From Field to Forum

Written by Gamai Gregory on Friday, January 10, 2014 on export, international, Japan

U.S.–Japan Equivalency Agreement Effective January 1, 2014 The U.S.–Japan Equivalency Agreement is now effective! Organic product certified in either the United States or Japan may now be sold as organic in either market. See the USDA Organic Insider announcement for more details about the agreement, partnership resources, a Q&A, and other resources for exporting and importing. With the equivalency agreement, restrictions on humic acid and lignin sulfonate no longer apply for products shipped to Japan, and CCOF no longer asks for documentation regarding the use of these materials. CCOF...
Written by Jake Lewin on Friday, January 3, 2014 on certification process, farming: materials and inputs, food safety, inputs, materials, materials and inputs, MyCCOF, services

Our efforts to reduce paperwork, simplify certification, and provide benefits to our members continue in 2014! We are pleased to present three important new tools built to meet your needs: our new online Materials Search, expansion of MyCCOF: Supplier Management, and field-level food safety certification. MyCCOF: Materials Search – Viva La Revolution! The CCOF materials revolution continues in January 2014 with a bold new offering free for all CCOF certified members. After changing how materials are managed and providing better, faster reviews, we have taken the next step. All CCOF internally...
Written by Cathy Calfo on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 on foundation, funding

So do we. That’s why we are investing in the CCOF Foundation and asking you to join us by making your own tax-deductible contribution before the end of this year. Between 2005 and 2009, the CCOF Foundation led the Going Organic project to provide information about organic certification and production to hundreds of agricultural professionals and helped 40 farmers to convert more than 4,000 acres to organic production. Going Organic also supported the introduction of the USDA organic seal by promoting its acceptance. Organic seems to be everywhere from the local farmers' market and farm stand...
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 Monday, November 11, 2013 on help and tips

This post was written by Ann Baier, Organic/Sustainable Agriculture Specialist, NCAT. We are here, we are here! Remember that line in Dr. Seuss’ book, Horton Hears a Who? Well, the ATTRA Project of NCAT is here! Long-time allies with CCOF in our mission to foster organic, ecological, sustainable, and successful farmers, a link to ATTRA’s “Ask an Expert” program has been added to the “revolving carousel” of CCOF's homepage. Some of you might say, “We love ATTRA! Our farming business is alive and well because of the information we got from ATTRA.” Others may ask, “What is ATTRA?” ATTRA is the...
Written by Guest Blogger on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 on funding, grower

This blog post was written by Sarah Tait of Kiva Zip and Alan Haight of Riverhill Farm. Kiva Zip is a nonprofit located in San Francisco, California, that offers 0% interest loans up to $5,000 to financially excluded entrepreneurs who lack access to traditional sources of capital. Kiva Zip is actively looking for small farms and food producers that could benefit from their program. Alan and his wife Jo, owners of Riverhill Farm in Nevada City, California, are one such example of a small farm benefitting from a Kiva Zip loan. They used their Kiva Zip loan to purchase equipment for their farm,...
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 Cathy Calfo on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 on funding

Since 2007, CCOF has allocated funds to partially offset certification costs for clients who have experienced extreme hardships. Such funding has been primarily used for supporting clients that have experienced drought, invasive pest losses or quarantines, or other natural disasters. In 2013, the program was renamed to honor Barney Bricmont, one of our founding members. We are pleased to announce $10,000 available in Hardship Assistance Program funds for 2013. Please submit this simple one-page request to apply for relief funding. Funding is limited and will be awarded based on need and the...
Written by Brise Tencer on Friday, October 11, 2013 on NOSB, standards

As a result of the government shutdown, the National Organic Standards Board meeting scheduled for October 22-24 has been cancelled. Stay tuned for further information. It is unclear if the fall meeting will be rescheduled or agenda items will be postponed until the next regularly scheduled NOSB meeting, which will be held in San Antonio, Texas, April 29-May 1, 2014.
Written by Zea Sonnabend on Monday, October 7, 2013 on grower, pests and pesticides

Update October 7, 2013: In September, new Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) were found in Dinuba, Exeter, and Wasco, California. This expands the quarantine areas to parts of Kern and Fresno, as well as Tulare County. A quarantine area of 86 square-miles was set up for the find in Exeter on October 2, and similar zones previously in the other new areas. The details and maps can be found at www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/go/acp-quarantine-sjv. In order to move bulk citrus out of any quarantine area there must be a special permit obtained from CDFA. This involves an ACP-Free Declaration form and the use of...
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 Guest Blogger on Thursday, August 29, 2013 on grower, water

This post was written by Liz Birnbaum, Program Coordinator at the Ecological Farming Association. All businesses face the challenge of managing their resources to provide a meaningful financial return. Organic farmers face the added challenge of attaining financial viability in harmony with the natural systems upon which their success ultimately depends. A key element in all farming is water. And how it gets used, stored, and managed can make a huge difference in a farm’s success. Water management is not one-size-fits-all, so where can a farmer find the resources to save water and money at...
Written by Jessy Beckett on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 on farm bill, funding

Last week, USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of loan and grant funds to support rural microenterprises. Many CCOF operations fit the profiles of what could be funded under this micro-granting program. USDA's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) was established under the 2008 Farm Bill to support the development and ongoing success of rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises, which are defined as rural businesses with ten or fewer employees. About $12.2 million will be provided to eligible applicants this year. Under the program, USDA may...

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