Q: What is the importance of the passage of the California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA)?
A: COFFA marks the first update to California’s state organic law in over a decade, bringing about much-needed reform to support the state’s growing organic sector. California is the only state in the nation that has a State Organic Program (SOP), which handles enforcement of organic standards in California on behalf of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). The SOP conducts inspections, residue testing, and investigates fraud or misuse of the organic label; however, the SOP registration process had become outdated and duplicative of USDA organic certification. Therefore, COFFA updates the law to allow for a streamlined registration process that reduces burdens on organic farmers.
Q: How does COFFA help local farmers compete in today’s organic marketplace?
A: COFFA levels the playing field for California’s organic farmers. California is the only state that requires fees and paperwork on certified organic farmers in addition to their USDA certification fees and paperwork. The additional fees and paperwork add to the costs of organic production in the state and are a barrier to certification, especially for small-scale and diverse farms that currently have the most burdensome reporting requirements. COFFA streamlines the SOP registration process to end duplicative paperwork for California's organic farmers and reduces fees for some categories of small farms.
Q: How does COFFA advance organic agriculture?
A: In addition to removing barriers to certification, COFFA also allows the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the California Organic Products Advisory Committee (COPAC) to support organic agriculture through organic outreach, education, and other programmatic activities.
Q: When will the changes made under COFFA take effect?
A: COFFA takes effect January 1, 2017. Some changes will be implemented immediately while other changes may take longer to implement. Stay up to date by signing up for the CCOF Newsletter. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Where can I find more information about changes to the SOP?
A: Visit the CDFA’s SOP webpages.