[Market-farming] taking the plunge

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Mon Feb 20 11:01:43 EST 2012

Hi Kathryn,

First, I would ask all of this of your specific certifier. They're the  
only ones who can say for sure how much detail is needed, whether they  
require a backup plan for hay, etc.

Having said that, my guess based on my experience (though bear in mind  
I'm not a livestock farmer) is:

	1) The information you're listing will probably be enough.

	2) You probably need to provide approximate sizes of paddocks, and a  
farm map showing where each paddock is located. My guess is that  
they'll want some idea of what species are in the pasture, but most  
likely not an exhaustive list if it's mixed with more than a few; at  
least approximate stocking rates (so they can tell if you're likely to  
be overgrazing). If by rotation you mean crop rotation in the  
paddocks, in your first year of certification they may want the  
previous three years, and will probably want an overall rotation plan,  
but will most likely allow leeway if you need to change as long as  
it's still a reasonable rotation (I've switched fields in a wet year  
because the intended field was too wet to plant at the time, and NOFA- 
NY, at least, was OK with that.) If the paddocks are in permanent  
pasture, and you mean moving the stock from one paddock to another, my  
guess is that they'd want an overall idea but would allow for changes  
due to weather etc. affecting speed of growth; but again, talk to the  

	3) Will you be able to certify your hay fields this year, or will  
they still be transitional? (this depends, basically, on whether  
they've been managed organically for three years; and whether you have  
records sufficient to show this.) -- as to what the certifier  
considers "reliable", I think you'll just have to ask them.

You may have a choice of certifying agencies in your area; if so, as  
they now all have to certify to the same standards, what you want to  
look for in choosing among them (besides price) is how responsive they  
are to questions, and how well their forms fit your particular  
operation. (In my area, while many of the larger field crop operations  
are certified with OCIA, many of the diversified vegetable farms find  
the NOFA forms easier to work with. NOFA-NY holds workshops for first  
year applicants; I don't know whether any agency working in your area  
does the same, but it may well be worth your time to find out.)

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 6A now I think
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale

On Feb 20, 2012, at 10:21 AM, KAKerby at aol.com wrote:

> I guess the main question I have at this point is in terms of how  
> much detail to provide with the various forms.  Some examples:
> 1) in the crop production paperwork, where I need to describe insect/ 
> pest control, we mainly have issues with slugs and birds.  We  
> control the former with a combination of hiding-spot removal, beer  
> traps, slug bait (which is OMRI listed) and hand-picking, and the  
> latter by putting netting over the rows they're pestering.  Is that  
> all I need to say, or does it need to be more elaborate?
> 2) In the livestock production paperwork where I describe that  
> they're on pasture roughly six months each year and in yards the  
> balance of the year, do I need to give the exact sizes of the  
> paddocks?  The species in the pasture?  The stocking rates and  
> rotation schedule?  Or just a general overview?
> 3) There's a stipulation that we must have "reliable" access to  
> certified organic feeds.  We are going to put up our own hay this  
> year on certified organic ground.  Do I have to show alternative  
> sources for hay if something goes wrong with that harvest?  We'll be  
> buying in feed from a long-standing organic feeds supplier.  Do we  
> have to show a Plan B if that supplier suddenly can't provide feed  
> anymore?  Or for both, can we simply state that we've got a  
> stockpile of feed/hay to carry us through short-term gaps?
> I could drive myself crazy with trying to hit that "Goldilocks"  
> point of providing "just right" levels of detail.  Should I start  
> with only general information and let the inspector tell me if more  
> detail is needed?  Thanks all.......
> Kathryn Kerby
> frogchorusfarm.com
> Snohomish, WA
> Ruminations - essays on the farming life at frogchorusfarm.com/ 
> weblog.html

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