SfL Facilitates Farm, Food Stakeholder Development of Unique Action Plan to Address Mega Challenges Facing Ohio

April 2, 2019

COLUMBUS, OH, April 2, 2019 – Solutions from the Land (SfL) has taken a leadership role in the development of a landmark, comprehensive action plan released today that offers pragmatic, proven and innovative solutions to challenges confronting Ohio over the next several decades.

The plan, “Ohio Smart Agriculture: Solutions from the Land (OSA: SfL), A Call to Action for Ohio’s Food System and Agricultural Economy,” is the product of more than two year’s work by a wide group of stakeholders and is now available for policy makers, planners and farm and food system advocates. The document provides pathways and priority action steps needed to enable Ohio’s farmers, ranchers and woodland managers to further improve quality of life through multiple solutions they can sustainably deliver from the land.

The action plan, which has drawn statements of support from Ohio farm, nutrition, health and environmental organizations, calls for boosting the public policy profile of agriculture through an interagency task force of state food, health, and agricultural programs.

The plan also calls for increasing local food markets and production by determining the value of local food demand by school districts, universities, hospitals and other institutions, and building the processing and distribution infrastructure to meet the demand; and developing and implementing a new state water quality strategy that builds upon current public and private sector initiatives.

Led by farmers – with participation from experts in agribusiness, health, nutrition policy, ecology and conservation – the unprecedented action plan is the result of an exploration of ways to place farming at the forefront of resolving the extensive challenges facing Ohio today: hunger, poor health, degraded environments, broken economies, trade, tariffs and limited inclusion in global economies

“This action plan is unique,” said SfL Co-Chairman Fred Yoder, a fourth-generation Ohio farmer who co-chaired the Ohio Smart Agriculture (OSA) Steering Committee. “We considered food, agriculture, the environment, and rural and urban communities as a system rather than separate challenges. This effort is about creating new options and opportunities for farmers, agriculture, and consumers that together benefit all.”

Solutions from the Land, a national organization dedicated to advancing land-based solutions to global challenges, and The Ohio State University’s (OSU) Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) teamed up to support and facilitate OSA: SfL. Through extensive dialogue and collaboration with a wide cross section of stakeholders, participants formulated a mid-century vision for Ohio’s food system and agricultural economy.

The work was enabled by a generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), which was founded in 1930 by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg and today is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, the WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The steering committee delved into climate, ecosystems, market opportunities and hunger, and identified three primary pathways for achieving these solutions from the land:

  • Reduce hunger and improve nutrition by supporting the production of fruits, vegetables, animal proteins, and food-grade grains for human consumption.
  • Create jobs and generate economic growth by diversifying and sustainably intensifying production and processing of food, feed, fiber, and renewable energy.
  • Augment ecosystems services to improve the environment, enhance the resilience of agri cultural and forested landscapes and improve the farmer’s bottom line.

The steering committee then identified the following four major initiatives and offered “shovel-ready” actions under each that could be implemented in the near-term:

  • Make Ohio agriculture and the food system a public policy priority.
  • Diversify and sustainably intensify the production of food, feed, fiber and fuel.
  • Develop infrastructure and use institutional purchasing power to quantify and increase markets for Ohio smart food.
  • Implement landscape-scale, climate-smart, agriculture strategies to ensure sustainability and abate agricultural runoff.

The action plan offers a total of 50 recommendations to meet OSA:SfL’s mid-century vision and help Ohio farmers and woodland managers further improve the state’s quality of life through the solutions they can sustainably deliver from the land.

Steering committee leaders stress that the taxonomy of pathways, goals, and initiatives in the action plan should not in any way be considered a form of prioritization, asserting that all steps are of equal importance and should be pursued in concert with one another.

“This call to action emphasizes that Ohio Smart Agriculture is a long-term, comprehensive initiative that requires sowing seeds along all three pathways at once,” Yoder said. “Agriculture is a system, and all the recommendations together are priorities that will enable the transformation we envision.”

SfL leaders say an effort must be made to recruit others who share the vision and can see to the plan’s implementation. An invitation has been extended to all farmers; philanthropic, business, community, and non-governmental organizations; academic and government partners; and advocacy groups that work at the intersection of land, food, health and the environment to join the OSA:SfL initiative to help reduce hunger, improve nutrition, create jobs, generate economic growth, improve the environment and enhance the resilience of ag and forest landscapes.

For information on how to join up, contact Yoder at (614) 530-4510 or [email protected] or SfL President Ernie Shea (410) 952-0123 or [email protected].

For an executive summary of the report, click HERE.

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