NCGA donates $10,000 to CCOF Foundation’s Bricmont Fund for Organic Farmers Suffering from California Drought

Oct 28, 2014

Today, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA) is pleased to announce a $10,000 contribution to The Bricmont Fund which, as part of the non-profit California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Foundation, provides hardship assistance grants to organic farmers.

Farmers across the Western United States are struggling to meet challenges of the worst drought in U.S. history. The first six months of 2014 were the hottest on record in California and a recent study from the University of California – Davis describes the drought as “the greatest water loss ever seen in California agriculture.” The drought has cost the state’s economy $2.2 billion, mostly in lost farm wages and revenue. Though farming is inherently risky, extreme weather brought on by climate change is making farming all the more unpredictable, and unleashing market forces which stifle organic farmers’ ability to meet demand for organic food.

A community of farmers on the California Central Coast founded CCOF at Barney Bricmont’s organic lettuce farm. Today, it’s the only organization to provide direct financial assistance specific to the needs of organic producers experiencing hardship due to drought, fire, or other natural disaster. Since 2007, CCOF Foundation has distributed nearly $100,000 to organic farmers. Given the severity of this year’s drought, 100 percent of NCGA’s contribution will go towards drought assistance.

Climate models predict ongoing drought for the foreseeable future, and organic farmers appear to be well positioned to meet this challenge in the long run. Organic farmers focus on building healthy soil which readily absorbs and retains available rainfall. Likewise, organic dairy farming is relatively water efficient because its foundation is drought-tolerant pasture, as opposed to resource-dependent grain.

Organic methods work in concert with natural biological systems to produce food while simultaneously preserving resources for future generations by building fertile soils, reducing chemical pollution, conserving water and providing habitat for pollinators and other beneficial species, all of which makes the USDA Organic Certification program the gold standard for sustainable food production. Ongoing research shows that organic methods, such as composting and managed grazing, help slow climate change by storing excess carbon in the soil, and keeping it out of the atmosphere where it acts as a greenhouse gas. 

“Continuing research is showing that organic methods mitigate climate change and can help farmers adapt to its effects,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA. “However, the immediate future for California’s organic farmers is at risk due to extreme drought and resulting market forces beyond their control. NCGA is honored to work in partnership with CCOF to show support for the farmers upon which we depend.”

Grants from the Bricmont Fund will help to address the immediate needs of organic farmers who are experiencing reduced or no water availability, dry pastures and heat stress which can harm livestock and endanger workers, as well as related market forces such as reduced land access and feed shortages. In many cases, Bricmont Fund assistance will help keep organic farms in business.

Consumers can support California organic farmers by continuing to choose organic meat, dairy and produce, and by considering a donation to the CCOF Foundation.

About the CCOF Foundation

The California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that spearheads the educational component of CCOF’s mission which is to certify, educate, promote, and advocate for organic agriculture. CCOF, founded in 1973, represents more than 2,700 organic farmers, ranchers, processors, handlers, and retailers spanning North America. For more information on the foundation, please visit www.ccof.org/foundation.

About NCGA

National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), founded in 1999, is a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops located throughout the United States. NCGA helps unify food co-ops in order to optimize operational and marketing resources, strengthen purchasing power, and ultimately offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers everywhere. Our 143 member and associate co-ops operate more than 190 storefronts in 38 states with combined annual sales over $1.6 billion. NCGA is a winner of the dotCoop Global Awards for Cooperative Excellence and a Certified B Corporation. Find a map of NCGA member and associate co-ops. To learn more about co-ops, visit www.strongertogether.coop.