In this Issue
Join Us: Spring 2020 Farm Field Days
We are thrilled announce our upcoming field days focused on beneficial birds as pest control allies.
April 14 - Medlock Ames Vineyard, Healdsburg, REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
April 16 - Blue Heron Farm, Watsonville, REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
May 5 - Fresh Run Farm, Bolinas, Registration opening soon
May 12 - Davis Ranches - Colusa, Registration opening soon
These four events will showcase practices that support beneficial birds and manage pest birds. Discussions will be led by avian researchers, extension, conservationists and growers, and there will be a demonstration of a conservation planting at three of the farms.
Hope to see you this spring at our upcoming events! If you are interested in sponsoring one of these events, please email [email protected].
Workshop - Farming Near Riparian Areas: Benefits and Food Safety Risks
When: Friday, March 20, 2020 from 10:00 AM – 1:30 PM
Where: JSM Organics, 135 Maher Road, Royal Oaks, CA
Jo Ann Baumgartner of Wild Farm Alliance will be one of the presenters at an upcoming workshop about Food Safety and Riparian Areas. Farming near Riparian Areas affords both benefits and challenges. Riparian areas are habitat for beneficial insects and birds, including pollinators and pest consumers. Riparian areas positively influence water quality, removing nutrients, stabilizing sediment and providing cooling shade. They also store carbon and provide biodiversity. At the same time, riparian areas pose food safety and crop loss concerns.
JSM Organic’s Triple M Ranch has a large riparian border and is being successfully farmed, selling to farmer's markets and CSAs. Come learn about the research from UC Davis on the risks of farming near riparian areas compared with other areas. This will also be your chance to hear about the upcoming Ag Order staff recommendations for riparian area establishment. And to learn from Javier Zamora about the issues and management measures that he utilizes at Triple M Ranch.
Latest Flipping the Table Episode: Compelling Conversation with Dr. Britt Wray
If you haven't already, be sure to listen to this podcast by WFA Board member, Michael Dimock. Flipping the Table: Honest Conversations About Food, Farming and the Future is full of inspiring interviews and conversations about our food system.
The latest podcast features, Dr. Britt Wray, cohost of the BBC podcast Tomorrow's World as well as Canada's legendary national science TV show The Nature of Things. The New Yorker named her first book, Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction, one of the books they loved in 2017 and the Sunday Times called it a "must-read."
Dr. Wray joined Michael in a far-ranging conversation about the need for a humbler approach to science, the prospects for that occurring and the psychological impacts of climate change, the subject of her next book, due in 2021. The links to food system challenges are discussed throughout our conversation.
Nature's Best Hope - A New Book by Dr. Doug Tallamy
Douglas W. Tallamy’s first book, Bringing Nature Home, awakened thousands of readers to an urgent situation: wildlife populations are in decline because the native plants they depend on are fast disappearing. His solution? Plant more natives. In this new book, Tallamy takes the next step and outlines his vision for a grassroots approach to conservation. Nature’s Best Hope shows how we can turn our yards and farms into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats. Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy. Even more important, it’s practical, effective, and easy—you will walk away with specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own place.
If you’re concerned about doing something good for the environment, Nature’s Best Hope is the blueprint you need. By acting now, you can help preserve our precious wildlife—and the planet—for future generations.
Why You Need to Welcome Bug-Eating Birds in Your Nut Orchard
Dr. Sacha Heath of the University of California, Davis, checking codling moth larvae inside an exclusionary cage on a walnut tree.
In walnut orchards in California, studies by Dr. Sacha Heath, University of California, Davis, and Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension Pest Management Advisor (and WFA project Advisors), are demonstrating that encouraging beneficial bird populations in and near the orchard is both an economical and effective way to significantly reduce pest insect populations.
In fact, Heath and Long’s work shows, when it comes to walnuts and, by extension, pears and apples, birds may even outperform insect predators in controlling codling moth populations. Key to supporting bird populations, the two researchers contend, is maintaining and/or establishing hedgerows; those areas of native trees, shrubs, bunch grasses, and wildflowers on the margins of productive walnut groves.
Healthy Soils Program - Apply Now
The third round of funding for California Department of Food and Agriculture's Healthy Soils Program (HSP) is open. These are cost-share grants of up to $100,000 for a three-year project.
Good News! Wild Farm Alliance can help farmers apply for funding and if they are awarded, will provide assistance with implementation and grant administration for the three year project period.
The Healthy Soils Program stems from the California Healthy Soils Initiative, a collaboration of state agencies and departments to promote the development of healthy soils and farm habitat on California's farmlands and ranchlands.
HSP provides financial assistance for conservation management that improves soil health, sequesters carbon and reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Planting hedgerows, restoring riparian habitat, and building soil health with compost and cover crops are some of the most popular practices.
Want to learn more? Email [email protected].
Organic Farmer Scholarships Available for the Spring NOSB Meeting
The National Organic Coalition is offering a limited number of scholarships to farmers wishing to attend the NOC Pre-NOSB meeting (April 28, 2020) & NOSB meeting (April 29 to May 1, 2020) in Crystal City, VA.
The following important topics will be discussed during the NOC and NOSB meetings: DC organic policy update, farmer updates, the role of organic in fighting climate change, oversight and enforcement for imports and dairy sector, Origin of Livestock, Pasture Rule enforcement, racial equity in the organic movement, eliminating incentives to convert native ecosystems to organic production, prohibition against genetic engineering in organic, and others.
Interested farmers should fill out this online application: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KQBNK5Y
Priority will be given to farmers who apply by Friday, March 13. Farmers who apply by March 20 will be notified of scholarship awards around March 18.
- Scholarship amounts will vary depending on how many applicants we have, and what their specific needs are. We ask that scholarship recipients attend the NOC Pre-NOSB meeting on Tuesday, April 28 if possible.
- We encourage farmers to make oral comments to the NOSB. You can apply to give oral comments here (check back in early March for sign ups): https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/national-organic-standards-board-nosb-meeting-crystal-city-va
- The NOSB also accepts written comments, which are due at 11:59 pm eastern on Friday, April 3, 2020. Learn more: https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/national-organic-standards-board-nosb-meeting-crystal-city-va
Farmers who receive a scholarship will be reimbursed for expenses soon after the meeting – please save and submit receipts. Please direct any questions about the scholarship application process to: [email protected].
Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA) Introduced
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) recently introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), comprehensive legislation that sets a bold vision of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in U.S. agriculture by the year 2040.
“Farming has always been a risky business, but unpredictable, extreme weather patterns are creating immense challenges that threaten our nation’s food production and jeopardize the livelihood of American farmers,” said Congresswoman Pingree, an organic farmer of more than 40 years.“Last year, farmers were unable to plant 19.6 million acres of crops due to record-breaking rainfall. We must be proactive to keep farmers on the land and in business.”
“The Agriculture Resilience Act is designed as a roadmap to sequester more carbon in the soil and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by supporting farmers where they are. We need to empower farmers with the best available science and provide a range of conservation tools, because what works for one farmer in Maine may not work for another in Iowa or Georgia,” Congresswoman Pingree said of her bill.
“I have set an ambitious but achievable goal: to reduce agricultural emissions by 50% before 2030 and make this segment of our economy net-zero by 2040. Challenges of this scale demand bold solutions and, unlike other industries, agriculture has a unique opportunity to draw down massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil.”
NSAC SPECIAL REPORT: CONSERVATION STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM
Over the last decade, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has enrolled over 94 million acres of farmland, ranchland, and forestland in conservation contracts. As of the end of 2018, over 74 million acres were enrolled in active CSP contracts – a landmass equal to the entire size of the states of Iowa and Georgia combined. As the largest conservation program in the country, CSP provides much needed conservation assistance to producers and landowners with agricultural lands in production and promotes sustainable farming methods that work in concert with the environment.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) recently published a new Special Report based on the latest available data, which analyzes CSP’s contribution to conservation-minded producers and landowners. In addition to enrollment, renewal, and land use trends, the Special Report presents a deep dive analysis on the use of various conservation practices and enhancements across the country, as well as CSP’s critical role in supporting conservation efforts across diverse farmer groups.
National Organic Producer Survey
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) have released two national surveys—one for certified organic producers and the other for producers transitioning to organic certification. This collaborative effort is part of a USDA-funded project seeking to learn more about the challenges and research priorities of organic farmers and ranchers, and those transitioning land to certified organic production.
OFRF, OSA, and a broad coalition of organic champions were instrumental in securing an increase in federal funding for organic research from $20M to $50M in the 2018 Farm Bill. This increase provides an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to tackle the challenges that inhibit the growth of organic production—strong farmer participation in these surveys is critical to informing that investment.
Survey results will be published in updated versions of OFRF's National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) report and OSA’s State of Organic Seed (SOS) report, both of which have been invaluable resources for ensuring research funding is relevant and responsive to the needs of organic producers, while also identifying gaps where additional investment is necessary. By collaborating on these surveys, OFRF and OSA hope to reduce survey fatigue and increase grower participation.
If you are a certified organic farmer/rancher, please respond to this survey: www.opinion.wsu.edu/organicproduction
If you are a farmer/rancher transitioning to certified organic production (this means no land currently certified organic), please take this transitioning producer survey: www.opinion.wsu.edu/transitionproducers
The survey is being administered by Washington State University and all responses will be kept confidential.