Focus on Natural Resources and Soil Conservation in 2017

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Date

Date Published: 
April 7, 2017

In 2016 the National Organic Program (NOP) issued final guidance 5020 on natural resources, commonly called biodiversity.

CCOF wants to continually improve how we address both natural resources and long-term soil management. To better meet our obligations under the NOP’s guidance, we are taking the following actions:

  1. CCOF-certified farming operations will be required to complete a revised two-page Organic System Plan (OSP) section G4.2 and provide it at their next annual inspection. All clients will have an action item in their compliance report identifying this requirement, and copy of this form is available on the CCOF website at www.ccof.org/g42-natural-resources. Any CCOF staff member or inspector is also happy to provide a copy to you directly. You can save time and money by completing this prior to your inspection. Visit MyCCOF to view your compliance report and the details about this request.
  2. Operations that do not have a revised OSP on file when their annual inspection is reviewed will be asked to provide one as a condition of certification. After May 1, 2018, we may issue noncompliances to those operations that have not yet met the requirement.
  3. We will provide updated guidance and tools from WFA to support clients’ and inspectors’ understanding of the requirements. WFA’s tools include a thorough guide and a conservation farming matrix that is helpful for identifying practices you already maintain or that you may consider. Visit www.ccof.org/natural-resource-conservation to review these and other helpful tools.
     
  4. CCOF is improving our inspection reports regarding natural resource conservation. During our reviews we hope to raise awareness and work with operations over time to address challenges, including encouraging engagement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and technical service providers.
  5. We will be providing additional training to CCOF inspectors with WFA and others. We hope to utilize the NOP’s requirement to perform field evaluations of our inspectors to concentrate on natural resources observations in the coming years.
  6. CCOF is also exploring options for periodic focused inspections that address only past compliance issues and focus on a deeper discussion regarding natural resources/biodiversity and long-term soil management and conservation on the farm.

CCOF-certified farms are strongly encouraged to review the guidance and the Wild Farm Alliance’s (WFA) guide that provides more details at www.wildfarmalliance.org/biodiversity_guide. WFA has worked hard to raise awareness regarding this important area of organic standards and has developed knowledgeable resources about biodiversity conservation.

Farming is a complicated process and we recognize that many growers are subject to unique challenges and have different resources and opportunities. Our goal is to work together to maximize conservation and soil management practices over longer cycles of time than annual inspections. As the core foundation of organic we want to work with all growers to explore these issues and continually maintain and improve their diverse natural resources. We look forward to working with you.