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Posts Tagged ‘policy’

Gratitude and Thanks from Executive Director Marty Mesh

As I think back on this year and look toward 2017, I am filled with gratitude for the past and optimism for the future as, together, we have accomplished so much in growing the organic food and farming movement in Florida and beyond. There are so many challenges and so much work to be done going forward that it will clearly be a busy year!

This past year, we worked hard every day to increase access to organic, local food; support organic farmers; and provide information and resources to growers and consumers across the state. From expanding Fresh Access Bucks to more than 30 markets around the state to analyzing public policy and advocating for improvements in food safety, the Farm Bill and local food systems to hosting farmer workshops, we have worked towards making Florida’s organic food and farming movement a real political and economic force.

With your year-end, tax-deductible donation, we can maintain our momentum in 2017.

Next year marks our 30th year of fighting for organic farmers and strengthening local food systems. We have exciting plans for 2017 and want YOU to join us!

Connecting farmers with those who need us most

snap-fabIn 2017, Fresh Access Bucks will work with more than 45 direct-to-consumer outlets to benefit more than 18,000 SNAP recipients throughout Florida, massively increasing farmer revenue! The program will do this by training more than 350 farmer producers to accept SNAP/EBT at farmers markets and direct-to-consumer outlets around the state.

Growing the next generation of organic farmers

We are excited to continue our mission of educating organic farmers and equipping them with the tools needed for both short-term and long-term success. In addition to hosting multiple on-farm workshops in 2017, we are excited to again plan a statewide Organic Farmer Training workshop. Stay tuned for more details…we want you there!

Further, we are looking forward to continuing innovative ways to educate and train farmers about organic farming and local food systems.

Seeking change through collaboration

FOG will continue to drive public policy and advocacy on behalf of organic farmers and consumers who want to support such common sense priorities as better access to healthier food for all and for protecting our fragile natural resources. Our presence in Washington, D.C. for Hill days as well as active involvement with leading advocacy organizations has propelled organic and sustainable agriculture forward and helped broaden and deepen the understanding of its importance.

We have been fortunate to form supportive partnerships with like-minded businesses and organizations over the years and welcome more. The broader our networks become, the farther our impact can reach.

Your generosity is an act of hope

We are so thankful to those who support FOG – your contributions allow us to continue to invest in organic farmers, farmworkers and the education and research needed to help organic farmers be successful.

We need your support now more than ever – join us and let’s make a difference in our state and beyond.

Thank you in advance for your vital contribution.

Marty Mesh
Executive Director

Do you want a sustainable food and farm future?

Love your local farmers market? The future of all farms that sell at farmers markets could be jeopardy thanks to the upcoming Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

FSMA is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938. It includes new regulations for produce farms and for facilities that process food for people to eat. Florida Organic Growers supports the efforts to create a safer food system however FSMA could be incredibly detrimental to small and sustainable and organic farms.

The new proposed rules were written to apply to large farms and processors. They are at risk of placing an unfair burden on small family farmers, targeting sustainable and organic farming, and reducing the availability of fresh, local food in our communities. This is unacceptable. New food safety rules make compliance so costly that the FDA itself predicts it will drive some farmers out of business. In the long run, that means fewer people will start to farm, and more farmers will have to seek off-farm jobs to keep farming.

Tell the FDA we need rules that work for farmers! The comment period ends next Friday, November 15!

Here is how YOU can help:

GET INFORMED!

  • Check out the National Coalition of Sustainable Agriculture’s FSMA website to get up to speed on just what these rules will mean for producers and processors.
  • Start asking questions – how might these rules impact me? The people I work with? The farmers I know?

TAKE ACTION!

  • Submit your own comments to FDA! Click here to begin! Reminder, the comment period ends next Friday, November 15!
  • Tell the FDA to align rules with current National Organic Program rules!
  • Ask why pesticides and GMO’s aren’t considered a possible risk to food safety!
  • Every comment helps, no matter how short. Don’t be intimidated by complexities of the law!
  • Encourage allies, stakeholders, and others to reach out and to submit comments! Anyone who is involved in any aspect of our food system needs to know about – and comment on – these rules. Especially small farmers!

If you want a sustainable food and farm future – one where sustainable and organic farms thrive, everyone has access to fresh, healthy food, and farming works hand-in-hand with protecting our natural resources – you need to take action NOW!

#fixFSMA today!

Continuing Resolution Passed

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Last week the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government until March 27, 2013. The overall goal of the CR is to avoid a government shutdown, punt real decisions into early next year (well after the start of the new fiscal year on October 1), and allow Congress to hurry home to campaign for reelection.

The bill puts 2013 appropriations bills on hold, capping 2012 spending levels for the short-term. This “capping” effectively means that the Conservation Stewardship Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Grassland Reserve Program, and Chesapeake Bay Conservation Program will not be able to afford new enrollments for FY 2013. Furthermore, since conservation spending will be essentially frozen at FY 2012 levels, the CR makes the job of finishing the new 5-year farm bill harder still by reducing the funding “baseline” that will be available for Conservation Titles.

Mandatory spending such as Nutrition Title programs, particularly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamps, were left relatively unscathed for now. As for the rest of the Farm Bill legislation, you will not find it extended by the CR. You also will not find any new provisions for American farmers, who are drought-weary and stressed by the House’s refusal to call up a five-year farm bill.

For the text of the CR legislation, go here>>

Farm Bill Expiration Imminent

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Editorial Comic From The Salinas Californian, Sep. 18

When the Farm Bill expires in two weeks, members of Congress will be back home on the campaign trail. House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) said today they are throwing in the towel on any Farm Bill action before they leave.  Neither a new Farm Bill nor an extension of the existing Farm Bill will be brought up for a floor vote until after the election… if the post-election lame duck session of Congress will even deal with it.

The Congressional Research Service confirms that when the 2008 Farm Bill expires at the end of the month, many programs including the farm commodity programs, food stamps, and some research and conservation programs will continue without a new bill. However, nearly 40 programs that were authorized under the 2008 legislation will not continue beyond the fiscal year. Today, the House Organic Caucus co-chairs and House Agriculture Committee Members sent a bipartisan letter to the House leadership today regarding the core organic programs that expire on September 30 unless Congress takes action to reauthorize and fund these programs.  A number of beginning farmer, rural development, and marketing programs are in the same situation.

In the letter, the caucus co-chairs — Representatives DeFazio (D-OR), Farr (D-CA), Kind (D-WI), and Hanna (R-NY) — and House Agriculture Committee Members — Ribble (R-WI), Gibson (R-NY), Welch (D-VT), and Costa (D-CA) — urge the House leadership to provide on-going mandatory funding for organic programs in the now-certain event that the programs will expire on September 30.  The letter calls specific attention to the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative(OREI), the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), and the Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives (ODI).

Stay tuned to the FOG Blog for more information as it becomes available.

FOG Signs 2, 4-D Opposition Letter

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FOG signed on to a letter of opposition against DOW AgroScience’s herbicide resistant corn strain. This letter was sent to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and EPA Administrator Jackson. The corn mutation is of grave concern for the health of humans and the environment. Farmers will now be more inclined to use stronger herbicides, such as 2,4-D with glyphosate, a powerful chemical agent. Not only will this chemical agent cause damage to neighboring crops that are not resistant, wide-spread use can exacerbate the problem of “super-weeds”. Furthermore, more chemicals mean more nutrient build up and polluted run-off in our water supply and our environment. DOW is seeking approval from the USDA for use on farms in the United States.

To read the letter in its entirety, view the .pdf here.

For more information and commentary, check out the New York Times article, the True Food Network blog post, Marion Nestle’s take over at her Food politics blog.