Most will agree that California is facing an extreme climate crisis. In fact, the entire world is experiencing rising temperatures, devastating storms, frequent heat waves, winds, and wildfires.
Years of California drought have created dwindling water supplies and the disruption of normal ecosystems. As of this writing, most locations in California haven’t received any measurable rainfall since December 26th – January and February should be the rainiest months of the season.
On February 18th California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) released the second part of their research project that investigates how organic farming is a solution to the climate crisis and other issues facing California and the world today.
The Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report points to organic agriculture as a real solution to climate change, economic insecurity, and the health inequities that exist in the state.
By building healthy soils that store carbon and water, creating jobs and reinvesting dollars into local economies, and providing healthy food and protecting the environment, the Roadmap concludes that organic is critical to securing California’s future.
The report was unveiled at a party in Sacramento hosted by the CCOF Foundation. The likely organic suspects, experts, and stakeholders gathered to toast the new publication and hear from Senator Anna Caballero, who championed the effort.
Senator Caballero spoke directly about the powerful potential organic agriculture has to combat climate change and contribute to climate resiliency.
“I pledge my full support to working with CCOF. Agriculture needs to have a seat at the table when discussing climate resilience. This Roadmap can set an example for other states, other communities, and other countries to follow suit,” remarked Caballero.
Our changing climate threatens all people in all communities, but farming communities are on the front line and the most vulnerable. Climate affects their health, water, food security, and economy in disproportionate ways.
Why Organic Agriculture?
Organic farms build healthy soils that are critical to climate change mitigation. The world’s soils have the potential to capture up to 25 percent of annual fossil fuel emissions.
Organic farms sequester carbon by building robust soils with more organic matter. Organic matter enables organic soils to capture and store more carbon out of the atmosphere.
Healthy organic soils act like a sponge, absorbing and storing more water – conserving a precious resource for California and the planet.
The Roadmap offers tangible policy recommendations to realize organic’s full potential and mitigate the effects of climate change by:
- Integrating organic into California’s climate strategy by building healthy soils.
- Investing in water efficiency programs to secure California’s water supply.
- Investing more in organic research and technical assistance to build farm resilience.
- Conserving California’s dwindling farmland to maximize carbon sequestration.
Beyond the climate benefits, the Report outlines the economic benefits organic farming offers.
As the organic market continues to outpace sales of all other food sectors, organic agriculture creates economic opportunity in both urban and rural communities.
California has the fifth-largest economy in the world but suffers the highest poverty rate in the nation. Income inequality has only deepened over the years. The high cost of living and astronomic housing costs in California create the biggest threats to prosperity.
The Roadmap offers organic agriculture as a solution because organic farms and businesses reduce poverty by creating jobs and recirculating dollars within local communities.
Tangible policy recommendations to address this inequality include:
- Fostering strong organic markets by adding organic as part of its farming identity under the “California Grown” program, through farmers markets and by fostering markets in Mexico.
- Supporting organic farmers so they can comply with regulations and maintain viability.
- Investing in farmworker housing, transportation and pathways to citizenship.
- Integrating organic agriculture and business into economic development planning.
- Cultivating the next generation of organic farmers with access to capital, land tenure education, and financial and legal services.
The Roadmap also looks at the health inequities in the state – especially for those living and working in polluted environments.
The lack of access to healthy food in many urban and rural communities creates chronic health issues and soaring health care costs.
Organic farming can be a solution because of its prohibition of synthetic pesticides and antibiotics that contaminate food and the environment. Organic agriculture creates healthy soils, fosters clean water, and produces nutritious food.
To combat the many health inequities, the Roadmap recommends policies to:
- Expand organic food in all communities.
- Support children’s health with organic food and farming.
- Promote organic food as medicine.
I believe that by using the policies in the Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report, we can leverage the proven ability of organic to make the state better prepared for climate change and build healthier and more secure communities.
Let’s use this Roadmap to create a better future for California and the Planet.
You can order a printed copy of the Policy Report Here.