Yesterday, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) released a groundbreaking report outlining the opportunities California would reap if were to significantly expand organic food production.
The “Roadmap to an Organic California” report outlines the multitude of economic, environmental, and public health benefits that an expansion of organic farming would bring to California if 10 percent of the land was farmed organically by 2030.
The ground-breaking report was compiled with relevant scientific literature from over 300 peer-reviewed academic journals, government agencies, along with university studies focusing on California-based research.
The report was unveiled at CCOF’s annual conference in Fresno, CA. It attracted industry leaders and local farmers and included a keynote address by Alice Waters, chef, author, food activist and owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley.
Cathy Calfo, Former Executive Director of CCOF, passes the torch to Kelly Damewood, New Executive Director of CCOF
Among the highlights of the report were the benefits of the continuous contributions the organic sector has had on the state. They include:
- Supporting the next generation of American farmers.
- Creating jobs in California, the leader in organic agriculture and food sales.
- Stimulating local economies through local food sales.
- Reducing poverty rates and raises median household incomes.
- Mitigating climate change through practices that sequester carbon, lower energy usage, and reduce emissions.
- Protecting soil and water quality.
- Providing a price premium to farmers and ranchers.
- Providing better living and working conditions for farmworkers and farmworker families.
- Protecting pollinators.
- Protecting public health by reducing environmental and dietary exposure to synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones.
- Producing fruits and vegetables high in nutrients like antioxidants, as well as meat and dairy with beneficial fatty acid profiles.
- Creating a sustainable global food supply.
The organic foods industry has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years, climbing from U.S. sales of less than $4 billion in 1997 to more than $50 billion in 2018. California produces 38 percent of the country’s organic farmgate value and sales of organic commodities and processed foods in the state totaled $14.55 billion in 2017.
CCOF Annual Meeting
The “Roadmap to an Organic California” is just the first step of a longer project. In the next phase, CCOF will convene diverse stake-holders and identify policies to increase organic acreage from four to ten percent of agricultural land by 2030.
CCOF will focus on four policy areas: transitioning more land, accelerating demand, streamlining regulations for organic producers, and making organic more broadly accessible to consumers.
But as Cathy Calfo, the former Executive Director of CCOF points out, “Despite high demand and the booming marketplace, organic remains just 4% of California’s agricultural land. This percentage is astonishing considering that California is not only the leading agricultural state, but it is also the leading organic state with the highest volume of organic crops and a multibillion-dollar organic processing sector.”
Cathy Calfo, Former Executive Director, CCOF
The report indicates the current discrepancy between consumer demand and organic production in California is a missed opportunity for policy makers seeking bipartisan solutions to the state and nation’s economic, environmental, and social challenges.
The scientific literature shows that organic stimulates California's economy, ensures a long-term food supply that promotes public health, and protects the natural resources that humans depend upon for nourishment and safe living conditions.
CCOF’s report, http://www.ccof.org/roadmap shows that organic agriculture helps reduce poverty, stimulates local communities’ economies & enhances public health.