland adds certifiers are calling for clarification and more regulation in areas like animal welfare hydroponic crops and beauty products You will see some cosmetics or body care products out on the market that are labeled organics There aren t really standards for these she says There are more than 730 certified organic operations in Ohio and nearly 20 000 in the U S Nationally organic products generate 39 billion in sales What s in a Label You May Not Know with DARK Act October 21 2015 Farm Policy OEFFA in the News Lauren Ohio Public News Service By Mary Kuhlman 9 16 15 COLUMBUS Ohio With preservatives flavorings and other unpronounceable ingredients making sense of food labels is difficult enough Opponents say the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act could create even more confusion They refer to it as the Deny Americans the Right to Know or DARK Act The legislation would allow foods made with genetically modified organisms to be labeled as natural and allow some GMO foods to be labeled as non GMO Warren Taylor who produces non GMO milk at Snowville Creamery in central Ohio said the act would take away people s right to know what they re eating The cheapest commodity jug milk at a grocery store can be now labeled non GMO milk he said Every egg sold in America can be labeled non GMO eggs regardless of the fact that those animals are all being fed GMO feed The bill also would ban states from regulating food labeling which supporters say would stop a patchwork of conflicting laws While it would set up a voluntary national labeling system Taylor argued that most companies that actually use GMO foods are not going to advertise it The legislation passed in the U S House with only two Ohio lawmakers voting against it The Senate could introduce the measure soon Taylor contended that the bill undermines existing businesses like his that sell non GMO products For the past eight years he said Snowville Creamery has been breaking even and recently received a game changing offer that would have paid the company a premium for its non GMO milk but the deal didn t last because of the labeling act The day the DARK Act passed the House of Representatives a week later they called me from the cheese plant and rescinded their offer because all cheese in America became non GMO according to the DARK Act if it passes the Senate this month he said Snowville Creamery is like a cat hanging on a wall right now There are global economic concerns Taylor said At least 35 countries have laws that impose labeling or import restrictions on GMO foods Taylor said America s non GMO producers will suffer without proper labeling The purpose of the DARK Act is to not give the American people the GMO labeling that every other industrialized democracy and Russia and China have he said but rather to assure that the American people will never be able to make an informed choice A poll this year found that 87 percent of Ohioans surveyed support the labeling of genetically engineered foods Details of the legislation HR 1599 are online at congress gov The poll is at policy oeffa org Shagbark Seed Mill is changing the way restaurants use grains August 10 2015 OEFFA in the News Organic Certification Lauren By Beth Stallings Columbus Crave Fall 2015 Brandon Jaeger and Michelle Ajamian sit across from each other at the center of a long table they ve haphazardly strung together from four tops at Athens hippie Mexican eatery Casa Nueva One by one as their friends arrive a recent college grad in a maxi skirt a toddler wheeling couple sporting dreadlocks Jaeger and Ajamian jump up and smile with arms outstretched Every guest is treated with an enthusiastic hello or a strong armed embrace that lingers with familiarity The convivial air carries through dinner Familial teasing is directed at the father figure of the group Remember that one time Jaeger had to learn to drive a combine on the fly and then it ran out of gas on a hill Or when having never operated a forklift before he had to reverse it off the bed of a truck The goateed Jaeger laughs along as he takes it in stride adding to the stories with hand gestures that mimic gear shifting Amused Ajamian sips on a can of Jackie O s beer as she good naturedly disputes small details in every tale Among the baskets of tortilla chips and sauce covered enchiladas that decorate the table the real reason for this dinner takes shape The staples of this meal chips black beans tortillas would not be possible without this ragtag group of community do gooders who learned how to run an organic grain and seed mill on the job Since opening in 2010 Shagbark Seed Mill has become a source to which organic farmers can sell corn that turns into food not feed and from where area chefs find grains beans and flour grown and processed in Ohio Brandon Jaeger at the Shagbark mill in Athens That s a tougher feat than it may seem Until Shagbark began selling black turtle beans Northstar Cafe had to look to the West Coast to buy the essential ingredient for its veggie burger One corn farmer confesses he had never tasted his own crop in a product before Shagbark began making tortilla chips Brandon and Michelle are really in a very direct way changing the world and Ohio for the better says Darren Malhame partner at Northstar Cafe People like to talk about organic like it s some sort of elitist thing There s nothing elitist about providing healthy food for everyone They re using corn for really what it should be Sustaining the masses is exactly how the idea of the mill started At the peak of the local food movement as consumers began obsessing over heirloom tomatoes and kale grown nearby Jaeger fixated on a single question Why are we looking elsewhere for staple foods like corn and beans We re just not going to survive on tomatoes and lettuce and kale and heirloom squash We re going to need to rebuild our staples says Jaeger who calls this conundrum his existential anxiety Someone needs to be focusing on organically producing the foods that have been a staple in our diets for so long That someone it turned out is Shagbark An Origin Story Shagbark Seed Mill was never intended to be a business It was an experiment that started with a two year grant application to Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education a U S Department of Agriculture organization that promotes agricultural innovation At the time Jaeger was on a monastic training retreat at the San Francisco Zen Center Ajamian a community activist with a design background came out to stay with Jaeger planning the getaway to work on a grant proposal to support a perennial annual education lab But after Jaeger first uttered the phrase existential anxiety Ajamian suggested a second proposal The question that won them the 5 800 grant in 2008 Could they create a model staple food system that would make high nutrient grains and beans local again It started as test plots on four farms to identify which ancient grains quinoa amaranth millet and beans would grow well in Appalachia But as they conducted studies and consulted with members of the collaborative they d created Jaeger and Ajamian found one glaring piece missing from the staple food network a processing facility Even if a farmer wanted to grow black turtle beans Jaeger says he d have no outlet through which to process them We

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  • Lauren | OEFFA News | Page 2
    disappointment Dickinson Wright PLLC Granville Village Schools Greenacres Foundation Jorgensen Farms Mustard Seed Market and Café Natural Awakenings Central Ohio Cincinnati and Toledo Organic Valley Snowville Creamery Albert Lea Seed Co Earth Tools Eban Bakehouse Edible Cleveland Great River Organics Green BEAN Delivery Green Field Farms Lucky Cat Bakery Metro Cuisine Ohio Hills Biochar Raisin Rack Natural Food Market Stauf s Coffee Roasters Swainway Urban Farm Whole Foods Market Ag Credit ACA Andelain Fields C TEC of Licking County Casa Nueva Curly Tail Organic Farm DNO Produce Eden Foods Edible Ohio Valley Hocking College Culinary Arts Program McClenaghan School of Hospitality Kevin Morgan Studio Law Office of David G Cox Ohio Environmental Council WQTT Ag Today Central Ohio Bad Dog Acres Bexley Natural Market Carriage House Farm Fedco Seeds Glass Rooster Cannery Hartzler Dairy Farm The Hills Market Krazy Kraut Lucky s Market Northridge Organic Farm Nourse Farms Palamedes Photography Schmidt Family Farms Storehouse Tea Stutzman Farms About OEFFA The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association OEFFA is a state wide grassroots nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by farmers gardeners and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system For more information click here Press Pass and Media Inquiries OEFFA offers a limited number of press passes to members of the media who would like to attend conference and pre conference events We can also help members of the press schedule interviews with keynote speakers and workshop presenters To arrange an interview request a press pass or for other media inquiries contact Lauren Ketcham at 614 421 2022 Ext 203 or lauren oeffa org Ohio activists planning National Day of Action on Tuesday December 2 2015 Farm Policy OEFFA in the News Lauren Akron Beacon Journal 11 13 15 By Bob Downing From a Friday press release Groups Join Together to Call for a Halt of Toxic Fracking Waste and Man made Earthquakes in a National Day of Action on Tuesday November 17 2015 Youngstown Ohio November 12 2015 Groups of concerned citizens from several states are joining together to call for a halt of toxic fracking waste and related man made earthquakes in a November 17 2015 event titled Freedom From Toxic Fracking Waste and Earthquakes A National Day of Action On Tuesday November 17 2015 a national coalition of local coordinators and groups will hold rallies or actions throughout the day to shine light on the numerous problems associated with toxic radioactive fracking waste and its disposal including its links to earthquakes spills and leaks Groups have been communicating with each other to raise public awareness and to call for positive public action to protect their family s health safety and well being from the onslaught of fracking waste injection and disposal wells or other fracking related infrastructure or processes including dumping fracking waste on landfills The high risks to water air and land and pollution due to toxic fracking waste are unacceptable The coalition says there is no good or safe solution to the ever growing problem of the constant production of millions of gallons or tons of toxic fracking waste Where will it all go They say that injection or disposal wells are being drilled next to homes or in rural or residential areas that should not be heavy industrial toxic waste sites As evidenced by numerous news reports and other documentation there is damage to family homes or other structures because of fracking or injection well related earthquakes One Oklahoma woman is suing due to injuries she said she experienced during an injection well related earthquake The man made earthquake situation is getting worse not better The truth about fracking waste injection wells and earthquakes is showing itself everywhere The unfolding of this truth can t be stopped even if the oil and gas industry some officials and their allies want to put their heads in the sand or try to deny or minimize the real unacceptable impacts to people and their air water land and property values and their quality and way of life There is no good solution to what to do with or where to put unprecedented massive amounts of toxic fracking waste fluids or solids There is no safe way to dispose of it Since the public is suffering and being negatively impacted by current practices the creation of the waste must stop said Teresa Mills of the Center for Health Environment and Justice CHEJ founded by Lois Gibbs of Love Canal renown The November 17 th National Day of Action is being coordinated by Buckeye Forest Council BFC The Center for Health Environment and Justice CHEJ Faith Communities Together for a Sustainable Future FaCT Frackfree America National Coalition FANC Network for Oil Gas Accountability Protection NEOGAP and the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association OEFFA Coordinators say there is still time for more individuals or groups to get involved in the events planned for November 17 2015 by contacting Frackfree America National Coalition at 234 201 8007 or by e mail at frackfreeamerica gmail com Happy 25th Birthday National Organic Program December 2 2015 OEFFA in the News Organic Certification Lauren Modern Farmer 12 1 15 By Brian Barth Shutterstock Former president George H W Bush was not known as a supporter of organic agriculture not even remotely But back on November 28 1990 the elder Bush did play a small but significant role in the history of the movement when he signed the Organic Foods Protection Act OPFA into existence This was the beginning of USDA Organic certification and a momentous leap forward for what has grown from a fringe movement in the 1960s what some saw as just a hippy garden project to a formidable market force in the global food industry today But with all its success the national organic program has weathered its share of challenges Modern Farmer was invited to participate in a virtual press conference yesterday held by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association in honor of the milestone where a panel of organic movement veterans reminisced about the long and often turbulent journey thus far and shared their hopes for the future of the National Organic Program It was a classic David and Goliath story recounts Kathleen Merrigan former U S Deputy Secretary of the USDA who was asked by Mark Lipson of California Certified Organic Farmers CCOF to help draft a national organic standard which would replace the patchwork state level organic standards that existed in the late 1980s Organic food was becoming increasingly popular in the general public leading some large conventional growers to take an interest folks whose interest seemed to be motivated more by profit than by organic principles There was a concern that the standards would get watered down says Merrigan who ultimately prevailed in shepherding the OPFA through the halls of Congress at the behest of a nationwide coalition of organic farmers and certifying agencies This was tough for the organic community because they had not been treated well by the USDA historically but there was a sense that OPFA was necessary It was interesting that a community of folks who historically were distrustful of government actually came to government s door for help Though the law was signed in 1990 it would be 12 more years before the rules governing organic practices were sorted out and implemented This was largely due to a massive backlash against three components that were included in the new national standard but that few people outside of large food corporations thought had any business being there The use of sewage sludge irradiation and GMOs were all permitted in the original wording of OPFA but after receiving more than 325 000 public comments mostly in opposition to these three practices the USDA caved in and reworded the final rule which was finally published in 2002 That was only the first in an ongoing series of battles concerning exactly what should and should not be allowed under the organic standards resulting in the labyrinthine rulebook that organic farmers must follow today It s on par with the tax code in terms of its heft and complexity Back then the organic standards were just two sides of an eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper says Mike Laughlin of Northridge Organic Farm in Johnston Ohio who was one of Ohio s first certified organic farms under the new federal standards Now they re more like a telephone book To move forward in the future with organic it s going to be imperative that we devote more money to funding organic research The original proponents of the national organic standard mostly small diversified organic growers got the recognition and legal protection they were after but ironically having a unified code with the weight of the federal government behind it gave large corporations exactly the opening they needed to enter the market and take advantage of the growing demand for organic produce The industry has exploded in an exponential growth curve that would make any Wall Street capitalist sit up in their chair Sales of organic products in the US have risen more than tenfold from 3 6 billion in 1997 to almost 40 billion in 2014 Costco recently rose above Whole Foods as the nation s top organic retailer While organics have grown from less than 1 percent of total US food sales in 1997 to nearly 5 percent today the organic industry receives a disproportionately smaller share of public funding for research and development than the conventional food industry To move forward in the future with organic it s going to be imperative that we devote more money to funding organic research says Abby Youngblood executive director of the National Organic Coalition noting that the USDA currently allocates just 0 1 percent of the budget for its flagship research program the Agriculture Food Research Initiative AFRI for organic farming research We have identified a long list of organic research needs she says We know that farmers are going to need seeds better adapted to our changing climate and better adapted to systems of organic production and we know that we re going to need new ways to control pests and disease that aren t reliant on chemical inputs A huge chunk of the organic food flying off the shelves of Costco and other large retailers is imported from overseas It s not just research dollars that don t match the tremendous sales growth of the organic industry The number of acres in organic production has barely budged since the USDA started keeping track of them in 2002 In 2012 when the most recent agricultural census was conducted the number of organic farms in the US was just 0 6 percent of total US farm acreage In other words a huge chunk of the organic food flying off the shelves of Costco and other large retailers is imported from overseas According to a recent global survey of organic production North America ranks 5th ahead of only Africa in acres of certified organic land In Italy 10 percent of agricultural land is certified organic compared to 0 6 percent here India has more than 650 000 organic producers compared to less than 13 000 in the US Merrigan says the discrepancy between demand for organic goods in the US and domestic supply is certainly not for a lack of enthusiastic young people who want to start organic farms but there is a high cost threshold for new farmers to enter the market We want to grow our own home base of organic farmers but that requires bringing on the next generation of American farmers and they are facing huge capital costs Many of them are not hailing from the farm but are college graduates wanting to go to the land and be a young entrepreneur and they all of a sudden find the price tag of what an acre costs and what a combine costs and that sort of thing But if there is anything that should be a call to arms in this next decade moving forward it is to find a way to put those young people on the land To me it just cries out opportunity opportunity opportunity We know that there is a market for them to sell to Besides the capital costs involved in farming which are a reality that both conventional and organic growers face labor costs are a particular concern to organic farmers who rely largely on human power for weed and pest control rather than chemicals In this regard it s hard to compete with places like India where wages are a fraction of what they are in the US It will be a steep row to hoe for organic farmers in the US to keep up with demand but it s a worthy challenge for the next 25 years USDA Awards 113M to Support Speciality Crop Production November 23 2015 OEFFA in the News Other Lauren Illinois Ag Connection 10 06 15 The U S Department of Agriculture USDA Monday awarded more than 113 million in program grants to support farmers growing fruits vegetables tree nuts and nursery crops also known as specialty crops through research agricultural extension activities and programs to increase demand and address the needs of America s specialty crop industry Monday s announcement is part of a USDA wide effort supporting President Obama s commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems These grants are administered by USDA s Agricultural Marketing Service AMS and USDA s National Institute of Food and Agriculture NIFA Increasing market opportunities for local food producers is a sound investment in America s rural economies while also increasing access to healthy food for our nation s families Vilsack said These investments will support local and regional markets and improve access to healthy food for millions of children and supply thousands of farmers markets restaurants and other businesses with fresh high quality fruits and vegetables The grants also help growers solve technology needs or make better informed decisions on profitability and sustainability leading to stronger rural American communities and businesses USDA s Agricultural Marketing Service is awarding 63 million to 755 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program projects nation wide The grants are issued to State departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers including locally grown fruits vegetables and nursery crops including floriculture through research and programs to increase demand Since 2009 AMS has awarded 385 grants totaling 392 9 million for 5 484 projects including those announced Monday For example an Ohio program was awarded a grant that will increase specialty crop competitiveness by helping Ohio growers with organic production and food safety grant The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association will provide Ohio beginning and existing organic farmers direct technical support and educational programming to help improve organic production and marketing skills The project will also help transition other growers to certified organic production and will help farmers of all sizes and levels of experience to establish and implement on farm food safety plans USDA s National Institute of Food and Agriculture NIFA is announcing 50 million in grants funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative SCRI which is made available through the 2014 Farm Bill This program develops and disseminates science based tools to address the needs of specific crops across the entire spectrum of specialty crops production from researching plant genetics to developing new production innovations and developing methods to respond to food safety hazards In fiscal year 2015 NIFA made 15 new awards totaling more than 40 million Fiscal year 2015 grants includes USDA Agricultural Research Service Peoria Ill which will receive 3 672 482 Additionally in fiscal year 2015 NIFA made also made five continuation awards totaling 9 7 million for grants initially funded in prior fiscal years Continuation awards are based on available appropriations and project success Examples of funded projects include a project at the University of California working to sustain the supply of high quality lettuce in the face of changing technology and climate The University of Florida will research management strategies for Laurel wilt a lethal disease in avocadoes And Michigan State University aims to use applied genomics to increase disease resistance in cucurbit crops Since 2009 NIFA has funded almost 285 million for 138 research projects including those announced today Abstracts of projects previously funded are available on NIFA s website AMS works to improve global opportunities for U S growers and producers AMS grant funding supports a variety of programs including organic certification cost share programs the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program This funding is one of the ways that USDA invests in the future of rural America and the nation s agricultural sector NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research education and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges More Ohio farmers go organic November 23 2015 OEFFA in the News Organic Certification Lauren The Columbus Dispatch 10 15 2015 By JD Malone More Ohio grown organic produce should be finding its way to supermarkets as an increasing number of the state s farmers turn to this method of growing in a nod to consumer demand Though the image of organic farming is one of back to the land hobbyists raising heirloom vegetables for farmers markets Ohio s organic farms have found that what was once a niche is now an industry The state s organic farmers added 12 000 acres to their more than 500 farms and doubled sales between 2008 and 2014 the only two years of full U S Department of Agriculture census data on organic farming nationwide Another sign of Ohio s organic farming growth is that 25 percent of organic operators get all of their income from their farm up from just 14 percent in 2008 Last year 34

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  • Registration Now Open for Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference | OEFFA News
    Farms are Real Farms Sustaining People Through Agriculture and The Essentials of Economic Sustainability along with book chapters journal articles magazine and trade publications and conference proceedings on various aspects of the sustainable agriculture movement Read more The conference will offer nearly 100 beginner intermediate and advanced workshops across 16 tracks Taught by experienced OEFFA members farmers researchers and sustainable agriculture leaders from across the country the workshops cover a range of topics including sustainable farming gardening homesteading cooking livestock and poultry production business management food and farm policy research and more Read more OEFFA s conference offers something for everyone Whether you re an experienced grower backyard gardener or local food enthusiast this conference has workshops for you said Hunt The conference will also feature three full day pre conference intensives on Friday February 12 in Granville Answering the Call to Farm facilitated by Lindsey Lusher Shute is designed for beginning farmers and those considering a farming profession It will cover start up business planning accessing land transition and restoration of new ground budgeting and more Read more The Dirt on Organic Matter led by Ohio State University soil scientist Rafiq Islam will explore time tested holistic organic farming practices that can help retain and build soil organic matter Read more During Marketing Organic Grain A Farmer s Guide OFARM Executive Director John Bobbe NForganics Field Representative Tim Boortz and Illinois organic grain farmer Harold Wilken will take a detailed and practical look at successful organic grain marketing Read more The conference will also feature Saturday eve ning entertainment including a performance by The Back Porch Swing Band and a conversation with OEFFA s founding members about the history of the organic movement A trade show featuring dozens of businesses non profits and government agencies offering an array of food books farm and garden products tools information and services A kid s conference with engaging activities for children ages 6 12 A playroom for young children A teen conference where teenagers ages 12 15 can create their own personal weekend schedule Locally sourced from scratch meals volunteer and scholarship opportunities a raffle book table book signings seed swap and much more For more information about the conference or to register click here Past conferences have sold out in advance so early registration is encouraged to avoid disappointment Dickinson Wright PLLC Granville Village Schools Greenacres Foundation Jorgensen Farms Mustard Seed Market and Café Natural Awakenings Central Ohio Cincinnati and Toledo Organic Valley Snowville Creamery Albert Lea Seed Co Earth Tools Eban Bakehouse Edible Cleveland Great River Organics Green BEAN Delivery Green Field Farms Lucky Cat Bakery Metro Cuisine Ohio Hills Biochar Raisin Rack Natural Food Market Stauf s Coffee Roasters Swainway Urban Farm Whole Foods Market Ag Credit ACA Andelain Fields C TEC of Licking County Casa Nueva Curly Tail Organic Farm DNO Produce Eden Foods Edible Ohio Valley Hocking College Culinary Arts Program McClenaghan School of Hospitality Kevin Morgan Studio Law Office of David G Cox Ohio Environmental Council

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  • Press Conference to Celebrate 25 Years of Certified Organic Standards | OEFFA News
    demand for organic food and fiber continues to grow Organic food sales have increased by an average of 10 percent per year since 2010 and sales of organic products soared to 39 1 billion in 2014 When Monday November 30 10 am ET Please RSVP to lauren oeffa org Include your name and the name of the outlet you represent Where Members of the media can join this virtual press conference by phone from the convenience of their home or office Call 712 432 0390 and then enter access code 805354 Who Carol Goland OEFFA Executive Director and event moderator OEFFA is one of the oldest and largest organic certification agencies in the country OEFFA certified to state standards prior to OFPA and worked toward the development of a national program Liana Hoodes National Organic Coalition Advisor Liana is the Co Chair of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York former director of the National Organic Coalition and previous Organic Policy Coordinator for the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan Executive Director of Sustainability George Washington University From 2009 2013 Dr Merrigan was U S Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U S Department of Agriculture where she created and led the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Initiative to support local food systems She previously worked as senior staff to the U S Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry where she wrote the law establishing national standards for organic food Mike Laughlin certified organic specialty crop farmer Northridge Organic Farm in Johnstown Ohio was one of Ohio s first certified organic farms under the federal standards Abby Youngblood National Organic Coalition Executive Director Abby previously served as the Food and Environment Program Officer at the North Star Fund co owned and operated a vegetable

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