I see an obviously sincere response that's very clear on important issues; which makes
me feel I should direct my anwser to all recipients, yet I also feel I should try to
cut out as much reduntant material as posible, if it's going to go to the lists.
Guy Clark wrote:
> >Douglas M. Hinds wrote on January 15
> > >Guy Clark wrote:
> >>...having spent my time running my ORGANIC, and I will never
> >> stop using that term even though I have never been certified...
> > Aside from the Organic Rule's glaring anti-organic inclusions, OFPA as
> >written will NOT LET you use that term, once OFPA is implemented. ...
> > *I* say that the Rules inconsistencies with OFPA and OPFA's prohibiting
> > YOU from doing what you say you WILL do, are part of the same pattern ...OFPA > is
> NOT the solution, unless certification is NOT obligatory and the word organic is >
> NOT restricted to OFPA certified products. ...
> I agree with you more than you might think. I certainly do not see OFPA
> as the holy grail, or OFMA as the arbiter of what is good and right. I
> know that OFMA has its own agenda, we all do. ...I am generally
> against standardized anything.
OFPA's legitimate purpose was supposed to be the development of a consistent minimal
national standard that's consonant with the spirit and tradition of organic
agriculture. Things have become so compliated that it's difficult to sort out how it
happened. Yet there's no doubt something has gone radically wrong, and I believe the
reason lies in the lack of respect for diversity and individual initiative that was a
basic underlying characteristic of organic agriculture and the people who did it from
the very beginning. Somehow OPFA was going to sacrifice this quality in the name of a
necessary evolution toward consistency. My point is that it doesn't work that way.
Never has and never will. This doesn't mean that a basic consensus can't be reached
regarding what organic agriculture consists of. It means that this consensus will
never satisfy all parties and it doesn't have to, before the door is left open for
further knowlegde to be integrated, for further learning to take place, for legitimate
change to occur, and for reasonable regional and philosophic differences to enter into
play. Standards can be superceded and die. New paradigms can arrise, and they can do
so without a name. The name comes later.
OFPA tried to put organic agriculture and it's market in a strait jacket, and that's
> I think that the real answer to all of this
> is growers and consumers having a local, face-to-face relationship. The
> consumer bears the brunt of responsibility because they must educate
> themselves and choose what they buy and who they buy from. They MUST ask
> the hard questions. The grower is responsible for producing the highest
> quality food s/he can using the methods s/he sees fit; and then the
> correlative responsibility to reveal all of those practices to the people
> s/he sells to. As far as I can see, if the two parties are fully informed
> free agents, then the government has absolutely NO RIGHT to interfere,
> unless there is evidence of fraud or malfeasance. I mean it when I say
> that I will never stop using the terms I see fit to describe my practices
> to my customers. I do not think anybody should stop accurately describing
> them to their customers, laws be damned. I would go to jail before I stop.
You are taking personal responsibility for what you do, and are determined to act on
the basis of your own conviction. This is what is needed. This is where organic
agriculture came from. But measures like OFPA would shift that burden to to some "law
of the land", and act of congress", "the will of the people". Save it for the f***ing
politicians, Jack. Do I leave that f word in and risk the oprobrium and censure that
act may precipitate? Would doing so put at risk my flawless logic? So I put in 3
asterisks, just as Congress meets every year, and laws are changed as needed.
It's hard to legislate well. And legislation is needed. But basic errors of
judgement are contained in OFPA that make mandatory its revision.
> What are they going to do if we all refuse to keep using the term or
> another term? Throw us all in jail? That is one of the more egregious
> parts of the rule, the "Use of Terms or Statements That Directly or
> Indirectly Imply That a Product is Organically Produced and Handled"
> Section 205.103 directly denies me the use of accurate, common-language,
> recognizable terms to describe my stewardship practices. They are trying
> to head off our eventual end-run around their bogus standard. I had begun
> to look for a new term as soon as I heard the Feds were involved. I like
Even if the standard wasn't bogus, even if it's cleaned up, the meaning of words is
inherent to their traditional and continued usage.
> You are absolutely right that this is a free speech issue.
> I side with the extremest of interpretations of the right to free speech.
> Like Abbie Hoffman's comment about the Supreme Court's decision on yelling
> 'fire in a crowded theater'. Hoffman said he reserved the right to yell
> 'theater in a crowed fire'. I guess I agree with his absurdist techniques
> too. I like the guerrilla theater methodology. Maybe we should follow
> Hoffman's technique and walk into the USDA leaders' offices and start
> throwing dollar bills up in the air so they can fight each other for the
It won't be necessary. Abbie also published a book titled "Steal this Book". But he
took his own life and that's no joke. The joke is OFPA's own innate fallacies,
because "directly or indirectly imply" excludes nothing. Its's unenforceable and in
any case, unconstitutional. OPFA simply must be reoriented. And each of us is just
as free as ever to act on his own beliefs. OFPA is no threat, it's just off base.
> ... I am free to practice what I see as responsible stewardship and the consumer is
> free to buy from me or not, but my freedom stops where I misrepresent
> myself and my food and thus violate the trust put in me.
> Like I said above, I am in agreement with you on much of your criticism of
> the proposed standard and the law itself, but does it make sense to throw
> the baby out with the bathwater? How do we head off this usurpation of
By insisting that OFPA limit itself to providing a legal definition of of organic and
establishing penalties for misrepresentation. But nothing more.
> ... Should we not act swiftly and forcefully to encourage USDA to excise
> objectionable sections including our concern about mandatory certification and
> limits to our freedom of speech?
> Or should we allow EPA, DOE, AGRIBIZ, BIOTECH, NUKES, and TOXIN MERCHANTS help the
> USDA to have their way with us, our customers,
> and OUR term and all it entails?
> If we do not take part then we are assuring the victory of our enemies, Everyone
> knows who owns the politicians.
> Plato was right that anyone who would run for office is by definition
> unqualified because they are after power. But this is another step in the
> If we lose this battle too, then the next step are the courts. We sue
> USDA, Dan Glickman, whoever. Again, this is not a realm I have much faith
> in; they can afford more and perhaps better lawyers. Again to Plato and
> his belief that you can tell the health of a society by the number of
> doctors and lawyers.
> Finally, or concurrently, we use NOSB or another process to decide what WE
> think "organic" should mean. From what I have seen of the NOSB process it
> seems to have worked very well and they came down on the right side of most
> issues. I re-emphasize that the real power is in the people and the
> relationships we build with one another. If we keep our scale correct,
> then the likelihood of running afoul of USDA or any other government agency
> is dramatically curtailed.
> If nothing else, then you can see this as a way to delay implementation of
> a process you do not want to come to fruition. Or is there another route
> that you have in mind? I am open to suggestion.
I agree that both issues must be dealt with - the meaning of organic and the freedom
to inform and be informed. The first can occur within OFPA while the second requires
> ... what ARE the principle issues? THAT'S the issue!
> Good question. How about: 1. Clear acceptable definitions and/or
> standards for "organic" production and handling which eliminate all the
> egregious stuff currently in this proposal 2. The absence of mandatory
> anything 3. Personal relationships between growers and consumers 4. The
> freedom to use what language you see fit to describe your practices so long
> as you honestly represent them to the public 5. Human scaled operations 6.
> Local food systems How is that for a start? What else would folks put on
> the list? Or take off?
That's a good list. But while local food sytems are preferable (and this was my
original reason for my moving to my present location), you can't require them and
still believe in choice. If someone outside of the tropics want to eat bananas or
mangos, for instance, that persons going to make his or her own decision, if the
> Well enough for now. I think there are a couple of other messages for me
> to peruse and reply to, hopefully more laconically.
> Guy Clark
Douglas M. Hinds, Director General
Centro para el Desarrollo Comunitario y Rural A.C. (CeDeCoR)
(Center for Community and Rural Development) - (non profit)
Cd. Guzman, Jalisco 49000 MEXICO
Tel. & Fax: 011 523 412 6308 (direct)
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