OFMA and some other issues and opinions (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at sunsite.unc.edu
Thu Jan 15 00:09:48 EST 1998

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 18:16:13 -0600
From: Guy Clark <guyclark at socket.net>
Reply-To: guyclark at sockets.net
To: dmhinds at acnet.net, cooperative-bus at relay.doit.wisc.edu,
    organic-certification at listserv.oit.unc.edu,
    sanet-mg at shasta.ces.ncsu.edu
Subject: Re: OFMA and some other issues and opinions

Hello all-
I have been reading all the furor swirling around the toilet bowl that the
USDA is trying to pass off as "our" standard.  I must admit I was surprised
by the standard; it exceeded even my wildest, most cynical nightmare.  I
knew the minute the central government got involved that they would make
the standard less and less stringent and more and more expensive until they
drove all us small time, independent operators out and the ADM's, Gallo's,
and their ilk owned our term.  I think they must have stayed up nights to
come up with such creative, flagrant violations of OFPA and the "spirit" of
organic agriculture.
	I find that the more I look at all these documents, the less I understand
or can communicate clearly my critiques of it.  I am thankful to OFMA for
the job they have been doing with their side-by-side project.  I am only
just getting into the political part of this process having spent my time
running my ORGANIC, and I will never stop using that term even though I
have never been certified, gardening operation, Fertile Crescent Farm.  I
have never felt that I needed some outside certifying agency to tell me how
to steward my land and the USDA has certainly proven that they are unfit to
even fantasize about telling me, and other actual growers, how to manage
our processes.  I have no idea about the personality conflicts and egos
involved in this process, but I do know that the government would love for
us to squabble amongst ourselves over minor points and thus divert our
energy away from the cogent task here which is to respond with as much
vigor, passion, clarity, numbers, and courtesy that we can muster.  Then
the giant industries and lobbyists who are buying their way into our
sanctified ground can get their wishes.  The only relevant question I can
see at this point is "Are OFMA's analyses accurate and forceful enough?" 
If they are doing a good job at this part of it, then they will have earned
a huge portion of however much they have been paid by whoever over the
years.  If we each do not have to spend the thousands of hours necessary to
do this detailed of an analysis, then we save time, money, and our eyes and
wrists(especially if you are trying to do all of this on the computer).  If
there is mistrust of OFMA on other issues, then fine; but leave it out of
this part of the process.
	I have been cutting and pasting things from OFMA and things from this
listserve to come up with a detailed longer critique and with shorter ones
to give to the public to sign and send to USDA.  Every time I sit down to
write a response I am overwhelmed and it starts to grow like some
genetically engineered, irradiated, confined, cannibalistic cow hopped up
on steroids and antibiotics.
	I have the idea for the posters to announce meetings on the subject; do
you remember the image of the student during the Tianemen Square uprising
in China?  One student in the middle of the square with his arm upraised in
a "Stop" position and the tank sitting there; he stopped that tank with
nothing but his upraised hand and force of will.  I want to replace that
student with a farmer in a straw hat and overalls stopping a tank labeled
proposed standard with either more tanks or infantry behind the tank
labeled USDA, biotech, agribusiness, nuclear industry, EPA, DoE etc.  The
part of the image that I do not like is what happened at Tianemen not long
after that shot.   
	I do not want all of us to have to reinvent the wheel to respond to this
standard; we need to spend our time alerting the public, media, "our"
elected officials, lawyers for the impending lawsuits, and each other about
using the NOSB process to come up with our own standard should all the
previous routes fail.  I personally hope the government will either lose
interest or show their usual lack of will and give up.  This drives home
the point that one of the essential points of organics is traveling lightly
on the earth; it makes no sense to raise a food, fiber, or other product
organically and then ship it half way across the country or half way round
the world.  We need to provide/procure our organic food to/from
consumers/growers whose faces we can see, whose farms we can visit, whose
processes and desires we can question.  This, along with other food safety
issues, can be the wedge we need to split the international agribusiness
conglomerates into regional and even local food systems.  Hopefully
bringing it back to proper scale.
	I do not mean to piss anybody off, but I think we have to stay focused to
defeat the evil empire.  May the force be with you all.
Guy Clark

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