Blog posts by Jane Sooby

Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, September 4, 2015 on advocacy, drought, policy, water

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is updating the list of critically overdrafted basins in the state as part of its responsibilities under the new California groundwater management law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. The list of critically overdrafted basins and subbasins is open for comment through September 25, 2015. The draft list is online here, and the statewide map is posted here. Click on this link for more information and instructions on how to comment (scroll down to “Next Steps”). A basin is considered to be critically overdrafted if existing...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 31, 2015 on advocacy, financial assistance, policy

A new type of crop insurance, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, may better serve highly diversified organic crop and livestock producers than traditional crop insurance policies. Rather than covering losses of a particular crop, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection covers all crops and livestock produced on a single farm. In response to suggestions made by CCOF’s partner organizations, the Organic Trade Association and its Farmers Advisory Council and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) made a number of changes to the program since its initial release in...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 31, 2015 on policy, research

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) announced that it will keep its National Survey of Organic Farmers open through September 14, 2015.Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey.The 34-question survey focuses on certified organic farmers’ research needs and also collects information on the organic community’s experience with GMO contamination, pesticide drift, and food safety issues.Widespread participation by organic farmers across the country will ensure that research needs of all types and scales of certified organic production are recorded. Survey results inform...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 24, 2015 on food safety, policy, research

A new study out of the University of California, Berkeley shows that removing vegetation adjacent to farms on California’s Central Coast has not reduced the incidence of E. coli found in fresh produce. Instead, the reverse is true: farms that retained nongrazed riparian or other natural vegetation types had significantly lower prevalence of generic E. coli in water and pathogenic E. coli in produce.These results contradict the conventional wisdom that developed in 2006 when spinach contaminated with pathogenic E. coli entered the stream of commerce and caused three deaths and 205 illnesses....
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 10, 2015 on chapters

In May, CCOF members in Mexico formed a new CCOF chapter. As their first order of business, the Mexico Chapter members elected the following chapter leaders:President: Esteban Macías Padilla, Grupo UVice President: Daniela Robles, Grupo AltaSecretary: Dante Gutiérrez Medina, Berrymex Baja CaliforniaTreasurer: Lois Christie, Christie Organic Consultants, Inc., and Tequila SauzaBoard Representative: Eduardo Morales, Promotora Agrícola El Toro Carmela Beck, National Organic Program Manager with Driscoll’s and a key organizer of the Mexico Chapter, commented, “Driscoll’s applauds CCOF’s efforts...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 10, 2015 on policy, research

If you haven’t had the opportunity to weigh in on Organic Research Priorities using the Organic Farming Research Foundation's (OFRF) national survey, we highly recommend doing so. The confidential survey asks for data on farm size, production, and location; detailed information about organic farming challenges; and farmers’ most pressing information needs on topics such as pest control, soil health, water conservation strategies, pesticide drift, and GMO contamination of organic crops.In addition to the OFRF national survey, CCOF is conducting in-person focus groups with CCOF chapters across...
Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, July 17, 2015 on policy, research

Please take a few moments to respond to the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s (OFRF) National Survey of Organic Farmers. Widespread participation by organic farmers across the country will ensure that all types and scales of certified organic production are reflected in the survey’s results. Responses will be accepted through August 30.A link to the survey was distributed via email to every certified organic farmer in the United States with an email address, so follow the link you received or access the survey at http://opinion.wsu.edu/agresearch/.The 34-question survey focuses on...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 15, 2015 on grants, water


The State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), authorized by emergency drought legislation last year, is open for applications through June 29. The program provides funding to help farmers and ranchers implement conservation measures that reduce their water use and greenhouse gas emissions.  The maximum grant award is $150,000 and can be used to improve irrigation and energy-use efficiency on California farms and ranches. Examples of fundable activities include the following:replacing flood or furrow irrigation systems with drip or micro irrigation, converting from fossil fuel-...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 30, 2015 on policy

UC Berkeley researchers need farmers for a study on diversified farming systems in California’s Central Coast. The project will look at how agricultural practices on organic farms affect the diversity of life found on those farms, with an emphasis on birds and pollinators. The study needs farmer participants who grow organic strawberries on two acres or more of land in Santa Cruz, Watsonville, Prunedale and Salinas. Benefits of cooperating on the project include:  Access to research results about your own farm and all participating farms collectively (with complete anonymity) that can inform...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 30, 2015 on genetic engineering, policy

The deadline for comment has been extended to May 11, 2015. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) is soliciting comments on a set of proposed activities to reduce the impacts of the unintended presence of genetically modified (GM) genes in organic and other non-GM crops. One of the activities is the federal organic farmer survey currently circulating, which is gathering information on economic losses experienced by organic farmers due to the presence of GM material in their crops. The timeline for comment is quite short; they are due April 10, 2015. To submit a comment, visit regulations.gov...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 30, 2015 on certification process, cost share, policy

Certification cost share is a program that reimburses organic operations 75% of eligible certification-related costs up to a maximum of $750 per certified scope. Certification cost share is now open in the state of California and will be in other states soon. CCOF is preparing helpful instruction documents and tools to help you navigate the cost share forms. Look for them by May 1! Certification cost share helps keep organic certification accessible for all, from the smallest to largest organic operations. Cost share distributes federal funds through state departments of agriculture. Click...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, February 9, 2015 on biodiversity, NOP, policy

The National Organic Program (NOP) issued a draft guidance to clarify biodiversity and natural resources requirements. The Draft Guidance, “Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation for Certified Organic Operations,” is open for comment now through February 27, 2015. The National Organic Standards require that certified organic operations “maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.” They define natural resources as the “physical, hydrological, and biological features of a production operation, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands...
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 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 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...

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