Blog posts by Jane Sooby

Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 19, 2016 on advocacy, general organic, policy

New statistics released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) show that the total value of certified organic agricultural products sold in the United States increased from $5.5 billion in 2014 to $6.2 billion in 2015, a 13 percent increase. The number of certified organic farms and organic acreage also increased between 2014-2015. Once more, California is the top state for organic agricultural production, with $2.4 billion in sales (40% of the total) in 2015. Washington state is a distant second with $626 million. California also has the largest number of certified organic...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 19, 2016 on advocacy, pests and pesticides, policy


The third edition of the Bagrada Bug News is now available to read and print on demand. This edition reports on work being conducted in California and France to test promising natural enemies of bagrada bug. Scientists collected three species of wasps that lay their eggs in bagrada bug eggs, thus killing the nymphs inside, in South Africa and Pakistan and are now assessing their potential for release as natural predators of bagrada bug in California. This issue also features a lengthy article on the role of weeds as refuge for bagrada bug in California’s Salinas Valley. Shortpod mustard and...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 19, 2016 on advocacy, policy, seeds

Vague language in last year’s revision of the California Seed Law was clarified by legislation that exempts non-commercial seed trading–such as seed libraries, seed swaps, and other seed exchanges–from state permit and labeling requirements for commercial seed. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Seed Exchange Democracy Act into law on September 9, 2016. Introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-Marin County), the bill was a response to alarms raised by activists that the imprecise language in California’s seed law could unintentionally impede the free exchange of seed at...
Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, September 2, 2016 on advocacy, policy, State Organic Program

The California Organic Products Advisory Committee (COPAC) will meet this Wednesday, September 7, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Sacramento, California. COPAC advises the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture on organic-related issues. The public is welcome to attend. Items on the meeting agenda include: An update on the state’s pilot GMO testing program A legislative update on the California Organic Food and Farming Act An Organic Input Materials Program update Animal welfare standards and the California State Veterinarian comments on them An update on the organic checkoff program The...
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...

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