Blog posts by Jane Sooby

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....
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, January 4, 2016 on advocacy, NOSB, policy


The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a citizen advisory board that offers input to the National Organic Program on allowed materials and practices in certified organic production. Appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the NOSB meets twice a year to review organic materials and policies. Secretary Tom Vilsack recently appointed six new members to the NOSB who will begin serving their terms in 2016. The new NOSB members are: Jesse Buie (pictured), organic producer representative, a CCOF-certified farmer in Mississippi with a distinguished background in health care...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, November 23, 2015 on grower, pests and pesticides, policy

CCOF, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and University of California Cooperative Extension are hosting a meeting on the invasive stinkbug Bagrada bug on Friday, December 11 at the Cooperative Extension office in Salinas from 9:30 a.m – 3 p.m. Click here to register for the meeting. The meeting is free of charge and will include lunch for onsite participants courtesy of CCOF and the University of California Cooperative Extension Entomology Program. The meeting will also be broadcast as a webinar, allowing remote participants the ability to hear all presentations and interact...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, November 9, 2015 on grower, pests and pesticides, policy

CCOF is collaborating with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), scientists from numerous agencies, and Cooperative Extension on a Bagrada Bug Working Group. The working group brings together scientists and extension personnel from across the country who are working to develop organic management and biological control of Bagrada bug. What is Bagrada bug? The Bagrada bug is a member of the stinkbug family that has wreaked havoc in mustard-family crops over the past six years. A native of Africa, it has no natural enemies in the U.S. and has spread from southern California...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, October 5, 2015 on advocacy, policy

In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would stop all state and local regulation of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including GMO labeling requirements. The vote was 275 in favor and 150 opposed. The bill, dubbed the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” or DARK Act, was widely seen as an effort to undermine state-level labeling of GMO foods. CCOF wrote letters to representatives who voted on both sides of the issue, praising those who voted against it and expressing disappointment toward those who supported it. At this time, there is no...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 21, 2015 on advocacy, financial assistance, policy

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) continues to refine crop insurance options for organic growers. The latest change is that more crops are eligible for coverage at the organic or contracted price instead of at the conventional price. For crop year 2016, RMA has added barley, cabbage, cranberries, cultivated wild rice, dry peas, forages (including alfalfa in some states), grass seed, onions, potatoes, processing clingstone peaches, rye, sugarcane, safflower, and wheat to the list of crops that can be insured for their organic price. Now, a total of 47 crops are...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, September 21, 2015 on advocacy, policy

The Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program (SARE) is seeking nominations or self-nominations for the following seats on its Administrative Council: Organic Farmer/Rancher Sustainable Farmer/Rancher Conventional Farmer/Rancher Tropical Farmer/Rancher NGO/Nonprofit Representative Nominations and self-nominations are being accepted until November 6, 2015. To apply, please contact Teryl Roper, Regional Coordinator at (435) 797-8698 or teryl.roper@usu.edu. SARE is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that awards competitive grants conducted cooperatively by...
Written by Jane Sooby on Friday, September 4, 2015 on advocacy, drought, policy, water

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is updating the list of critically overdrafted basins in the state as part of its responsibilities under the new California groundwater management law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014. The list of critically overdrafted basins and subbasins is open for comment through September 25, 2015. The draft list is online here, and the statewide map is posted here. Click on this link for more information and instructions on how to comment (scroll down to “Next Steps”). A basin is considered to be critically overdrafted if existing...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 31, 2015 on advocacy, financial assistance, policy

A new type of crop insurance, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, may better serve highly diversified organic crop and livestock producers than traditional crop insurance policies. Rather than covering losses of a particular crop, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection covers all crops and livestock produced on a single farm. In response to suggestions made by CCOF’s partner organizations, the Organic Trade Association and its Farmers Advisory Council and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) made a number of changes to the program since its initial release in...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 31, 2015 on policy, research

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) announced that it will keep its National Survey of Organic Farmers open through September 14, 2015.Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey.The 34-question survey focuses on certified organic farmers’ research needs and also collects information on the organic community’s experience with GMO contamination, pesticide drift, and food safety issues.Widespread participation by organic farmers across the country will ensure that research needs of all types and scales of certified organic production are recorded. Survey results inform...
Written by Jane Sooby on Monday, August 24, 2015 on food safety, policy, research

A new study out of the University of California, Berkeley shows that removing vegetation adjacent to farms on California’s Central Coast has not reduced the incidence of E. coli found in fresh produce. Instead, the reverse is true: farms that retained nongrazed riparian or other natural vegetation types had significantly lower prevalence of generic E. coli in water and pathogenic E. coli in produce.These results contradict the conventional wisdom that developed in 2006 when spinach contaminated with pathogenic E. coli entered the stream of commerce and caused three deaths and 205 illnesses....

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