Blog posts by policy

Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, March 2, 2015 on policy

Farmers and ranchers have until March 13 to sign up for the largest federal conservation program. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) rewards farmers and ranchers for conservation and environmental benefits produced from working agricultural lands. Private agricultural land, including crop, pasture, and rangeland, is eligible to enroll. Farmers with CSP contracts may receive payments for activities such as cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and the transition to organic farming. CSP is the nation’s largest conservation program by acreage...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 on advocacy, CCOF, events, policy


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...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 on policy

Farmers and ranchers have until February 27 to sign up for the largest federal conservation program. The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) rewards farmers and ranchers for conservation and environmental benefits produced from working agricultural lands. Private agricultural land, including crop, pasture, and rangeland, is eligible to enroll. Farmers with CSP contracts may receive payments for activities such as cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and the transition to organic farming. CSP is the nation’s largest conservation program by...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, February 9, 2015 on policy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed a rule that exempts more organic producers, handlers, and importers from paying into conventional commodity check-off programs. The rule is open for comment through February 17, 2015. The Proposed Exemption The proposed rule includes significant expansions to the organic exemption from federal check-off programs. It allows split operations, e.g. operations with both organic and conventional production, to seek exemptions. It also expands the exemption to both the 100% organic label and to the primary organic label (95% organic)....
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, February 9, 2015 on biodiversity, NOP, policy

The National Organic Program (NOP) issued a draft guidance to clarify biodiversity and natural resources requirements. The Draft Guidance, “Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation for Certified Organic Operations,” is open for comment now through February 27, 2015. The National Organic Standards require that certified organic operations “maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.” They define natural resources as the “physical, hydrological, and biological features of a production operation, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, February 2, 2015 on policy

CCOF strongly encourages all organic farmers to complete the 2014 Organic Survey. In January, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) mailed out the 2014 Organic Survey to organic farmers throughout the U.S. This is only the second time NASS has conducted this national survey; the last time was in 2008. This survey is critical to organic food and agricultural systems. Government agencies and public officials use the data to improve upon their services and priorities. Organizations like CCOF use the survey results to advocate for effective public policies that support you and your...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, January 19, 2015 on policy


CCOF strongly encourages all organic farmers to complete the 2014 Organic Survey. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) recently mailed out the 2014 Organic Survey to organic farmers throughout the U.S. This is only the second time NASS has conducted this national survey; the last time was in 2008. This survey is critical to organic food and agricultural systems. Government agencies and public officials use the data to improve upon their services and priorities. Organizations like CCOF use the survey results to advocate for effective public policies that support you and your...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, January 12, 2015 on advocacy, policy, research, State Organic Program

Many CCOF members feel strongly that fees charged by the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Organic Program are duplicative of the fees that they pay for organic certification to the National Organic Program (NOP) and that the state program should be eliminated. In response to these concerns, CCOF’s policy team is undertaking a research and review process to examine the role of the California state organic program relative to the NOP and develop a set of policy recommendations. CCOF’s findings will be compiled in a comprehensive report titled The California Organics Review...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, December 15, 2014 on genetic engineering, labeling and packaging, policy

The federal agency in charge of the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products recently implemented a procedure that allows labels for certified organic meat and poultry products to include a “Non-Genetically Engineered” statement. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)—a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—unveiled a 3-step procedure for the labels earlier this year. The first step is for a company to write a letter to FSIS on the company letterhead that includes the FSIS approval number for their current organic label, a copy of the label, and the...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, December 8, 2014 on food safety, policy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is accepting public comments on its recently updated food safety rules now through December 15. To comment, CCOF highly recommends that you use the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s (NSAC) comment template and instructions. The updated rules include significant changes, such as: revised water testing standards, deferred manure treatment standards, and  a more collaborative approach to regulating parts of mixed-type facilities — e.g. operations that grow, pack, and/or process on the farm. FDA issued the updated rules after receiving...
Written by Jane Sooby and Kelly Damewood on Monday, December 8, 2014 on policy

Historically, few crop insurance options existed for diversified organic farms. Now, under a new policy called Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) diversified farms can insure crops, livestock, nursery, and greenhouse crops under one comprehensive policy. Until WFRP, diversified organic farms could not take full advantage of crop insurance policies. Individual policies and price elections were often not available for organic crops or for the counties where the crops were grown. Additionally, highly diversified farms could not justify the expense of separate insurance policies for each type...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, December 1, 2014 on policy, seeds


We need your help gathering data on organic seed use! The Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is a non-profit organization focused on furthering on-farm breeding through education and advocacy. Their work is informed by organic farmer experience with seeds, which they collect through a survey. OSA is now gathering data from organic farmers in California. Please take the survey. For organic farmers, something as basic as buying seed can be an annual challenge. Organic farmers must use organic seed, and seed industry consolidation has resulted in a drastic reduction of seed varieties available in the...
Written by Kelly Damewood on Monday, November 24, 2014 on genetic engineering, policy


CCOF joined individuals and groups representing some 57 million Americans in signing a letter that warns citizens, politicians, and regulators in the United Kingdom and in the rest of the European Union about the hazards of genetically modified crops (GMOs). The letter describes the history of GMOs in the United States, including the struggle of farmers and concerned citizens to increase oversight and regulation of GMO crops. The letter not only points out environmental concerns, but it also notes that GMO drift continues to plague non-GMO producers across the United States. CCOF proudly...
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...

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