News From the Wild Side-October 2016

As the days are getting shorter, leaves are changing colors and falling to the ground, and animals are looking for the winter resting spots, I think about how all of these natural, wild processes are connected. How the shorter days signal to plants to wind down photosynthesis; how the leaves falling fertilize the soil below; how hibernating animals slow their bodies' rhythms to conserve energy and make it through a food scarce season. 

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
-- John Muir

The lines of connection are many and run deep in our world. Natural processes show us us how to be resilient; how to remain viable; how to move through the seasons. 

The work of Wild Farm Alliance is highlighting these connections and processes, showing farmers the benefits of moving through and with nature and at the same time working to preserve the interconnectedness of the wild. 

Our work is pushing farms to actively create healthier ecosystems while supporting the beauty and functionality that biodiversity provides to the farm.

Your support is critical in making this happen. 

We are thrilled to share our latest publication and our plans for the future (more below). It is an exciting moment for Wild Farm Alliance - we are poised to build on the momentum of our past work and bring biodiversity to the forefront of our agriculture issues. 

Thank you for your continued commitment - together we will move agriculture to a new level. 

For the wild, 



JBsignature2_(1).jpg                Shelly_Electronic_Signature.jpg
Jo Ann Baumgartner            Shelly Connor
Executive Director               Assistant Director

New Guide Helps Farmers and Certifiers Incorporate Biodiversity Practices on the Farm


We are pleased to announce our newly released publication, Biodiversity Conservation: An Organic Farmer’s and Certifier’s Guide.

The Guide clarifies the National Organic Program’s (NOP) new Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance (released January 2016). The Guide also will increase organic farmers' and certifiers' understanding of the myriad of benefits provided by biodiversity conservation.

Click here to download the new guide.

Organic certifiers from across the country will use this Guide to help their farmers be in compliance now that the Guidance is published. Sean Feder, Director of Inspection Operations with California Certified Organic Farmers stated that WFA’s Guide “will contribute to improved understanding and implementation among producers and certifiers.”

Organic Operations that use the USDA NOP label are obligated to conserve biodiversity and maintain or improve the natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. The NOP Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance was published to ensure uniform compliance of these regulations that have been in place since the NOP’s inception.

WFA executive director, Jo Ann Baumgartner, explains that “outcomes ranging from enhanced pollination and improved pest control, to cleaner water sources will help an organic operation perform optimally. This new Guide gives farmers and certifiers practical and effective information to not only be in compliance but also to take advantage of the ecosystem benefits related to biodiversity.”

While conserving natural resources and biodiversity is a foundational principle of organic agriculture, many organic operations need to diversify more in order to comply with NOP regulations, and many organic certifiers need to update their Organic System Plans and their processes used for verification. The newly released Guide has been updated to reflect the NOP Guidance and the need for consistent implementation from operation to certification.

“After years of hard work encouraging the NOP to publish the Guidance, we are thrilled to release this comprehensive guide that will help everyone from farmers to certifiers incorporate more biodiversity practices on the farm,” stated Jo Ann Baumgartner.

Without the generous support from the following organizations, this Guide would not be possible: Clif Bar Family Foundation, Columbia Foundation, Frontier Natural Products Endowment Fund of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Gaia Fund, Horne Family Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, True North Foundation, UNFI Foundation and Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. It was also funded by AweSum Organics, Café Mam, Coke Farm, Driscoll’s, Earl’s Organic Produce, Ecological Farming Association, Full Belly Farm, Gopher’s Limited, Heath and Lejune, Liberty Prairie Foundation, MOM’s Organic Market, Organically Grown Company, Phil Foster Ranches, Veritable Vegetable, and Vital Farms.

Agroforestry:  The Next Step in Addressing Climate Change


The cultivation of trees on agricultural land helps to enrich soils, maintain soil moisture and stop erosion, provide vital habitat for wildlife, as well as store carbon. This practice, where tree and shrub cultivation is incorporated among crops or pasture, is called agroforestry and is the center of attention in a recent study looking at how to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.

The study in Scientific Reports showed that agroforestry is playing a part in offsetting global greenhouse gas emissions to the tune of 0.75 Gigatonnes of CO2 per year. Planting woody vegetation on farms has the potential to play an important role in carbon sequestration worldwide since agriculture takes up about 40% of the earth’s landscape. In addition to the carbon offsets, agroforestry practices are important ecologically: they increase biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems by creating creating nest and shelter features as well as by providing other benefits associated with habitat.

Read More


eOrganic Webinar Recording Now Available

If you missed the eOrganic webinar where we discussed how to verify biodiversity conservation in organic agriculture, you can now watch the recorded presentation.

Click here to watch the webinar

About the Webinar
Organic operations must follow the National Organic Program’s (NOP) regulations. The NOP Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance, which interprets these regulations, helps organic producers and their certification personnel determine which conservation practices are appropriate. Biodiversity conservation in organic agriculture varies in a continuum from simple to complex stewardship practices. Examples from Wild Farm Alliance that suggest compliance, and minor and major issues related to the Guidance, are shared. This webinar also features presenter, Assistant Professor John Quinn, who discussed components and issues around biodiversity. Organic producers will learn how to implement conservation practices, and certification personnel will become skilled on how to observe and verify organic operation’s biodiversity conservation practices.

On the Horizon for Wild Farm Alliance


The next few months are busy for Wild Farm Alliance. We are traveling around the country to deliver presentations and talk to farmers and certifiers on how biodiversity is incorporated into farming operations. If you are attending any of these events, please find us and say hello!

National Organic Standars Board (NOSB) Fall 2016 Meeting in St. Louis, MO
November 16-18, 2016
WFA is attending and giving testimony at the NOSB meeting to advance our campaign to eliminate the incentive for conversion of high conservation value land to organic production through a rule change in the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). According to current NOP rules, land must be free from prohibited materials for three years. Despite being of high conservation value, land that has not been plowed is an easy target for overcoming the waiting period. Our wildlands are being converted at the expense of organic production. An additional rule is required to discourage this practice.

37th EcoFarm Conference in Pacific Grove, CA 
January 25-28, 2017
WFA will be presenting in workshops on the biodiversity continuum of practices farmers can use, and on birds in agriculture, and will be facilitating biodiversity farmer stories in a third workshop, in the upcoming EcoFarm Conference.

Organicology in Portland, OR
February 2-4, 2017
Organicology happens every other year. This year we are pleased to be back and participating in this conference’s natural resources and biodiversity farm tour.

MOSES Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, WI
February 23-25, 2017
This is one of the largest events in the country focused on organic agriculture. WFA is excited to be presenting on practical information for organic farmers and certifiers on how to comply with the NOP’s Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance.

usda_organic_logo.jpg2015 Organic Survey 

The 2015 USDA Survey results were just released, totaling 14,093 certified and exempt farms, with a growth in sales of 72 percent since 2008. The demand for organic is only going to continue to grow, and WFA is dedicated to ensuring the integrity of organic label. Check out the survey results and find out what is happening in your state.

Click here to download the survey report

Making Biodiversity a Cornerstone of Organic Agriculture


Biodiversity is complex. It is made up of interactions among all species that create the healthy world we all depend on.

Your donation to WFA will protect the complexity of biodiversity across millions of acres of U.S. agriculture.

Your support will:

  • Grow flowering native plants, providing nectar for Monarchs traveling south to overwinter in Mexico;
  • Create space for predators like coyotes and wolves to co-exist among farms;
  • Provide food for thousands of songbirds like chickadees, orioles, and bluebirds; and
  • Create resources for farmers to help them be better stewards of biodiversity.

Click here to take action and make a donation to WFA.

To support our biodiversity we need more than backyard gardens and fragmented wilderness.

We need:

  • Support for farmers who are already working hard to incorporate biodiversity on the farm;
  • Better policies to ensure other farmers move in the right direction; and
  • Informed public on the important role our food system plays in our biodiversity crisis.

Your donation today is the momentum we need to push forward.

Click here to donate to Wild Farm Alliance and help agriculture to protect wild nature.

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