CCOF-certified Farmers Host Legislative Farm Tour in Capay Valley

Last week, CCOF hosted a farm tour for the California State Legislature to highlight the challenges and opportunities for organic agriculture. Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-CA-04) and legislative staff joined Paul Underhill at Terra Firma Farm and Thaddeus Barsotti at Capay Organic Farm. While the tour highlighted the multiple environmental and economic benefits of organic agriculture, it also clearly demonstrated the immense regulatory pressures organic farmers are struggling with today. 
 
Underhill began the tour of Terra Firma Farm by broadly introducing organic and showing real-world examples of organic practices, such as cover cropping, intercropping, and integrated pest management. He explained how long-established organic practices build soil health and help all types of farms manage fertility. 
 
At Capay Organic, Barsotti continued the tour with an overview of the history of organic movement, including his own family’s story—he and his brothers are second-generation farmers who have built on the farm founded by his parents at the start of the organic movement. He elaborated on the use of compost and organic fertilizers before explaining their water efficiency techniques. The tour concluded with a visit to the cold storage facility which chills, stores, packs, and ships fresh fruit and vegetables for farmers’ markets, wholesale retailers, and Capay’s CSA service: Farm Fresh to You. 
 
In addition to organic practices, Underhill and Barsotti spoke to the Assemblywoman and legislative staff about how state policy and regulations impact their ability to grow organic. From forthcoming water regulations to shortages and increased labor costs, they have serious concerns about the ability of growers to continue to grow organic produce in California. Their call to the group was to stop and listen to growers before making policy. And to ask themselves whether the state wants to be a place where local, organic farms can survive well into the future. 
 
Overall, the group engaged with the farmers through in-depth questions on a variety of organic and farming topics. The tour successfully educated the attendees with a thorough background on organic practices and principles and left the group with plenty to think about while back in their offices in Sacramento. 

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