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New Animal Welfare Standards Released by National Organic Program

The National Organic Program (NOP) announced on April 7, 2016, that it will propose amending the organic livestock and poultry production requirements.

The proposed regulation, which is based on recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, is an effort to achieve consistency in organic livestock practices. It covers a range of topics including health care practices and living conditions for organic animals.

Here are some of the highlights of the proposed rule:

New Certified Organic Survey Shows National Growth with California Leading the Way

New statistics released by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) show that the total value of certified organic agricultural products sold in the United States increased from $5.5 billion in 2014 to $6.2 billion in 2015, a 13 percent increase. The number of certified organic farms and organic acreage also increased between 2014-2015.

New Crop Insurance Policy for Diversified Farms

Historically, few crop insurance options existed for diversified organic farms. Now, under a new policy called Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) diversified farms can insure crops, livestock, nursery, and greenhouse crops under one comprehensive policy.

New Law Will Protect Seed Libraries in California

Vague language in last year’s revision of the California Seed Law was clarified by legislation that exempts non-commercial seed trading–such as seed libraries, seed swaps, and other seed exchanges–from state permit and labeling requirements for commercial seed.

New Organic Price Elections Make Crop Insurance a Better Deal for Organic Growers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) continues to refine crop insurance options for organic growers.

The latest change is that more crops are eligible for coverage at the organic or contracted price instead of at the conventional price.

New Report Assesses Federally Funded Organic Research

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has completed its analysis of federally-funded organic research projects and released the findings in the report Taking Stock: Analyzing and Reporting Organic Research Investments 2002-2014.

OFRF analyzed 189 organic research projects that were funded by USDA’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative and Organic Transitions competitive grants over the course of 13 years, representing $142.2 million of research funds.

New Study Finds That Maintaining Diverse Vegetation on Farms Enhances Food Safety

A new study out of the University of California, Berkeley shows that removing vegetation adjacent to farms on California’s Central Coast has not reduced the incidence of E. coli found in fresh produce. Instead, the reverse is true: farms that retained nongrazed riparian or other natural vegetation types had significantly lower prevalence of generic E. coli in water and pathogenic E. coli in produce.

New Study Shows Consumers Are Confused Over Organic Claims on Non-Agricultural Products

A public roundtable on October 20 in Washington, D.C., will consider the findings of a new study on consumer understanding of which products are covered by the organic label.

The roundtable will feature invited panelists including consumer advocates, organic representatives, and academics. It will be free and open to the public.

New Whole-Farm Crop Insurance Provides Options for Organic Farmers and Ranchers

A new type of crop insurance, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, may better serve highly diversified organic crop and livestock producers than traditional crop insurance policies. Rather than covering losses of a particular crop, Whole-Farm Revenue Protection covers all crops and livestock produced on a single farm.


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