Subj: Re: comments onUSDA/NOP cost and benefits to organic farmers and
Date: 97-10-15 15:43:57 EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Cecilia Bowman)
To: email@example.com (sal)
CC: Erorganic@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
Majordomo@ces.ncsu.edu, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
At 01:13 PM 10/10/97 -0700, sal wrote:
>what does foil mean?
(CB)A person (in this case) that by contrast underscores or enhances the
distinctive characteristics of another.
>>eak: It is a pleasure to be your foil Sal.
>>When this thing started we ask what about
>> the small farmer and were told don't worry there will always be a place
>> in organic growing for small farmers sal . Well the $5000 gross is not
>> what I call a help for a small farmer. These folks also want to make the
>> small organic farmer a factory farmer and like this guy says if you can't
>> pay you can not play. He says if we cannot afford this new tax on
>> organic farmers we can not call yourself organic even if you are .
>>eak: When you buy diesel Sal, you pay a tax that does a service. When you
>>take a plane you pay a tax that does a service. When you pay an annual
>>property tax, it does a service. The quality and dependability of those
>>services are on balance higher then what service you get when you go to a
>>store and buy something.
>Maybe you are taxing the wrong folk as the certified organic farmer is all
ready paying for his certification. And once I got a bill for over $200
just for the inspection let alone all the other costs because I would have
to pay for the inspectors gas,time driving,food,room,time spent at my farm ,
time spent filling out paper work etc . then the certifier charges 100 and
the local chapter 25 excused me that just got raised to $50. Then their is
the state charge. and on and on and on.
>When will it ever end . and every year year after year.
(CB)I guess we are lucky here in the midwest. But I do feel we can create
more efficient certification than exists currently. Here organic farmers
have historically founded and run certification--most often as unpaid and
unreimbursed volunteers. What we need are certification agents with the
competence/expertise as well as true understanding of the small farmers'
existance that will create such alternatives. The government is one kind of
bureaucratic monster. Certifiers can be another. For the farmers who need
certification to sell their products--like field crop farmers--it is a
necessary evil. Lack of government oversight has lead to trade distortion.
Give them an equal playing field and they can choose to go with the
certifier they want to support.
>here are some quotes for others beside me:
>Next time you go to grocery store and ask to buy some produce ask if its
>ask the seller
(CB)The retailer of food is held responsible for complying with federal and
state laws concerning all aspects of their business. Fraud is fraud.
>would you sign a declaration form under penalty of perjury subject to jail
>Ask that car dealer the same....
(CB)Here we passed a "lemon law" to protect us--and car manufaacturers also
have many regulations they must obey.
.Will the saleman who sells your next suit of
>tells you that you look good in them do the same.
(CB)That's a little subjective--but salesmen do lie every day. The other two
might be something I'd expect to be regulated but if I'm stupid enough to
believe I look "good" in anything that the person who tells me that has a
financial interest then I am simply vain--and a good target.
Unfortunately we have lost
>trust in fellow human being, and make it federal case out of organics for
>small producer is stupid.
Where there is trust there is no need for regulations. WHere there is money
to be made there is little basis for trust, unfortunately. Take all premium
away for what is sold as "organic" food and see who and how long some of
these growers continue to use organic production methods. Now THERE'S a
>Why not reduce the need for annual inspections
>for growers that are not changing their operations, have been certified for
>years, have not had any problems and are not in a high risk area eg.
>surrounded by growers who use lots of chemicals. These people would still
>need to send in the paperwork and keep all the records but they could go a
>year without an on farm inspection. That would help reduce costs and still
>safequard the integrity of the system. This could only apply to growers
>under $50,000. in gross farm sales.
(CB)Your main complaint seems to be the price of inspection --what we need
to address is how to keep certification and inspection costs efficient. I
think that is something that could be done. I see it happening here.
>>>agree with a lot of what you had to say, specifically that it's no good
>>>to keep burdening the small organic farmer with more & more $$ fees.
>>>Also, that the consumer is the one left out of the paying scale here,
>>>since the middleman seems to be the one making the $$.
>Why does the farmer have to pay all the cost?
Good question. But let's identify the real devil before we go sending him
off to hell. I've seen many a farmer, small and large, work for nada to do
the REAL work of certification. Yet certification was very expensive.
Where did that money go? It did NOT go to gvmt.
>If the gov't
>>>stopped commercial ag subsidies, then we would have TRUE costs of food in
>>>the marketplace, and organic wouldn't seem so high.
(CB)In some states certification IS subsidized. Ask TX or KY what the cost
of their certification is. You'll be ready to move.
>.I grow fruit trees and it is seasonal . I have to make the money I make
last the whole year and pay my bills and taxes and sometime it is touch and
go. I am not a factory farmer like yourself and the trees only produce so
much fruit and I do not push them to the max because I want my land to last
.. I may not be the best at making money but money is not my first love. I
love the life . Still I do grow organic and feel I should be able to
label as such even though I am not the money maker you are. I need what
little money I make to live this good life and I feel every extra cent I
have to spend.
>I organic grower should not have to pay 1 cent extra to grow and sell
organic! Also the $20 is on top of what I am already paying.
>This is just another level of government we the small farmer have to
(CB) After what I've seen I'll pay the gvmt $20. any day for what I've paid
hundreds for to private certifiers. At least the gvmt TELLS me where my
>>the $5000 small farm exemption is a Joke and a
>> insult to all those poor folks fighting to keep their farms. It is sad
>> that the money and the paper work is more important than a mans
(CB)Unfortunately we honest people always end up paying for the problems
created by the dishonest. I don't believe in the $5K exemption either. I
think if you SELL "organic" you should all play by the same rules. I know a
lot of people out there who claim to make a LOT less (in every profession)
than they really do. I'm tired of being honest and paying for them, but I'd
rather be honest AND pay than violate my prinicpals and lower myself to
>if you are driving down the right side of the street you don't pay the fine
only the wrong doers pay!
>I am being force to pay for the right I know not for any wrong.
(CB) If I am driving down the right side and someone else is driving down
the wrong side and they run into me I pay--maybe with my life. WHen we
drive on the right side we trust that the others will do the same. If they
violate that trust we become their victims.
It is possible for state laws to have fines against wrongdoers that would be
put into a fund to pay the cost of accreditation--so there are ways to
accomplish letting the wrongdoers pay. In my perfect world this is what
>For instace, another issue you've raised, if not
>exactly in these terms, is that an organic farmer is being presumed
>guilty and forced to pay to prove his innocence.
(CB)No one forces you to use the term organic. It is a choice. No one
forces you to drive--but if you want to you get a drivers license. Maybe
certification is a confusing word, but I see it as a license.
>></bigger>He says there is are people
>> selling organic that are lying. This may be true. There are people that
>> steal be we don't search every ones house in the whole US because a few
>> folks steal. We should not search every organic grower place in the
>> whole US year after year after year and charge them money for it because
>> a few people may lie. Some of us cannot afford it. Even when we do
>> search some ones house we have a warrant and have to show just cause
>> because it is private property but here they want to search every organic
>> farm and charge us to do it just because some one may be a lier. HEY
>> THIS IS PRIVATE PROPERTY
(CB)I'm not sure why you think due process is always followed with searches
of homes, but an inspector has NO right to "search" anything. If I have an
inspector who gets out of line, professionally, I just remind them of their
job. They are not here to certify my home. They are here to VERIFY the
info on my application and field maps. Unless my products are produced,
handled, stored, processed... in my house then they have no business in
there. If they suspect I am hiding something, they should communicate that
to the certifier--not expect to look under my bed. Inspectors are not the
organic police--neither are certifiers.
>ok Eric can you explain to the good people what the inspector does if not
search you farm ,just what is this inspection business if it is not a search
of your farm what are these spot checks .I can understand a look at your
record keeping and I can understand the inspector going over the rules with
you but after you have heard them for 10 years paying for this over and over
is only taxing me for nothing. Can they look under my bed ? They look
every where for chemicals that are no where around.
(CB)Now I AM glad to be in Indiana. Farmers here would never put up with
searches--from private or gvmt bodies--unless there is a very good legal
reason (and no way out of it) for one.
If you are looking for something that is not there it could take quite a
bit of time. Could you tell us what inspection means as far as search and
private property rights go
(CB)Good question. I think, of all of the facets of organics, inspection
needs the most work, and improvement. I can't say I've ever had a really
good inspector--though they have not been like you describe at all. Most
are simply not aware of what their real job is. They are on-site verifiers.
The paperwork says "blah." They are there to verify that "blah" is true.
Nowhere on my farm questionnaire does it ask what I have under my bed.
>Thanks for taking the time Eric in answering some of our questions. You
have to remember to a lot of folks this is new stuff or never really
explained because intimidation is so much part of the process. Seem like
they want to keep the organic grower scard or something. So you really
think I need a certifier,an inspector and the federial gov . to vouch for my
honesty and that I should pay them all what ever they ask and just shut up.
(CB) Never just shut up. I agree that growers have long been intimidated by
certifiers--but the gvmt has done little to nothing so far. We, as small
producers, MUST learn all we can about this issue, speak out, and empower
ourselves to create cost-efficient and credible alternatives. WE must
become part of the solution. Gvmt HAS to listen to us. And from my
exerience they will if you just keep after them long and loud.
Cissy Bowman, Organic Farmers Marketing Association Telecommunications Office
8364 S SR 39
Clayton, IN 46118
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