Blog posts by Jane Sooby

Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 29, 2016 on advocacy, general organic, policy

A public roundtable on October 20 in Washington, D.C., will consider the findings of a new study on consumer understanding of which products are covered by the organic label. The roundtable will feature invited panelists including consumer advocates, organic representatives, and academics. It will be free and open to the public. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in response to industry requests, conducted a study to assess consumer response to “organic” labels on products that fall outside the scope of the federal National Organic Program. The survey looked at how consumers responded to...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 29, 2016 on advocacy, policy, regulatory

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Medical Cannabis Cultivation Program (MCCP) is conducting a series of workshops to gather public input on a licensing program for medical cannabis cultivators. Eight workshops will be convened at various locations in the state beginning September 13, 2016. The full schedule is online. The MCCP was created this year in the wake of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, passed in 2015 by the state Legislature. A first step for the program is to create a Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) that assesses the program’s...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 22, 2016 on advocacy, policy, State Organic Program

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture is now updating its strategic plan, Ag Vision, developed eight years ago for the state’s agriculture and food systems. An online survey is gathering public input into the plan through August 26. We encourage the organic community to participate in the survey so that the organic perspective is well-represented in the findings. Share your thoughts and take the survey!
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 22, 2016 on advocacy, policy, research

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has completed its analysis of federally-funded organic research projects and released the findings in the report Taking Stock: Analyzing and Reporting Organic Research Investments 2002-2014. OFRF analyzed 189 organic research projects that were funded by USDA’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative and Organic Transitions competitive grants over the course of 13 years, representing $142.2 million of research funds. About 70 percent of the studies looked into organic crop production, another 20 percent examined crop-livestock systems, and 10...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 15, 2016 on marketing, organic market

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has integrated organic price data into its market news reporting system. AMS price data reporting helps organic producers assess markets and establish price points for their products. These data are a useful resource for those who are considering entering the organic marketplace and are formulating a business plan. The information also assists buyers and processors who need to know the price of raw materials they use in their products. AMS issues a daily report on organic specialty crop prices based on information...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 8, 2016 on materials and inputs, NOP, standards

The National Organic Program is removing the following materials from the National List: egg white lysozyme; cyclohexylamine; diethylaminoethanol octadecylamine; and tetrasodium pyrophosphate. The rule goes into effect Sept. 12, 2016. Organic products made with these materials that are already in the stream of commerce can still be sold as organic after the effective date, but products manufactured on or after Sept. 12 may not be made with these substances. For questions about how this rule may impact your operation, contact your Certification Service Specialist. For general questions...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 8, 2016 on livestock

A new report from the Organic Center, Organic Food and Farming as a Tool to Combat Antibiotic Resistance and Protect Public Health, addresses the problem of the widespread use of antibiotics in conventional animal production, which threatens human health because it creates disease-causing organisms that are resistant to antibiotics. The report, written by Organic Center staffers Tracy Misiewicz and Jessica Shade, demonstrates that organic farming is the most effective way to address this problem, particularly in the absence of meaningful regulation of antibiotic use in conventional livestock...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 1, 2016 on pests and pesticides


The disease-carrying pest Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) has moved north from southern California and now threatens the central and northern regions of the state. To combat the pest, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has increased areas under quarantine, mounted a comprehensive search-and-destroy effort, and is preparing to release swarms of psyllid-killing wasps to route the pest. ACP Impact and Challenges ACP carries a bacterium that causes a deadly disease in citrus trees and related tree species called huanglongbing or citrus greening disease. Infected trees first...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, July 25, 2016 on advocacy, general organic, policy, research

The Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania began a side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional farming back in 1981. Today, the data collected in Rodale’s Farming Systems Trial show that organic farming produces competitive yields, builds higher levels of soil organic matter, retains more soil moisture, and is more profitable compared to conventional practices. The Farming Systems Trial also suggests that organic systems produce higher yields than conventional under drought conditions. Yield data from five years when rainfall was below average showed that organic corn yielded 31 percent...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 on advocacy, policy, State Organic Program

Track the progress of the AB 1826—California Organic Food and Farming Act, AB 1826—and read the current bill language. AB 1826 is CCOF-sponsored legislation that was introduced by California Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) in February. The bill is currently in the California Senate Appropriations Committee, where it is scheduled to be heard August 1. AB 1826 will: Eliminate duplicative paperwork for certified organic producers. Reduce or cap California State Organic Program fees. Update the role of the California State Organic Program to support organic agriculture through...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 on seeds

Organic Seed Alliance released its latest report, State of Organic Seed, 2016, in June. Based on farmer surveys, discussions at grower conferences, and a comprehensive analysis of publicly funded research, Organic Seed Alliance found: Organic farmers are using more organic seed and are happier with organic seed quality than in the past. Since 2011, public and private investments in organic plant breeding and organic seed research have increased from $9 million to $31 million. More organic farmers than before believe that organic seed is the foundation of organic food integrity. At the same...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 27, 2016 on advocacy, policy, State Organic Program

“The bill is out, congratulations.” California state senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), chair of the California Senate Committee on Agriculture, spoke these words as the committee voted AB 1826, the California Organic Food and Farming Act, out of committee on June 21. AB 1826 now heads to the California Senate Appropriations Committee. CCOF-sponsored AB 1826, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), will reform California’s State Organic Program to eliminate redundant paperwork, reduce or cap program fees, and allow the program to support the organic sector through...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 27, 2016 on drought, funding, grower, water

Farmers can apply to receive up to $200,000 to invest in irrigation systems that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save water. The payments are offered under California’s State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP). Applications are due by August 5, 2016. Eligible applicants must be agricultural operations in California. Successful applications will reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and save water. Documentation of current and projected water and energy use is required in the application. This year, the California Department of Food and Agriculture is offering technical...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 20, 2016 on advocacy, livestock, policy

Please send a letter to your U.S. senator today and urge them to vote NO on any amendments to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that interferes with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ability to keep organic animal welfare standards strong. Send an electronic letter directly to your senators. Here’s the issue: The National Organic Program (NOP) released a Proposed Rule on Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices in April. This proposed rule addresses a wide range of issues raised by the National Organic Standards Board, the federally-empowered advisory body to the Secretary...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 20, 2016 on advocacy, materials and inputs, policy

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is holding a hearing on July 5, 2016, in Sacramento on proposed changes to the law that regulates fertilizer production and sales in California. CDFA is also accepting comments on these proposed changes through June 27, 2016. Proposed changes include: A list of ingredients in decreasing amounts is required for packaged soil amendments and organic input material (OIM) bulk soil amendments. Liquid OIMs with a nitrogen guarantee greater than 3 percent must submit an OIM inspection report annually. The Secretary of Agriculture will...

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