[Market-farming] losing insurance coverage????

Richard Stewart rstewart at zoomtown.com
Wed Feb 20 08:18:31 EST 2013

I'd love to post something about and I am thinking Mike Haas who is also on the list and has attended more than I have look at doing the same.

I am trying to get a bunch of stuff ready for two weeks worth of market so I can leave the farm and go on vacation starting on Thursday.  I'm hoping I can do this will relatively little issues (created by me or others).

So, with that said, and detail thoughts will come in March.  I am just hammered for time.

I will say that here in Ohio we have two issues to contend with.  1) The Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement, which was given teeth back last fall when our Governor signed into a law legislation that allowed for "marketing agreements" by non-grain commodity industries.  I sat through an OPMA session at the OEFFA Conference where Bob Jones (COO of Chef's Garden in Huron Ohio) said (and I am paraphrasing) if you don't play ball get out of the business" and told us that he is going to push to have Farmers' Markets in Ohio come under the same guidelines as the rest of the buyers (requiring OPMA or GAPS certification of some sort).   Not to sure if it will happen or not.  I have heard rumors that they cannot get enough people to sign on yet to make the effort sustainable and folks like me who are more concerned about the Federal requirements than the OPMA (I live in a border region and work,sell, farm in three States, not just one).  Insurance WILL be effected eventually if not immediately (say 3 to 8 years or so I would imagine given the amount of time required to adopt the requirement in the  Federal program).  

I've also been hearing now that the maximum in gross sales is 25K not 500K before you start being impacted by the new food safety regulation.  I have not seen why this is so, just been told that it is so.  Way to much data to pour over to develop my own opinion and way too much nebulous stuff going on at the USDA in terms of definitions and hearings.

All I can say is, unless ALL your business is done on the farm and you are selling to JUST the public, chances are you will be impacted somehow.

Get involved with your local Extension and State Department of AG and be involved in your local organic certifiers, Farm Bureau and Farmers' Union.  Make comments at the Federal level and do something to inform your local representatives that bad things are coming and you need help.  Local food SHOULD be on the rise and its about to get kicked in the gut.  If you have not done anything you to fight the tide then you, in part, responsible for what happens to your business several years from now.  Its that simple.

You have to separate everything.  Home from business.  Produce and Fruit from Livestock.

And in the future there are far more people better versed than I at what is going on and maybe we should have some of them comment here.  I will simply be giving you my interpretation of things...

...my interpretation right now is that the big guys are having to play by a new set of rules and KNOW that they are missing out on the local food industry (it is an industry) and want us to play by the same rules as them in hopes that we are shut out save but a small few that would have little impact overall in the amount of sales.

I KNOW that at least one food wholesaler is pushing hard, especially when our lettuce mix (and other local farmers) is the only one being purchased in season by several LARGE local restaurants.

Its going to be a fight and a big part of me just wants to follow the path of least resistance at this point.  I am exhausted worrying about this, looking out for my employees, and trying to grow.

And now I am behind on what I was planning on doing this morning.  :)

Have fun folks and more on this in March.

Richard Stewart
Carriage House Farm
North Bend, Ohio

An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1855

(513) 967-1106
rstewart at zoomtown.com

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