The announcement was made Friday in Dayton as part of OEFFA’s 39th annual conference, A Taste for Change.
The award recognizes Senator Brown’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and his leadership in making positive investments in local food systems, community economic development, and public health.
“Senator Brown has consistently supported investments in local and regional food systems that contribute to farmer viability, create jobs, and improve public health,” said Amalie Lipstreu, OEFFA’s policy program coordinator who presented the award. “Through his introduction of the Local Food and Regional Market Supply (FARMS) Act (S. 1947), we can fully develop the policies and programs that spur economic development in communities in Ohio and throughout the nation.”
“Local farmers feed Ohio families and grow Ohio’s economy. I’m proud to work with partners like OEFFA to help connect family farms with their communities, grow their bottom lines, and create jobs across our state. It’s an honor to receive the Food and Farm Champion award,” said Brown, who provided remarks to the conference’s 1,100 guests.
Ohio is home to 24 local food councils, a state food policy network, and a growing number of farm to institution programs, food hubs, and direct to consumer outlets.
Brown’s farm bill advocacy efforts have supported more than 90 food system projects and resulted in more than $7 million dollars in investments in Ohio’s communities, according to the OEFFA
For example, the Lake to River Food Cooperative established a food hub and a shared retail space, the Youngstown Online Market pick-up site, which helps farmers market their products through a shared online platform.
Brown serves on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, where he has been instrumental in strengthening the farm safety net and addressing childhood hunger, OEFFA officials said. He is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years.
"OEFFA is pleased to recognize Senator Brown’s leadership and looks forward to continue working with him in the future," Lipstreu said.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s budget proposal involves reduced funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and other clean water programs at the Environmental Protection Agency and Agriculture Department, according to Brown.
Brown said he will work again with his colleagues U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and anyone else in the delegation to restore funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
According to Brown, Trump’s budget:
• Cuts funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) by $270 million dollars. If this sounds familiar, it should – just last year Trump zeroed out the program entirely, and Senators Brown and Portman, and Rep. Kaptur, fought successfully to restore full funding. GLRI has helped Ohio clean up Lake Erie.
• Eliminates the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) – two programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that help farmers reduce runoff that contributes to harmful algal blooms and other toxins in Lake Erie. Brown helped to establish the RCPP in the 2014 Farm Bill, creating voluntary partnerships between agricultural and conservation groups aimed at helping farmers improve soil health, protect water quality and restore wildlife habitats.
• Eliminates the BEACH Act grant program, which has given Ohio more than $1 million in grants since 2012 to monitor water quality in the Great Lakes to ensure water is safe for swimming.
• Eliminates the nonpoint source grant program. Popular among both environmentalists and farmers, the program provides funding for a wide range of local projects that help keep pollutants out of Lake Erie.