Governor Jerry Brown ushered in the next chapter of organic agriculture by signing 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, bringing about reform to support the state’s growing organic sector. CCOF sponsored the bill, authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), which earned broad 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.

For the past several years, California’s state organic program (SOP) has operated with millions of dollars in excess funds collected as registration fees from organic producers. Additionally, the program’s registration process requires information that duplicates what producers already report to their United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-accredited certifier.

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. 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).

“COFFA supports the next era of growth in organic agriculture,” said CCOF Executive Director/CEO Cathy Calfo. “Today, organic is everywhere thanks to the integrity of the USDA label. This legislation gives important relief to producers and will help increase production to meet the tremendous consumer demand for organic products.”

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