I just wanted to comment quickly on this thread, which Jane and
Ronald have spun:
> >Wouldn't it be neat if the US could look forward to 80% organic
> >in 10 years?
> Would it be neat? How would we provide 80% of the US food market
> by 2010 and maintain anything like the organic standards we have
> today? Could it be done???
My first thought in response to Jane's question was..."Gack! I don't
know but I'm willing to bet NOT!"
But then I was feeling kinda curmudge-oid that day. :^D
I mean, yes, it would be neat in the sense that it would be neat if,
say, 80% of the racism, sexism, and homophobia in American society
disappeared in 10 years. But practically speaking?
Seems to me that ramping up the organic production system that far,
that fast, would require infrastructural changes that are staggering.
I'm basing that on my contacts/conversations with several clientele
groups at CIAS: organic growers/producers, organic inspectors,
organic processors (or processing co-ops), and organic retailers.
For instance, think of the number of organic inspectors it would
require simply to inspect the acreage that would provide that supply
and the plants that would process it. As I understand from the
inspectors I know or work with, certifiers have a hard enough time at
present keeping a full cadre of inspectors at existing levels.
I've predicted, here on SANET and elsewhere, that inspection may
prove to be an increasingly difficult link in the organic system,
over time, unless training and professional development of these
people is ramped up as well as the market share and acreage.
Then I think of the acres and number of farms that would need to
make the transition in that time. The expertise and consulting they
would need. The equipment. The inputs. The economic risk that some
would need to take and live with and survive. The markets that would
need to be constructed. The marketing information that would need to
be prepared. The consumers who'd need to be cultivated (I'm not
convinced that 80% of the present population will come around to
organics) and educated.
And then Ronald's question--could we maintain the standards?
Maintaining standards is what the producer/inspector relationship is
about...but at bottom, isn't that a somewhat policed thing
But perhaps it takes a raising of the bar to figure out how to hop
over it. And so...I'd like to hear from some organic growers and
processors and inspectors on this question. Any takers?
Thinking out loud, quickly, and heading out the door to the soft,
rainy, lilac-scented May evening in Madison.
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
If you knew what life was worth, you
would look for yours on earth. --Bob Marley
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