California Organic Group Charges Forward

Cathy-CalfoEditor’s Note: Cathy Calfo is the executive director and CEO of CCOF, which was founded in 1973 as California Certified Organic Farmers, and is now North America’s largest organic certifier. CCOF provides organic certification services, advocates on behalf of its 2,600 certified members, and provides education and financial assistance to support organic farming and production methods. CCOF is a non-profit member-led organization.

In late 2013, CCOF Certification Services launched its GLOBALG.A.P. farm-level food safety certification, a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) benchmarked program. The program’s goal is to provide cost-effective services that support organic farmers’ success in gaining the food safety certification required by many buyers and retailers.

Multiple food safety certification program levels are available including Integrated Farm Assurance, Produce Safety Standard, Harmonized Standard (U.S. only), localg.a.p., and additional verifications that may be required by specific buyers. The CCOF GLOBALG.A.P. Program Manual includes more information regarding program eligibility, and is available at ccof.org/certification/food-safety-certification.

In addition to this certification program, CCOF is focused on several other priorities:

  • Commenting on Proposed Federal Food Safety Regulations — In other food safety-related news, CCOF members continue to weigh in on federal Food Safety Modernization Act regulations that have been proposed by FDA. In response to strong urging by CCOF and its members and partners, FDA extended the current comment period on the Produce Safety Rule (which establishes standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce on farms) and Preventative Controls for Human Food Rule (which applies to food processors). It will also be reissuing some components of the rules. Comments can be submitted at
    www.regulations.gov.
  • Simplifying the Organic Certification Process: Less Paper, Less Hassle — Last year, CCOF helped simplify the organic certification process for its certified members by providing online access to Organic System Plans and certification-related records. This year, CCOF is adding two new revolutionary online services. First, a list of all materials approved by either CCOF, Organic Materials Review Institute, or Washington State Department of Agriculture will be available Feb. 1 via MyCCOF, CCOF’s online certification management tool. Second, members will be able to track suppliers’ CCOF certifications, download certificates, and receive immediate emails regarding any change of status in a supplier’s organic certification.
  • Supporting the Success of Organic Farmers: the CCOF Foundation — During 2014, the CCOF Foundation is partnering with organizations including the UNFI Foundation and Driscoll’s to support those who aspire to lead careers in organic agriculture through the Future Organic Farmers Grant Fund. The fund will provide individual grants to qualified applicants, targeting high school youth, students pursuing vocational and higher education, and disadvantaged communities. The foundation will also provide hardship assistance to organic producers who have suffered losses due to extreme hardships such as fire or natural disasters; continue its Organic Training Institute which provides a series of low-cost field days, workshops, and webinars covering topics such as small farm financing, alternatives for fire blight control, and nitrogen budgeting; and provide educational resources for consumers about organic certification.

CCOF welcomes member input. To join as a certified, supporting, or trade association member, or to get involved, visit their website at www.ccof.org.

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