Healthy Soils Organic Transition Option Moves Forward: Comment Now

Posted on Monday, August 17th, 2020 by Guest Blogger
Photo credit: USDA NRCS

This post was written by Jane Sooby at CCOF, a CalCAN Coalition member. 

Numerous scientific studies show that organic farming improves soil health and builds soil organic matter, which sequesters carbon in the soil and helps mitigate climate change.

This makes organic farming a good match for CDFA’s Healthy Soils program, which offers 3-year grants to farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that build soil health, sequester carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, organic farming is better for the environment because organic growers don’t use synthetic pesticides that impact human health and reduce pollinator populations.

CCOF has been working to gain approval from CDFA to add an Organic Transition Option to the Healthy Soils program. CDFA currently is accepting comments on CCOF’s idea through Aug. 31.

CCOF’s proposed Organic Transition Option would:

  • Offer a small stipend to farmers and ranchers who want to transition to organic to help them develop an organic system plan. The stipend would be in addition to payment for conservation practices
  • Help offset the financial risk of the 3-year transition period, especially important for small-scale, beginning, and limited resource farmers
  • Increase the likelihood that the grant recipient will continue using conservation practices after the term of the grant because they will be required to under the organic standards

Please submit a comment to CDFA supporting the Organic Transition Option. Suggested points to make in your comment include:

  • The Healthy Soils Program needs to include an organic transition option because organic farming sequesters carbon and helps mitigate climate change in addition to numerous other environmental and economic benefits.
  • Transitioning to organic is challenging and a little bit of support will go a long way to helping more farmers and ranchers become organic.
  • Reasons that you would like to see more organic acreage in California.

Comments will be reviewed by members of the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel, which advises the Secretary of Food and Agriculture on the Healthy Soils Program. The Panel is likely to make a final decision at its October meeting.

Submit comments by email to by 5 pm on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020.

For additional information contact Jane Sooby, CCOF senior outreach & policy specialist, at or by phone at 831-425-7205.

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