> ... we know the facts already. WF and every other large retailer is
> reaping the work of multitudes of small farmers, handlers, retailers,
> educators and thoughtful consumers over the years. That slow educational
> program on organic farming and products continues daily performed by the same
> people. How can we get a greater return on our educational work for
> consumers and organic farmers is the question?
The question is: Who are *WE*? Will WE be those organic farmers that
tie their certified organic wagons to Mr. Erorganic's OFMA (Organic Food
Marketing Association) horse, the inside OFMA movers and shakers that
will inherit the organic world once the WORD belongs to those that obey
the higher call (the will of the people, straight from congress itself)
and certify the USDA way? The lucky consumers that get their organic
products darn near directly (if you don't count erorganic & OFMA) from
those ruddy, earthy organic farmer folks that's Eric's got on the line?
Any of you out there ever check out the website of Heaven's Gate?
> Buying direct from the organic farmer and the cooperative processor, lowers
> the price and brings the bucks back to the folks' pocket that have done the
> work. The cooperative distribution warehouses and the coop buying clubs and
> retailers could, if they structured for more efficiency in operation,
> diversity of products, quality of produce, become the #1 place to purchase
> organic products.
Eric's post was very interesting and clearly coincides 100% with our
post titled "Looking for a Better Way" to this and other forums earlier
this year, in which I expressed a desire to connect directly with
Consumer, Worker and Housing Co-ps for the purpose of offering them the
produce grown by the Farmer Co-ops in Mexico that CeDeCoR represents.
(Note: This same post of ours brought Eric to our door months ago, and
while on the one hand I'm glad to see he's followed up on that, I'm
sorry to say that once again, our past experience indicates that things
are not as they appear - or rather, as they are presented by Mr.
In our past experience with Mr. Erorganic, sales would not have been
quite that direct. Eric wanted me to form part of a for profit
corporation call "Fiesta Organic" (we ourselves have had the brand names
Fiesta Fresh Produce, Fiesta Fresh Farms and Fiesta Fresh Organic farms
registered since 1992, and forming another entity with him seemed
pointless, although I hesitated to take a totally firm stand against
this at the time. I wanted to see where it was leading, and was in no
Readers see what looks to be a well ordered, progressive and inevitable
project (OFPA the Organic foods Produce Act of 1990 - not to be confused
- or is it - with OFMA), a project in which Mr. Erorganic takes pains to
show us his considerable expertise (he's practically a high priest for
it, you could say), and paints us all a glowing picture of the way it
can be expected to benefit those salt of the earth (but not you, sal),
the organic farmer (or at least it sure sounds like it). BUT - there's
a catch. Some will benefit at the expense of others (sorry, sal, but
that's how life is in the big city).
It turned out that the "Marketing Co-op" relation discussed with me
months ago by Mr. Kindberg not only wasn't the Farmer Co-op to Consumer
Co-op my own earlier post suggested, it would have been cooperative in
the sense that everybody else cooperates to insure that Mr. Erorganic
gets an equal share of everybody else's equal share - which comes out to
50% for him and 50% for everyone else combined.
Well, allow me to tell you good people that this is not how it will be
done, at least not for the Farmer Co-ops CeDeCoR represents. Eric wound
up using our concept (from co-op to co-op, admittedly remotely related
to his concept of a marketing co-op in principle if not in practice),
our logotype, brand name and promotional text and he's welcome to them.
(To me, the Fiesta's over). However, the great disparity between what
was said and what was in fact being done was just too great to
overlook. (Nothing major he agreed to do was ever done, and there was
never any intention on his part to share the costs of organization and
infrastructure on the supply end. He wanted it all wrapped up and tied
with a bow, before stepping in).
Frankly, I feel no rancor. Neither myself nor CeDeCoR have been
involved in organic and sustainable agriculture since 1968 because it
was easy or because we were looking for quick or lucrative results (and
I'm not moved much by his rhetoric. As for the rest of you, good luck
and god bless, 'cause you may need it).
The REAL questions at hand are: Is obligatory, USDA enforced
certification as mandated by the OFPA necessary? (Nobody's arguing
about the need for a national, consistent, minimum organic standard -
which IS minimum because States can add to it but not take from it).
Will more people be aided than damaged by this measure? And if NOT, who
are those that stand to benefit most, and what part did (or do) they
play in the promotion of OFPA and the changes that it's existence is
creating (changes that obviously will be consolidated and amplified in
the future)? And perhaps the most important questions of all: What
kind of government do we want, and what role should we expect of
government, relative to the environment, public health and social
justice? (Not to mention the organic movement). Here's another: Am
**I** being unduly unfair (and just downright mean) to Mr. Erorganic?
We shall see (and you can all vote on that). His post goes on...
>... Under the National Organic Marketing Feasibility Study information was
> collected and proposals formulated:
>... 2.) for creating a centralized information collection system of available
> products (grade, quality, pack, quantity, date of delivery) and therefore
> centralized offering of products, with decentralized production coordination,
> quality control and consolidation centers.
> 3.) for establishment of an organic farmers marketing association acting as
> a marketing agency in common to answer organic farmers needs, and
> 4.) for placing the greatest emphasis on developing a marketing alliance
> with the existing distribution cooperatives N. America wide.
> Wholesale/retail cooperatives are enthusiastic about buying direct from
> organic farmers. Existing valued added conventional food processing coops
> are very open to collaboration with organic farmers.
Of course they are - but what is really happening? (Please do read on).
The following was copied from the OFMA website:
courtesy of the USDA, OSFVP, OFMA and now yours truly.
"A Publication For Studying New Marketing Options
Published by the National Organic Marketing Cooperative Feasibility
"The National Organic Marketing Cooperative Feasibility Study is funded
by a grant from the USDA Rural Business and Cooperative Development
"This material is the result of tax-supported research and as such is
not copyrightable. It may be freely reprinted with the customary
crediting of the source."
"Ozark Small Farm Viability Project, Inc., POB 99, Mt. Judea, AR 72655
is the grant recipient and administrator."
"OSFVP has hired two staff to facilitate the Study's process. ... Eric
Ardapple Kindberg, an organic livestock and vegetable farmer in
Arkansas, will coordinate analysis of the membership and consumer
outreach components of the Study, and serve as project administrator."
SO - we see that this publicly funded movement, was somehow transformed
into OFMA (a private self interest group that Mr. Erorganic leads),
which now publishes about OSFVP and the OFPA on their website, which
brings us up to date again. Back to his recent post:
> ...But the perennial question is where do we go from here?
> Certified organic farmers in collaboration with cooperative value added
> businesses should be assertively working together to build an organic,
> cooperative distribution and retail marketing systems for North America.
And who will help them? Will you, Mr. Erorganic? "Ahem, now that you
mention it..." Uh oh, the Fiesta's over!
> The greatest possible gain for all parties--organic farmers, handlers
> (distribution and value added coops included in this category) and
> customers--is to effectively and efficiently integrate a cooperative
> production and distribution system for organic products. To do so, all the
> parties, with identified stakeholder representatives, have to join together
> within an operative umbrella. These stakeholders, though not within an
> umbrella yet, nationwide, now represent a critical mass to undertake such a
Does anybody doubt where this is leading?
In fact, there *IS* still a tremendous amount of educating and
organizing to be done and this takes time - more than will permit me to
invest much in continuous and elaborate internet posts. And perhaps it
will not be considered good form by all readers to put the finger on the
scab ("el dedo en la llaga", as it's said in Spanish), but what I've
said is consistent with the truth and is relevant to what's happening
(or being attempted) on this forum, and I therefore I feel it my duty to
put the matter literally on (the) line. That having been said, I prefer
to continue doing what we began doing long ago, and things will converge
where they converge, sooner if we don't let up.
Never the less, I sincerely hope the proprietary (yeah, and consistent
too - consistent with what certain private interests want - and
apparently wanted from the beginning) conditions that will be forcibly
imposed by Congress's short sighted redaction of the Organic Foods
Production Act; under which only products certified by USDA authorized
Certifiers will be permitted to use the word organic, leaving farmers
with CSA type operations and those whose sales surpass $5,000 / year
(far less than what it takes to feed a family, much less farm), unable
to use the only word that up to now enjoys widespread consumer
recognition, in order to present their products in the marketplace,
unless they capitulate and certify, the OFPA, USDA/OSFVP/OFMA way (which
Erorganic tells you is YOUR way friends, courtesy of all of the above).
If this occurs, the results may tear the organic movement apart rather
than strengthen it, and the overemphasis on marketing (while obviously
an important aspect) is unjustified and inconsistent with the principle
motives inspiring sustainable (and that includes organic) agriculture.
NO ONE needs to accept the creation of an organic insider, power elite
(clearly to the detriment of other legitamate groups), in order to
insure "consistent" standards, and J I Rodale may well be rolling over
in his grave.
"But it's an Act of Congress", some will say (yes it is, and a sadly
flawed one); that "represents the peoples will, who have already
spoken". Horse puckey! Important aspects of it were badly thought out
from the beginning, will create more injustices & inconsistencies than
it will correct, will benefit primarily those least deserving and all of
this can (and will) be demonstrated.
First of all: It appears that OFPA was not a priority to the USDA, and
little input regarding it was generated outside of the organic community
itself. (Try some word searches for "organic" on the vast majority of
the USDA's principle websites and see what you come up with. Try their
Calendar, Special Events, News and Current Information, the USDA's Small
Business Program and Small Farm Program, Markets and Trade, Agricultural
Systems, World Agricultural Outlook Forum, and so on - Do a USDA site
search - there's practically nothing there).
Also, was the National Research Council involved in any way? (Chuck
Benbrook)? What about the legality of it? Was the Justice Department
involved? Sure, there were a number of industry people involved and
some respected researchers, but it still looks like what we got was a
sweetheart law to please o vocal few, who may have already had an occult
agenda. The standards part is fine. But a lot of the rest of it won't
hold up - it's a substandard bill on a number accounts, any of which are
serious enough to warrant a thorough reappraisal and renovation. The
law can be strengthened and it's pitfalls (and pratfalls) removed. It
can now be taken much farther than it was then. So please don't sell
out short. (And remember Heaven's Gate)!
More on this subject, including a concrete proposal, will follow soon.
I swear to God - I just did a spelling check and for erorganic I was
offered arrogant, with windbag for Kindberg. Now THAT, *IS* going too
Douglas M. Hinds, Director General Centro para el Desarrollo Comunitario y Rural A.C. (CeDeCoR) (Center for Community and Rural Development) - (non profit) Petronilo Lopez No. 73 (Street Address) Apdo. Postal No. 61 (Mailing Address) Cd. Guzman, Jalisco 49000 MEXICO U.S. Voice Mailbox: 1 630 300 0550 (e-mail linked) U.S. Fax Mailbox: 1 630 300 0555 (e-mail linked) Tel. & Fax: 011 523 412 6308 (direct) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, dhinds@.ucol.mx
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