Press Release: FarmsReach & CCOF Offer Financial Assistance to Aspiring Organic Farmers

FR_CCOF_FGMay 12, 2014

Berkeley, CA – Today FarmsReach and California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) launched a new program to attract more California farmers to get their organic certification.  Any member of FarmsReach and their Farmers Guild Network can request a CCOF application fee-waiver, which saves farmers $325.

While many believe the application fee is a small investment for the premium prices earned selling certified-organic products, for many farmers the $325 application fee is cost-prohibitive.

“We’re excited about our new partnership and serving community-minded farmers that need financial assistance,” says Elizabeth Whitlow, CCOF Inspection Operations Supervisor.  “Often, a farmer may want to apply for certification, but they simply can’t afford it, may be misinformed about the process, or are overwhelmed by the application paperwork. We like the idea of building a community of aspiring and currently certified organic farmers through FarmsReach and its Farmers Guild Network.”

In this new program, the FarmsReach and Farmers Guild community can apply for free and then attend an optional two to three-hour “Going Organic” workshop, where a CCOF staff person guides them in filling out the application.  “We’re trying to make it as clear and straightforward as possible,” says Whitlow.

Cathy Calfo, Executive Director/CEO of CCOF explains that “this partnership is partly inspired by the USDA National Organic Program, which aims to ensure that organic certification is affordable, accessible and attainable, specifically for small operations.”

It is also one of several emerging collaborations between organizations and businesses that serve California farms.  “Even though we don’t have an explicit focus on organic farming,” says Melanie Cheng, FarmsReach founder, “FarmsReach, the Farmers Guilds and CCOF do have a shared mission of helping farmers be as successful and environmentally sustainable as possible.  Our goal is to help the broader community connect more easily, so farmers of all types and experience levels know their options and can increase their chances for success.”

All three organizations encourage more collaboration among the agriculture community for its collective success.  This program is the first of many to help farmers farm more profitably and sustainably.

To request a fee-waiver letter, visit www.farmsreach.com/ccofwaiver. You must be a (free) member of FarmsReach or their Farmers Guild Network to be eligible.

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About FarmsReach

Founded in 2007, FarmsReach is an online and offline platform for farmers to access the information, inputs, support and services they need to be successful. By partnering with farmer members and the organizations that serve them, FarmsReach and its offline Farmers Guild Network offer programs that empower farmers to make better business decisions, preserve the environment, strengthen rural communities and – ultimately – help each other succeed. For more information about FarmsReach or the Farmers Guild Network, visit www.farmsreach.com.

About CCOF

CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers), a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1973 and is one of the nation’s oldest and largest third-party organic certifying agencies. CCOF certifies, educates, advocates and promotes organic through a premier organic certification program for growers, processors, handlers, and retailers; programs to increase awareness of and demand for certified organic product and to expand public support for organic agriculture; and advocacy for governmental policies that protect and encourage organic agriculture.  CCOF certifies more than 2,700 organic operations in 42 states and three countries. For further information on CCOF visit: www.ccof.org.

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