Blog posts by advocacy

Written by Jon Knapp on Monday, July 7, 2014 on advocacy, CCOF, export, international

On June 26, 2014 Jake Lewin, CCOF Certification Services President, was announced as one of the seven additional members to join the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee (ATAC) for Trade in fruits and vegetables. The ATAC members were appointed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, with the intention of ensuring the commercial and economic interests of various agricultural sectors are properly reflected in U.S. trade policies. Vilsack stated that agricultural trade committees are helpful when it comes to issues of trade relations and building...
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Friday, June 13, 2014 on advocacy, genetic engineering, NOP, NOSB, policy


In an environment where Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their derivatives are widely distributed throughout the food chain, it is imperative that organic producers and handlers have strategies and plans to keep them out. A key tenet of "coexistence" is shared responsibility for the exclusion of the methods and products of genetic engineering. The organic part of this shared responsibility is extensive already, but specific new guidance from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) adopted by the National Organic Program (NOP) would make these practices more transparent to others...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 2, 2014 on advocacy, genetic engineering, policy


The CCOF Board of Directors voted in mid-May to adopt a strong GMO policy shared by CCOF’s strategic partner, the Organic Trade Association. The policy calls for a moratorium on production of genetically modified crops until more research on their environmental and potential health issues has been conducted, and a meaningful regulatory framework is in place. The CCOF board also reiterated its support for mandatory GMO labeling. Earlier this year, CCOF wrote a letter to California Congresswoman Noreen Evans expressing support for her bill that would require labeling of GMOs in all foods...
Written by Cathy Calfo and Jake Lewin on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 on advocacy, NOP, NOSB, standards

In recent weeks we at CCOF have observed a variety of activities and discussions about organic certification and organic standards. In the week following the April National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting, the Accredited Certifiers Association issued a noteworthy letter supporting the USDA and NOP. See CCOF’s thoughts on the sunset process change when they were announced last fall. At CCOF we believe that everyone is welcome to their opinions. We know that organic standards and certification systems are stronger and stricter than they’ve ever been. Our focus is making meaningful...
Written by Brise Tencer on Monday, May 5, 2014 on advocacy, livestock, NOP, NOSB, policy, standards


CCOF believes that organic livestock standards should require humane and ethical treatment of animals during all stages of production, including transport and slaughter. CCOF, consistent with our mission and principles, has long advocated for NOP standards that ensure outdoor and soil access. In December 2011, the NOSB unanimously passed a recommendation on Animal Welfare and Stocking Rates that capped off several years of work on these subjects. The NOSB recommendations were consistent with CCOF and other organizations’ recommendations. In June 2013, the NOP released a report on the economic...
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 Guest Blogger 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 been...
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, but...
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...

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