Report looks at building more resilient Ohio food systems

By Madi Kregel, OCJ field reporter

A group of Ohio farm and food groups recently released an 18-page report assessing the measures for building a resilent food system.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), Ohio Farmers Market Network (OFMN), Ohio Food Policy Network (OFPN), and Produce Perks Midwest (PPM) published eight policy recommendations in the report Opportunity in a Time of Crisis: Recommendations for Building a More Resilient Ohio Food System.

 

  1. Establishment of an interagency food work group to identify strategies to fund and build farmers market capacity including technical assistance and infrastructure development for online purchasing platforms for farmers markets, direct-to-consumer producers, and local retailers;
  2. Establishment of an interagency food work group to identify areas where creation of food preservation, processing, and distribution facilities are needed and how they can be financed;
  3. Passage of the HEROES Act with aid for underserved farmers and those selling into local food systems;
  4. Passage of the Family Farm ReGeneration Act (HB 183/SB 159);
  5. Changes to state contract bidding requirements for local food purchasing;
  6. Online infrastructure development for SNAP nutrition incentive programming, like Produce Perks;
  7. Support of the SNAP Online Expansion and Delivery Act; and
  8. Passage of Senate Bill 121, which supports nutrition education.

 

Each highlights COVID-19’s impact on local and regional food systems, as well as nutrient assistance. The recommendations focus on many topics, including, farmers markets taking on labor costs and the loss of event fees and sponsorships while creating new methods of holding a market, the need for federal aid to farmers who typically sell in local markets, investment in processing and food preservation facilities, and landowner tax credits to assist in land transferring to new farmers.

In a recent press conference, Lauren Ketcham provided a brief overview of the report and the conference speakers. She spoke about Ohio’s growth in farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs.

“Ohio has experienced robust growth in these direct to consumer channels, which grew from $46 million dollars in 2012, to $80 million in 2017,” Ketcham said.

The featured conference speakers included: Amalie Lipstreu, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Policy Director; Jaime Hadji, Ohio Farmers Market Network chair; Michelle Moskowitz Brown, Ohio Food Policy Network Chair; and Tevis Foreman, Produce Perks Midwest Executive Director.

Hadji, of the OFMN talked about the growth of direct to consumer farms in Ohio. There are an estimated 400 farmers markets that generate $11,000 on average per market day.

“Nearly 75% of farmers markets have at least one vendor accepting federal nutrition assistance as payment,” Hadji said.

The complete report can be found at

https://action.oeffa.com/opportunity-in-crisis-report/.

 

 

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