The Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel (EFA SAP) is contemplating some changes to the Healthy Soils Program (HSP) from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). The panel is seeking written comments on potentially adding an Organic Systems Plan option to the HSP. California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) has been working with CDFA in an effort to get an Organic Transition Option added to the HSP for the last year.
CCOF’s proposal for an Organic Transition Option would provide funding support to help those transitioning their operations to organic production. The stipend provided would be on top of any payment for conservation practices. CCOF’s proposal would help to mitigate the risk of the three-year transition period, providing better access to the organic sector for smaller operations. CCOF also noted that an Organic Transition Option would increase the likelihood that and HSP grant recipient would continue their conservation practices beyond the term of the grant.
The proposal from CCOF points out that the addition of an Organic Transition Option is within the program goals of the HSP. CCOF noted that an organic plan would provide social and economic co-benefits while also facilitating reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the proposal explains how an Organic Transition Option would specifically benefit disadvantaged communities.
The EFA SAP had requested that CDFA staff develop options and craft recommendations for an Organic Systems Plan to be funded through the HSP. The panel heard three options from CDFA staff at its most recent meeting in July, where CDFA made two recommendations. The panel expressed particular interest in Option 3, which will allow the Organic Systems Plan to be considered under CDFA’s Technical Assistance Program.
The EFA SAP is also interested in hearing other options that may not have been considered. Written public comments on the options and recommendations are now being encouraged. Comments on the Organic Systems Plan will be accepted through Monday, August 31.