Blog posts by advocacy

Written by Kelly Damewood on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 on advocacy, CCOF, events, policy


Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr.

On February 11, a dedicated group of individuals came together in Sacramento to represent and advocate on behalf of organic at CCOF’s Policy Day. Over 100 members of the organic community met with elected representatives and public officials to hammer home the message that organic is a significant and growing part of the California and national economy.The dedication and diversity among Policy Day participants was truly inspirational. The list of advocates included some of our longest certified members, new and beginning farmers, interested consumers, and people involved in food and...
Written by Jane Sooby and Kelly Damewood on Monday, January 12, 2015 on advocacy, marketing

Comment period extended to February 17, 2015. Comment now. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed a rule that exempts more organic producers, handlers, and importers from paying into conventional commodity check-off programs. The rule is open for comment through January 15, 2015, and is expected to become law next year. The Proposed Exemption The proposed rule includes significant expansions to the organic exemption from federal check-off programs. It allows split operations, e.g. operations with both organic and conventional production, to seek exemptions. It also...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, January 12, 2015 on advocacy, policy, research, State Organic Program

Many CCOF members feel strongly that fees charged by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Organic Program are duplicative of the fees that they pay for organic certification to the National Organic Program (NOP) and that the state program should be eliminated. In response to these concerns, CCOF’s policy team is undertaking a research and review process to examine the role of the California state organic program relative to the NOP and develop a set of policy recommendations. CCOF’s findings will be compiled in a comprehensive report titled The California Organics Review...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Friday, October 17, 2014 on advocacy, NOP, NOSB, policy, standards

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will meet October 28-30 in Louisville, Kentucky to review organic standards and to determine what recommendations it will make to the National Organic Program (NOP) for future rulemaking. In preparation for the meeting, CCOF submitted nine public comments that address a range of topics such as soil conservation, GMO priorities, and crop and handling materials. CCOF’s comments are below – read more to learn more about CCOF’s recommendations to the NOSB and the value of certain topics and materials to organic production. CCOF representatives will also...
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, financial assistance

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, financial assistance

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, financial assistance

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, financial assistance

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...

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