Blog posts by Jane Sooby

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...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, July 13, 2020 on advocacy, general organic

The Farmer Equity Act passed by the California legislature in 2017 defined “socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers” and required the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to ensure that food and agriculture laws, policies, and programs be developed in consultation with socially disadvantaged and women farmers and ranchers. CDFA recently issued the 2020 Report to the California Legislature on the Farmer Equity Act on progress to date in implementing the Farmer Equity Act. Using data based on stakeholder and agency interviews, the report identifies four primary challenges...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 on CCOF, general organic, member news

Jeff Huckaby, president of CCOF-certified Grimmway Farms and Cal-Organic Farms, has received the Organic Trade Association’s prestigious Farmer of the Year award for 2020. Huckaby is a fourth generation farmer who discovered a passion for growing organic carrots over 20 years ago when he first started experimenting with organic practices. He has since led the expansion of Grimmway and Cal-Organic’s organic production to more than 45,000 acres of certified organic vegetables in five states. He is a leader in organic marketing as well, convincing Costco to stock only organic carrots in their...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, June 8, 2020 on general organic

The Agricultural Statistics Review released annually by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) includes organic data for the first time. The organic section of Agricultural Statistics Review reports producer, handler, and processor gross sales by county for 2018 and harvested acreage of 29 crop categories by county. Kern County was the top organic county in 2018 with over $782 million in sales. Monterey County was second with $480 million, and Fresno County third with $299 million. Collectively, California counties produced over $10 billion of organic agricultural products...
Written by Jane Sooby on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 on advocacy, events, general organic, policy, water

The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Coast Water Board) has released a draft Agricultural Order 4.0 to take the place of the existing order, which expires January 31, 2021. The Central Coast Water Board will hold three virtual workshops on June 2, June 3, and June 4 to explain the new Agricultural Order, review its monitoring and reporting requirements, and provide information about the draft environmental impact report. Links to join each workshop are listed below.  The workshops will be broadcast via Zoom, which may be accessed via computer or telephone. Attendees...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, May 11, 2020 on advocacy, crisis resilience, general organic, we are essential


We Are Essential 051120

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that families value high quality, organic food. While the impact of COVID-19 on food and agriculture has been uneven across sectors, the demand for some types of organic processed foods, such as pre-cut vegetable assortments and pantry staples, has increased as families search for healthy options while saying at home.  Beyond the health benefits, organic processed foods are an important part of California’s economy. The California Department of Public Health recently reported that organic processors made $15.5 billion in gross sales in 2019, a 17 percent...

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