December 2022 Policy Updates

By December 26, 2022Policy

By Mark Schonbeck

New Free Southern Soil Health Course!
OFRF’s New Online Course Gives Organic Producers in the South Research-Based and Approachable Strategies for Building Soil Health

In the South, organic producers face intense pressure from weeds, insect pests, plant-pathogens, and weather extremes. In OFRF’s 2022 NORA Report, respondents from the South were considerably more likely to report many production challenges as substantial, indicating the especially difficult nature of organic farming in the region’s hot climates and lower-fertility soils. OFRF’s new online course: Soil Health Strategies for the Southern Region provides organic producers with practical information on building healthy soils in hot and humid climates. The entire course is available for free as of December, 2022.


Take Action: Add your Name to this Farmer Sign-on Letter


The Next Farm Bill must be a Climate Bill


The Agriculture Resilience Act is a key marker bill designed to provide a blueprint for House and Senate Agriculture Committees to design a 2023 Farm Bill that will take effective actions to address the climate crisis in agriculture.  It aims both to make US agriculture climate-neutral by the year 2040 and to help farmers and communities build resilience to the impacts of ongoing and future climate disruptions.


      Read and sign this letter now to tell Congress: the next farm bill must be a climate bill. The next farm bill is being written now, and we need it to address climate change. Farmers need resources like funding, research, and risk management to implement climate-friendly farming practices. The Agriculture Resilience Act asks Congress to implement these solutions in the next farm bill. Sign on to show your support now:


This letter with its thousands of signatures will be submitted to Congressional Agriculture Committees and other key decision makers in conjunction with the Farmers’ Rally planned for March (see next item below).


We will be gathering signatures at our annual Virginia Biological Farming Conference in Roanoke on January 6 – 8.  Cathy Day of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Mark Schonbeck of VABF will also give a workshop at this conference on climate change in Virginia and how farmers can obtain assistance to meet the challenges.


Call for farmers practicing livestock integration
In the 2022 NORA report, organic growers expressed a need for more information on how to successfully implement crop-livestock integration. OFRF is looking to showcase organic farmers using crop-livestock systems so we can highlight their experiences and knowledge with the broader organic community.

Please reach out to: Research & Education Program Coordinator, Mary Hathaway, at if you are a farmer, or know a farmer that has integrated livestock into their cropping system. Compensation is available for your participation.


Rally for Resilience in Washington, DC

March 6 – 8, 2023 – mark your calendars!


As noted in the September e-newsletter, NSAC and several member groups are planning a farmers’ rally in Washington DC to urge and support Congress to write a Farm Bill that addresses the climate crisis in agriculture through:

  • Farmer-led climate solutions
  • Promoting racial justice throughout the Farm Bill
  • Climate and agricultural solutions that serve communities, not corporations.


An ad-hoc rally planning committee is working out the details. We will gather on Monday afternoon March 6 for opening events and reception, followed on Tuesday by advocacy training, the rally itself, and a Farm Aid concert in the evening.  Wednesday will provide an opportunity for one-on-one advocacy with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill.


With our comparative proximity to Washington, DC, this will give VABF farmer members and other stakeholders a golden opportunity to bring our message and concerns to our Members of Congress and to join in a mass demonstration of our common desire to heal the land, stabilize the climate, and build an equitable food system through a better Farm Bill for 2023.


Watch for more announcements and event details in coming e-newsletters.


USDA Launches 2022 Census of Agriculture

Your participation will help build better USDA policy and programming


The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will be sending out its survey this month to all US farmers for its 2022 Census of Agriculture. By responding to this survey, you help ensure that USDA knows how many small to midscale, organic, and conservation minded farmers are out here trying to make a living. The Ag Census (which occurs every five years) is a vital part of making your voice heard and advocating for a truly equitable and regenerative food and agricultural system. So, stand up to be counted – send in your completed survey.


Response deadline is in February of 2023.  Read the NSAC blog about the 2022 Ag Census to learn more.


NSAC Farm Bill Platform in Depth


The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has published a series of blog posts on the 2023 Farm Bill Platform that the coalition adopted this fall.  Read the fourth in this series, which includes links to earlier posts, and watch the NSAC website for future installments.


Senate Farm Bill Hearing on Research Programs Features Former OFRF Board President Steve Ela
Earlier this week, former OFRF Board President Steve Ela, of Ela Family Farms, offered testimony to the full Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry hearing “Farm Bill 2023: Research Programs.” As the only farmer on the panel, Steve was able to offer the perspective of both a participant in agricultural research as well as a consumer of it. Read more about his testimony, the Farm Bill, and OFRF’s advocacy work for organic farmers here.