Earlier this week, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) released the second part of a research project that investigates how organic farming is a solution to some of the gravest issues facing California and the world today.
The Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report posits that organic agriculture is a solution to the changing climate, economic insecurity and health inequities. By building healthy soils that store carbon and water, by creating jobs and reinvesting dollars into local economies, and by providing healthy food and protecting the environment, the Roadmap concludes that organic is critical to securing California’s future.
Unveiled at the CCOF Foundation Reception, organic experts and stakeholders gathered to toast the Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report, and hear from California State Senator Anna Caballero – a partner and champion in the effort.
Senator Anna Caballero
Senator Caballero provided valuable input on CCOF’s Roadmap to an Organic California and spoke about the powerful potential of organic agriculture to combat climate change and contribute to climate resiliency.
"I pledge my full support to working with CCOF. Agriculture needs to have a seat at the table when discussing climate resilience. This Roadmap can set an example for other states, other communities, and other countries to follow suit," said Caballero.
Senator Caballero, Phil LaRocca, Kelly Damewood
Most agree that California is in the midst of a climate crisis, experiencing rising temperatures, more frequent heat waves, winds and wildfires. Years of drought have created limited water supplies and the disruption of normal ecosystems.
While the changing climate, frontline farming communities are the most vulnerable, affecting human health, water, food security, and the economy.
The Roadmap outlines tangible policy recommendations to realize organic’s full potential and mitigate the effects of climate change by:
- Integrating organic into California’s climate strategy by building healthy soils.
- Investing in water efficiency programs to secure California’s water supply.
- Investing more in organic research and technical assistance to build farm resilience.
- Conserving California’s dwindling farmland to maximize carbon sequestration.
Beyond the climate benefits, the Report outlines the economic and health value of organic farming. By selling locally and creating jobs, organic farms reinvest dollars within the community. As the organic market continues to outpace sales of all other food sectors, organic agriculture creates economic opportunity in both urban and rural communities.
Income inequities in California have deepened over the years and the report highlights the high cost of living and housing, along with food insecurity as some of the biggest threats.
CCOF Certified Organic Farm Signage
The Roadmap offer organic agriculture as a solution because organic farms and businesses can reduce poverty by creating jobs and recirculating dollars within local communities. Tangible policy recommendations to address this inequality include:
- Fostering strong organic markets by including organic as part of its farming identity under “California Grown” program, through farmers markets and by fostering markets in Mexico.
- Supporting organic farmers to comply with regulations and maintain viability.
- Investing in farmworker housing, transportation and pathways to citizenship.
- Integrating organic agriculture and business into economic development planning.
- Cultivating the next generation of organic farmers with access to capital, land tenure education, financial and legal services.
The Roadmap looks at the health inequities in the state - especially affecting those living and working in polluted environments. It also cites the lack of access to healthy food in many urban and rural communities. As a result, many on the frontline experience inequitable health outcomes and soaring health care costs. To combat the health inequities, the Roadmap recommends policies to:
- Expand organic food in all communities.
- Support children’s health with organic food and farming.
- Promote organic food as medicine.
Lastly, the Roadmap offers organic farming as a solution because of its prohibition of synthetic pesticides and antibiotics that contaminate food and the environment. Organic farming creates healthy soils and fosters clean water, producing food that is highly nutritious.
Kelly Damewood, CEO, CCOF
“The Roadmap is a tool to help California build climate resilience and health equity,” said CCOF CEO Kelly Damewood. “We are focused and energized as we work with Senator Caballero and other organic champions to bring lasting change to California’s food security and healthcare strategies.”
The Roadmap concludes that organic is an innovative approach to farming that builds healthy communities. Organic food is grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, which pollute drinking water and harm human health. And high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants make organic food a healthy choice.