Blog posts by Jane Sooby

Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 7, 2021 on advocacy, policy

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is accepting public comment through June 15 on the funding rules for its new Conservation Agriculture Planning Grant Program.  Please consider making a comment using the points outlined below.An outcome of CCOF’s advocacy for CDFA support for organic farmers in its Climate Smart Agriculture programs, this new program received $20 million in Governor Gavin Newsom’s May revision of the state budget.As proposed, the planning grant program would offer funding for 11 Conservation Activity Plans (CAPs) developed by the USDA Natural Resources...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, May 10, 2021 on crisis resilience, funding

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has expanded the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which offers funding to producers who have been impacted by market disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.CFAP 2 is now open for applications. A deadline has not yet been announced, but farmers and ranchers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible while funding is still available.Many commodity categories are eligible for CFAP funding, including broilers and eggs, livestock, row crops, and numerous specialty crops. Review the list of eligible and ineligible commodities and read more about the...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, May 3, 2021 on advocacy, policy


Jenny Lester Moffitt and Russ Lester

Longtime farmer advocate and state administrator with deep roots in the organic community Jenny Lester Moffitt has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.Moffitt has served the agricultural community in California for the past seven years as undersecretary and deputy secretary in the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). One of her numerous accomplishments as undersecretary was ensuring that CDFA’s annual Agricultural Statistics Review includes data on organic production in the state...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, April 26, 2021 on advocacy, grower, policy, regulatory, water


Central Coast

After three years of public hearings, numerous revisions, and intense deliberations, on April 15, 2021, the Central Coast Water Quality Control Board approved a new agricultural order regulating discharges from irrigated lands.The new regulations in Ag Order 4.0 are likely to go too far for many farmers and not far enough for environmental justice advocates, who point to nitrate contamination in regional drinking water wells as an ongoing problem that is not being addressed, even through tighter regulations on agriculture.One key change is that, in addition to reporting total nitrogen (N)...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, April 19, 2021 on funding, grower


Value added products

Value-added products can make a significant contribution to a farm’s cash flow when a crop grown on the farm is processed into a food product, such as salsa or jam, that can be sold at a higher price. USDA offers funding to support farmers and groups of farmers developing value-added enterprises through the Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.USDA has adjusted the VAPG program in response to COVID, includingextending the submission deadline to April 29 for electronic application and to a May 4 postmark for paper applications;increasing funding for the program to approximately $76...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 29, 2021 on pests and pesticides

California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has tapped a diverse group of experts to serve in its new Sustainable Pest Management (SPM) Work Group, which will advise DPR on how to implement a transition away from harmful chemicals–a transition that Governor Gavin Newson says is a high priority for the state.  The SPM Work Group will pick up where the previous Alternatives to Chlorpyrifos Work Group left off and will guide state agencies in creating alternatives to the use of highly toxic synthetic pesticides. This will include increased research and education in organic pest...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 15, 2021 on crisis resilience


Farmworkers

Though the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends prioritizing food and agricultural workers for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine by placing them in the phase 1B eligibility tier, states vary in prioritizing these workers.According to an article in the Insurance Journal, some states are elevating the elderly and other essential workers over food and agricultural workers.For information on vaccine availability in your state, visit the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine webpage and select your state in the box labeled “How Do I Get a Vaccine?” For information on vaccines in California, visit...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 8, 2021 on statistics

This year's California Agricultural Statistics Review, released annually by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), includes statewide organic data, an addition to the report first made last year.According to CDFA records collected from the State Organic Program, organic farmgate sales in 2019 totaled $10.4 billion, a 3.5 percent increase over 2018 organic sales.A closer look at the data shows that crop, feed, and fiber producers had the largest increase in sales, up 12.4 percent from 2018. Handler sales increased by only 1.5 percent between 2018 and 2019, while organic...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 on education, grower

As regional agricultural orders mandate more rigorous nutrient and irrigation management, fine-tuning nitrogen applications is an increasingly important skill for organic growers.To help address this challenge, University of California Cooperative Extension specialists are offering a three-part online workshop, Practical Training on Nitrogen Management in Organic Production of Vegetables and Strawberries, which will be held the first three Tuesdays in March from 9-11 a.m.Over the three sessions, experts will discuss sources of nitrogen and their roles in organic soil fertility and the...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 on education, grower

An Organic Agriculture Seminar Series for Growers is offered via Zoom on Tuesdays from 12-1 p.m., now through May 4.University of California Cooperative Extension Small Farms and organic advisor Margaret Lloyd have organized the series aimed at providing useful information on organic topics for growers.Each seminar features a guest speaker and a group conversation with questions from the audience. No pre-registration is required. The Zoom meeting link is the same each week.The series began on January 26 of this year with a talk on biochar. Recordings of past seminars, written summaries, and...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, November 16, 2020 on general organic

Many opportunities for organic farmers, ranchers, handlers, and processors to participate in public agencies are now available. The hands-on expertise of organic practitioners and producers is of great value to these decision-making agencies. The following agencies have current openings: California Biodiversity Collaborative: California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a groundbreaking executive order in early October 2020 that directs the California Natural Resources Agency to work with other state agencies, including the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), to form a California...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, October 26, 2020 on funding, general organic

CCOF’s proposal to add an Organic Transition Option to the California Healthy Soils Program was stymied on  October 15 by the panel that advises the secretary of food and agriculture on the program. Instead, the panel approved a recently submitted recommendation from the California Farm Bureau Federation to establish a new program that would provide funding for farm planning. Due to the strain on the state’s budget caused by the pandemic, there currently is no funding for the Healthy Soils Program. If CCOF’s proposed Organic Transition Option, originally presented to the panel in January, had...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 on CCOF, general organic, policy

Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 406, the Health Care Omnibus Bill, into law last week. Authored by California Senator Richard Pan, the bill includes a section that repeals the requirement for organic processors and handlers to print their California organic registration number on all transfer documents including bills of lading and invoices.  Concern about this requirement was raised to the Processor Subcommittee of the state’s organic advisory board, the California Organic Products Advisory Committee (COPAC), earlier this year by another accredited certification agency because some of the...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 on advocacy, biodiversity, general organic, policy

Numerous scientific studies show that organic farming improves soil health and builds soil organic matter, which sequesters carbon in the soil and helps mitigate climate change.  This makes organic farming a good match for the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Healthy Soils Program, which offers three-year grants to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that build soil health, sequester carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  CCOF has been working since last year to gain approval from CDFA to add an Organic Transition Option to the Healthy Soils...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 on advocacy, biodiversity, general organic

CCOF Central Coast Chapter President Javier Zamora of JSM Organics was one of the featured panelists in the Climate of Hope Online Forum organized by Regeneración Pajaro Valley Climate Action, a climate justice organization based in Watsonville, California.  The Climate of Hope forum gathered experts to discuss how climate change is affecting agricultural communities, with a focus on farmworkers in the Central Coast’s Pajaro Valley.  California State University, Monterey Bay students presented the results of a community survey on climate change sponsored by Regeneración which found “the...

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