Wild Farm Alliance BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION tional; Georgana Webster, MT Dept. of Ag; Sarah Costin,

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    Wild Farm Alliance

    An Organic Farmer’s and Certifier’s Guide


    2nd Edition

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    Acknowledgements and Background

    Acknowledgements and Background

    2nd Edition Fall 2016

    Financial Support Without the generous support from the following organizations, this Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) Guide would not be possible: Clif Bar Family Foundation, Columbia Foundation, Frontier Natural Products Endowment Fund of the Great- er Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Gaia Fund, Horne Family Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, True North Foundation, UNFI Foundation and Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. It was also funded by AweSum Organics, Café Mam, Coke Farm, Driscoll’s, Earl’s Organic Produce, Ecological Farming Association, Full Belly Farm, Gopher’s Limited, Heath and Lejune, Liberty Prairie Foundation, MOM’s Organic Market, Organically Grown Company, Phil Foster Ranches, Veritable Vegetable, and Vital Farms.

    Technical Team Jo Ann Baumgartner of Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) wrote this new edition with assistance from Shelly Connor of WFA; Harriet Behar, Organic Specialist with Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service; Barry Flamm, Consultant and Past Chair of the NOSB; and Karen Van Epen, Consultant. Lynn Coody, Organic Agsystems Consulting, helped design the Activities section of the WFA Guide. Others who gave input to parts of this publication include Sarah Brown and Ben Bowell of OR Tilth; Catherine Badgley, University of MI; John Davis, Wildlands Network; Louise Jackson, Uni- versity of CA; Renata Brillinger, CalCAN; Sean Feder, CCOF; Nicole Dehne, Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) VT; Lauren Tonti, NOFA NY; Julia Barton, OH Ecological Food and Farm Assn.; Eric Sideman, ME Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn.; Jackie DeMinter, Midwest Organic Services Assn.; Brenda Book, WA State Dept. of Ag.; Jim Fulmer, Demeter USA; Michelle Lawson, Yolo Certified Organic Ag.; Allison McLeod, Quality Assurance Interna- tional; Georgana Webster, MT Dept. of Ag; Sarah Costin, A Bee Organic; and John Hayden, The Farm Between.

    How to Use This Guide

    Organic operations must follow the NOP regulations. They can use the NOP Natural Resources and Biodi- versity Guidance and this WFA Guide’s interpretation of it to determine which conservation activities are appropriate. Not all activities presented here are required in order to obtain or maintain certification. Part A summarizes the NOP’s Guidance. Part B helps farmers and certifiers understand the Core Biodiversity Principles for agriculture. Part C outlines various activities that operators can use or adapt to local condi- tions to maintain and increase biodiversity in all types of operations, and separately in crops, livestock, wild harvest and handling operations. Part D, the Organic System Plan template, parallels part C. Part E provides strategies for researching regional conservation goals. Part F, for operators, addresses planning, prioritizing, creating a conservation component of the organic system plan, and the follow-up monitoring required. Part G, for certifiers, covers conducting the operation’s inspection and review. Part H discusses support and incentives.

    Empowering Farmers, Connecting Consumers, Protecting Wild Nature

    Since 2000, Wild Farm Alliance has educated farmers about on-farm biodiversity conservation, assisted them with its practical implementation, and initiated policies that support farm stewardship. Our mission is to promote a healthy, viable agriculture that protects and restores wild nature. Our work is centered on engaging and empowering those involved in the food and farming movement, including everyone from farmers to consumers.

    Learn more and get involved: www.WildFarmAlliance.org info@wildfarmalliance.org 831.761.8408

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    Table of Contents Introduction -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A. About National Organic Program’s Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance------ B. Core Biodiversity Principles-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Support Field and Landscape Diversity Promote Healthy Soil and Clean Water Encourage Beneficial Wildlife Plant Diverse Habitat: Go Native Prevent the Introduction and Spread of Invasive Species Protect Sensitive Habitats and Species Build Climate Change Resilience and Reduce Greenhouse Gases Maintain and Restore Linkages and Connectivity

    C. Activities That Support Biodiversity------------------------------------------------------------------------------ All Types of Operations------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Taking Steps to Plan or Provide for Biodiversity Maintaining Wildlife on the Farm Restoring and Protecting Natural Areas Managing Water for Crops, Livestock, Native Species, and Riparian Ecosystems Controlling Invasive Plants and Animals

    Cropland Area Biodiversity-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Promoting Soil Biodiversity Conserving the Soil Resource Protecting Water Quality Incorporating Biodiversity in Annual and Perennial Systems Providing Habitat for Natural Enemies of Pests Preventing Air- and Water-Borne Crop Contamination Co-Managing for Food Safety and Conservation Building Climate Change Benefits in Crop Production Diversifying Crop Species and Varieties

    Livestock Area Biodiversity-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Improving Pastures and Rangelands Employing Wildlife Friendly Management Practices Protecting Natural Wetlands, Riparian Areas and Other Sensitive Habitats Using Native Trees and Shrubs For Livestock and Wildlife Benefits Minimizing Occurrence and Spread of Disease in Housing, Pastures, and the Watershed Preventing Runoff of Wastes from Yards, Feeding Pads, Feedlots and Laneways Building Climate Change Benefits in Livestock Operations Diversifying Livestock Breeds

    Wild Harvest Area Biodiversity--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Maintaining and Improving the Sustainability of the Harvested Species

    Handling Operations Biodiversity------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Promoting Biodiversity in Handling and Processing Operations

    D. Organic System Plan (OSP)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ E. Researching Conservation Goals of the Region------------------------------------------------------------------ F. For Operators: Taking Inventory, Setting Priorities, Assessing Opportunities, Creating a Plan------ G. For Certifiers: Conducting the Farm Inspection and Review-------------------------------------------------- H. It Takes a Community: Support and Incentives------------------------------------------------------------------ Glossary--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Notes------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Selected Resources--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Table of Contents

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    10 11 12 14 14 16 17 19 20 20 22 24 26 28 30 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 64 66 66 68 74 76 78 79 80 82 86

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    NOP Regulation—Subpart A Definition §205.2 Organic Production

    A production system that is managed in accordance with the Act and regulations to respond to site- specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

    NOP Regulation—Subpart C Organic Production and Handling §205.200 General Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation

    Production practices implemented in accordance with this subpart must maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.

    NOP Regulation—Subpart A Definition §205.2 Natural Re- sources of the Operation

    The physical, hydrological, and biological features of a production operation, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.

    Farms can provide habitats and wildlife linkages, thereby reaping nature’s benefits, including pollination, insect pest control, carbon storage and natural erosion control.

    Organic operations that use the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) label are obligated to conserve biodiversity and maintain or improve the natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. The NOP published the Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation Guidance (hereafter referred to as “NOP Guidance”)1 in 2016 in order to ensure uniform compliance with these regulations that have been in place since the NOP’s inception.2 While conserving natural resources and biodiversity is a foundational principle of organic agriculture, many organic operations need to diversify more in order to comply with NOP regulations, and many organic certifiers need to update their Organic System Plans and their processes used for verification. This WFA Guide has been updated to reflect the NOP Guidance and the need for consistent implementation from operation to certification.

    Goals of this