Blog posts by Peter Nell

Written by Peter Nell on Monday, March 19, 2018 on advocacy, CCOF, policy


(L to R) Jo Ann Baumgartner, Wild Farm Alliance; Patricia Carrillo, ALBA; Assemblywoman Anna Caballero (D-Salinas); Dave Runsten, Community Alliance with Family Farmers; Peter Nell, CCOF   In early March, CCOF joined coalition members of the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) in Sacramento to advocate for California’s climate-smart agriculture programs. Attendees met with California legislators, staff members, and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross to discuss how agricultural programs can help California achieve climate goals and to...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, March 19, 2018 on advocacy, events, policy

The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) Organic Week is an annual event that brings the organic sector to Washington D.C. for a week of conferences, meetings with legislators, and more.   CCOF’s top priority at this year’s Organic Week is Hill Visit Day—an event that brings organic farmers, ranchers, handlers, processors, organizations, and others into the offices and meeting rooms of Capitol Hill to advocate for organic priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill.    Organic Week also includes the Organic Center’s two day Organic Confluences Summit. The summit brings together a diverse group of organic...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, March 19, 2018 on financial assistance, general organic, policy, regulatory

In light of California’s new recreational cannabis cultivation and sales allowances, some organic producers are considering adding cannabis cultivation to their operations. However, producers should be aware that USDA has a long-standing policy regarding cannabis production, which could impact grower’s eligibility for a range of USDA programs including Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and crop insurance.    USDA staff cannot provide technical assistance to cannabis producers and producers with conservation contracts with NRCS who are growing cannabis...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, March 12, 2018 on NOSB

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will discuss the re-listing or removal of 40 substances on the National List of Allowed & Prohibited Substances (National List) at their meeting in Tucson, Arizona on April 25-27, 2018.    Members of the public are encouraged to submit public comments via www.regulations.gov using docket number AMS-NOP-17-0057-0001 until April 4, 2018. Additionally, oral comments will be accepted in-person and through pre-meeting webinars.   NOSB reviews all substances on the National List every five years to determine their status in organic production. NOSB...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, March 12, 2018 on education, general organic, research

The Organic Center released new research completed in collaboration with the University of Virginia showing that organic farming can help reduce nitrogen pollution on a global scale. The study found that organic farming helps prevent nitrogen pollution by recycling three times more reactive nitrogen than conventional farming.    The study shows that 93 percent of all nitrogen used to produce conventional food was newly-created reactive nitrogen. In organic foods, only 33 percent of the nitrogen used to produce foods was new reactive nitrogen. The rest of the nitrogen used is recycled. The...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, February 26, 2018 on advocacy, funding, grants, policy

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D – Thousand Oaks) introduced a bill into the California State Assembly, AB-2377, to establish a technical assistance grant program for farmers and ranchers applying for California’s Climate Smart Agriculture programs. The technical assistance grants will address the difficulty in designing, applying for, and implementing projects for the programs.   The bill requires CDFA to provide funding to technical assistance providers, such as resource conservation districts or nonprofit organizations, to assist farmers and ranchers applying to the Healthy Soils Program,...
Written by Peter Nell on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 on policy, State Organic Program

CCOF encourages the organic community to complete the California State Organic Program (SOP) survey. The survey will help SOP develop new communication and marketing tools.   The survey will guide the SOP on how to create and publish new messaging. The survey gathers information such as what participants know about the program, what they would like to see from the program, and where’d they like to see new information published.    For questions regarding the survey, please contact the SOP.
Written by Peter Nell on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 on policy, regulatory, water


Water

The California State Water Resources Control Board adopted requirements for commercial and personal medical use cannabis cultivation. The requirements—the Cannabis Cultivation Policy—aim to reduce impacts from discharges of waste and water diversions.    The Cannabis Cultivation Policy is available online. The policy should be referenced by cannabis cultivators who divert surface water to irrigate cannabis or plan to.    Licensed cannabis cultivators must register with the State Water Board under one or two cannabis cultivation regulatory programs. Applications for the State Water Board...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, February 12, 2018 on policy

CCOF applauds the growing bipartisan support for organic agriculture research in both chambers of Congress, including the broad support for organic research from California members of the House.    Yesterday, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Organic Agriculture Research Act of 2018. This bill increases federal investment in the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, which funds organic agricultural research throughout the United States.    This bill compliments the House Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436), which has a strong showing...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, February 12, 2018 on advocacy, employment

The National Farmers Union is accepting applications for the Beginning Farmer Institute. The Beginning Farmer Institute focuses on developing leadership and farm management skills in beginning farmers through small group teaching.    The application form is available for download and applications are accepted until April 30, 2018.   Eligible applicants include those who are currently farming or planning on starting within the next year. Ownership of an operation is not required, and operators of any operation type or size are eligible. The program is open to residents throughout the...
Written by Peter Nell on Tuesday, February 6, 2018 on events, general organic


Each year the EcoFarm Conference kicks off with a popular all-day farm bus tour. This year, the tour was titled “Organic Farming On and Near the Hollister Plain” and brought participants to farms and ranches in the Hollister area, including three CCOF-certified operations: Coke Farm, Morris Grassfed, and Pinnacle Organically Grown Produce.   The packed tour began at Coke Farm with Dale and Christine Coke explaining the services they provide to bolster their local community of organic farmers. Coke Farm pioneered organic strawberry growing and spring mixes, and was one of the first CCOF-...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, January 29, 2018 on general organic, NOP, regulatory, standards

USDA proposed new updates to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) that include 29 recommendations on 35 substances from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). NOSB evaluates substances on the National List every five years to confirm that each substance continues to meet the required criteria for its allowance or prohibition. The proposal includes updating the restrictions of 17 substances, prohibiting ivermectin in organic livestock production, prohibiting rotenone to align with EPA regulations, and adding 16 substances to the National List.  The...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, January 22, 2018 on advocacy, CCOF, policy, regulatory, standards

Last week, CCOF submitted a comment to USDA opposing the agency’s proposal to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule. CCOF also joined 80 other organic producers, retailers, organizations, certifiers, farm groups, and consumer organizations in an open letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to implement the rule.    The OLPP rule is the result of decades of rulemaking effort by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and members of the organic community. The rule ensures that organic animals live in pasture-based systems, establishes minimum indoor and...
Written by Peter Nell on Monday, January 22, 2018 on fees, help and tips

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) released a comprehensive guidebook to aid farmers with USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans. The illustrated guidebook, Farm Service Agency Loans: The Ins and Outs of Growing a Farm with Federal Loans, is available for free online or in hard copy for $15. NYFC represents, mobilizes, and engages young farmers to ensure their success. They support practices and policies to sustain young, independent, and prosperous farmers now and in the future. The guidebook, created with the help of FSA, includes a wide array of information that covers FSA’s...
Written by Peter Nell on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 on advocacy, policy, regulatory, standards

The comment period on USDA’s proposal to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Final Rule (OLPP) ends at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on January 17, 2018.    Comment now to protect organic standards!   OLPP is the product of a lengthy rulemaking effort by the National Organic Standards Board to advise the National Organic Program (NOP). The rule clarifies animal welfare practices in organic production, including living conditions, preventive health care practices, stocking densities, and access to the outdoors.    However, since NOP released the final rule in early 2017, USDA has...

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