Organic Certification questions

Rick Williams mrfarm at
Tue Jul 30 21:39:49 EDT 2002

> RDHwrote: Another way to help identify yourself is to subscribe to the
> American
> > Homestead Foods Family Farm Project.  It is there to help family farmers
> > regain their identity to the consumers:

Some time back, before I joined this list, I came upon the AHFFFP. But the
problem is that it does not appear to be a farmer owned and controlled
organization with a membership and elected officers which, in my view, would
be necessary for a legitimate organization.  For several years now, I have
come to conclusion that we need some kind of sustainable farming
identification, similar to "organic", but may not include some of the
downsides of organic for animal agriculture, and yet go well beyond
"organic," and include other important parameters, such as local, more
sustainable, and may go beyond with what is not in your food, but also, what
IS in your food. Organic does not generally address these things.

> Perhaps we
> > should develop regional or state orgs. as we did for
> certification to pool our time
> > and resources to get the word out about how we are different
> from "organic."

I think that this is the only way to do it. A core group of interested
persons could set up a program with basic agreements. By the way, for meat,
our farm was negotiating with the "Free Farmed Program" and was prepared to
spend the approx. $400 to become certified ... until we found out that they
are basically an offshoot from the American Humane Association:( Because of
their anti-hunting views we can not support extremist organizations no
matter how nice a front they may have. That is why I believe we need a group
with their own agenda and no outside baggage.

Also, I feel strongly that those of us who are more oriented toward
sustainable farming, have to be careful with insuring accuracy in any claims
that we make and exceptionally careful of any negative public comments that
we may make toward conventional farmers. Most farmers are and always will be
commodity producers since it is not possible to have farms in the "right"
locations to meet market demands except in those areas that have the right
balance of population to farmers who want to do market farming.

In some markets in our area, we have seen that many (perhaps even the
majority) of the consumers at Farmer's Markets are not particularly
concerned if the food is even made without pesticides, but are mostly buying
from what they perceive to be a farmer/gardener or at least a vendor of the
product. Many of the sellers are not even farmers or gardeners, but resell
other's produce or perhaps even resell commercial products (we suspect based
on some of the products).  The point is that it is more of a connection
between the consumer and a perceived person at the other end that seems to
be the motivation to come to a Farmer's Market.

Incidentally, when Judy had surplus strawberries to market this summer, that
could not wait for weekend Farmer's Market, she attempted to sell them at
the local "employee owned, local supermarket" across the highway from the
Walmart Superstore. She was told that they don't buy local produce like that
because it doesn't keep like the stuff shipped in from California.


Rick Williams
Misty Ridge Farm
Dairy heifers and dairy beef graziers
Viroqua, WI

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