An either uninformed or sarcastic, facetious salutation, since I neither
am nor I have I ever been in the armed forces (or even the Salvation
Army) - but then, the pen is mightier...
> I find your continual references to an "organic power elite" ironic and
> a little disturbing, particularly as they seem to be directed at
> farmer-driven efforts to impact public policy (see in particular your
> recent post bashing Mr Kindberg and his work).
This post makes so many false or misleading assumptions that I'm going
to have examine it piece by piece, in order to clear away the fact from
1).- Perhaps you have not been reading the many posts (or understanding
the ones you've read) of "farmer-driven efforts" expressing concern over
the negative effects that OFPA has already begun to generate; effects
which are NOT related to the legitimate task of establishing consistent,
minimum national standards for Organic products, which is something
that most if not all us organic farmers (I began farming organically in
1968, how about you?) want; but rather, are related to TWO aspects of
OFPA: a).- The $5,000 small farm exemption - which is unrealistic,
unfair and absurd; and b).- The usurpation of the word "organic" in the
terms of OFPA as it is presently written, which is to the SOLE benefit
of those who hope to profit personally from that sad and mistaken fact
by exercising power over others, who for a number of well founded
reasons, may choose to publicly offer their organically grown products
(organic in every other sense that OFPA designates), using the ONLY word
that can claim wide spread consumer recognition to date. These people
are the ones to whom I refer when I say "insider, organic power elite",
or the would be "gatekeepers of the word", those who reserve for their
own marketing strategies and for their own but nobody else's benefit,
the traditional modern meaning of that word. I hope I've made that
clear. If not, please advise and I'll be glad to explain it in greater
Secondly, my remarks regarding Mr. Erorganic were made more with a
desire to illuminate than bash, unless the act of shedding a little
light on an ostensibly "altruistic" public figure's hidden agenda is a
destructive one. My point was that public funds were used to divert
efforts toward what ultimately became a pitch for vested interests that
do NOT represent all nor even most organic farmers, nor do they
represent "the people of the United States" and certainly not Congress,
which is free to re-evaluate and revise the law, should it should choose
to do so.
Instead of attacking me personally, why don't you direct you criticisms
to my proposals?
> OFPA came about due
> primarily to the coordinated efforts of organic farmers across the
> country and farmers continue to push for implementation. We organic
> farmers are certainly not an elite group, at least not the ones I know,
> and whatever power we wield has been hard won and is due mostly to the
> fact that we are farmers, we have a vested interest, and we believe
> strongly in the virtues of organic food production. That allows us to
> speak from the heart and gives our cause its real strength and power.
If you yourself are speaking from the heart you have my respect, but if
you're planning on cashing in on the captive marketing arrangement that
OFPA is creating for those more familiar with the intricacies of the law
(rather than with organic farming), I'll fight you tooth and nail every
step of the way.
OFPA can help ALL legitimate organic farmers, as well as everybody else
interested in creating and maintaining a purer, greener earth, by
supporting the above mentioned 2 amendments to OFPA, as well as the
other proposal mentioned in the post you cut and pasted from, which
would not only will make organic products more competitive than
conventional ones, but is capable of changing the course of history and
making this world a permanently livable habitat.
> One of the real difficulties we small farmers face when attempting to
> impact public policy is that it takes a lot of time. So does farming.
> Thus the paradox: how do we continue doing the thing which gives us
> power while taking the time to lobby for public policies which will make
> our farming more successful? Our answer has been to organize ourselves
> and then carefully select, from among our ranks, articulate and skilled
> organizers and spokespeople who can devote the time necessary to travel,
> build consensus among farmers (no easy task, we're an independent
> bunch), take that consensus to the halls of Congress, and fight like
> hell to get them implemented.
I'm sorry to say that some of those people may have sold you out. I
myself sympathize with your concerns, but can't ignore the 2 bad parts
of OFPA or the fact that these two major flaws mean there's still work
to be done.
> Mr Kindberg is one of those unlucky few
> who has temporarily set aside his love of farming to carry our cause
> forward. You seem to think that there is a small group of people at the
> top who determine direction and call the shots. That couldn't be further
> from the truth. (Although, from your name-calling diatribe I suspect you
> had an unpleasant encounter with Mr Kindberg which may be coloring your
As I understand it, Mr. Kindberg isn't farming due to problems between
him and his common law wife who kept the farm and I'd really rather let
them work it out themselves. (As I said, all I felt obligated to do was
expose what I felt and still feel was a scam, and leave the personal
part out of it from there on in. You are not helping him by stirring
things back up. And he himself has rightfully indicted that the battle
will be fought within the proper authority structure).
> This bottom-up, farmer driven approach is the best we've come up with
> and, while there's sure room for improvement, it's been pretty effective
> and it's certainly representative and anti-elitist. Now don't get me
> wrong, I'm not suggesting that OFPA enjoys the full support of every
> organic farmer in America (sal, are you listening?). Like I said, we're
> an independent bunch and opinions on OFPA are more varied than the
> varieties of tomatoes we raise. I personally have my own misgivings.
> But, beginning before passage of the 1990 Farm Bill, great efforts were
> made, nationwide, to involve organic farmers in discussions of OFPA and
> I doubt there are many farmers out there who were not at least aware of
> the many forums available to provide input. To suggest that the movement
> is driven by an elite group baffles me. How could we be less elite?
The "elite" come in on the marketing end and this is (sadly) true of the
conventional industry also.
> Part of the problem, I think, is that we threaten the traditional power
> base. It's like that scene where the mob of farmers is outside of
> Frankenstein's castle shakeing their rakes and hoes and scyths. For
> years, farmers have been the passive recipients of whatever the
> non-farming, paternalistic power base (including the government, the
> research community, chemical manufacturers, and well-meaning non-profit
> "support" organizations) thought was best, whether it be research,
> subsidies, or other public policy. Now that organic farmers are wielding
> what small amount of political power we've garnered (and we weren't the
> first- NFO and others led the way), the powers-that-be feel threatened.
> I don't know the answer there. Get over it. We're at the castle door.
> The real threat to the movement right now is not from some misperceived
> "power elite" cloistered away in a smoke filled room making our
> decisions for us. The danger is in being co-opted by the many
> non-farming groups who have jumped aboard the turnip wagon since passage
> of OFPA, including product manufacturers, processors, non-profits, etc.
> That's why it's so important that we have representatives like Mr
> Kindberg who will be vocal, maybe even piss a few people off, but will
> keep the farmers' agenda on the front burner. I think farmers now have a
> growing base of power, particularly with the creation of OFMA, and if we
> remain vigilant and energetic we can stay the course and not be
We're talking about two different things. My concern is the harm being
done in a dishonest way to the farmer by marketers. If Mr K. took
public funds to organize farmers on the one hand and formed the OFMA
association as a direct result of that, this may be unfair to others who
may offer alternative services to organic farmers. In any case, each
farmer will be free to adhere to whatever he feels will represent him or
> Gordon Watkins
> PS: Incidentally, General Hinds, the concept of a "cooperative of
> cooperatives" was not stolen from you as you suggested. It arose here
> in the Ozarks at least 3 years ago and was the original impetus for the
> creation of OFMA.
Right, I noticed that and pulled it out of later posts (that I sent
after the first didn't come back). In any case, what Mr. K. proposed to
me wasn't the grower co-op to consumer, worker or housing co-op
arrangement I was looking for, some of the other helpful things he
offered were never consummated and the co-op I WAS offered was
cooperative in the sense I described - 50% for him and 50% split between
everyone else, with the major share of the expense, time and effort
being required on OUR end of things. Since you're evidently part of
OFMA, my only comment is that if OFMA serves your ends in an equitable
way, I have nothing to say about it. It's your concern. The co-op I
was asked to join was apart from OFMA.
Maybe you DO think I'm a General and were not being sarcastic.
And lastly, if you want to discuss some of this with me directly
(without using sanet), that's fine with me. I just hope that your
response was not instigated by anyone else, and I'm willing to give you
the benefit of the doubt on that.
> Douglas Hinds wrote:
> > Although the word "organic" is now as much of a marketing tool as
> > anything else (which is why a would be "organic insider power elite"
> > hopes inherit by way of OFPA, the benefit of the consumer recognition
> > that - at no small cost - was established), the tradition and spirit of
> > organic agriculture is certainly true to the concepts embodied in what
> > today is known as "alternative, biolgical, ecological and perhaps above
> > all, sustainable" agriculture.
> > More later.
> > > Brett in Monterey, CA
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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