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Solstice 2023 Newsletter


Dear OOC Community: 

 

Happy Winter Solstice.

 

It’s been a heartbreaking and challenging year around the world, but as the light slowly returns, I’d like to express gratitude for having the opportunity to lead the OOC, which allows me to advocate for a better food system. There isn’t anything I’d rather be doing.

 

Big appreciation to Organically Grown Company (OGC), which continues to go above and beyond in finding ways to support the OOC. Ditto for Organic Valley, Hummingbird Wholesale, and Oregon Tilth. The OOC was recently awarded a two-year unrestricted FAFO grant from Organic Valley to help offset the costs of OOC’s new lobby team. Having lobby representation is critical to our work, but it is difficult to fund, so it’s a relief we have additonal unrestricted support. 

 

OGC and Hummingbird also really stepped up with significant contributions above normal OOC dues to ensure that we can maintain our high-level of advocacy engagement in 2024. We also finalized our partnership with Oregon Tilth for TOPP, the Transition to Organic Partnership Program, which will help round out the OOC’s budget throught the OOC supporting transition work. Scroll down for more information.

 Thank you as well to Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and the Bullitt Foundation. The OOC received a pass-through grant through these organizations—the final of three funding tranches—that, in part, aided our ongoing work to protect brassica seed production in the Willamette Valley Protected District (WVPD). The Bullitt Foundation has now spent down their endowment and we are fortunate to have been included in the final round of funding via OSA.

 

During the first two installments of this grant, the OOC enjoyed working with OSA’s Cara Loriz, the former ED, and Kiki Hubbard, the former Director of Advocacy and Communications, among other OSA staffers.

 

Earlier this year, Cara retired and Kiki joined Dr. Julie Dawson and Paulina Jenney, the authors of More and Better Choices for Farmers, at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Kiki and her new colleagues are collaborating with USDA to help reduce anti-competitive barriers across food and agriculture supply chains. Part of this work includes a new Farmer Seed Liaison website to help growers, plants breeders, and others who work with seed to navigate the complex seed system. Sign up for the USDA’s newsletter, Seed Sower, to receive updates and opportunities for public engagement on these topics. 

 

I also am incredibly grateful to our Board and the organic community at large for supporting the OOC’s work. Please continue to lean in and make a donation as we head into the 2024 legislative session & start new work to help build organic markets. 


2024 Legislative Policy Platform

During the 2024 short legislative session, we will advocate for an Organic Policy Specialist at ODA–a position the OOC was told multiple times was going to come to fruition in 2023, but mysteriously disappeared during last session’s budget process. We’re hoping this will be a simple “budget fix.” The OOC will also continue to advocate for brassica seed protections from increased unregulated canola acreage in the WVPD. The only present we want this holiday season is a permanent solution to this on-going issue so that we can finally create long-term market certainty for seed and vegetable growers in our region and beyond. If you have not already endorsed our work to protect brassica seed production, please do so here



The OOC will also be engaging on issues that impact Oregon agriculture in general, such as endorsing the Oregon Agriculture Heritage Program’s funding request, and tracking land use legislation. We’ll send out a Newsletter at the start of the session, and Action Alerts as needed, to keep you in the loop.Your engagement makes a significant difference in our work. 

 

The OOC also looks forward to working with new ODA Director Lisa Charpilloz Hanson, who re-joined the agency earlier this month.


Transition to Organic Partnership Program

 



The OOC is thrilled to be a part of the Northwest Transition to Organic Partnership Program (NW TOPP). The program is committed to supporting the organic transition initiative, which is an integral part of USDA’s Organic Transition Partnership Program. Stay tuned for OOC NW TOPP events in 2024.

  Become an Organic Grower Mentor

TOPP is looking for organic mentors who will receive compensation for their participation! The NW TOPP mentorship program builds connections between experienced organic producers and producers transitioning to organic, supports the transition process, and creates a stronger network of organic producers in the northwest region. 

 

The power of mentorship is in its ability to cultivate growth and development in both the mentor and mentee. The OOC envisions this program as a way Oregon can continue to be an organic leader at a time when we need more farmers to adopt organic practices that build on-farm environmental and economic resilience. For more information, visit the below website or email NW TOPP directly.


 Organic Updates

Two recent developments highlight organic’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the organic standard and upholding the organic tenet of continuous improvement: the new Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards and the Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule.


The Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) will begin being enforced on January 2, 2025. The new regulations provide certifiers and National Organic Program certifier accreditation auditors with detailed requirements in many areas, removing the subjective language that had been present in the past. Many of the new requirements are in-line with other animal welfare requirements, lessening the need for organic farmers to hold both organic and animal welfare certifications. 


The Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) will begin being enforced on January 2, 2025. The new regulations provide certifiers and National Organic Program certifier accreditation auditors with detailed requirements in many areas, removing the subjective language that had been present in the past. Many of the new requirements are in-line with other animal welfare requirements, lessening the need for organic farmers to hold both organic and animal welfare certifications. 


In another win for the organic community, legislation to avert a government shutdown and extend the 2018 Farm Bill includes $8 million in funding for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program. The Organic Certification Cost Share Program is an essential program that provides a partial reimbursement to defray the cost of organic certification, incentivizes the adoption of climate-friendly organic practices, and reduces barriers for diversified operations and underserved farmers.

 

In 2024/2025, the OOC hopes to build a larger coalition to work on a Farmer Support legislative concept for the 2025 session that will include, among other things, a state match for USDA’s Cost Share, which we first introduced in 2023.



HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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