Sep 22, 2016
California Organic Food, Farming Act signed into law
Ana Olvera

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law the California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA). This legislation marks the first update to California’s state organic law and program in over a decade, according to California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) press release. CCOF sponsored the bill, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), which earned bipartisan support in both houses of the California Legislature before receiving Governor Brown’s signature.

“California’s state organic program has helped the state become the global leader in organics, but it has also created some duplicative fees and paperwork for producers. COFFA will help limit those duplications and ensure California remains as a top producer of the high quality organic products enjoyed by consumers around the world,” said Stone.

COFFA streamlines the registration process by allowing USDA-accredited organic certifying agents to submit registration information for their clients directly to the state. CCOF will implement this process and anticipates saving CCOF-certified farmers hundreds of hours in paperwork every year, especially farmers growing multiple crops.

COFFA also updates the SOP fee schedule. California is the only state that requires certified organic producers to pay state-level registration fees in addition to their federal certification fees, according to CCOF. COFFA lowers the fees for very small producers and caps the current fee schedule, with the possibility of future reductions as determined by the California Secretary of Agriculture in consultation with the California Organic Products Advisory Committee (COPAC).

The role of the SOP today is to support the USDA National Organic Program‘s (NOP) enforcement of federal organic standards, and COFFA will ensure that SOP processes stay up to date and align with those implemented by the NOP.

COFFA also allows the secretary of agriculture and COPAC to support organic agriculture through education, outreach, and other programmatic activities.

California produces over $12 billion in organic product sales annually (comprised of $9.85 billion in processed products and $2.2 billion in farm commodities). Yet organic acreage in California hovers around 3 percent of the state’s agricultural land.

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