Farms are the Solution
We cannot wait to tackle the issue of biodiversity loss; too much is at stake. Without biodiversity, farms would not survive and our plates would be empty.
Biodiversity is the foundation for our survival. But unfortunately, we are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction—the worst loss of species since the dinosaurs disappeared. At the current rate of species disappearance, we should expect for 30-50% of all species to be facing extinction by 2050.
Biological diversity includes native species and the ecosystem processes they provide. Many plants won't be pollinated without pollinators. Natural pest control won't happen without natural enemy insects, beneficial birds and mammals present. We won't have clean water without plants naturally filtering farm runoff. And we won't have carbon storage in soils and woody biomass without plants supporting this process.
Farms can conserve biodiversity, benefiting from it along the way. The key is diversifying the farm itself, and farmers can do that using a number of practices. UC Berkeley’s research findings are reinforcing that diversified farming systems progress and support the farm all along a simple to complex continuum—from mixed cropping and livestock systems, cover crops, hedgerows and riparian corridors on the farm—to natural landscapes surrounding the farm.
The National Organic Program Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance is increasing the integrity of the organic standards while strengthening the capacity of organic farms to benefit from nature.
Organic farmers are innovators by nature, and their practices often serve as models for others. With U.S. sales of organic reaching $39 billion in 2015, organic farm practices are having a rippling effect throughout agriculture.
In principle, organic farms have more diverse farmscapes and are helping to address biodiversity loss. In reality, some do and some don't. However, they are required to conserve biodiversity as part of the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, and the Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance that WFA initially wrote is helping with that.
We are engaging with organic farmers so that they are successfully implementing practices that protect and increase biodiversity, and with organic inspectors and certifiers so that they are verifying uniform compliance.
Wild Farm Alliance and partners have been working for about a dozen years to help the NOP better address compliance of the biodiversity and natural resources conservation regulations. We've had many successes along the way.
The National Organic Program’s (NOP) needs to eliminate the unintentional incentive (three-year waiting period for land to be free of prohibited substances) for conversion of High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA) to organic production.
According to inspectors and others, conversion is occurring in prairie ecosystems of the Midwest, oak woodlands of California and many other places on Earth.
NOP’s incentive to destroy these ecosystems devalues the organic label in the eyes of the consumer and destroys critical wildlife habitat. In order to encourage NOSB to make a recommendation to NOP for a rule change, we are building a broad-based coalition that understands the importance of HCVAs and organic agriculture’s role in protecting our wild places.