News From the Wild Side - October 2017

Keep up-to-date on the latest news from Wild Farm Alliance! 



Moving in the Right Direction to Protect Native Ecosystems

The momentum has finally shifted in our favor and we are on our way to protecting Native Ecosystems from going under the plow.

The good news is that in September, the NOSB published recommended language for a rule change. The bad news is that the language of the recommended rule change is problematic. Our new Issue Brief, Eliminating the Incentive for Conversion of Native Ecosystems to Organic Production, outlines the problems with the proposed language for the rule change recommendation and how we can work together to fix it.  

Click here to download the new Issue Brief and learn more.IssueBriefCoverImage.jpg

While the NOSB tried their best, unintended loopholes were created. In an effort to streamline the verification process, they decided to use the term “Native Ecosystems” instead of “High Conservation Value Areas,” and to exclude all lands that had been previously cropped or grazed from the rule which would make the rule meaningless. 

The public comment period just closed and along with more than 300 people, we submitted our own comments with 23 organizations and farmers signing on. In our comments, we urged the NOSB to take their recommended language back to the committee and revise it so the intent of the rule (to protect Native Ecosystems) will be recognized. Click here to read our comments.

The October NOSB meeting is this week. There is a clear consensus that this issue is critical, and all NOSB members and organic advocates want to tackle it. Since the release of the draft rule change language, we have been working with our partners to come up with a unified response on how to improve it, and feel very hopeful about that.

Along with our partners, we will be at the NOSB meeting to ensure the NOSB recommends a rule change that addresses our concerns, and ultimately push the National Organic Program (NOP) to adopt a recommendation we fully support. In order to accomplish this, we are building support among our conservation partners and the organic community, creating a broad-based coalition that understands the importance of biodiversity, conservation, and organic agriculture’s role in protecting our wild places.

Your support of Wild Farm Alliance is making sure that the Organic label truly means more!

OSPReportImage.jpgMaking Biodiversity a Priority: Updating Organic System Plans

We just released a new report of a review conducted by WFA that looks at US based certifiers' Organic System Plans (OSPs) and how well they are incorporating questions to protect biodiversity on organic farms.

OSPs (farm plans) ensure that certifiers, inspectors and farmers are implementing sound practices that represent the integrity of the organic label.

Click here to learn more and download the report.

In our review, we found that organic certifiers are moving in the right direction but, nearly two decades after the roll out of the National Organic Program (NOP), most are significantly deficient when it comes to addressing the intent and letter of the standards related to biodiversity. Across the board, for both cropland and livestock OSPs, certifiers need to update their OSPs to better address biodiversity conservation.

Only 8 percent of the livestock OSPs and 24 percent of the cropland OSPs addressed half or more of our model OSP questions - leaving a lot of room for improvement.

Protecting biodiversity is a fundamental principle of the NOP standards. Organic farmers, certifiers, and inspectors have the responsibility to ensure that operations using the organic label do just that.

Download the OSP Report.

Biodiversity protection and the integrity of the National Organic Program cannot be overlooked for another 18 years.

Organic means more than just no prohibited substances; it means food and farms that carry this label are actively working to create healthier ecosystems; it means organic food and farming embody more—supporting the beauty and functionality that biodiversity provides on the farm and to our plate.

You can help! 

Your donation will provide technical resources and training for certifiers, inspectors, and organic farmers on how to increase biodiversity on the farm.

Cover_crop_hedgerow_2.jpgNew Research on Hedgerows 

A new paper, Hedgerow benefits align with food production and sustainability goalsby Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension, and partners, outlines the important economic benefits of planting hedgerows for biodiversity and our food system. 

Because intensive agricultural operations are so prevalent on the landscape, little habitat remains for pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. This lack of habitat is wreaking havoc on biodiversity and the ecosystem services (i.e. benefits) delivered to farms. Without pollinators and natural enemy insects, farmers need to rent hives and use more pesticides.

Farming systems that rely entirely on external inputs are not sustainable. 

Hedgerows are important investments for biodiversity and food production that add stability and resilience in our farming systems. Field studies done in California show that farms with established hedgerows increase pollination and pest control services naturally. What the research found is that while the farmer has upfront costs to install a hedgerow, it pays for itself in these services anywhere from 7 years for pollination and pest control, to 16 years for just pest control, but with cost-share support these times can be cut in half. These benefits were seen for a 1,000 ft long hedgerow adjacent to a 40 acre crop field. 

There is a significant need for more hedgerows on our farms. While the few farmers that have installed hedgerows are reaping the rewards, more farmers need to adopt similar practices. This paper discusses how there is a need for education, outreach, and resources about hedgerows, both from conservation agencies, and with farmer-to-farmer communication.  

Read More.

platform_cover_screencap_for_graphics.pngMake Your Voice Heard in the 2018 Farm Bill

If you're like us, you want our farm and food policy to support strong family farms, vibrant communities, good food for everyone, and well-managed natural resources. 

Congress is already getting to work writing the 2018 Farm Bill – a major opportunity to shape a better food and farm future! How do we do that? We speak up for what we value! 

Wild Farm Alliance is a member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and is endorsing NSAC’s policy platform, "An Agenda for the 2018 Farm Bill". This platform is a blueprint for positive change. This week NSAC is delivering a copy to every single member of Congress, along with a message: this Farm Bill needs to be about opportunity, equity, and stewardship. 

Will you join us? Sign on as a citizen endorser of our platform and help us show Congress that thousands of families, farmers, and advocates around the country stand with us in calling for a better food and farm future. 

Sign on Here

NSAC’s 2018 Farm Bill platform will advance opportunity, equity and stewardship and create a better future for family farms that includes: 

  • A thriving next generation of farmers and ranchers
  • Healthy communities with strong farm to fork connections
  • Stewardship that sustains our shared natural resources
  • Shared, resilient seeds that meet farmers’ needs
  • A fair, effective farm safety net

Sign on today! And stay tuned for more opportunities for action very soon. 

Comanagementpic.pngUpdated Resource on Food Safety 

Check out WFA's updated Food Safety Conservation Guide. We updated it as part of a collaboration with Community Alliance for Family Farmers (CAFF) in order to educate organic certifiers about the similarities and differences between the National Organic Program and the Food and Drug Association produce regulations. This publication is also very useful to organic farmers.

Conservation-minded farmers know that conserving these areas on the farm helps protect water and air quality, supports pollinators, and reduces erosion and greenhouse gases. In a climate of food-safety angst, knowing the basics of managing crops and conservation practices to address food safety can go a long way in maintaining on-farm conservation plantings while reducing the risk of pathogen contamination.

Download the Updated Guide 

Cover-Pest_Control_by_Birds.pngWANTED: Sponsors for a Publication about Resiliency, Birds, and Pest Control

We are currently preparing for the release of a new publication – Building Resiliency on Your Farm: Pest Control by Birds. The guide will show farmers and agricultural professionals how farms can both be resilient to climate change and reduce pest problems. We will share farmers’ stories, describe in farmer-friendly terms how a multitude of birds are beneficial to specific fruit, vegetable and livestock farms (based on scientific journal articles), and outline what kind of steps farmers can take in order to make their farms resilient. 

Insectivorous and carnivorous birds help year-round, while omnivores are beneficial during the nesting season when they feed their young insects but may need to be managed later on depending on the birds and the crop grown. 

Please consider sponsoring this publication and helping farmers build resiliency while also supporting the most fundamental component of agriculture - biodiversity.

Farmers are facing new challenges everyday due to climate change, and we know that incorporating biodiversity conservation into farm operations helps farmers weather the storm, with less production losses and damages to their land. 

Sponsors will receive tremendous exposure and marketing benefits. Thanks to sponsorships, this important work will help to ensure that best practices on biodiversity conservation are the ones being implemented. By becoming a sponsor, your business will get your logo/name on the professionally printed guides and be thanked on all print and online promotional materials. 

Email [email protected] to learn more. 

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JBsignature2_(1).jpg                Shelly_Electronic_Signature.jpg

Jo Ann Baumgartner            Shelly Connor
Executive Director               Assistant Director


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