News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

Hospice of the Western Reserve

NOCHE


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Social Issues




Ohio farmers consider their next steps now that the Farm Bill is law
Small and organic farmers made gains, but concerns remain that the food system still needs fixing
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
The Farm Bill provides more help for farmers who want to extend their growing seasons with temporary greenhouse, known as high tunnels or hoop houses.
Courtesy of Vivian Goodman
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
Ohio’s family farmers are hoping to harvest some benefits now that Congress has finally ploughed through the political impasse and the Farm Bill is law.

Those who shop for local and organically grown fruits and vegetables may also reap some gains. But as WKSU's Vivian Goodman reports in today's Quick Bite, there's still concern about growing inequities in the nation's food system.
LISTEN: Ohio farmers consider the good and bad in the Farm Bill.

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:24)


The former deputy secretary of the USDA, Kathleen Merrigan, shared good news about the Farm Bill at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association's annual conference last weekend in Granville. 

“We’ll see more money for farmers’ markets and food hubs, beginning farmers and ranchers, more money for organic research. And those gains would not have happened had it not been for grass-roots advocacy across the countryside.”   

It took two years to get the bill passed, and now, Merrigan says, the big game in Washington is implementation. 

“This Farm Bill is nearly 1,000 pages. I’m sure you’ve all read it, but it’s a huge amount of work to implement. So everyone wants to get their provision on the short list. That’s what’s going on now.” 

More help for small and family farms and local foods
The bill triples funding for the USDA's Farmers' Market Promotion Program.

Downtown Columbus’s Pearl Market hopes to use its new money to help food-stamp recipients buy more fruits and vegetables. 

The bill also helps farmers stretch their growing seasons with plastic, temporary greenhouses called high tunnels or hoop houses. Beth Knorr of the Akron area’s Countryside Conservancy’s Farmers’ Markets says they’ve been a real help through this brutal winter.  

“Everybody’s being really hard hit and even in some of the high tunnels the products are freezing. I can say without a doubt that without hoop houses, our growers would be bringing no fresh produce.”   

Another provision of the bill allows research into industrial hemp production. It’s high time for that according to E. R. Beach, a hemp snack maker from Athens. He's circulating petitions in the exhibition hall for a fall ballot issue to legalize cultivation of hemp for non-drug purposes. 

“There’s 20 states right now that are talking about it in their legislative bodies. Now, with the passing of the newest Farm Bill and the president signing it, ... the federal government has officially reclassified industrial hemp. And so that’s really going to open up the doorways.” 

Inequities remain
But some doors remain closed. Former USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says small farms are still at a disadvantage. 

“This is not any game change. It is slightly regressive on some of the subsidy issues or the structure of traditional Ag programs. It’s just not where the American public is. I think that there’s a real ... hunger for change across this country and Congress just hasn’t caught up.”  

While there’s $1.2 billion for sustainable agriculture, there’s $7 billion in crop subsidies for Big Ag’s factory farms. 

Marti Townsend’s biggest beef with the new Farm Bill is about crop insurance. She raises grass-fed cows in Ashtabula County. 

“I’m very disappointed in the fact that most of the Farm Bill commodity programs have switched to a reliance on crop insurance. I cannot get crop insurance because my farm does not fit into the parameters that they want. Smaller farmers who have a much more diversified system do not fit the model that’s basically made for corn, soybeans, rice, cotton and wheat.”   

Most new Farm Bill subsidies are for those who grow single crops rather than the variety of fruits and vegetables small farmers bring to farmers’ markets. 

More protection for the soil
But Shavaun Evans of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition says at least now there’s a string attached to crop subsidies for the big guys. 

“Farmers will actually have to have some sort of conservation plan in place to conserve our soil and protect the land.”   

Phil Nabors of Blueberry Hill Family Farms in Loudonville came to a workshop at the conference to see if his soil, now growing berries, might also be good for hops, now that so many locally owned microbreweries are popping up. Nabors says change is coming thanks to consumer demand. 

"The whole local foods movement is happening no matter what the government does or doesn’t do. Local foods is exploding. Look what’s happening in California, the 500,000 acres won’t be planted this year because of the drought in California. That creates great opportunity for Ohio growers.”   

And that’s this week’s Quick Bite. Next week we’ll sit you down to a big gooey plate of poutine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook






Stories with Recent Comments

Three exonerated of murder convictions from 18 years ago
Thanks heavens that none of them have been condemned to death. This alons should convince the USA to join the civilized world by abolishing the death penalty. E...

Kombucha: a sweet business brewed with fermented tea
Stevia is not an artificial sweetener. It is a plant. I have one growing in my sunroom. The leaves are dried and added to teas. It's harvested commercially and...

Bringing back ballet in Cleveland
I do think Ballet in Cleveland is doing good things, but the fact that director says "When we have flourishing companies like the New York City Ballet and the A...

Report confirms some Vietnam veterans may have been exposed to Agent Orange
was in nam 1969 exposed va stated lost medical records was in lawsuit from 197? till settled 0 $ 2010 ? said all nam vets will get back disability till 198? jus...

Mentorship grant program redefines "faith-based" provision
Can't anyone have values, beliefs, and morals anymore? How is it anymore unconstitutional for a school partner with a "faith-based" organization than any other ...

Exploradio: The challenge of finding a healthy balance with technology
Thank you, Jeff, for another well done Exploradio. I always learn something interesting about what is happening in NE Ohio.

Northeast Ohio's transgender community rallies around restroom issue
A good first step would be for Cleveland to require restaurants to have a public restroom. Cleveland is the only city I've ever been in where restaurants somet...

Vapor shops say tobacco tax hikes could hit them hard
Maybe you should be DOING a study, since every time you've tried to villianize them all that's happened was the opposite. I'm not a fan of alcohol that's flavor...

New law gives access to birth records to Ohio adoptees
Can siblings also look for their missing brother or sister? And how do we go about it?

Ida McKinley's tiara comes home, with the help of "Pawn Stars"
I donated to the fund to keep the tiara at the museum where I believe it belongs. I took my 16 year old granddaughter to the showing I dont think it will be som...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University