A Cause for Celebration: CCOF Policy Day at the State Capitol

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 agriculture for years who are just now learning about organic. Additionally, the diversity of businesses in attendance painted a vibrant picture—seeds, sprouts, veggies, nuts, berries, dairy, poultry, eggs, mushrooms, tea, chocolates, wine, and more. Together, we brought our dedication, our diversity, and our collective knowledge to the California State Capitol.

California is the Capital of Organic

Policy Day was not a day of demands or complaints; rather, Policy Day was a celebration. We celebrated California as the Capital of Organic. We celebrated that California produces more organic product than any other state in the United States. We celebrated that California organic creates jobs, brings in significant revenue, improves the environment, and provides communities with nutritious, healthy foods. Policy Day was about bringing these causes for celebration to the state Capitol to ensure that our policy makers understand that organic is a significant and growing part of our economy.

Why did we take this message to the Capitol? Why did we focus on the economic value and celebration of organic in California? We took this message to the Capitol because now, more than ever before, it is critical that our policy makers understand the value of organic. It is no secret that demand for organic is sky high. But it is also no secret that we struggle to source enough organic domestically. That means even California—the Capital of Organic that produces more organic product than any other state in the United States—cannot keep up with the rising demand. So Policy Day was an opportunity to come together with our policy makers and find solutions to sustain and grow organic in California.

Meetings and Lasting Impressions

At Policy Day, we met with over 30 elected representatives and public officials. For example, we met with offices from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, including Secretary Karen Ross, who helped us identify pressing issues such as organic research needs.

Additionally, we met with almost every legislator, or their representative staff, who sits on the Senate or Assembly Agriculture Committees. We also met with representatives whose districts are urban or suburban and drove home the message that their constituents are demanding organic more than ever before and that organic is providing a service to environmental quality and public health.

Celebrating Success

Our policy makers received our message loud and clear. We successfully represented the value of organic, and we have generated an impressive amount of legislative interest. At each meeting, we requested that the Senate and Assembly Agriculture Committees convene or attend an informational hearing on the economic opportunities and challenges of organic agriculture in California. Overall, the offices were welcoming, interested, and willing to help make an informational hearing a success. Even California Governor, Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr., joined the celebration at our reception.

Right now, CCOF is working to implement a hearing or other related opportunity so that we can continue to work with our policy makers to sustain and grow organic. So please stay tuned, because we will need your help to further represent and advocate!