From Field to Forum

Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, December 15, 2014 on genetic engineering, labeling and packaging, policy

The federal agency in charge of the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products recently implemented a procedure that allows labels for certified organic meat and poultry products to include a “Non-Genetically Engineered” statement. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)—a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—unveiled a 3-step procedure for the labels earlier this year. The first step is for a company to write a letter to FSIS on the company letterhead that includes the FSIS approval number for their current organic label, a copy of the label, and the...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, December 8, 2014 on food safety, policy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is accepting public comments on its recently updated food safety rules now through December 15. To comment, CCOF highly recommends that you use the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s (NSAC) comment template and instructions. The updated rules include significant changes, such as: revised water testing standards, deferred manure treatment standards, and  a more collaborative approach to regulating parts of mixed-type facilities — e.g. operations that grow, pack, and/or process on the farm. FDA issued the updated rules after receiving...
Written by Jane Sooby and Kelly Damewood on Monday, December 8, 2014 on policy

Historically, few crop insurance options existed for diversified organic farms. Now, under a new policy called Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) diversified farms can insure crops, livestock, nursery, and greenhouse crops under one comprehensive policy. Until WFRP, diversified organic farms could not take full advantage of crop insurance policies. Individual policies and price elections were often not available for organic crops or for the counties where the crops were grown. Additionally, highly diversified farms could not justify the expense of separate insurance policies for each type...
Written by Laura McKissack on Monday, December 1, 2014 on CCOF

Happy holidays! CCOF will be closed Wednesday, December 24, and will reopen Monday, December 29. We will also be closed January 1-2. Please allow additional time for processing requests during this holiday season. We look forward to working with you in 2015 and wish the best for your business and family in the new year.
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, December 1, 2014 on policy, seeds


We need your help gathering data on organic seed use! The Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is a non-profit organization focused on furthering on-farm breeding through education and advocacy. Their work is informed by organic farmer experience with seeds, which they collect through a survey. OSA is now gathering data from organic farmers in California. Please take the survey. For organic farmers, something as basic as buying seed can be an annual challenge. Organic farmers must use organic seed, and seed industry consolidation has resulted in a drastic reduction of seed varieties available in the...
Written by Laura McKissack on Monday, December 1, 2014 on events, export

Next week, the Western United States Agriculture Trade Association (WUSATA), in partnership with California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Centers for International Trade Development, will provide an overview of export resources and training for interested food businesses. This event will be held on Tuesday, December 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the California Department of Food and Agriculture: 1220 N Street – Main Auditorium, Sacramento, CA 95814. Registration is required. The program will include an overview of WUSATA's Branded Program (matching funds program for export...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, November 24, 2014 on genetic engineering, policy


CCOF joined individuals and groups representing some 57 million Americans in signing a letter that warns citizens, politicians, and regulators in the United Kingdom and in the rest of the European Union about the hazards of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The letter describes the history of GMOs in the United States, including the struggle of farmers and concerned citizens to increase oversight and regulation of GMO crops. The letter not only points out environmental concerns, but it also notes that GMO drift continues to plague non-GMO producers across the United States. CCOF proudly...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, November 24, 2014 on policy, water

Farmers and ranchers statewide must submit water test results and develop nutrient management plans for their land holdings under California state law. Why these regulations exist: In 1969, California passed the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, which gave the State Water Resources Control Board authority over the state’s water rights and water quality policy.1 Porter-Cologne also established nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCBs) to manage water quality on a regional basis. The regional boards are responsible for preparing and updating Basin Plans for their geographical...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, November 17, 2014 on policy, seeds

Public breeding programs are needed now more than ever before, according to a recently released report titled Proceedings of Summit on Seeds and Breeds for the 21st Century Agriculture, published by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI). The publication is a collection of essays and information gathered from RAFI’s two-day summit on seed varieties and public breeding. Held earlier this year, the summit brought together over 35 researchers, plant and animal breeders, farmers, academics, and other stakeholders to discuss our nation’s seed supply and develop recommendations for...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, November 17, 2014 on policy

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) recently released its 2014 Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs. The guide is a free digital resource for farmers, conservationists, and other members of the sustainable agriculture and food community. The comprehensive guide breaks down federal programs and policies into plain-language explanations and includes valuable resources. The guide is organized into nine chapters and details over 40 federal food and farm programs, along with a quick-reference overview chart, glossary, and other resources – all accessible via NSAC’s...
Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, November 7, 2014 on certification process, policy

CCOF is excited to announce that 33% of its members in California have successfully applied for the organic certification cost-share rebate, which refunds 75% of certification-related expenses up to a maximum of $750 per certified scope of operation.  We encourage the remainder of CCOF-certified members to apply for certification cost share in California before the postmark deadline of November 29, 2014. We also encourage members in other states to submit applications for cost share according to their state deadlines. A few things to keep in mind about certification cost share: Growers,...
Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, November 7, 2014 on pests and pesticides

The Pest and the Damage Done The invasive stinkbug known as the Bagrada bug continues to hopscotch its way through California. First found in Los Angeles County in 2008, it is now found throughout the state as far north as Yolo County. The pest has caused damage to many organic crops this summer and fall, primarily to mustard family crops including kale, arugula, broccoli, cabbage, collards, and other mustard greens. Bagrada bug also has caused damage to peppers, melons, tomatoes, corn, snap beans, and sunflowers. Female (top), mating pair (middle), and a mature nymph (bottom) of Bagrada bug...
Written by Jessy Beckett on Monday, November 3, 2014 on assistance, foundation

Had an extremely hard year? Drought? Illness? Hurricane? CCOF’s Bricmont Fund may be able to help!  Bricmont Fund will give away $25,000 to organic producers who have experienced hardship in 2014. This fund provides direct financial assistance exclusively to organic producers and processors/handlers who suffer losses due to extreme hardship by refunding part or all of a producer’s certification fees. The Bricmont Fund is the only hardship assistance fund specifically targeted towards organic producers in the United States. Last year, the fund sent checks to dairies, growers, and processors to...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, November 3, 2014 on NOSB, policy

Last week, several CCOF staff and members attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in Louisville, Kentucky to share their expertise and weigh in on the future of organic standards. The NOSB meets biannually to review organic standards and to determine what recommendations it will make to the National Organic Program (NOP) for future rulemaking. Members of the public are encouraged to attend these meetings because they have the opportunity speak and share their opinions on farming and processing inputs and practices. CCOF also participated in the National Organic Coalition’...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, November 3, 2014 on policy

On October 31, CCOF submitted a public comment to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) regarding its draft Statewide Plant Pest Prevention and Management Program (the Statewide Program) Environmental Impact Report (PEIR). CDFA implements the Statewide Program to prevent the introduction and spread of injurious insect pests, plant diseases, and noxious weeds in California. For the Statewide Program, CDFA uses an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, which is the coordinated use of information about pest biology, the host environments, and available control methods to...

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