California is committed to reducing its contribution to climate change. The Golden State targets cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Recognizing that organic agriculture is a proven strategy in slashing emissions, the CCOF Foundation is spearheading a stakeholder process to develop policies that support and expand the organic sector.
The Roadmap to an Organic California project builds on the environmental, social and economic advantages of organic agriculture established in CCOF Foundation’s 2019 Roadmap to an Organic California: Benefits Report.
How organic combats climate change
The results of over 300 peer-reviewed scientific studies were synthesized in the benefits report to demonstrate that organic farms combat climate change by prohibiting the use of fossil fuel-derived synthetic pesticides, and by practices that not only reduce methane and greenhouse gas emissions, but also increase the amount of carbon sequestered in their soils. Data from a long-term study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service show that organic systems pull more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than they emit, making them carbon sinks (1).
Of equal importance, organic farms are more prepared for the weather extremes that accompany the changes to our global climate. One study found that organic fields produced more corn than non-organic fields under five years of drought because the soils were healthier and held more water (2). When the drought was followed by extreme rainfall, the organic fields captured and stored twice as much water. In these times of unpredictable weather patterns, agricultural operations’ resiliency is a key strategy for success.
Mapping out policies
Organic agriculture is an important part of the solution to climate change. However, organic farms make up only four percent of California’s farmland. To expand the benefits of organic agriculture to all of California’s communities, CCOF is engaging certified organic farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers along with policymakers and diverse communities across the state to develop bipartisan policies that encourage growth of organic acreage. CCOF is focusing on policies that support organic farmers and processors, sustain the transition to organic, and expand access to organic food.
Throughout the process of developing the Roadmap to an Organic California, CCOF has grappled with the most pressing challenges facing organic farmers, processors and consumers today. From accessing land and fair labor to expanding research and markets for organic products, CCOF continues to examine the barriers and opportunities within the organic sector. CCOF is also exploring strategies to ensure that organic food is not a luxury item, but a nutritious option available to all communities.
We want to hear from you
We are listening to organic farmers and processors as we research policies and engage stakeholders. We welcome your thoughts on the needs of the organic sector. Please share your insights with CCOF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your voice and your participation are critical to the success of this project. Help us advocate for organic agriculture as a way to benefit all of our communities in the face of climate change. Learn more about the Roadmap to an Organic California project at www.ccof.org/roadmap. //
1) Cavigelli, M. A., M. Djurickovic, S.B. Mirsky, J.E. Maul, and J.T. Spargo, (August 2009). Global warming potential of organic and conventional grain cropping systems in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Farming Systems Design Proceedings, Monterey, CA.
2) Pimentel, D., P. Hepperly, J. Hanson, D. Douds, and R. Seidel, (2005). Environmental, energetic and economic comparisons of organic and conventional farming. Bioscience, 55(7), 573-583.
Written by Rebekah Weber, CCOF Policy Director.