Blog posts by Jane Sooby

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...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 13, 2016 on livestock, NOP, regulatory, standards


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)’s Agricultural Marketing Service extended the comment period for the Proposed Rule on Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices. Stakeholders now have until July 13, 2016 to submit comments. This landmark proposed rule adds numerous livestock and poultry production practices to the national organic standards. It proposes to add 19 new definitions to the standards and new requirements for livestock health care, mammalian living conditions, avian living conditions, transport, and slaughter. CCOF welcomes this long-awaited rule and urges the USDA...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 on advocacy, policy, State Organic Program

A crucial milestone in the California Organic Food and Farming Act’s progress occurred on Friday, May 27, when the bill, AB 1826, was forwarded out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Chaired by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, the Appropriations Committee is responsible for assessing the fiscal impact of all bills. Many CCOF members sent letters of support to Assemblymember Gonzalez and helped move the bill out of committee. The next stop for AB 1826 is the floor of the California Assembly. A vote may be scheduled as soon as Tuesday, May 31. Once it passes the Assembly, it will go...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, May 2, 2016 on container/hydroponics, events, funding

CCOF partner organization National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is teaming up with USDA’s Rural Development to present a free webinar on Friday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT that explains Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) in depth and presents tips on how to successfully apply. VAPG provide funds to individual agricultural producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and other producer groups to develop marketing plans or acquire working capital for a value-added enterprise. “Value-added” refers to an agricultural commodity that has increased in value due to processing,...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, May 2, 2016 on advocacy, policy, State Organic Program

CCOF-sponsored AB 1826—the California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA), authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay)—passed the California Assembly Agriculture Committee in a unanimous, bipartisan vote in favor of reducing fee and paperwork burdens on California’s organic producers. COFFA is now moving through the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Once approved by Appropriations, it will go to a vote by the full California Assembly. Once it passes the Assembly, it moves into the California Senate Agricultural Committee and, ultimately, to the floor of the state senate. Contact...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, April 4, 2016 on advocacy, events, policy, State Organic Program

CCOF invites you to join an informational webinar on AB 1826—The California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA)—a bill introduced by California Assemblymember Mark Stone to level the playing field for California’s organic producers and update the role of the State Organic Program. CCOF’s Executive Director/CEO Cathy Calfo, Policy Director Kelly Damewood, and guest presenters will be available to answer your questions about AB 1826 during a free webinar on Tuesday, April 12, from 10-11 a.m. PDT. Participants will learn about the bill and CCOF’s strategy to pass it. Plus, find out what you can...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 28, 2016 on advocacy, genetic engineering, policy

After pulling some political shenanigans in the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, committee chair Pat Roberts failed to gain the votes needed to move the anti-GMO labeling bill forward. The bill popularly known as the DARK Act—an acronym for Deny Americans the Right to Know—was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last year and forwarded to the Senate. The bill preempts states’ ability to require GMO labeling of food products and creates a voluntary labeling system. Political observers note that politicians are feeling pressure to pass legislation to head off implementation of...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 28, 2016 on advocacy, policy, State Organic Program

CCOF is proudly sponsoring California Central Coast Assemblymember Mark Stone’s recently-introduced bill—the California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA), AB 1826. COFFA will update the California State Organic Program to cap fees, eliminate paperwork for certified organic producers, and create a state framework that better supports organic farmers and businesses. The California Organic Food and Farming Act, AB 1826, will: End redundant SOP registration paperwork for certified organic operations by requiring accredited certification agencies (ACAs) to annually submit to the state the same...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 14, 2016 on advocacy, financial assistance, grower, policy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that new buffer plantings around organic fields are eligible for rental payments and cost-share if they are enrolled in 10-15 year conservation contracts. Part of the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP), the new organic option is open for sign-up throughout the year and is not subject to bidding and ranking processes. Instead, land is enrolled automatically if it qualifies for the program. According to the FSA, eligible practices include riparian buffers, wildlife habitat buffers, wetland buffers, filter...

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