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New “Farmers’ Guide” Helps Organic Producers Apply for Buffer Initiative

On May 13, 2016, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) announced the publication of their Organic Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Reserve Program Field Border Buffer Initiative. The guide is intended to assist organic farmers interested in accessing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new Organic Buffer Initiative, and is one of many free resources produced by NSAC for farmers and farm groups.

Now Accepting Applications for Farmers Advisory Council

CCOF is accepting applications for appointment to the Organic Trade Association (OTA) Farmers Advisory Council (FAC). Applications are due August 5, 2016.

FAC provides the OTA Board of Directors and staff with critical input from small- and medium-sized organic farmers, ranchers, and growers on matters pertinent to the advancement of organic agriculture, with a specific focus on OTA’s policy agenda.

OFRF Researches Organic Suppression Methods for Soil-Borne Plant Pathogens

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is currently working on a project that could assist organic farmers in seed treatment. Conventional farming practices that focus on chemical treatment and fumigation can be harmful to both the environment and humans alike, and many of these methods are prohibited in organic production. OFRF is expanding on the work of prior studies that found suppression of soil-borne plant pathogens from microbes present in solid and liquid organic soil amendments.

Organic Buffer Plantings Eligible for Conservation Payments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that new buffer plantings around organic fields are eligible for rental payments and cost-share if they are enrolled in 10-15 year conservation contracts.

Part of the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP), the new organic option is open for sign-up throughout the year and is not subject to bidding and ranking processes. Instead, land is enrolled automatically if it qualifies for the program.

Organic Farmers Sought for Interviews About Birds on Strawberry Farms

Ph.D. student Alejandra Echeverri is working in California’s central coast to understand how strawberry growers and managers of strawberry farming operations perceive birds on the farm. 
 
Specifically, Echeverri hopes to conduct in-person surveys with strawberry growers or managers to understand which practices they are using to attract birds to or deter birds from their farms. She also is interested to find out whether they see some birds as beneficial or pests on their farms.
 

Organic Seed Resources Available for Farmers and Certifiers

In the past, it was a challenge for many organic farmers to source organic seed. Fortunately, there are now a number of resources available to make it easier for farmers to find organic seed or to produce it themselves.

Organic Strawberries Celebrated by California Assembly Resolution

California state Assembly Members Susan Eggman and Luis Alejo introduced a resolution on April 21 celebrating National Strawberry Month, which will begin May 1 and continue throughout the month. The resolution has passed the Assembly and is headed to the Senate.

The resolution’s language includes as one of its “whereas”es that “California grows more strawberries than any other place in the world, … and more organic strawberries than all 49 other states combined.”

Organic Survey: Certified Organic Acreage in California Tops 1 Million Acres; Sales Approach $3 Billion

Results of the newly released 2016 Certified Organic Survey provide numerous indicators of organic’s continuing growth trajectory in the United States.
 

Proposed Regulations Open Industrial Hemp Cultivation in California

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced proposed rulemaking on updated industrial hemp cultivation regulations for California. The updated regulations establish a registration fee for commercial industrial hemp cultivators and allow for California farmers to begin hemp cultivation. 
 
Written comments will be accepted on the updated regulations until 5:00 p.m. on December 24, 2018.

Register Now for the Organic Hotspots Conference

Sacramento, February 22-23

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