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Big Win for Native Ecosystems!
Together we have worked for more than a decade to ensure Native Ecosystems were protected from conversion to organic production.
And just last month this campaign reached a huge milestone!
At their spring 2018 meeting, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to recommend a new rule to the USDA National Organic Program that will ultimately protect Native Ecosystems. This new regulation, when adopted by the USDA, will end the conversion of Native Ecosystems like prairies to organic production for overnight certification.
You and millions of other consumers believe that organic agriculture is built on the philosophy of caring for the Earth. When you bite into an organic apple, you expect it is meeting a standard that is grown in a way that protects wildlife and critical habitat - this new regulation does just that.
Thank you for being among the dedicated folks that are making a difference for biodiversity! You have fought beside us for years to build upon the theme that organic label means more than just pesticide-free - supporting the beauty and functionality that biodiversity provides on the farm and to your plate. This spring, your voice was key in advancing this philosophy.
We are already preparing for the next steps, working with NOSB members and other partners to draft a Guidance to help outline how this rule should be enforced on the ground. We believe with this new rule and a strong Guidance backing it, the integrity of the organic label will be protected.
Here is the full text of the new rule (new additions are in bold):
Definition:Native ecosystems can be recognized in the field as retaining both dominant and characteristic plant species as described by established classifications of natural vegetation. These will tend to be on lands that have not been previously cultivated, cleared, drained or otherwise irrevocably altered. However, they could include areas that have recovered expected plant species composition and structure.
Add to §205.200 General– addition is in bold: 205.200 The producer or handler of a production or handling operation intending to sell, label, or represent agricultural products as “100 percent organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))” must comply with the applicable provisions of this subpart. Production practices implemented in accordance with this subpart must maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.
(a) A site supporting a native ecosystem cannot be certified for organic production as provided for under this regulation for a period of 10 years from the date of conversion.
We’ve got a big problem in Washington: one that could harm farmers and communities around the country. The House of Representatives is poised to vote a second time on the 2018 Farm Bill in July, and this bill is bad.
The good news? It didn't pass the first time and there’s still time to get a better farm bill done this year.
Please take action today by thanking your Representative if they voted NO and urge them to stay strong for the second round in June. If your Representative voted YES the first time, you can still call them and urge them to vote NO in June.
California Action Alert
Right now, state legislators are debating the budget for California’s climate change programs. Your calls and emails are need to demand funding for two Climate Smart Agriculture programs that provide the necessary resources for California farmer and ranchers to make a real difference in addressing climate change.
Legislators pay attention to phone calls from their constituents, and your call can make a difference. Please make your calls today!
Budgets for the Healthy Soils Program and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) were both zeroed out last year. Help us deliver the message to your state representatives that funding must be restored.
Can you call your Assemblymember and Senator today? It will only take a minute each to leave them a message like this:
“My name is _________ and I am calling from [town/city]. I’m calling to urge the Assemblymember/Senator to support $25 million for the Healthy Soils Program and $30 million for SWEEP, as part of the state’s climate change investments. These programs will support farmers and ranchers in delivering the only climate solutions that keep carbon in soils and improve our air and water quality.”
Click here to find your Assemblymember and Senator and the phone number for their Capitol office.
California’s cap-and-trade program has raised billions of dollars in revenue that is allocated annually by the Governor and legislature for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including in agriculture.
The state now has a suite of Climate Smart Agriculture programs that provide funding to protect farmland, conserve water and energy, reduce methane emissions on dairies, and improve soil health. To date, hundreds of farmers across California have received grants totaling more than $160 million through these grants programs. In addition to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon, these on-farm projects provide many other benefits including improved air and water quality, increased crop yields and profitability, and public health benefits.
Funding for Healthy Soils and SWEEP were cut in the final negotiations for last year’s budget on climate change investments. Unfortunately, again this year, Governor Brown is proposing insufficient funding for both programs. However, the legislature is debating their own budget proposals and can influence the final decision. CalCAN is advocating for $25 million for the Healthy Soils Program and $30 million for SWEEP.
To read more about the impact of these important programs as well as some profiles of growers who have received grants and are blazing the trail on climate-friendly on-farm management practices, please see CalCAN's fact sheet series and grower profiles.
Every Gift Makes a Difference
You are among the dedicated folks that are making a difference for biodiversity - thank you! Our victory to protect Native Ecosystems is a huge win in the battle to maintain the integrity of organic agriculture. Your continued commitment to WFA keeps the momentum moving towards a wild and resilient farming system.
However, even though we won this victory, there is still much to do.
The next step is to write a draft Guidance that will help the National Organic Program to adopt this recommendation. As you can imagine this will not be an easy task. But we are prepared and we have prevailed this far - we can't let up now!
Right now we need your voice more than ever, as the road ahead will be challenging! Please make a donation to WFA today and help us to ensure a wild and resilient legacy for future generations.
For the Wild,