Blog posts by advocacy

Written by Brise Tencer on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 on advocacy, drought, financial assistance

We were thrilled this morning to learn that the USDA is making $20 million available in assistance to California producers affected by drought. I was on a conference call this morning with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack as he made this announcement. He was joined by Representative Jim Costa and CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, who spoke about the implications of the drought and their commitment to helping farmers.The funds will be available for both crop and grazing land, and will focus on conservation practices that conserve and protect water. Funds are available to install a number of conservation...
Written by zsonnabend 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 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 Brise Tencer on Monday, September 30, 2013 on advocacy, farm bill, financial assistance

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 Parr on Thursday, September 26, 2013 on advocacy, farm bill, financial assistance

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 Jessy Beckett Parr on Thursday, August 8, 2013 on advocacy, food safety, policy

For those of you who haven’t yet had the chance to comment on the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that is currently being developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you now have a little more time! Today, the FDA extended the public comment period from September 16 to a final deadline of November 15. The Food Safety Modernization Act is legislation passed in early 2011 in response to various food safety scares. It will affect both farming and processing operations in a variety of ways. For a detailed analysis of how the FSMA may apply to your business, please check out the...
Written by Brise Tencer on Thursday, June 20, 2013 on advocacy, farm bill, policy

As the farm bill process has twisted and turned, it’s been hard to predict what comes next.  Today, in a turn of events that surprised many, the House voted down the farm bill. The $940 billion bill was weak on organic and other sustainable agriculture priorities, but having no bill may be even worse. The USDA is currently acting under an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, which expires in September. Under the extension, many programs important to CCOF members, such as the Organic Certification Cost Share program, are not available. The bill failed mostly due to a partisan rife over cuts to...
Written by Guest Blogger on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 on advocacy

This post was written by Eric Steenstra, President, Vote Hemp. On Monday night, Senator Wyden introduced Farm Bill Amendment 952 to define industrial hemp and allow states to regulate it along with bipartisan cosponsorship from Senators Paul, McConnell, and Merkley.  We have never been closer to seeing legal hemp farming in the United States and need your calls and emails to Senate offices today.  Please visit and share this link: http://www.votehemp.com/farmbill.  
Written by zsonnabend on Wednesday, May 1, 2013 on advocacy, grower, handler, materials and inputs, NOSB, standards

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met April 9-11 in Portland, Oregon. NOP Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy reported on the many activities of the National Organic Program (NOP) in the six months since the last meeting. Recent activities include work on the previous NOSB nanotechnology recommendations, international agreements, and aquaculture standards. Proposed rules in progress include origin of livestock, final rule on sodium nitrate, and apiculture standards. Guidance documents still to come this year include grower groups, inspector qualifications, responding to...
Written by Brise Tencer on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 on advocacy, food safety, grower, handler, standards

Update 04/30/13: The FDA has extended the comment period on the proposed food safety regulations until September 16.  This change was made as a result of numerous requests for more time to review the proposals, which are complex.  The additional time offers CCOF members an opportunity to provide more feedback about the proposals, areas for concerns, or suggested changes. We encourage you to continue sending us your feedback to policy@ccof.org. Original Post 03/13/13: I wanted to take this opportunity to update CCOF members on the FDA proposed rules for implementation of the Food Safety...
Written by Guest Blogger on Monday, April 15, 2013 on advocacy, policy

This article appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of Certified Organic magazine. Consumers are increasingly turning to farmers’ markets to buy healthy, fresh produce. As of mid-2012 there were 7,864 farmers’ markets operating nationwide. This is a 9.6 percent increase from 2011. Today, there are over 800 certified (by the state of California) farmers’ markets in California alone, representing approximately 2,200 producers. These markets provide a welcomed higher-margin return to farm producers and reduce costs by eliminating the need for standard pack on fresh fruits and vegetables...
Written by zsonnabend on Thursday, March 7, 2013 on advocacy, grower, materials and inputs, NOP, NOSB, policy, standards

CCOF is committed to ending the use of antibiotics in organic fruit production. We believe that a longer time period is necessary for oxytetracycline than the current 2014 expiration date because of the continuing research in varying locations and seasons that would ensure success, the need for registration of new materials, and enough time for grower education and outreach. We would like to see an extension in the range of 2017 to 2020 for phase out; however, we support the majority position to extend the expiration date for the use of oxytetracycline to October 21, 2016. While our clients...
Written by Brise Tencer on Monday, January 14, 2013 on advocacy, farm bill, financial assistance, policy

In the last days of December and the beginning of January, Congress and the White House passed legislation to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They attached language to the legislation that extends provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill for nine months, giving themselves until September 2013 to write a new farm bill. Unfortunately for farmers across the nation, this farm bill does not actually extend all programs and leaves many growers high and dry. Organic farmers were hit particularly hard by this move as no funding was provided for the Organic Data Initiative (which provides for price reporting and...
Written by Cathy Calfo on Thursday, January 10, 2013 on advocacy, genetic engineering, services

It's a New Year! Our first CCOF staff meeting of the new year began with sharing personal resolutions and words of wisdom with each other. Our vows to get in better shape, be more present, and take on new challenges match well with CCOF’s organizational goals: Provide more personalized certification services (faster, less paper). Talk directly to local congressional offices for action on a new U.S. farm bill and investment in organic. While averting the fiscal cliff, Congress eliminated nearly all farm bill support for organic agriculture. Remind our friends and neighbors to say “No” to...

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