Oct 11, 2022
OFRF co-hosts farm visit and Farm Bill listening session

On August 23, the Organic Farming Research Foundation hosted their partners and Representative Panetta (CA-20) on a tour of Tablas Creek’s vineyard operations with Partner and General Manager Jason Hass and Viticulturist Jordan Lonborg.

After the farm tour, they visited Paso Robles for a Farm Bill listening session with Representatives Carbajal, Costa, Lofgren and Panetta with Rep. Costa chairing the meeting. This is one of many meetings like this happening across the United States. We encourage everyone to reach out to their congressional delegation to find opportunities like this and highlight the issues facing agriculture to their representatives.

OFRF said that “although we faced high temperatures, the tour was incredibly impressive. We all had the opportunity to learn more about the organic, regenerative practices being utilized by Tablas Creek.” Like a large majority of organic producers, the vineyard prioritizes building healthy, living soils that build resilience to the increasingly hot and dry summers in the Paso Robles region.

A particularly interesting piece of their operation is the use of sheep for nutrient and weed management, ultimately saving costs and frustrations in a difficult agriculture labor market. Rep. Panetta was particularly interested in their use of dry farming techniques, an incredibly important practice in such a drought impacted region of the country.

At the listening session, OFRF joined a diverse group of stakeholders and had the opportunity to highlight the importance of the organic sector in providing both environmental and climate benefits as well as creating economic opportunity for producers, especially in California, the leading state in organic production.

The organization spoke about the need for Farm Bill programs to continue to invest funds in organic research, transition assistance, certification cost share and technical assistance.  Both Representatives Costa and Panetta asked follow-up questions on the needs of organic producers and how programs like the organic certification cost share can help create opportunities.

Other stakeholders touched on other issues, including the importance of USDA programs like conservation, crop insurance, and local issues such as the worsening drought and lengthening fire seasons, and the role that the region’s cattle, vineyard and specialty crop producers play in building resiliency to these climate-aggravated challenges.

Ultimately, it was a day full of fruitful discussions that will inform the 2023 Farm Bill process. OFRF looks forward to continuing to strengthen the connections between their representatives in the halls of the Capitol and the producers that we all depend on for safe, healthy and tasty food and drink.

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