Ohio Farm Bureau and the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association (OPGMA) have been working on legislation that would establish a framework for voluntary marketing agreements that set production standards for certain agricultural products.
OFBF Director of Legislative Relations Spencer Waugh recently testified on behalf of farmers before the Senate Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee in support of Senate Bill 309.
Waugh said marketing agreements are initiated by farmers to help provide stable markets for agricultural products such as dairy, fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops. They are voluntary in nature and can help maintain product quality, standardize packages or containers and authorize advertising, research or market development. Each agreement can be tailored to the individual industry’s marketing needs.
Several other states including California, Arizona, and Wisconsin, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, currently permit these type of agricultural marketing agreements.
“Adopting similar legislation will help give Ohio farmers another opportunity to market their products while working to better meet the requirements of the recently enacted federal food safety law,” Waugh said.
He added that marketing agreements in Ohio will be farmer-driven with each agreement requiring the creation of a board of directors made up of participating farmers. Each marketing agreement will address:
- the commodities or region(s) covered by the marketing agreement;
- any standards of production (which must equal or exceed existing state or federal laws) or standards of marketing which will apply to those who sign onto the agreement;
- the term of the agreement, details of the renewal process, and procedures for amending the agreement;
- costs and rates of assessment for membership, inspection, or services provided by the agreement;
- a mechanism for participants to voluntarily withdraw from the agreement;
- voting procedures for dissolving or disbanding an agreement;
- any other relevant provisions required by the director of the Department of Agriculture.
“Voluntary agreements will be for farmers and managed by farmers, but the agreements will be established through the Ohio Department of Agriculture,” Waugh said. “Agreements will be self-supporting through fees paid by participants in each voluntary agreement and will have no cost to the state.”
Once the legislation is passed, the OPGMA plans to be one of the first groups to submit a proposed agricultural marketing agreement. Their proposed Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement (OPMA) will empower Ohio’s produce growers to take a hands-on approach to protect and promote Ohio produce farmers through a valid and robust voluntary food safety program that will allow them to meet anticipated federal requirements and standards.
“The OPMA will allow Ohio producers to take control of food safety in our state and work to build a voluntary set of standards and inspections that are realistic, sensible, and affordable while meeting consumer needs,” Waugh said.
Visit the OPGMA website