Blog posts by Jane Sooby

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 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...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 14, 2016 on advocacy, policy, State Organic Program

CCOF Board of Directors member and organic farmer Thaddeus Barsotti wrote an opinion piece supporting the California Organic Food and Farming Act (AB 1826) that was published in the Sacramento Bee on March 8, 2016. Writing, “There is no group of people who wish to maintain the integrity of the certified organic label more than farmers,” Barsotti presented the reasons he supports CCOF’s effort to reform California’s State Organic Program through legislation. He traces the history of the program back to the era before the federal government began to regulate organic with a set of consistent,...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, March 14, 2016 on advocacy, drought, policy

As a service to our members, CCOF maintains a regularly updated list of drought-related resources on its website. Newly posted information includes: The latest measurements from the California snowpack update The degree of drought in different parts of the state Notable weather-related statistics Potential for groundwater recharge on agricultural lands Additionally, the page provides information on financial assistance and other resources, scientific studies, drought news, and crop insurance options. If you have any drought-related news or questions, please contact CCOF Senior Policy...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, February 29, 2016 on advocacy, grower, pests and pesticides, policy

The Bagrada Bug Working Group has launched its first issue of the quarterly publication Bagrada Bug News. The Bagrada Bug Working Group is a collaboration between CCOF and researchers at CDFA’s Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services, UC Cooperative Extension, USDA-ARS, UC Davis, UC Riverside, and University of Arizona. The working group convened in 2015 to address the challenge of managing this emerging pest in organic mustard-family crop production. The working group’s first major activity was holding a public meeting in December 2015 in Salinas. Six scientific talks on bagrada bug...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, February 29, 2016 on advocacy, genetic engineering, policy

The DARK Act, a bill that would preempt states’ rights to require labels on foods made of or containing genetically modified (GM) crops, is slowly working its way through the federal legislative system. Passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year, the Pompeo Act, unofficially known as the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” or DARK Act, is scheduled for introduction to the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee this week. The Ag Committee will review the bill and vote on whether to forward it to the full Senate for consideration. The status of this bill continues to be in flux, as it was...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, February 8, 2016 on advocacy, general organic, policy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent the 2015 Certified Organic Survey to all known organic farms in the United States earlier this year. This survey requests information on acreage, production, and sales for a variety of certified organic crop and livestock commodities. Of the many surveys organic farmers receive, this survey stands out in importance because the data collected will help determine the value for covered crop losses under federal crop insurance policies. Historically, crop insurance has only reimbursed organic producers for the value of their crops in conventional markets....

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