From Field to Forum

Written by Cathy Calfo on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 on advocacy, materials and inputs, NOP, NOSB

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) last week posted a plan to update the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) material “sunset review” process to address a broken system that has challenged the organic community for some time. We believe that this proposal will break some of the existing regulatory logjam and allow the NOSB to focus on larger issues that matter to organic consumers and producers. Sunset review allows for periodic reassessment of the NOP National List, which provides for exceptions to the prohibited use of synthetic substances in organic production when specific...
Written by Guest Blogger on Thursday, August 29, 2013 on grower, water

This post was written by Liz Birnbaum, Program Coordinator at the Ecological Farming Association. All businesses face the challenge of managing their resources to provide a meaningful financial return. Organic farmers face the added challenge of attaining financial viability in harmony with the natural systems upon which their success ultimately depends. A key element in all farming is water. And how it gets used, stored, and managed can make a huge difference in a farm’s success. Water management is not one-size-fits-all, so where can a farmer find the resources to save water and money at...
Written by Jessy Beckett on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 on farm bill, funding

Last week, USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of loan and grant funds to support rural microenterprises. Many CCOF operations fit the profiles of what could be funded under this micro-granting program. USDA's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) was established under the 2008 Farm Bill to support the development and ongoing success of rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises, which are defined as rural businesses with ten or fewer employees. About $12.2 million will be provided to eligible applicants this year. Under the program, USDA may...
Written by Jessy Beckett on Thursday, August 8, 2013 on advocacy, food safety, policy

For those of you who haven’t yet had the chance to comment on the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that is currently being developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you now have a little more time! Today, the FDA extended the public comment period from September 16 to a final deadline of November 15. The Food Safety Modernization Act is legislation passed in early 2011 in response to various food safety scares. It will affect both farming and processing operations in a variety of ways. For a detailed analysis of how the FSMA may apply to your business, please check out the...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Friday, July 19, 2013 on pests and pesticides

The Virginia creeper leafhopper (VCLH), known scientifically as Erythroneura ziczac, has been found in vineyards from the Oregon border to the northern Sacramento Valley, but as of March 2013, it has not made its way to the vineyards of Napa or Sonoma counties. However, VCLH has been found in neighboring Lake and Mendocino counties, primarily in backyard and organic vineyards (1). This newcomer is already common in Ohio, the rest of the Midwest, and some of the east. It is more damaging than the western grape leafhopper. If left untreated, VCLH may cause complete defoliation. For information...
Written by Brise Tencer on Thursday, June 20, 2013 on advocacy, farm bill, policy

As the farm bill process has twisted and turned, it’s been hard to predict what comes next.  Today, in a turn of events that surprised many, the House voted down the farm bill. The $940 billion bill was weak on organic and other sustainable agriculture priorities, but having no bill may be even worse. The USDA is currently acting under an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, which expires in September. Under the extension, many programs important to CCOF members, such as the Organic Certification Cost Share program, are not available. The bill failed mostly due to a partisan rife over cuts to...
Written by Guest Blogger on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 on advocacy

This post was written by Eric Steenstra, President, Vote Hemp. On Monday night, Senator Wyden introduced Farm Bill Amendment 952 to define industrial hemp and allow states to regulate it along with bipartisan cosponsorship from Senators Paul, McConnell, and Merkley.  We have never been closer to seeing legal hemp farming in the United States and need your calls and emails to Senate offices today.  Please visit and share this link: http://www.votehemp.com/farmbill.  
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 on advocacy, grower, handler, materials and inputs, NOSB, standards

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met April 9-11 in Portland, Oregon. NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy reported on the many activities of the National Organic Program (NOP) in the six months since the last meeting. Recent activities include work on the previous NOSB nanotechnology recommendations, international agreements, and aquaculture standards. Proposed rules in progress include origin of livestock, final rule on sodium nitrate, and apiculture standards. Guidance documents still to come this year include grower groups, inspector qualifications, responding to results...
Written by Brise Tencer on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 on advocacy, food safety, grower, handler, standards

Update 04/30/13: The FDA has extended the comment period on the proposed food safety regulations until September 16.  This change was made as a result of numerous requests for more time to review the proposals, which are complex.  The additional time offers CCOF members an opportunity to provide more feedback about the proposals, areas for concerns, or suggested changes. We encourage you to continue sending us your feedback to policy@ccof.org. Original Post 03/13/13: I wanted to take this opportunity to update CCOF members on the FDA proposed rules for implementation of the Food Safety...
Written by Guest Blogger on Friday, April 19, 2013 on grower, help and tips

This article appeared in the spring 2013 issue of Certified Organic and was written by Jay Silverstein, partner at Moss Adams. Whether retirement is near or far, thinking about who will take the reins and lead your farm into the future isn’t easy, but it’s especially relevant these days. According to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, approximately 70 percent of U.S. farmland will go on the market in the next 20 years as the nation’s farmers age. Without a succession plan, many family-run farms are likely to go out of business, be bought by larger farms, or get turned...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, April 15, 2013 on advocacy, policy

This article appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of Certified Organic magazine. Consumers are increasingly turning to farmers’ markets to buy healthy, fresh produce. As of mid-2012 there were 7,864 farmers’ markets operating nationwide. This is a 9.6 percent increase from 2011. Today, there are over 800 certified (by the state of California) farmers’ markets in California alone, representing approximately 2,200 producers. These markets provide a welcomed higher-margin return to farm producers and reduce costs by eliminating the need for standard pack on fresh fruits and vegetables....
Written by Robin Allan Foster on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 on food safety, services

Food safety continues to be a hot topic for consumers and producers alike. The passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and recent release of the proposed FSMA rules by the FDA raise important questions to CCOF members. While FSMA provides a structure for a new system of food safety verification, the entrance of the federal government into the fray has created additional questions about how the program will be implemented.  Many farmers and processors are already being asked to be certified to one of the existing third party food safety standards by their retail buyers such as...
Written by Guest Blogger on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 on funding, grower, livestock

This post was written by Anita Brown, public affairs director, USDA NRCS California Many organic farmers have dreams of a conservation project they would love to tackle: a multipurpose hedgerow; an efficient, water-saving irrigation system and schedule; a comprehensive plan to build soil organic matter; a hoop house to extend the growing season for local customers. However, the day-to-day demands of farming can leave those dreams stuck on a back burner.  For those who haven’t heard, there is a relatively new resource to help you get cooking on those projects, and over 200 California organic...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Thursday, March 7, 2013 on advocacy, farming: materials and inputs, grower, NOP, NOSB, policy, standards

CCOF is committed to ending the use of antibiotics in organic fruit production. We believe that a longer time period is necessary for oxytetracycline than the current 2014 expiration date because of the continuing research in varying locations and seasons that would ensure success, the need for registration of new materials, and enough time for grower education and outreach. We would like to see an extension in the range of 2017 to 2020 for phase out; however, we support the majority position to extend the expiration date for the use of oxytetracycline to October 21, 2016. While our clients...
Written by Jon Knapp on Thursday, February 28, 2013 on book review

As CCOF continues to celebrate our 40th anniversary, we reflect on the pioneers and innovators who have helped make organic what it is today. Our Santa Cruz home offers a diverse agricultural history rich with stories of unique individuals working towards a sustainable and healthy food system. Recently, Dr. Paul Lee of CCOF-certified member Homeless Garden Project published There is a Garden in the Mind: A Memoir of Alan Chadwick and the Organic Movement in California, offering a look at the work and life of pioneering organic gardener Alan Chadwick and his impact on organic agriculture and...

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