Blog posts by advocacy

Written by Brise Tencer on Thursday, February 20, 2014 on advocacy, farm bill, funding

Since the farm bill has been signed by President Obama, CCOF is looking forward to implementation of the programs that support the organic sector. Meanwhile, organic efforts are moving forward on many federal fronts. Here are the details: The Agricultural Marketing Service, home agency of the USDA National Organic Program, mailed an organic Market News survey to 12,000 certified organic, transitional, and exempt producers earlier in February. Survey questions focus on how organic producers acquire market information, how they price and sell their products, and to what degree they use AMS’s...
Written by Brise Tencer on Friday, February 7, 2014 on advocacy, drought, farm bill, funding

Farm Bill Features Wins for Organic Farmers Today, President Obama signed a farm bill into law that includes funding for critical programs that support the growth of the organic sector. Among the wins for organic was the National Organic Certification Cost Share program, a main focus of CCOF’s policy work last year through visits to Congress members and dozens of emails and calls by CCOF members.  The National Organic Certification Cost Share program helps farmers and processors afford the expense of organic certification by reimbursing them for up to 75 percent of their certification costs...
Written by Brise Tencer on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 on advocacy, drought, funding

We were thrilled this morning to learn that the USDA is making $20 million available in assistance to California producers affected by drought. I was on a conference call this morning with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack as he made this announcement. He was joined by Representative Jim Costa and CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, who spoke about the implications of the drought and their commitment to helping farmers. The funds will be available for both crop and grazing land, and will focus on conservation practices that conserve and protect water. Funds are available to install a number of conservation...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Friday, November 22, 2013 on advocacy, genetic engineering, grower

A proposal by the food industry continues the onslaught of new genetically engineered crops that threaten both organic farmers and consumers who may not want GMOs in their food. The latest genetically modified crop likely to be deregulated in 2014 are Arctic® apples, which have been engineered not to brown when sliced. Organic proponents will likely question why the world needs non-browning apples, especially as this trait is not based on the basic agronomy or pest risks of the apple. However, there has been little controversy over the potential release so far. This may be a result of the...
Written by Anonymous on Thursday, October 24, 2013 on advocacy, seeds, standards

This post was written by Kristina Hubbard, director of advocacy and communications for Organic Seed Alliance. She recently published an article in Agriculture and Human Values entitled, "Confronting coexistence in the United States: organic agriculture, genetic engineering, and the case of Roundup Read alfalfa." For another opinion on organic seed issues, visit UNFI VP of Policy and Industry Relations Melody Meyer's blog, Organic Matters. Seed has been in the national headlines a lot these days. We’ve read about chefs teaming up with plant breeders to explore seed as a new frontier, and...
Written by Brise Tencer on Monday, September 30, 2013 on advocacy, farm bill, funding

Much to the dismay of sustainable agriculture advocates across the nation, the farm bill expires today. For those outside of the agricultural sector, this may have been overshadowed by the budget debate and the looming threat of a government shutdown.  However, for farmers across the country, this unusual farm bill impasse, caused primarily by partisan fighting over efforts to cut the SNAP program (formerly known as food stamps benefits), brings uncertainty that threatens their business. Last year’s attempt to pass a farm bill resulted in a nine-month extension of 2008 Farm Bill programs,...
Written by Jessy Beckett on Thursday, September 26, 2013 on advocacy, farm bill, funding

In 2012, CCOF and four other California Central Coast sustainable agriculture organizations — the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), and the Ecological Farming Association (EFA) — received funding from the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP), a new granting program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, as part of the farm bill. The funding from BFRDP allowed this group of organizations to create a Farmer Education Network (known for short as FEN). FEN’s goal is to cross-pollinate...
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 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 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 Anonymous 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 Anonymous 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 Anonymous on Thursday, March 7, 2013 on advocacy, farming: materials and inputs, grower, NOP, NOSB, policy, standards

This post was written by Zea Sonnabend, CCOF inspector and policy specialist. 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...

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