Blog posts by Jane Sooby

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...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, November 17, 2014 on policy, seeds

Public breeding programs are needed now more than ever before, according to a recently released report titled Proceedings of Summit on Seeds and Breeds for the 21st Century Agriculture, published by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI). The publication is a collection of essays and information gathered from RAFI’s two-day summit on seed varieties and public breeding. Held earlier this year, the summit brought together over 35 researchers, plant and animal breeders, farmers, academics, and other stakeholders to discuss our nation’s seed supply and develop recommendations for...
Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, November 7, 2014 on certification process, policy

CCOF is excited to announce that 33% of its members in California have successfully applied for the organic certification cost-share rebate, which refunds 75% of certification-related expenses up to a maximum of $750 per certified scope of operation.  We encourage the remainder of CCOF-certified members to apply for certification cost share in California before the postmark deadline of November 29, 2014. We also encourage members in other states to submit applications for cost share according to their state deadlines. A few things to keep in mind about certification cost share: Growers,...
Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, November 7, 2014 on pests and pesticides

The Pest and the Damage Done The invasive stinkbug known as the Bagrada bug continues to hopscotch its way through California. First found in Los Angeles County in 2008, it is now found throughout the state as far north as Yolo County. The pest has caused damage to many organic crops this summer and fall, primarily to mustard family crops including kale, arugula, broccoli, cabbage, collards, and other mustard greens. Bagrada bug also has caused damage to peppers, melons, tomatoes, corn, snap beans, and sunflowers. Female (top), mating pair (middle), and a mature nymph (bottom) of Bagrada bug...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, October 20, 2014 on funding, research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently awarded the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) a grant to evaluate federal organic research programs.    USDA awarded the grant through the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). This year, USDA awarded $23 million in grants under OREI and the Organic Transitions program to improve the competitiveness of organic crop and livestock producers.   OFRF will use the OREI grant to conduct topical and regional evaluations of OREI-funded programs. The project will assess to what degree each project involved organic producers and...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 on funding

The state of California recently opened a second round of funding to help farms reduce water usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Funds for the program, the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), were included in emergency drought legislation passed earlier this year. The maximum grant award is $150,000 and can be used to fund pump improvements such as converting from fossil fuel powered engines to solar, wind, or electric power. The funds may also be used to replace flood or furrow irrigation systems with drip or micro-irrigation; and other ways to improve efficiency...
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...

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