Organic Programs Go Adrift During Government Shutdown

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The federal government shutdown is going on its fourth week with no clear resolution in sight. According to estimates from S&P Global, the shutdown has already cost the U.S. economy $3.6 billion, and If it continues two more weeks, the economic damage could surpass $5.7 billion.

The shutdown is causing issues for farmers across the nation. Local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices have been closed, affecting farmers with agency loans. Food safety inspectors are working while missing paychecks, and important Ag data isn’t being collected. What does the shutdown mean specifically for the Organic Sector?

Many organic programs are left without moorings in this uncharted territory. Continue reading

An Organic New Zealand Odyssey

fern-1540867As you read this, I may be streaming over the largest body of water on the planet. The Pacific will beckon as I careen across the International Date Line, south to my favorite island nation, Aotearoa, literally the land of the long white cloud according to the Maori tongue. It is also known as New Zealand. Continue reading

Who Will Fund the Challenges Facing Organic Today?

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The political winds are against us. We are in an era of stagnating and dwindling regulatory oversight by the current administration.

Organic seems to be floundering in its own juices.

Trump’s USDA withdrew the final animal welfare rule that consumers and legitimate producers all agreed upon for over decade.

The administration meddled with the NOSB’s work plan, withdrawing work on Aquaculture, Apiculture and Pet Food. There will be no regulations to advance organic in these areas in the near future.

They killed the idea of a check-off that would have raised much-needed funds to bolster our still adolescent industry.

This is indeed an unfriendly crew cutting and slashing rules and opportunities that organic wants. Continue reading

Time to Exhale, Organic Cannabis Regulations are Coming

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In June 2017 the California Legislature passed SB 94 which made the recreational use of cannabis products legal for adults over 21 years of age. Since cannabis is an agricultural product, it was left to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to stand up the regulations.

Buried deep inside the hundreds of pages of text was a clause that mandated CDFA to create an organic cannabis program by 2021.

The time remaining will go by like a whiff of smoke and CDFA is quickly preparing to meet the deadline.

Continue reading

Alcohol and Organic Farming – Methane, Frogs and People on Mars

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I was lucky enough to visit Whiskey Hill Farms and Blume Distillation this summer. I was blown away by the scope of this 14-acre certified organic farm. Not only are they the largest producer of domestic turmeric, but they provide answers to the food waste dilemma by producing high-grade commercial alcohol. I soon learned that everything that comes from the distillery goes right back into the farm! Continue reading