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new Ariz farmer's market rules

duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 391
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  11

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8T3QBJvLy0

Remember the USDA owns the "organic" name
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6574
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
That was a somewhat bogus video.  First, the USDA does not "own" the organic name.  They do, however have legal requirements for the use of the term for commercial use of the name in products you sell.  That is how it should be, else everybody would be using the term, for profit, if there were no restrictions.

I wish the requirements for the "organic" label were even tighter, as there is a lot of produce being sold, that may fit the requirements, but leave a lot to be desired "health wise".  I would still wash everything I buy...many organic farms are far worse than conventionally farmed farms as far as "health" issues are concerned.  When was the last time you saw a Porta-Potty with a hand washing station on an organic farm?
Gord Welch


Joined: Sep 25, 2010
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
John, I for all intents and purposes, duane is correct. The USDA owns the rights to all usage of the term organic. Just try using it without their permission in any commercial setting.

I do think, however, that the Rodale Institute would have a very good case against the USDA should they ever wish to challenge the usurpation and monopoly of the term.

You're totally correct, IMHO, about the requirements for the organic label, though. I don't want to be certified because of that very reason. I don't want to be associated with any certification given the standards and practices I've seen. It's not an unhelpful label, to be sure, but it's not for me.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6574
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
As more and more multi-national BigAg corporations move in on the "organic label", it can only lose its meaning.  Corps selling half a million $ in product per year can petition USDA for modifications/exemptions, whereas the small family organic farm has no say in the matter.

In some parts of the country, the organic label can actually hurt your sales, and possibly diminish the value of your crops, while in others, if you cannot boast the label, your chances as a small operator are very slim.

Once the "Feds" get their hands into something, it seems to go downhill from there.
Gord Welch


Joined: Sep 25, 2010
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
Agreed!!

I hadn't heard the bit about the organic label hurting sales... could you tell us more?
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6574
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
In some regions, people do not know/believe the advantages of "organic".  They want things as they've always been, and to them, that means if it isn't drowning in chemicals, there must be something wrong with it.  an' besides, it was "Pro'll grown on one of those godamn pinko, hippy farms!"...equals "No Sale".
Gord Welch


Joined: Sep 25, 2010
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
Oh I see. Thanks.
Marissa Little


Joined: Jun 27, 2011
Posts: 63
Do these guys have any ideas of the liability issues involved in running a farmers market?  They are complaining that you have to tell the market what you are going to sell?  Uh...the market doesn't want 100 flower vendors and 2 vegetable vendors.  Crop plans are just a way to help the market know what you will have and how much.  If they know you will have 100s of lbs of potatoes, they won't accept a new potato vendor.  But if they have no potato vendors, they will.  I don't see any problem with this.  It's to help the vendors and the customers of the market.  Crop plans are super simple and don't have to be exact.  Market owners know that.

Additionally, the farm visit is a must.  Many farmers markets don't allow reselling of vegetables (you could buy veggies cheap wholesale and resell at the market as homegrown).  They need to make sure you have a real farm.  Also, if the market is promoting vegetables that aren't covered in chemicals, they need to make sure you don't have a shed full of round-up.  Everyone farm inspection we've had is mostly a person coming out, having a cup of coffee and oohing or aahing over some bumper crop of tomatoes or something.  It's no big deal.  These guys are making it sound like something bad.

About the USDA organic label - would anyone be happy if I sprayed with chemicals and then printed "organic" on my labels?  Of course not.  The regulation of it is needed to protect consumer.  Unfortunately, that sort of thing is never perfect, and usually no where near perfect.  Big Agribusiness should have to use a different label to small scale farmers, or the requirements be different or something.  But that market paperwork saying you can't use "organic" if you aren't certified is correct - and the law.  Fight against the law, not the market owners who are simply living by the rules of the land.


Marissa
Sand Holler Farm
Dale TX
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 391
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  11

"those godamn pinko, hippy farms!"...

ruining it for the rest of us
Gord Welch


Joined: Sep 25, 2010
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
Marissa, that's exactly why selling direct to customer is best. Notice I said customer, not consumer. Consumers are regulated by government, whereas customers are private individuals. When anyone else is involved in the transaction, it's a bad deal for buyer and seller and a good deal for the other party, in this case its the government and the farmers market.

If I choose to sell at the farmers market, then I must abide by their rules. But I choose not to.

I'm curious why you think the standards should be different for small producers versus large ones...?
Marissa Little


Joined: Jun 27, 2011
Posts: 63
gordwelch wrote:I'm curious why you think the standards should be different for small producers versus large ones...?


Most (not all of course) small scale organic farms are also working towards some form of sustainability.  They aren't doing organic just for the label and the higher price.  They are doing it because it MEANS something to them.

Big corporate farms are doing it because there is a demand for it.  They don't care about the reasons why.  My cousin was the director of organic operations for Del Monte in Texas.  The company didn't give one toot about building long term health of the soil or things like that.  They farmed just like conventional farming but using organic certified pesticides and fertilizers.

There should be a different label for things that are grown in these two very different systems.  I just boiled it down to big vs. small and that was an oversimplification.

In the end, you are right about selling direct.  Our direct customers could care less that we aren't stamped with USDA organic.  They know are practices and know that we mean what we say about caring for the land in the best way we can.

I don't actually think farmers markets are such a bad deal.  We have about half our sales through CSA and half through the market.  This protects our CSA customers from crop shortages (we simply don't have anything to take to market) and protects us from wasting food during bumper crops (we offer extras for canning/putting up but even then, people say 'enough is enough!' and we have to find an outlet for extra produce or it goes to waste).  We can't do a farm/road side stand and haven't been satisfied with restaurant/grocery store sales.  But like you said, if you don't want to abide by their rules, by all means, don't sell there!
Gord Welch


Joined: Sep 25, 2010
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
The way you've explained it I would agree heartily. From this perspective, I would think different labeling would be helpful.
Pat Black


Joined: Dec 20, 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Northern New Mexico, USA
Sure, some farmers find the regulations around "who can sell what" at a farmers market to be a bit over the top. But if you've ever managed a farmers market, and I have, you quickly meet all kinds of shady characters trying to profit off the good will generated by the farmers.

Every time someone lies or cheats, the rules get longer. We've been threatened with lawsuits, had people try to circumvent the rules through the landlord, had people try setting up in the customer parking lot, etc. You name it, I've seen it.

The customers are grateful that someone is out there policing the market so that they can access authentic local food without having to resort to interviewing each farm stand at the market.

The video just perfectly illustrates their ignorance as to WHY these rules are in place. Try going to an unregulated market where someone buys a pickup truck load of produce picked by prisoners for 80 cents a day and then sets up next to you, selling tomatoes at 50 cents a pound. (Yes, I've seen it.) You go home with most or all of yours. Farmers markets are set up so genuine farmers can make a profit selling stuff they really produced. The rules reflect that. You don't like it, stay home. More customers for the rest of us.

Jeff Mathias


Joined: Feb 19, 2009
Posts: 121
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
    
    1
NM Grower wrote:
Sure, some farmers find the regulations around "who can sell what" at a farmers market to be a bit over the top. But if you've ever managed a farmers market, and I have, you quickly meet all kinds of shady characters trying to profit off the good will generated by the farmers.

Every time someone lies or cheats, the rules get longer. We've been threatened with lawsuits, had people try to circumvent the rules through the landlord, had people try setting up in the customer parking lot, etc. You name it, I've seen it.

The customers are grateful that someone is out there policing the market so that they can access authentic local food without having to resort to interviewing each farm stand at the market.



Personal responsibility! The lack of it is destroying our everything.

It sounds to me like the customers ( I might still argue consumers) still need to be better in tune with where their food comes from then. It is sad they take the time to go to the market and then abdicate any responsibility for their purchases to an unknown entity in the hopes that they area accessing authentic local food. Hopefully all people running a market have your integrity NM Grower but I get the feeling it is more of a maybe maybe not situation.

As for the shady characters word needs to get around. If we would deny services and dealing with these people they will either have to do something different or go somewhere else.

On a side note: Something I found interesting looking at the rules of a local farmers market. All people selling and arriving in a vehicle needed to be able to provide insurance for what ever they drove. This to me does not appear to be about sourcing authentic local food. Also I believe there was a dress code enforced as well for the sellers.

Jeff



"Study books and observe nature. When the two don't agree, throw out the books" -William A Albrecht
"You cannot reason a man out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." - Benjamin Franklin
Gord Welch


Joined: Sep 25, 2010
Posts: 64
Location: Oregon
I think you're on right on target here, Jeff. I have seen that rules don't necessarily stop people from cheating and lying - and I have observed that insurance is the most irresponsible project on the planet.
Raven Sutherland


Joined: Nov 09, 2010
Posts: 128
Location: Massachusetts
the problem with "obtaining the Organic label" as i see it
is the endless paper work involved when it came to
how much fertilizer was used and exactly when. 

It's got to the point that it ruined the whole system
and you had to become
a CPA of everything you do to satisfy their regulations.

l just say "grown naturally" instead and do it "my way"
even if it's truly Organic practices because that much
paperwork just isn't worth it....


Digging around on a piece of ground in my home town
waiting for someone or something to show me the way.
Dale Hodgins
pollinator

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 4035
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
    
  57
     If you look at the costs involved for small growers to maintain legal organic status it represents a much larger slice of their pie to do all of the paperwork and pay for certification. All of the fiddling could easily eat up 10% of a person's time and income whereas the large operator will never spend 1% on these things. Therefore it is in the interest of corporate agriculture to further complicate issues since they can effectively bury their small competitors in paperwork.


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Joined: Aug 17, 2011
Posts: 98
Location: Eastern Colorado, USA
There is an alternative to the USDA Organic label.

http://www.naturallygrown.org/

Certified Naturally Grown has standards far more strict than the USDA.  It's not a top-down bureaucracy -- the CNG farmers inspect each other.  Good way to keep out the cheats.
Pat Black


Joined: Dec 20, 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Northern New Mexico, USA
As a certified organic grower, I was interested in the claim that certified naturally grown is "far more strict" than organic standards. So I went to the website. They simply adopt the organic standards wholesale, even so far as referring to the CFR by number and link. Then they added some regs for beekeeping, which USDA hasn't yet developed. For produce crops, I couldn't find any way that certified naturally grown standards differed. Am I missing something?
 
 
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