Blog posts by Jane Sooby

Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 15, 2014 on materials and inputs, NOSB, standards

Now is the time to share your story and help shape the future of organic. Two times a year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) invites all members of the public to submit comments on what the organic standards should include and exclude.   The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)—a committee of certified organic farmers, processors, and other representatives—review the public comments. Then, the NOSB recommends changes and adjustments to the USDA.     The NOSB will meet this fall to review a number of materials and documents set forth in its meeting agenda, and members of the public...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 15, 2014 on assistance, fees

The eligibility period for reimbursement under the Organic Cost Share Program closes September 30 for the 2014 fiscal year. The Cost Share Program helps operations manage the costs of organic certification. Under the program, an operation may be reimbursed for up to 75% of their certification costs, not to exceed $750 per certification. Certification expenses paid by September 30 are eligible for 2014 reimbursement, and expenses paid after September 30 are eligible for 2015 reimbursement. For more information, visit the program’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page or contact your state...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 8, 2014 on inputs, pests and pesticides

CCOF encourages you to review California’s proposed plan for invasive plant pest management. A draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) describing the plan is open for comment through October 31, 2014. In a recent press conference, Sandy Schubert, undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), stated that the plan offers CDFA’s best assessment of on-the-ground pest management practices and details the state’s decision-making process in taking pest management actions. Laura Petro, CDFA’s Senior Environmental Scientist, said, “This report reflects California’s...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 18, 2014 on fees

Military veterans may be eligible for fee waivers under the California State Organic Program. Notably, the fee waiver only applies to fees associated with the California State Organic Program; the waiver does not apply to fees associated with the National Organic Program. Under the Business License, Tax, and Fee Waiver benefit, California state agencies may waive certain business license fees, taxes, and other fees for honorably discharged veterans who sell goods, wares, or merchandise owned by the veteran, except for alcoholic beverages. In some cases, the benefit covers agricultural goods,...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, July 28, 2014 on assistance, funding

The California Department of Food and Agriculture has announced that the deadline for applying for certification cost-share is now November 29, 2014. The new deadline is earlier than previously announced. Any operation that is located within the United States and received organic certification between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014 may apply for reimbursement. The cost-share program refunds 75% of certification-related fees up to a maximum of $750 per scope of operation. Learn more and apply for this program.
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, July 21, 2014 on assistance, funding


The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently extended the application deadline for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) to July 29, 2014. Under SWEEP, the state of California will disburse up to $10 million to agricultural operations investing in irrigation and water distribution installations that reduce water usage and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The application is web-based. Please view the Application Guidelines and register for a Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FASST) account. For technical assistance contact your local...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, July 21, 2014 on seeds

Adapted from Press Release by the Organic Seed Alliance CCOF invites you to participate in the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) national seed survey. The survey is designed to assess certified organic crop producers’ perceptions regarding organic seed and to better understand current organic seed usage. This national survey is conducted every five years and is used as the basis of the State of Organic Seed Report, which monitors organic seed availability and use, challenges in sourcing organic seed, and organic plant breeding needs. The survey data may also help shape organic seed and breeding...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, July 14, 2014 on

A new position with University of California Cooperative Extension is currently being advertised for a Small Farms Advisor with expertise in organic specialty crop production systems. The position will be based in Woodland, California, and the advisor will serve small-scale vegetable and fruit growers in Yolo, Solano, and Sacramento Counties. The job description states that "the Advisor will be responsible for extending research-based information on all aspects of small farms with particular emphasis on organic agriculture production systems." The Advisor will conduct both extension and...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 30, 2014 on


The Ag Census is one of those things that come around every five years, somewhat like the cicadas. But, unlike cicadas, the Ag Census generates a wealth of information on agriculture in the United States. Based on data reported by the nation’s farmers and ranchers, the Census presents over six million pieces of information on topics ranging from inventories of livestock, land use practices, racial and gender characteristics of farm operators, agricultural sales, and acreage of specific crops. Publication of the Census is an opportunity to get your geek on and immerse yourself in data...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 23, 2014 on assistance, funding


The certification cost-share program is back! Thanks to the diligence of the organic community, certification cost-share is fully funded for 2014. This means that all certified organic entities in the United States are eligible to apply for a refund of 75% of their certification-related costs, including inspection fees, up to a maximum of $750 per certification or certified scope. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is responsible for administering this program in California, though the funds originate with the federal government. Everyone who is registered as organic...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 23, 2014 on education, export, international

Learn how to grow your organic business by cutting the red tape of export requirements. CCOF is partnering with the California Centers for International Trade Development to offer comprehensive training in exporting California specialty crops. The course, CalAgX, consists of a series of six half-day sessions and will be held at three locations, Sacramento, Clovis, and Lancaster, starting August 5 and ending September 25 (see schedule). The program is aimed at businesses new to exporting. CCOF Operations and International Programs Specialist Gamai Gregory will be presenting information on...
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 Jane Sooby on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 on grower, pests and pesticides

The bagrada bug, referred to as an “invasive stink bug” by researchers, is often seen as a mating couple on brassica family plants. A native of the African and Asian continents, this insect first made its appearance in the western United States in 2008. Since then, its American range has spread east from Los Angeles County to Arizona and areas of southern Nevada, Utah, and west-central New Mexico. It has been found as far north as Monterey County. The insect has orange and white markings on its body and can be mistaken for the harlequin bug; however, it is much smaller than the harlequin bug...
Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, May 2, 2014 on grower


California state Assembly Members Susan Eggman and Luis Alejo introduced a resolution on April 21 celebrating National Strawberry Month, which will begin May 1 and continue throughout the month. The resolution has passed the Assembly and is headed to the Senate. The resolution’s language includes as one of its “whereas”es that “California grows more strawberries than any other place in the world, … and more organic strawberries than all 49 other states combined.” The resolution recognizes strawberries as a “quintessential California crop that sustains families, communities, the environment,...
Written by Jane Sooby on Thursday, April 24, 2014 on education


Where would you go to college if you wanted to become an organic farmer? There’s a lot to be said for the “school of hard knocks” and experience from which most of the world’s farmers graduate in order to become successful. The rare individual who grows up on a family farm is raised to appreciate the work ethic and practical savvy it takes to run a farm business. At the same time, the intimate knowledge of the hard labor and long hours that it takes to farm successfully often turns farm kids toward other careers. Rural America can also hold less attraction for many young people who prefer to...

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