Hey folks,

I’m writing to ask you all to support a new piece of legislation to support beginning farmers for the next 5 years. Though not “directly” an organic issue, beginning farmers are twice as likely to be certified organic, and many very small beginning farmers fall under the $5000 threshold, meaning they are organic but exempt from certification (but not from following the rules) under the NOP.

In any case, 70% of US farmland is expected to change hands within the next 20 years, and we need a new “crop” of environmentally and socially conscious farmers to take their place. We (myself, as a representative of Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance, and other organizations who are part of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) have worked hard to craft a piece of legislation that promotes beginning farmers, and allows access to federal programs for those wishing to start diversified organic operations, instead of favoring 5th generation conventional corn farmers or CAFO’s.

But WE NEED YOU TO CALL Your SENATORS and your Congresspeople. Especially important will be calls to Senator STABENOW’S office. You can leave a message at her DC office by calling  202-224-4822, or call and speak with (or leave a message for) her State Ag. Liaison, Kali Fox in her Lansing office at 517-203-1760, or e-mail her at [log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask].

Sample Message: I’m calling to urge Senator Stabenow to co-sponsor the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act of 2011. This legislation is being introduced in the House and Senate next week.  It will help new farmers get started in agriculture.  It’s a jobs creator and a cost effective smart investment.  Can I count on Senator Stabenow to be a co-sponsor?

To learn more about the bill you can see the post at www.beginningfarmers.org HERE: http://www.beginningfarmers.org/beginning-farmer-opportunity-act-ask-your-legislators-to-co-sponsor-today/

Please call today or Monday!

Thanks Much,
Taylor Reid
MOFFA Policy Committee

On 9/22/11 9:07 AM, "Morrone, Vicki" <[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Dear Organic Friends,

Just wanted to let you all know that we had a great last minute meeting with Senator Stabenow, Chair of the Senate Ag Committee, a few days ago in her East Lansing office. We focused on the importance of organic research funding, specifically the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).

Sieg Snapp (MSU) was able to join us, as the leader on 2 OREI grants in Michigan, which is number 2 in the country in terms of OREI research dollars. John Hooper (MOFFA Chair and coop marketer) represented MOFFA and Four Seasons Produce Co-op in the meeting as well, and Maureen Wilmot, the Executive Director of Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) flew in from California to join us too.

The meeting last Saturday at Senator Stabenow’s office was really successful because farmers who have participated in OREI funded research on their farms, were able to come out and tell their stories of how this funding has benefited both conventional and organic farming systems: Jim Koan from Almar Orchards, Jim Sattleburg from Bay Shore Farms/Thistledown Farms, and Chris Bardenhagen from Bardenhagen Farm did a great job! Special thanks is do to those farmers for stepping away at a busy time, to advocate for organics funding in the Farm Bill.

Action Items: We need to reach out to the House Ag Committee. There are 16 new members on this committee. There are very different levels of knowledge about the needs of the organic farming community (ie our key programs: OREI, Organic Data Initiative, NOP, National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, improved access to conservation programs-Conservation Stewardship Program and EQIP-Organic Initiative, and Organic Crop Insurance). And on that note, Organic Farming Research Foundation just held a two day training around Farm Bill advocacy in DC, earlier this week. Yesterday, many organic farmers from across the country meet with House Ag Committee staffers to go over the importance of those organic programs and provisions.

For those who do not yet know me, I have been hired by OFRI to serve as an advocate for Michigan’s and the Great Lakes’ organic farmers of the development of the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill. I am also an organic farmer so I am especially passionate of these actions that help improve and strengthen organic farming. Please contact me if you are working on the Farm Bill here in Michigan. There is a lot of work to do, and I would love to hear what is happening in your communities. Also, please join the Organic Farming Action Network for more information about opportunities to speak to your representatives about the Farm Bill. Click this link to keep up to date of events and updates of what is happening on the development of the Farm Bill. http://ofrf.org/subscribe/ofan.html <http://ofrf.org/subscribe/ofan.html>


Melissa Hornaday, Great Lakes Organizer
Organic Farming Research Foundation
4751 Trumbull St Detroit, MI 48208
313-525-2372 <tel:313-525-2372>
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www.ofrf.org <http://www.ofrf.org>
If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field   http://list.msu.edu/archives/mich-organic.html
If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field http://list.msu.edu/archives/mich-organic.html