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CCOF Celebrates Organic Champion Robert Rivas

by Shawna Rodgers |

This past December, CCOF celebrated Assemblymember Robert Rivas as our 2021 Organic Champion. At the Earthbound Farm’s Farm Stand, CCOF Foundation supporters and other organic professionals gathered to honor the work of Assemblymember Rivas. 

CCOF’s Organic Champion Award, which has recognized organic industry leaders and pioneers such as Melody Meyer and Karen Klonsky, was designed to honor the lifelong work and commitment of its honorees to the organic agriculture movement. Assemblymember Robert Rivas is named the recipient of CCOF’s 2021 award. 

Raised in Paicines, where his grandfather was a farmworker at Almaden Vineyards, Assemblymember Rivas has seen the laborious efforts required of agricultural workers for decades. As detailed on Rivas’ website, “Rivas and his brother Rick grew up in farmworker housing, cared for by their single mother and beloved grandparents, who emigrated from Mexico in the 1960s.

As a child, Rivas watched his grandfather stand side by side with Cesar Chavez and the UFW [United Farm Workers] as a leader in the fight to win equal rights and fair contracts for farmworkers. Rivas’ grandfather was known for his passionate advocacy on behalf of his fellow workers, but also for his ability to work with owners to negotiate contracts acceptable to both sides.”

Most recently, in 2018 Rivas was elected to represent the 30th congressional district. During the 2019–2020 legislative session, Rivas fought to streamline agricultural housing development through AB 1783. Rivas was appointed as chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and elected as vice chair of the influential Latino Legislative Caucus.

As chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Robert Rivas authored AB 125, a food and farm resilience bond bill. CCOF is working in coalition with sustainable agriculture, food access, environmental justice, labor, and climate/environmental advocacy groups to advance this bill that invests in 

  • sustainable and organic agriculture resources, 
  • healthy food access and security, 
  • farmworker and food worker support and resources, and  
  • food system infrastructure. 

AB 125 includes a number of organic investments. These asks were uplifted by farm advocates seeking additional resources and tools to support farmers and ranchers, as well as by environmental justice organizations that are concerned about the effect of agricultural chemicals on the communities they work with. The organic investments include

  • funding for cooperative extension staff with expertise in organic, 
  • an organic transition program, 
  • organic education for future farmers and technical assistance providers,
  • meat processing infrastructure funding, including incentives for processors to become certified organic, and 
  • prioritization for organic procurement in food access projects. 

By authoring a bill that connects equity, climate resilience, agriculture, and economic recovery, Rivas offers a solution to many of the challenges facing Californians. He is a leader in organic and in paving a sustainable path forward.

CCOF admires Rivas’ commitment to supporting farmers and farmworkers, especially organic producers, as California continues to advance its climate resilience goals. Join us in celebrating Assembly member Rivas!

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