Take Action for Organic!

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Written by Rebekah Weber on Tuesday, February 13, 2024
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Working with the natural landscape at 123 Farm. Photo by Liz Birnbaum at The Curated Feast

Working with the natural landscape at 123 Farm. Photo by Liz Birnbaum at The Curated Feast

We need you to take action for organic. Join the virtual listening session on February 22, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. PST and tell the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) that organic agriculture is regenerative and that the state’s definition of regenerative should start with organic certification.

What’s at stake? Greenwashing, consumer confusion, and misuse of taxpayer dollars to name a few. The state of California is in the process of defining the term regenerative agriculture. The intention is to incentivize regenerative producers—this means public dollars flowing to farmers who are labeled regenerative and even public schools and institutions using their purchasing power to buy regenerative food. 

It’s a big deal.

CDFA needs to hear from organic farmers that you cannot be replaced. Rather than creating a definition that competes with organic, we ask the state to define regenerative with organic as the base. This is crucial for two reasons:

  1. Organic is regenerative! Look at this graphic from USDA that shows the benefits of organic. We’ve listed some of these benefits here:
    • Additional 450 kg carbon storage per hectare per year
    • 15% less energy consumed per kilogram of product
    • 70% lower methane emissions
    • 50% lower nitrous oxide emissions
    • 30% more pollinators
    • 26% less soil loss
    • 22% less soil erosion
    • 137% increase in water infiltration rate
    • 28–39% less nitrate leaching
       
  2. Organic is accountable! You know better than anyone how organic certification holds farmers accountable. The Organic System Plan, the annual inspection, the third-party certifier—a lot of people, time, and resources go into organic certification. A definition of regenerative that starts with organic builds on this accountability. An organic avocado should not be next to a regenerative avocado at the grocery store if that regenerative avocado does not have the same rigorous certification behind it. It’s not fair; it will confuse consumers, and it will undermine organic.

Take action to protect organic. Here’s how:

  1. Go to CDFA—Defining Regenerative Agriculture for State Policies and Programs (ca.gov).
  2. Register for Listening Session #3 on Thursday, February 22 at 4:30 p.m.
  3. Log into the Zoom link on February 22.
  4. Raise your hand to make a comment and share your name, your farm or business, and why organic should be the base of regenerative. 

Need inspiration? Here’s a sample comment:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. My name is [first and last name], and I have been farming for [number] years. At [name of farm], we grow [list a couple of main crops]. We have been certified organic for [number] years. I am here to ask that CDFA define regenerative with organic as the starting point. 

Organic certification requires that I protect people and the planet. I am required to conserve natural resources, to focus on soil health, and to manage pests and diseases without synthetic pesticides. [Share how your farm’s natural resources have improved under organic certification.] Organic farming regenerates.

I am concerned that a weak definition of regenerative that does not start with organic will put me out of business. I cannot compete with farmers who are subsidized by the government but are not required to meet the same high standards that I am.