> 1) make the USDA standards comply with those of IFOAM (International
> federation of organic agricultural movements). In particular, complying
> with the agreed upon separation of accreditation and certification
> and processes in certifying organic food (i.e. the USDA would not act
> certifier and accreditor)
> 2) explicit statements about sustainability in organic farming, first
> involving the promotion of social justice issues in organic food
> production, particularly in reference to labor. We have suggested
> something analogous to a "living wage" proposal for labor. Second, we
> want the standards to include more explicit statements about
> rather than mere input substitution.
> 3) we believe organic food production should be subsidized to promote
> transition to organic production, the maintenance of livelihoods for
> small farmers and rural communities, the development of the organic
> marketplace for domestic and international consumption and,
> to pay for increased labor and input costs incurred by the living wage
> issue and the increased costs of organic production overall.
> 1) Do you believe the above additions to the USDA standards are
> politically feasible? Why do you believe this or why do you believe
> is politically not feasible?
ANSWER: My take is that the NOP is a certification system, but USDA is not
doing the certifying. State programs and private sector certification agencies
will do that. The USDA label means that the product meets the federal
standard. USDA's big job is accreditation and oversight/enforcement. So, to
answer the question, no, I don't think its politically feasible because the
will to overturn it all or not have it implemented is not there at this time
because no one knows how brilliant or how problematic the next proposed rule
2.For a long time we have talked about product integrity ( production
standards) and tried to link wages, living conditions and social justice. I
told Arturo Rodriguez I would join the UFW if it would help, but it really
wont. The problem is not the organic farms, is it? Its the conventional farms.
In all my experience I have never run across social abuse, just gung-ho
workers, mostly happy to be working barechested instead of in a moonsuit.
There is a difference in terms between organic and sustainable. Monsanto can
hang its hat on that one with impunity because it means a lot or very little.
Sustainable is subjective. Organic is a fairly well defined production
objective. More effort should be brought against truly abusive mega-farms, in
Honduras or in Texas or wherever, rather than cloud up the organic sector with
considerations that, while always praiseworthy, would be better aimed
elsewhere. Can an organic farm abuse its workers? Sure. When and Where?
> 2) Do you believe the above additions are economically feasible? Why do
> you believe this or not?
Answer: Nah. We are already paying plenty to be certified, and I don't know
who in the organic certification field is competent to do the social inventory
on top of the production practices. Does anyone in the cert sector really want
to take that on? Lets say I have to go back out and recount the outhouses
because someone is about to be decertified because an inspector said they were
short three outhouses. I think they call that " Boy-Heidi".
If someone is short three outhouses then the labor department can check on
Are all the IFOAM accredited cert agencies and every one of their certified
clients or members compliant with the social considerations? This should be
made on a formal complaint basis to the USDA civil rights division or the
appropriate civil authorities. If statutes governing health, wages and other
OSHA type matters are not being met, then let the appropriate people handle
I agree that organic should not be defined by an inputs list. We have strayed
widely. Soil building,covercropping and rotations should help an organic
farmer be more self-sufficient and less dependant on the growing number of
Subsidies? Nah. What should USDA do? Just stop promoting ridiculous
technologies like GMO ag, start enforcing your own timetables for getting rid
of stuff like methyl bromide, stop allowing companies to manufacture materials
here that are banned for domestic use but shipped abroad, stop acting so
schizophrenic about consolidation and ag monopolization, knock off the
intellectual property BS. If we got rid of all that, there would be plenty to
promote organic farming and do some research on production and marketing. Why?
Because a whole army of people is still monitoring stuff that was determined
to be antique 30 years ago.
You can bet that there are federal and state people watching facilities like
the West Helena plant in Arkansas. And it should have been closed back in the
PS: Have you ever been to Camp Joy? Its just up Route 9 in Boulder Creek. I
learned how to farm there. Ask Jimmy about these questions.
La Farge, Wisconsin
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