eak: The criteria for being an inspector for an organic certification agent.
Both the knowledge of production and the job description of what they are on
the farm or handling operation to accomplish. Inspectors retained by
certifying agents are not enforcers, but verifiers of the information written
in the application for certification. Regarding the USDA National Organic
Program, which has not be implemented yet, there must be established an
efficient but quality program of qualifying and maintaining quality
certification by organic certifying agents. Such qualified accredited
certifying agents are in fact representatives of the US Government.
Do you feel that "organic" as we understand it
or according to NOSB is "sustainable?"
eak: I do not know how you understand organic. As a farmer, knowledgeable of
virtually every kind of organic farm production, I would say that the very
basis of organic farming is environmental sustainability. Economic
sustainability is within the control of organic farmers. Number one is every
organic farm has to be efficient in biological management, labor management,
mechanical management and in marketing. Additionally, flexibility in what
the farmer produces plays a very large part in continually adapting and
staying ahead of the market, that is the consumers interest, needs and
desires. All these concerns make every type of farmer and especially organic
farmers "sustainable". The NOSB has limited knowledge on all aspects of real
organic farm sustainability. LIkewise does USDA. So do consumers. Thus the
reason the organic farmers need to be at the forefront along with consumers
(because what they want is what must be fulfilled to have market permanence)
to make sure the organic standards and procedures are workable and efficient.
We need all the help we can get from informed consumers to create a USDA
National Organic Program that works for the steward of the land the consumer.
Do you feel that using
"biological" pesticides is a safe alternative to using those that are
eak: There are botanical pesticides--ryania, pyrethum, etc, plant or animal
derivatives. Without any question some are detrimental to microbes and
invertebrates, usually not so much to mammals. They should always be used
with caution and limited in dosage and application. Some are banned from use
in organic farming. Others need to be reviewed and evaluated for being
banned in the future--nicotine and arsenic are banned by most groups now and
will probably be so banned by the NOP. And then there are the biologicals.
These are composed of predatory insects, microbes, etc--living pesticides.
Organic farming has moved rapidly over the last 20 years to solve more and
more pest problems by quality management of the soil, water, environement and
supporting pest control through the introduction and use of biological
controls. There has been virtually no negative environmental impacts from
the use of biological pest controls. In fact organic farmers are balancing
the negative pest impacts with positive pest impacts. Integrated pest
management began with exclusively biological, timing, mechanical control of
pests. It has been subverted into reduced synthetic pesticide (sometimes
with higher concentrations, but less volume) and designing a more accurate
system to trigger the use of synthetic pesticides, losing the original IPM
objective--integrating pest management with environmental management to
Do you feel that it is fair that you as an organic or
potential organic farmer has to live next to a farm that uses (or
probably overuses) synthetic pesticides and fertilizers? They do drift
and get into your "pure" soils.
eak: organic soils are not "pure" soils. Organic certified land in most
cases have "residual environmental contamination". The Organic Foods
Production Act recognizes this condition and offers guidance on how to deal
with such within the certification process. Drift is another question.
The NOSB has offered a decent rule on the drift issue. The drifted on crop
cannot be sold as "organic" and the successive crop(s) has to be tested for
contaminate, and be clean before they can be sold as "organic". .
What if lethal doses of your neighbor's
pesticide or fertilizer application disrupt your organic ecosystem? How
is this regulated?
How do you feel about the NOSB farm plan?
eak: Remember, that the NOSB offered only recommendations to the USDA
Secretary. The final word is now coming from the public during the Proposed
Organic Rule public comment period, soon to be upon us. However, the farm
plan as recommended by the NOSB is very similar to farm plans that certifiers
have required of farm (and handler) applicants for many years. Yes, it is
paperwork. But there are many valid reasons for the paperwork, not the least
being to identify the organic farms that truly qualify to be licence d
"organic" and have the right to use the USDA seal and the term "organic" on
Best Regards, Eric Kindberg
Thank you for your time and understanding,
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