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1 November / December, 2009 Volume 20, No.5 FREE tilth (fr. OE tillian + th): A. the quality of cultivated soil. B. cultivation of wisdom and the spirit. theorganic Market PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID Albany, OR PERMIT NO. 188 N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Page

2 November / December 2009 Vol. 20, No. 5 ISSN # , 2009 Oregon Tilth Editor, layout and ad sales: Andrew Rodman Contributing writers: Angela Ajootian, Kathy Dang, David Lively, Jack Gray, Harry MacCormack, Will Newman, Andrew Rodman, Joel Preston Smith, Chris Schreiner, Sarah DeWeerdt and Conner Voss Subscriptions are free with Oregon Tilth membership, which begins at $30/year ($40 outside U.S.). Reprints by permission. Tilth s mission Filling the basket The marketplace for organic and sustainably harvested food is a dynamic place indeed. The Organic Trade Association s 2009 Organic Industry Survey finds that U.S. sales of organic products both food and non-food, reached $24.6 billion by the end of 2008, growing an impressive 17.1 percent over 2007 sales despite tough economic times. Yet this information does little to illuminate the stories behind the numbers. Challenging economic times bring the basics into sharper focus. An inescapable fundamental is that quality food equals health and good food is life. The marketplace meanwhile, becomes the arbiter of the success or failure of all the work and passion that go into producing quality sustenance. This edition looks at milk, seeds, small growers and the efforts that retailers are taking to get their houses in order. The folks at the Organic Seed Alliance were good enough to let me interview them, to find out what the key concerns and challenges are in this emerging organic Cover collage by Andrew Rodman Contents Getting creamed 4 Advocacy 6 Tilth s future 7 Organic seeds 8 Never let your guard down 10 On flowing uphill 11 Organic in Oregon week 12 Getting our house in order 14 Get big or get out 15 Food miles 16 Many green winters 21 DIY made easy 26 Feast of fava 28 Tooling around 29 sector-one that I had assumed was a simple case of not enough supply for the demand. The produce camp, represented by Oregon pioneers David Lively, Harry Mac- Cormack and Will Newman, speak well to the strategies of being viable, stealthy and fluid in times as strange as these. These voices are most fitting given the celebrations around Organically Grown in Oregon Week, happening while this edition took shape. The dairy perspective can best be described as everyone wants to food, but precious few want to produce it. So it goes with markets of scale. The mantra of get big or get out is such a prevailing notion that the focus of this edition is decidedly geared towards the smaller producers. This is not to diss the exceptional work larger producers are doing to fill our larders, but rather to offer tools and resources for those just getting into the game. Sometimes the smallest voice can be the most compelling. --Andrew Rodman $seeds page 8 Oregon Tilth, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports and promotes biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture through education, research, advocacy and product certification. Since its inception in 1974, Tilth has brought together rural and urban producers and consumers around land stewardship and healthy food. Oregon Tilth administers educational programs, supports sustainable agriculture research and policy, and offers organic certification to producers and food En Español handlers throughout the Americas. For more Los Semilleros 32 $ information about any of the exciting programs Millas Antes de que Coma 35 of Oregon Tilth, please call on us: Oregon Tilth, Inc. Research Reports Lancaster NE Salem, OR Classifieds 41 Office: (503) , Calendar 45 (877) Membership 47 Fax: (503) Page 2 November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5 Dairy page 4 Guard page 10

3 ADMINISTRATIVE Quality Control Director Chris Schreiner, (503) Administrative Assistants Michelle Borene, (503) Amanda Brown, (503) Dave Manlove, (503) x 424 Jenny Smith, (503) Financial Accounts Manager Catherine Steffens, (503) Information Tech Specialist Heather Smith, (503) RESEARCH AND EDUCATION OEC Program Manager Kathy Dang, (503) Garden Coordinator Conner Voss, (503) Enviro. Ed. Coordinator/AmeriCorps Randall Cass, (503) AB Fronsdahl Organic Farms (Klamath Falls, OR) Amador & Vicki Aguirre (Carlton, OR) Applegate Growers (Jacksonville, OR) Beaucoup (Sherwood, OR) Mary R. Bock (Saint Mary, MO) CITRO ROD, CITRICOS DE ABASOL (Cd. Victoria, Tam) Cottage School Acres (Green Ridge, MO) Four Bar B (Junction City, OR) Jason French (West Concord, MN) Oregon Tilth Staff Directory CERTIFICATION PROGRAM Certification Director Kristy Korb, (503) Inspection Coordinator Kelly O Donnell, (503) Farm Program Manager Tiffanie Huson Labbe, Farm Program Assistant Erin Jensen, (503) Reviewer - Inspectors Andrew Black, (503) John Caputo, (503) Callyn Kircher, (503) John Stalley, (503) Inspectors Andy Bennett, (541) Pat Moore, (541) Global Certification Program Manager Jim Pierce, (503) Editor, In Good Tilth Latin American Specialist Andrew Rodman, Garth Kahl, (503) (503) New New Growers: OTCO certified farms & processors since August, 2009 Rudy Jr. & Susan Gingerich (Clermont, IA) Hillside Acres (Omro, WI) Ke Ola Farm (Keaau, HI) Lost Springs Ranch (Burns, OR) David R. Miller Jr. (Darlington, WI) Wilbur & Ruby Miller (Shipshewana, IN) Jeremy Post (Rock Springs, WI) Ozark Acres Farm (Seymour, MO) Pine Knob Organic Farm (Soldiers Grove, WI) Sauvie Island Organics (Portland, OR) Simply Aquaponics Hawaii (Honomu, HI) Staunton Farms (Tulelake, CA) Thistle Vineyard (Portland, OR) Windberry Acres, Inc. (Saint Mary, SD) New Processors: Barnhardt Manufacturing Co. (Charlotte, NC) Biosecur Lab, Inc. (Otterburn Park, Quebec) Century Foods International (Sparta, WI) Chelten House Products, Inc. (Napa, CA) Colorado Sun Oil Processing, (Lamar, CO) Processing Program Manager Connie Karr, (503) Processing Program Assistant Darin Jones, (503) Technical Specialist Gwendolyn Wyard, (503) Reviewer - Inspectors Mike Dill, (503) Mike Mountain, (503) Darryl Williams, (503) MIDWEST OFFICE Midwest Certification Coordinator Dave Engel, (608) Inspector: Robert Caldwell, (608) Condor Snack Company (Denver, CO) Custom Research Labs, Inc. (Gardena, CA) Ella s Kitchen Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) Giusto s Specialty Foods (South San Francisco, CA) Grafton Village Cheese (Brattleboro, VT) Juguera Allende, S. A. De C. V (Allende, NLE) Kiko Foods, Inc. (Kenner, LA) My Sous Chef (Joseph, OR) Oregon Tilth Board of Directors Jody Berry Wild Carrot Herbals Kate Carman Carman Ranch David Granatstein WSU Center for Sustaining Ag and Natural Resources Miguel Guerrero OMRI Adam Zimmerman ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia Naturepedic (Cleveland, OH) Natures Paradise (Santa Ana, CA) Picat Ltd (Dallas, TX) Simmons Pet Foods, Inc. (Siloam Springs, AR) Sunshine Dairy Foods Management, LLC (Portland, OR) Terra Firma Botanicals, Inc. (Eugene, OR) Unit Pack Co., Inc. (Cedar Grove, NJ) Welcome Dairy, Inc. (Colby, WI) Oregon Tilth now certifies: 600 organic processors 694 organic growers N o v e m b e r 5 / December organic 2009 restaurants I n Good Tilt h & V1 o lretailer u m e 20, Number 5 Page

4 Getting creamed Photo by Joel Preston-Smith Page November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5 I lost my land, a single tractor took my land. I m alone and I am bewildered. John Steinbeck, from The Grapes of Wrath. By Joel Preston-Smith In the final scene of John Steinbeck s classic, The Grapes of Wrath, Rose of Sharon the landless, orphaned daughter of a failed farmer, hiding in an abandoned barn and grieving the death of her stillborn child cradles an elderly, starving man in her arms, and draws him to her breast, to suckle. After 534 pages of dust and destitution, Steinbeck offers this final, harrowing image as a moral beacon if the displaced and dispossessed are to find salvation, to heal the land and their families, they would only do so by cooperating, by sheltering and feeding one another. It s somewhat ironic then, that 70 years after the novel s publication, cooperative agreements and a surplus of milk, some argue, are starving dairy farmers into bankruptcy, deprivation and suicide. John Kinsman, president of Family Farm Defenders, based in Madison, Wis., calls the current milk debacle the worst crisis for farmers since the Great Depression. Throughout America, dairy farms both organic and conventional are failing, awash not in dust, but in milk. The alleged surplus has driven the price of raw conventional milk to its lowest level since 1940, says Kinsman, and has dairy farms teetering on the brink of extinction. Irene Lin, a policy analyst for the National Family Farm Coalition, headquartered in Washington, D.C., says the U.S. has lost 80 percent of its dairy farms in the past 30 years, but not since the Dust Bowl have so many farmers faced such a dire future. Kinsman, who is also secretary of the Coalition s executive board, says his nonprofit wants the federal government to restruc-

5 Dairy s uncertain future Photo by Joel Preston-Smith ture the dairy industry, and enforce the National Organic Program rules. The Coalition supports Senate Bill 1645 (formerly Senate Bill 889), the Federal Milk Marketing Improvement Act of 2009, which would allow the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to base the price of conventional milk on the national average cost of production. The price is currently influenced by a host of factors, but largely by the price of cheese as it is traded in the dairy pit of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The Coalition wants the feds to dictate conventional milk prices, and thus break what Lin describes as a corporate monopoly on milk, orchestrated by industry giants such as Dean Foods, Kraft Foods and a handful of conglomerates. To illustrate the need for government oversight, Lin cites a $12 million fine levied December 16 last year by the Federal Commodities Futures Trading against Dairy Farmers of America for attempting to manipulate cheese cash markets at the Chicago stock exchange. We re dealing with a very flawed pricing system controlled by a very few corporate entities, Lin says. That system has led us to a price collapse that you can only describe as a depression. Conventional milk is bringing a price lower than we had in U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate possible antitrust violations by Dean Foods, which the senator claims controls 70 percent of the dairy market in the northeast. Dean, he argues, posted record profits in the first quarter of 2009, whilst the company cut payments to farmers from $19.50 per hundredweight in 2008, to less than $11 this July. Continued on page 18 N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Page

6 Photo by Connie Karr Oregon Tilth staffers at the Organic Education Center Advocacy On August 26th, Andrew Black spoke about organic local food at the Sidney Lezak Project s conference called Fixing Food: What Ails Us & The Economy at Camp Westwind, on the Oregon Coast. On September 14, at the Farm and Food Leadership Conference in San Antonio TX, Dave Engel was on a panel discussion Certified or Not Certified: How do Farmers and Consumers Make the Choice? The conference was co-sponsored by Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance and Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. September 17, Conner Voss and Garth Kahl hosted a tour of the Organic Education Center and Luscher Farm to staff from the USDA s Foreign Agriculture Service. September , Garth Kahl attended the hearings for the proposed National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement in Monterey, Calif. Working in concert, a number of other conservation and organic farming groups including the Wild Farm Alliance, Community Alliance with Family Farms, and the National Organic Coalition, OTCO presented testimony in opposition the Act, which OTCO believes would have serious detrimental consequences for organic growers and the environment, while doing little to decrease the incidence of food-borne illness. September 24, Kathy Dang, Conner Voss, and Randall Cass hosted a tour of the Organic Education Center, Luscher Farm to Agriculture Extension Agents from around the nation as part of the 2009 Annual Meeting and Professional Improve- ment Conference of the National Association of County Agriculture Agents in Portland, September 20-24, October 7, as part of the GoGreen Conference in Portland, Ore, Chris Schreiner partnered with ODA staff to host a lunch and learn session highlighting sustainable business practices and opportunities for the Food and Agriculture sector. October 28, Andrew Black gave an educational presentation about organic certification and sustainable agriculture at the National College of Natural Medicine as part of the 2009 Portland Master Vegetarian Program. Hey Editor! Page November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5 Write, Tilth is great, again more usable fodder for my growing endeavor. Lydia Avery, Alsea, Ore. Dear Oregon Tilth, the people who make that organization come alive. My goal as a 53 yr. old farmer former science teacher is to find sustainable work style-oriented partners in buying rural land to start a tent and breakfast/organic farm/ropes challenge course. I would enjoy having experienced farmer/gardeners to correspond with so we can learn from each other. I am reading all I can find on organic gardening, small business topics, agroforestry and other topics. I believe there are compassionate non-judgemental people out there. I wish everyone there much peace, joy and love. Denzel Tittle, A-3, POB 7000 FCI, Texarkana, TX

7 Charting Oregon Tilth s Strategic course By Chris Schreiner At the recent Organically Grown in Oregon Week awards luncheon, I was reminded of how much the organic movement has grown and changed in its relatively short history. Attending an event that brings together pioneers and new faces in the organic industry helps bring to focus the big picture of our collective efforts; both where we ve been and where we re heading. Like the organic movement, Oregon Tilth has experienced significant and rapid change. In the eleven years I ve worked for the organization, the staff increased fourfold and the operating budget increased by a factor of five. While such growth is indicative of success, it also presents challenges. Managing this kind of dynamic growth requires clear vision, resolute purpose and the agility to respond to unexpected and demanding changes. Therein lies the value of strategic planning. In 2009, Oregon Tilth s Board of Directors and Executive Management Team began a strategic planning process. At the outset, five goals were identified. A new strategic plan must be: Consistent and supportive of Oregon Tilth s original mission Cohesive and integrated across the organization Realistic and practical Clear on a bequest investment strategy Measurable progress is quantifiable NCAT s Rex Dufour leads an activity on in-field soil quality assessment in Monmouth, Ore. at an an Organic-Conservation Cross Training session organized by Oregon Tilth and the Ore. NRCS office with funding support from the WSARE Professional Development Program. The strategic plan was developed using a variety of tools and input. An as is analysis was developed using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) framework. Input included a 2009 survey of Oregon Tilth staff as well as the extensive 2008 survey of certified operators, members and partner organizations externally conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation. From this work, we developed strategic goals for the organization. By comparing our as is status with our strategic goals, we identified the gaps and have begun formulating a plan on how to get from where we are today to where we want to be in the future. In formulating the strategic plan, several interrelated and key themes emerged. Oregon Tilth doesn t make widgets ; we offer and deliver services. Our primary services are third-party certification to standards that align with our mission; educational offerings to consumers, growers and manufacturers; advocacy efforts addressing state, national and international policy; and helping shape research agendas that respond to the needs of our stakeholders. We want to expand our services and differentiate on quality. Brand is priceless Oregon Tilth s name and reputation for leadership, integrity and quality must be protected, maintained and enhanced. While our roots are based in the Pacific Northwest, our reputation and services have expanded to a national and international audience. People are our biggest asset We want to cultivate a community of support through meaningful relationships and interactions. The only way to successfully offer expanded, high-quality services that align with our stellar reputation is by employing exceptionally qualified people. We must also continue to develop strategic partnerships that can leverage unique resources and expertise to help us achieve our goals. In Oregon, we worked to establish a formal Letter of Cooperation creating a framework for collaboration among partner organizations and agencies on organic program activities. Signatories included the Director of the Oregon. Dept of Agriculture, Chairperson of the Oregon State Board of Agriculture, Director of the Oregon Field Office of the USDA National Ag Statistics Service, Oregon NRCS State Conservationist, OSU Dean of Agriculture and Executive Management of Oregon Tilth. Communication As our staff increases and our audience expands, we must enhance both external and internal awareness of Oregon Tilth s services and activities. We must use diverse and progressive communication formats that reflect the diverse audiences we are trying to reach. Our communication formats include the bi-monthly publication In Good Tilth (with some content published in Spanish), our website, monthly enewsletters, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Oregon Tilth staff attends hundreds of events each year at locations near and far representing our mission at trade show booths, information tables, as well as workshop and training presenters. Through effective strategic planning, Oregon Tilth strives to maintain firm roots, encourage healthy growth, and bloom with increased mission fulfillment. Chris Schreiner is Oregon Tilth s Quality Control Director. N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Page Photo by Chris Schreiner

8 Seedy fellows Talking shop Scott Chichester cleans organic spinach seed at Nash s Organic Produce in Sequim, Wash. Photo by LPhotos by Jared Zyskowski, Organic Seed Alliance Seed is the ultimate input, and the organic seed market continues to be challenging and dynamic. Recently, Andrew Rodman spoke with the Organic Seed Alliance s Matt Dillon and John Navazio about some of the trends in this emerging market. Matt This year I had a representative of a large dairy call me up looking for a sorghum seed for their growers that was certified organic. All of the seed companies that I directed this grower to were sold out. There continues to be a lack of commercially available varieties to meet the field and market needs of farmers. It is happening in field crops, and continues to happen in vegetable crops. Many of the vegetable seed companies report selling out early in the year, out of key varieties, organic hybrids in particular. The over-arching issues that continue to come up in organic seed are availability and appropriateness. Estimates remain between five and 10 percent of the seed planted by organic farmers is actually organic seed, and the rest is conventional non-treated. Those estimates come from talking to people in the industry. From the very beginning, the organic community was reliant on two sources for our seeds; the conventional sector, which has little to no interest in organic seeds, and second, heirloom seed companies, which were more focused on gardeners and small quantities of seed. Organic producers made due for decades, and in many cases certainly their needs have been met, the conventional varieties have been good enough, the heirlooms have been good enough for them to produce and thrive. But good enough varieties and optimum varieties are two different things. Page November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5

9 The state of organic seed John There is the whole issue of varieties bred for the farmer s cultural practices. The best breeding is done for the environment and the practices of farmers. That s what s optimum. When organics started hitting the big time, the best organic farmers took commercially bred varieties, that have not been bred for their cultural practices, and tweaked their cultural practices within organics they scoured through what is available, trialed it all out, and found the ones that are closest to fitting their needs. Andrew What do you mean by cultural practices? John Say you are planting corn at a certain date because you don t want it to rot in the soil. If you are a conventional farmer, you are using the corn varieties with seed treatments. If you are doing early cultivation to kill weeds, or flaming to kill weeds as an herbicide, that is a cultural practice. Matt If an organic farmer doesn t have the chemical seed treatment in the corn to prevent diseases, like rotting in the cold soil or early emergence in cold soils, this could push planting to a later date, which could cause them to have less of a yield or incur other risks later in the season. John All of those conventional corn breeding programs have an attitude of: that s not a problem, we have these state of the art seed treatments with thiram pesticides. So our growers don t worry about that. In fact, we are going to use those seed pesticide treatments even in our breeding program to artificially avoid that reality that every organic farmer in the field is facing. Matt There s even the genetic element of how a plant responds to cultivation. John Like when you have your tines on, you are disrupting the soil very close to the plant or throwing the soil back. Conventional farmers that are using herbicides don t need nearly as much cultivation. If you are truly breeding a plant good for organic farmers, it has to be tough enough to have soil thrown up on it. The percentage used of organic seed is one thing, the percentage of seed being used that is appropriate and most ideal for the cultural conditions and market conditions are even lower than just the basic seed. The first organic seed companies that John Navazio assesses the maturity of a carrot seed crop at Nash s Organic Produce in Sequim, Wash. ventured into the movement early on are finding success. There is a lot of growth in the true 100 percent seed companies. Their sales are up because they are making improvements in their production quality and practices. They are finding that growers are increasingly purchasing their seed. Some of the conventional seed companies have seen that the organic market is not just a fad, that it is here to stay, and that it continues to exhibit growth, and they become interested in potentially transitioning their seed lines into organic production. Very few of these companies however, are making the plunge in breeding for organic systems. For more than 30 years, Down To Earth has been proud to offer premium organic fertilizers and environmentally friendly home and garden products to farms, nurseries, greenhouses, and garden centers. Call Today for Our Wholesale Catalog N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Part of the reason is that there is hesitancy around the dollars and cents of it. It is very expensive to breed and test any kind of plant. It takes considerable money and time, it can take 10 years or more to breed Continued on page 20 Down To Earth offers a variety of useful products for winter gardening Organic Materials Review Institute DTE_IGT_NOVDEC_09_AD Page Photo by LPhotos by Jared Zyskowski, Organic Seed Alliance

10 Pioneer Perspectives Never let your guard down By David Lively I quote Matthew Dillon of the Organic Seed Alliance, from his article Organic Food Integrity Starts with Seed Integrity in the latest issue of the PCC Sound Consumer: I respect those who don t like war analogies, but I have sat at the table with the Monsanto executives of the world and we dangerously delude ourselves in thinking they can be convinced of our concerns through anything other than grassroots fights, litigious assaults, and peace treaties negotiated from a place of power. Unfortunately, as in all wars, there are costs to both sides and the organic movement will not leave this scenario without scars. On my daily walk this morning, I was thinking along similar lines specifically, about some of the responses I have heard from my peers over the last few weeks, as anti-organic material has hit the press. After all this time, we still possess the ability to be naïve about what we are dealing with. It is charming in a way, but the problem with it is that we have been living with positive press and rapid trade growth for so long that we have become convinced of our strength, addicted to success and somewhat lazy in our sense of urgency. In the U.S., we are insulated enough that we can almost pretend that the biggest issues are whether we are going to hold on to our growth rate and whether the image of organic will remain relatively untarnished. Meanwhile, the world is burning, as Vandana Shiva made adamantly clear at the Organicology conference in early The reality is, we are engaged in a global war between agri-business and agroecology. Ultimately, I believe there will be an outcome, and it will provide for only one survivor. For a positive outcome for human beings, and even more so for all of the other life on this blue and green ball, it is imperative that agro-ecology be that survivor. I think it is becoming increasingly imperative that we frame circumstances accurately, as Matthew has done this is not just about choice in the marketplace, or the pastoral that Michael Pollan refers to when we tell the story of organic farming. This is about a struggle much bigger and deeper than most of us really want to deal with, yet it is our fate to do so. I don t suggest we take this battle into the supermarkets or into the pastoral, but let s make sure that as professionals we are never surprised, or take the time to be offended, by what comes at us in the way of bad press, legal action, or even conspiracy. When I accepted the Oregon Tilth Visionary of the Year Award for OGC a few years back, I noted that in the 1980s, Congressman Jim Weaver spoke to us at length about various matters, including the chain of consequence that starts with volcanos and results in the disruption of weather patterns, crop loss and war. Weaver also provided us with high praise as visionaries for change, which we remain today. I was amazed that someone of his status held organic farmers in such esteem. At the time, we were under withering fire. The Reagan Administration had taken direct action to crush the barest presence of organic thought in the Federal government. If you called Lane County Extension and asked for advice in organic techniques, you were told it was not possible. The Douglas County Extension agent was on a declared mission to prove that there was no reason for using organic practices. Conventional growers and the ag-biz system they were a component of scoffed at us, sometimes directly to our faces. And they were all correct in doing what they did, of course, because we were absolutely as threatening to their professional world-view as they suspected we were. We had come to take apart and reconstruct as much of the U.S. ag-system as we could get our hands on. That purpose has driven me all of these years. Let s remember that when you go after someone s world view and economic interests, they are going to bite back, and in the case of the war between agri-biz and agro-ecology, it is gonna be a very big bite coming at you. At Organicology in 2011, I hope we can press the truth of this struggle, once more, upon participants, and that their embracing of the need to be warriors in this fight will move us further toward resolution. Meanwhile, as our friend Buzz Lightyear exhorts, To infinity, and beyond! David Lively is the Marketing Director at the Organically Grown Company and has been in organics as a grower, field manager, buyer and account representative going on 30 years now. Page 10 November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5

11 Pioneer Perspectives By Harry MacCormack Small-small farms and market gardens operate in a marketing reality dominated by large-small farms. We all know the accepted entrepreneurial practices of very successful larger-small farms. They include high levels of management, staffs of or more employees, large capital investments in farm equipment, grow-tunnel-greenhouses, walk-in refrigerators, processing-market preparation lines, refrigerated trucks large enough to handle multiple farmer s markets in many locations and CSA drops in those locations, wholesales to Organically Grown Company or other distributors, retailers, and restaurants throughout the region. These larger-small farms often operate on 20 acres or less. But with high overhead costs, their consumer prices are geared to an economy of high-end, urban, customers also used to lifestyles based in the rewards of economic success. Their farm budgets are often in the quarter to million dollar range. These are the stars of the organic market place. Economic marketing reality for smallsmall farms in this high-stakes business atmosphere can seem daunting, especially to entry-level growers who may not want to participate in the small farm marketing version of the dominate corporate paradigm. Is there another way? This question led me to the ancient wisdom of the I Ching #46, Pushing Upward. The image poses choices between effort as opposed to progress, vertical ascent versus expansion. The metaphor reflects the growth pattern of wood in soil: direct rise from lowliness to power and influence. Pushing upward is made possible by modesty and adaptability. Individual activity, work, brings good fortune. Upward growth of wood adapts by bending around obstacles, moving upward without haste, without rest. This requires devotion to character, without pause. How does such wisdom possibly guide a struggling small-small grower participating in a market economy? First of all, you have to decide your economic survival. Do you really want to rely on your total economic needs coming from growing the foods you love? I remind you in this consideration of two facts: Over 70 percent (USDA figures) of all American farms rely on at least one source of offfarm income to remain viable. Amish and On flowing uphill Pennsylvania Dutch farming tradition holds that one man can effectively farm two acres. (More land requires horses, machinery, ever-larger capital and employees.) In our high-tech world there are ways for small-small farms to gain market share. Usually they rely on introducing yourself and your produce to a very local community in a way that doesn t really compete with larger-small farms. Most large farmer s markets, local restaurants and alternative natural type food stores are dominated by the larger small farms. So what kinds of sales are left? Use internet communication to your advantage. That might include My Space or even Twitter as ways of letting potential unaligned customers know what you have and who you are. Send out a weekly list from which they can choose, set up an order date, and tell you whether they will pick-up at your location or whether you need to deliver. Your distinct advantage: Picked and delivered same day produce. For greens, especially, this translates into a distinct nutritional advantage that larger operations cannot emulate. We ve used this process for a season at Sunbow Farm. We ve attracted a whole new number of consumers as a result. At-the-farm pricing allows us to be affordable, an attempt on our part to address the complaint that farmer s market prices are often as high or higher than natural foods store prices. Optional home delivery in our nearby town is just what new moms, retired semi shutins, and those too busy to go to markets love. Along the same lines, a group of growers in the Eugene area offer a virtual farmer s market through Together they pool produce, which comes to a drop point once a week. Internet orders are coordinated by the organizers, who charge a fee for service. Again, this model makes it possible for small-small growers to operate with some of the advantages of a larger small grower while offering same day fresh. Both of the above marketing strategies appeal to younger, urban, working families who want the best food, fresh, and affordable. The small-small farm has more leeway with pricing because of lower overhead. Even so, set the pricing so that you pay both expenses and yourself. N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Another strategy is to see yourself as a grower-organizer, and act on that perception. Working with a neighborhood organization, a church, a community center, retirement facility, you can help initiate small grower based buying clubs. This activity can extend to small growers being backyard or community garden based. Seeing an urban or suburban area as a farm, sharing space, rotations, equipment, labor, can be an effective way to grow lots of food, feed lots of people, and market what you grow, to that community, or even as a collective stand in a larger farmer s market. Operations along these lines in L.A. and Chicago have been featured on national T.V. recently. These small, small marketing suggestions all allow for lower local pricing, because they are not rooted in high overhead. CCA or community cooperative agriculture, (as different from CSA community supported agriculture) need not require up-front payments. Organization and trust replace that factor as a planned season unfolds with one or many small growers feeding many middle to lower class families or even the poor and homeless as a market. In an organized, food-based, community effort individuals support each other as the basic exchange rate, bending around dollars per hour with labor for food trades, marketing with an eye to the well-being of those who have, economically speaking, the least rather than the most. Again, such an effort is not possible when trapped in the entrepreneurial model currently dominating markets. For instance, it is not usually the case that a neighborhood farmer s market is established limiting the size of stall space, effectively excluding the larger small farms. (We did this at the original Portland-based People s Wednesday market) The very definition of marketing is radically different in the examples mentioned. Rather than simply growing as part of regional or even local commerce, re-organizing business agreements allows small to remain small and stealthy. This practice will attract an appreciate clientele who support what you do, no matter what your size. Harry MacCormack is a co-founder of Oregon Tilth, an original Oregon organic farmer, a teacher and an author. Page 11

12 Celebrating an entwined history Compiled by Andrew Rodman In recognition of organic farmers, processors and distributors in the State of Oregon, Governor Ted Kulongoski proclaimed September 14-20, 2009, as Organically Grown in Oregon Week. The harvest time saw a bounty of events from celebrations, to workshops, to farm tours to tastings. These events celebrated the rich culture of sustainable agriculture in the Northwest. Since 1988, Oregonians have proudly commemorated Organically Grown in Oregon Week, giving kudos to our thriving organic industry and the leaders of Oregon s organic movement. David Lively, Marketing Director at Organically Grown Company gave credit where it was due for the origins of this event. Way back in the 1980s, when many of us owned different bodies and more brain cells, a farmer from Oregon s Southern Coast, Marnie McPhee, took it upon herself to find a way to celebrate. Marnie contacted a handful of vets and trade activists, determined to Lynn Coody and Jack Grey rewrite and lobby to pass Oregon Organic Foods Law (the oldest organic law in the U.S.) using both Tilth Certification Standards and the first attempt at a materials list-based standard Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt declares first Organically Grown in Oregon week Oregon Tilth Standards used as model for Washington Dept. of Ag. proposed program, Texas Dept. of Ag program, Japan proposed program, Hawaii, Idaho and Colorado Oregon passes first organic legislation in U.S One-page certification rules written by Bob Cooperider/ Willamette Valley Tilth President. 12 farms certified under these rules Oregon Tilth incorporated as non-profit. Tilth s Yvonne Frost (and committee) begin certification as a business First edition of Standards and Guidelines For Oregon Tilth Certified Organically Grown: written by Harry MacCormack, edited by Lynn Coody. Page 12 November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5 Organic pioneers: Alan Kapuler at top, and below: Harry Mc- Cormack (left) and Yvonne Frost (right).

13 Photo by Andrew Rodman Onward to a organic future OSU s Anita Azarenko accepts the The Organic Policy Award from Kim Leval, chair of the Oregon Organic Coalition during a luncheon celebration. Photo courtesy Ashland Food Coop create a statewide grassroots, guerilla marketing campaign focused on the positive. Eventually, Organically Grown in Oregon became the model for Organically Grown Week, a national promotion carried out by the Community for Sustainable Agriculture. After the formation of the Organic Trade Association, the event became the Organic Harvest month, held in September, across the U.S. This is not the first time our work has provided a template for national policies. As part of the celebration, The Oregon Organic Coalition hosted an awards luncheon in Portland at the EcoTrust building, August 15, heralding our modern-day organic pioneers. Oregon Organic mentionables included scientist Alex Stone from OSU, for her work in establishing the Northwest Farmerto-Farmer Exchange, her position as National Director of the new collaborative and studies of organic potatoes, which have earned her national acclaim. On the retailer end, the Ashland Food Cooperative (established 1972) was honored as the first grocer in Oregon to earn Oregon Tilth s Certified Organic retailer designation for its entire operation. The co-op supports efforts across the state to bolster the organic food industry, and is among the nation s top ten food cooperatives in sales. The Wholesaler Award went to Organically Grown Company, formed in 1978 to support Oregon s organic farmers. Since then, OGC has opened distribution facilities in Eugene and Portland, and in Kent, Washington. OGC is the Northwest s largest wholesaler of fresh organic fruits, vegetables and herbs, employing more than 160 staff, working with more than 500 vendors serving more than 250 natural and fine food stores and restaurants throughout western Oregon and Washington. The Livestock Farmer Award went to Jon Bansen, Double J Jerseys, Member of Organic Valley Farmer-Owned Cooperative. Organically Grown week was marked by workshops, tastings and farm visits, like this one organized by the Ashland Food Coop to Fry Family Farm near Medford. Double J Jerseys dedication to organic dairy has led to wide recognition, including leading Organic Valley s Farmer Ambassador Program for the western U.S., Polk County Soil and Water s 1997 Conservation Farmers of the Year, and Oregon Tilth s Producer of the Year Award in Jon extols the virtues of organic farming and grass-based dairying and is considered a grazing guru in organic dairy circles. N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Continued on page 21 The Vashon Broadfork A sturdy steel tool for deep aerating Natural Motion! Strong enough to turn over existing beds and break new ground, even in heavy soils. Made in the U.S.A. Free Shipping Satisfaction Assured Oregon Residents: for Oregon Tilth Discount! Call Page 13

14 Photo courtesy of PCC Natural Markets Finding real green Redmond Dairy Cooler at PCC Market shows the installation of LED (light emitting diode) lights. They require about one-fourth of the electricity of fluorescent lights, produce less heat than incandescent bulbs, and last far longer. By Andrew Rodman. There is increased public demand for sustainable and socially responsible products, and more businesses touting practices and products as green, carbon neutral, and fairly-traded in the organic marketplace. At the same time, companies are looking for ways to increase efficiency across the board to remain healthy in a down economy. The smart companies are the ones that are achieving both. One tool that companies have is by partnering up with the Food Trade Sustainability Leadership Association (FTSLA), a new non-profit that offers a variety of valuable educational programs, including strategies for measurement and reporting, strategy and goal setting, zero waste, carbon footprint reduction, sustainable packaging, renewable energy, resource conservation, ethical practices, marketing/communications and more. Natalie Reitman- White, FTSLA Executive Director states that, We have a long way to go to achieve resilient sustainable food systems. We continue to depend on many nonrenewable and polluting resources (i.e. fossil fuel) in our operations, and over -harvesting of precious natural resources (i.e. soil degradation & fresh water). The organic food trade provides a strong platform for advancing sustainability based on principles of agro-ecology and biodiversity, avoiding toxic and persistent inputs nature cannot process, deriving most fertility from renew- Page 14 November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5 able sources. Our goal is to bring these principles into the entire business model from seed to plate. The FTSLA s Sustainability Tool Kit gives members practical advice and strategies for implementing a sustainability program from step 1, and staff provide ongoing consulting. Natalie says her group has been sharing skills with a number of businesses, including growers, processors, shippers and manufacturers, that have been working towards evaluating the footprint of their operations and pursuing opportunities for improvement. She says, The organic trade s orientation and history uniquely positions us to be early adopters in developing and modeling the innovative practices that can move us closer to our ideals. Down in Noti, Oregon, WinterGreen Farm underwent the process of self-evaluation, and founding member Jack Gray concluded that, One of our most dramatic findings was the amount of gas and diesel used running around the farm between fields and barns. In our crop rotation, we moved most of our CSA and Farmers market production back to our home place from a rented field two miles away. The energy saved was startling. This information pointed out just how significant a cost internal transportation is for us. Up in the Puget Sound area, Seattle based PCC Markets have taken on multiple initiatives to lighten their footprint, including the ban of single-use plastic shopping bags, a heavy focus on green construction, introducing double-sided transaction receipts, replacing paper shelf tags with electronic point-of-purchase displays, and initiating company-wide recycling and composting procedures. All of which have contributed to significant waste reduction. Diana Crane, Director of Sustainability at PCC Natural Markets states that, Consumers today can t help but be aware of or at least question the impact their buying decisions makes on their communities, the environment, their health and their financial stability. PCC received the 2009 Green Washington Award, the 2009 Best Workplace Recycling and Waste Reduction and firstever Sustainability Excellence Award, in recognition of their work. Out in the heartland, the HQ of Or-

15 FTSLA ganic Valley Coop improved their already substantial efforts at being even more green and environmentally responsible. Jennifer Harrison, Organic Valley s Sustainability Program Manager at Organic Valley Coop enthuses that, Committing to the FTSLA has given us the opportunity to share our process and to learn from others in the industry. The metrics and reporting formats developed by the FTSLA has helped us to streamline the reporting and to measure ourselves against what others in the organic industry are doing in a pre-competitive environment. She notes that Organic Valley has been working to engage their entire supply chain from our farmers, to our processors, our packaging and transportation/freight providers on measuring their footprints. Natalie White says, We seek to engage companies who feel a sense of urgency about the state of the planet and society, and that believe their businesses should have a truly balanced triple bottom line. We focus on achieving tangible progress towards sustainability by working with early adopters who are willing to innovate and try new approaches. We also aim to create a community of practice where members will share what works and undertake joint projects, accelerating progress towards our collective vision and enhancing business relationships. Jennifer Harrison is pragmatic about the work they are doing. These days it is all about measuring. If you aren t measuring, you aren t proving the impact your sustainability initiatives are having on the environment, economy or your community. Statements without proof are greenwashing. For more information about the work of FTSLA, including their Declaration of Sustainability, and educational materials see For information about Organic Valley Coop, or to see their impact calculator visit PCC markets are all over the Puget Sound area, and viewable online at Get big, or head for the By Will Newman II I ve been thinking about two issues that plague most farmers: 1. What is the purpose of the business making profits or providing quality products? 2. How big is enough? As a farmer I have faced them. As a business consultant, a fair number of my clients have been small- to medium-size farms, and they have all faced these same issues. Farms follow a common pattern in their development. The first few years are taken up with developing growing, harvesting, and marketing practices, and trying to make ends meet. Once the farm is operating successfully, usually after three to five years, the grower faces these questions. The answers will determine the future success of the farm, because they will guide every business decision that follows. Putting returns first, in my experience, invariably leads to failure, as product quality and service steadily deteriorate in the quest to increase profits. Deciding to focus on improving product and service, along with charging adequately is an approach that leads to lasting success. The question of right-sizing is particularly difficult for growers. Agriculture is a part of the natural world, not the industrial world, while our economic system is based on industrial principles. Because of this embedded industrial economic worldview, agricultural experts always push for bigger, e.g. Agricultural Commissioner Earl Butz s often quoted Get bigger or get out! University researchers, funded primarily by industrial agriculture, support this approach. Lenders and suppliers also favor larger operations over smaller. All of this flies in the face of measurable realities. Generally small farms are better farms. They are more productive per square foot and less polluting. They yield more calories of food energy per calorie of input, and are more profitable. And most ignored by industrial agriculture: food from small farms is generally more nutritious than food from? industrial operations. In addition, small farms strengthen and add resilience to local economies. There lies the dilemma: virtually all structural, economic, and academic support is for larger, industrial approaches to production and distribution, while virtually all approaches that lead to quality food are small, decentralized and based on natural cycles. Natural and organic food businesses have become a very successful part of the food system precisely because they have favored quality over profits. This focus on quality has generally meant keeping operations smaller and more tuned to local markets than the bulk of the food industry. This success has been a threat to industrial agriculture. The reason successful natural and organic food businesses are called niche markets is to diminish their importance and to obscure the fact that they are successful precisely because they address the production and distribution of quality food outside the industrial business model. When the organic portion of the market became too large to ignore, organics was co-opted by industrial agriculture, and it has been a constant fight to maintain standards ever since. We continue to hear, as we have for decades, that small farms are not viable. The reality is that they have been, they are, and they will continue to be. We continue to hear that we must get bigger or get out. We do not. Throughout the world it is small, organic, local farms that produce the best food available, and at reasonable prices. The past success of the organic and natural food movement is founded on an understanding that food is not an industrial product, and cannot be produced or distributed as if it were. Our continued success will be based on maintaining the integrity of that vision. And we will be helping to build a sound, sustainable economy in the process. Will Newman is a long-time organic farmer at Natural Harvest Farm near Canby, Ore., and a co-founder of the Oregon Sustainable Agricultural Land Trust. N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Page 15

16 Miles from where I eat By Sarah DeWeerdt In 1993, a Swedish researcher calculated that the ingredients of a typical Swedish breakfast-apple, bread, butter, cheese, coffee, cream, orange juice, sugar-traveled a distance equal to the circumference of the Earth before reaching the Scandinavian table. In 2005, a researcher in Iowa found that the milk, sugar, and strawberries that go into a carton of strawberry yogurt collectively journeyed 2,211 miles just to get to the processing plant. As the local-food movement has come of age, this concept of food miles -roughly, the distance food travels from farm to plate-has come to dominate the discussion, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, and parts of Western Europe. The concept offers a kind of convenient shorthand for describing a food system that s centralized, industrialized, and complex almost to the point of absurdity. And, since our food is transported all those miles in ships, trains, trucks, and planes, attention to food miles also links up with broader concerns about the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from fossil fuel-based transport. In the United States, the most frequently cited statistic is that food travels 1,500 miles on average from farm to consumer. That figure comes from work led by Rich Pirog, the associate director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University (he is also behind the strawberry-yogurt calculations referenced above). In 2001, in some of the country s first food-miles research, Pirog and a group of researchers analyzed the transport of 28 fruits and vegetables to Iowa markets via local, regional, and conventional food distribution systems. The team calculated that produce in the conventional system-a national network using semitrailer trucks to haul food to large grocery stores-traveled an average of 1,518 miles (about 2,400 kilometers). By contrast, locally sourced food traveled an average of just 44.6 miles (72 kilometers) to Iowa markets. In light of such contrasts, the admonition to eat local just seems like common sense. And indeed, at the most basic level, fewer transport miles do mean fewer emissions. Pirog s team found that the conventional food distribution system used 4 to 17 times more fuel and emitted 5 to 17 times more CO2 than the local and regional (the latter of which roughly meant Iowa-wide) systems. Similarly, a Canadian study estimated that replacing imported food with equivalent items locally grown in the Waterloo, Ontario, region would save transport-related emissions equivalent to nearly 50,000 metric tons of CO2, or the equivalent of taking 16,191 cars off the road. What s Local? But what exactly is local food in the first place? How local is local? One problem with trying to determine whether local food is greener is that there s no universally accepted definition of local Page 16 November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5 food. Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, authors of The 100-Mile Diet, write that they chose this boundary for their experiment in eating locally because a 100-mile radius is large enough to reach beyond a big city and small enough to feel truly local. And it rolls off the tongue more easily than the 160-kilometer diet. Sage Van Wing, who coined the term locavore with a friend when she was living in Marin County, California, was inspired to eat local after reading Coming Home to Eat, a chronicle of author Gary Paul Nabhan s own year-long effort to eat only foods grown within 250 miles of his Northern Arizona home. She figured that if Nabhan could accomplish that in the desert, she could do even better in the year-round agricultural cornucopia that is Northern California, so she decided to limit herself to food from within 100 miles. There s some evidence that a popular understanding of local food is, at least in some places, coalescing around this 100- mile limit. A 2008 Leopold Institute survey of consumers throughout the United States found that two-thirds considered local food to mean food grown within 100 miles. Still, a variety of other definitions also persist. Sometimes local means food grown within a county, within a state or province, or even, in the case of some small European nations, within the country. In the United Kingdom, reports Tara Garnett of the Food Climate Research Network, on the whole, organizations supporting local are now less likely to put numbers on things. Meanwhile, rural sociologist, Clare Hinrichs of Pennsylvania State University, has found that in Iowa local has shifted from signifying food grown within a county or a neighboring one to food grown anywhere in the state. For some in the agricultural community, promoting and eating local Iowa food is almost a kind of food patriotism, aimed at counteracting the forces of globalization that have put the state s family farmers at risk. All of those are perfectly valid ways of thinking about local. But they don t have all that much to do with environmental costs and benefits. Tradeoffs In any case, warns Pirog, food miles/kilometers don t tell the whole story. Food miles are a good measure of how far

17 Rethinking local food food has traveled. But they re not a very good measure of the food s environmental impact. That impact depends on how the food was transported, not just how far. For example, trains are 10 times more efficient at moving freight, ton for ton, than trucks are. So you could eat potatoes trucked in from 100 miles away, or potatoes shipped by rail from 1,000 miles away, and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their transport from farm to table would be roughly the same. The environmental impact of food also depends on how it is grown. Swedish researcher Annika Carlsson-Kanyama led a study that found it was better, from a greenhouse-gas perspective, for Swedes to buy Spanish tomatoes than Swedish tomatoes, because the Spanish tomatoes were grown in open fields while the local ones were grown in fossil-fuel-heated greenhouses. That seems obvious, but there are subtler issues at play as well. For example, Spain has plenty of the warmth and sunshine that tomatoes crave, but its main horticultural region is relatively arid and is likely to become more drought-prone in the future as a result of global climate change. What if water shortages require Spanish growers to install energy-intensive irrigation systems? And what if greenhouses in northern Europe were heated with renewable energy? Perhaps it s inevitable that we consumers gravitate to a focus on food miles-the concept represents the last step before food arrives on our tables, the part of the agricultural supply chain that s most visible to us. And indeed, all other things being equal, it s better to purchase something grown locally than the same thing grown far away. It is true that if you re comparing exact systems, the same food grown in the same way, then obviously, yes, the food transported less will have a smaller carbon footprint, Pirog says. But a broader, more comprehensive picture of all the tradeoffs in the food system requires tracking greenhouse gas emissions through all phases of a food s production, transport, and consumption. And life-cycle analysis (LCA), a research method that provides precisely this cradleto-grave perspective, reveals that food miles represent a relatively small slice of the greenhouse-gas pie. In a paper published last year, Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews of Carnegie Mellon University, wove together data from a variety of U.S. government sources into a comprehensive life-cycle analysis of the average American diet. According to their calculations, final delivery from producer or processor to the point of retail sale accounts for only 4 percent of the U.S. food system s greenhouse gas emissions. Final delivery accounts for only about a quarter of the total miles, and 40 percent of the transport-related emissions, in the food supply chain as a whole. That s because there are also upstream miles and emissions associated with things like transport of fertilizer, pesticides, and animal feed. Overall, transport accounts for about 11 percent of the food system s emissions. By contrast, Weber and Matthews found agricultural production accounts for the bulk of the food system s greenhouse gas emissions: 83 percent of emissions occur before food even leaves the farm gate. A recent life-cycle analysis of the U.K. food system, by Tara Garnett yielded similar results. In her study, transport accounted for about a tenth of the food system s greenhouse gas emissions, and agricultural production accounted for half. Garnett says the same general patterns likely also hold for Europe as a whole. There s something about dairy The other clear result that emerges from these analyses is that what you eat matters at least as much as how far it travels, and agriculture s overwhelming hotspots are red meat and dairy production. In part, that s due to the inefficiency of eating higher up on the food chain-it takes more energy, and generates more emissions, to grow grain, feed it to cows, and produce meat or dairy products for human consumption, than to feed grain to humans directly. But a large portion of emissions associated with meat and dairy production take the form of methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases that are respectively 23 and 296 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Methane is produced by ruminant animals (cows, goats, sheep, and the like) as a byproduct of digestion, and is also released by the breakdown of all types of animal manure. Nitrous oxide also comes from the breakdown of manure (as well as the production and breakdown of fertilizers). In Garnett s study, meat and dairy accounted for half of the U.K. food system s greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, she writes, the major contribution made by agriculture itself reflects the GHG [green- Continued on page 22 N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Page 17

18 Pros and cons of CAFOs Continued from page 5 Declining income is a huge crisis for farmers and the communities that depend on them, Lin argues. Our contention is that we need a new pricing system and we need new antitrust measures that take corporate control away from the system. Doug Sinko, who serves as a liaison between Western dairy farmers and Organic Valley, says there s a 7-10 percent overproduction of organic milk nationally. The surplus means that some people don t have markets for their milk, says Sinko, who once operated what he says was the first certified organic dairy in the Pacific Northwest, in Myrtle Point, Ore. Organic Valley has dropped its pay price to farmers $2 per hundredweight since January, Sinko notes and has instituted a quota program to stem the tide of milk. Earlier this year, distributor HP Hood cancelled eight dairy contracts for farmers in Maine, and demanded a production cut of 15 percent by the majority of the state s 14 organic milk producers. Hood also cancelled 22 contracts in California, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. The New York Times reported May 28 that 32 dairy farms in Vermont have closed down since December first. Ed Maltby, Executive Director of Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance in Deerfield, Mass., argues that the flood of organic milk is largely due to lax enforcement of the National Organic Program (NOP). They [the processors and distributors of organic milk] have been taking on farms whose quality isn t high, whose organic standards aren t high. Lack of enforcement on key parts of the organic legislation on origin of cows and access to pasture, he claims, grew the milk supply very rapidly. Maltby says that some smaller dairy operations have taken a lesson from the CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), shirking the NOP s recommendations, but still market themselves as organic. There are some 300-cow herds that don t graze at all, Maltby observes. Approximately 9,900 CAFOs operate in the U.S, producing more than 50 percent of the animals stock consumed in the nation, according to a 2008 report authored by Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Mass. The watchdog defines a dairy-or-beef CAFO as an operation hosting more than 1,000 animals. Gurian-Sherman has argued that small dairy farmers are at a competitive disadvantage with CAFOs, given that the enormous industrial operations often qualify for federal subsidies to reduce their environmental impact, thus passing the costs of production onto U.S. taxpayers. A dairy CAFO can qualify for up to $450,000 in individual grants, the report notes. Organic dairies, with a decidedly smaller environmental impact, don t generate enough pollutants to present a significant threat to the environment, and therefore can t suckle at the federal teat. CAFOs may have netted as much as $125 million in environmental protection subsidies in 2007, Gurian-Sherman notes. There are 20 large organic industrial dairies in the U.S., according to the Organic Consumers Association, in Finland, Minn. The Association claims that combined, CAFOs produce as much as 40 percent of the nation s organic milk supply. In a direct challenge to CAFO s, the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance has petitioned the USDA to adopt new NOP rules, clarifying a national standard for access to pasture. Namely, the alliance has proposed that organic dairy livestock over six months of age must graze on pasture during the months of the year when pasture can provide edible forage, and that grazed feed must provide significant intake for all milking-age organic dairy cows. Bruce Pokarney, director of communications for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, says that almost all of Oregon s conventional dairies, numbering somewhere between operations, are classified as CAFOs. The largest, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality, manages 16,000 cattle. The state legislature funded a Dairy Air Task Force in 2007, to study a narrow range of environmental impacts by CAFOs. After meeting in session eight times, the task force published a report noting that CAFOs are very thorny issues and evoke deeply held, diverse opinions. The committee recommended that the state consider tax credits to CAFOs, in order to encourage wise environmental practices, but also set 2015 as the target date for when its target air-quality goals would be mandatory. Ed Zimba, an organic dairy farmer in Deford, Mich., believes that CAFOs are unfairly judged on size alone; he says it s more important to question whether a given dairy is adhering to the rules of the National Organic Program. I don t care if they re milking one cow, or a thousand cows, says Zimba, as long as they re grazing like they should be. Zimba, who says he milks 300 hosteins and crossbreds on a farm certified organic by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, adds, There are dairies that milk 50 cows that don t have access to grazing. We re more concerned about the integrity of organic, than about how many cows someone milks. Zimba, who serves as an at-large member of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, says he grazes his herd from about May 1 to Nov. 15 opening day for Michigan s deer season, when cows are healthier indoors than out to pasture. He also argues that CAFOs aren t getting an unfair competitive advantage by tap- Page 18 November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5

19 Challenges in the bust ping into federal grants for environmental protection. Zimba points out that the same types of grants are available at the state and county level, throughout the U.S., for small farms that want to limit their ecological footprint. Arden Tewksbury, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer and head of Progressive Agriculture, is the principal author of Senate Bill 1647, sponsored in the legislature by Pennsylvania senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey. Tewksbury, a retired dairy farmer, and executive director of Progressive Agriculture Organization, in Meshoppen, Penn., says, It doesn t matter who you are, whether you re conventional or organic; if you re in the dairy business, you re in serious trouble. Tewksbury says that U.S. dairy farmers are estimated to gross $16 billion less in 2009 than they did in That s just loss of revenue, without calculating costs rising from 25 to 35 percent. There were approximately 350,000 dairy farms in the U.S. in 1981, Tewksbury observes, when President Ronald Reagan deregulated the dairy industry. Now we re down to 57,000. Hawaii has five farms, into the organic dairy marketplace hoping as of Every state has been hemorrhaging to cash in on the growing market. He con- dairy farms. In 1992, there were cludes that The new competition caused 131,000 licensed dairy operations. Today high prices. Just as the recession set in, the we have less than half of that. organic dairy supply was over stimulated He says his legislation, which he coauthored and this era came to an end. The recession with neighboring farmer George had an immediate impact on the organic Carlin, would pry loose the stranglehold dairy market which dropped from a 25 CAFOs have on both organic and conventional percent growth rate down to zero percent. dairy operations. What used to be To look at recent dairy stats is like family farms has been taken over by these opening an artery. Conventional dairy huge facilities that poison the land and the farmers in Wisconsin are paid $9.50 to $11 community. They re shipping grain from for every 100 pounds (one hundredweight) Iowa to produce milk in Pennsylvania, of unprocessed milk, Kinsman notes. But that s sent to a processor in New York that s the cost of production for Wisconsin farmers, then sent back to the shelf in Iowa. You according to the USDA s Economic can t run a business like that and call it Research Service, was $21.81 per hundredweight sustainable. What we want is a sustainable as recently as July. Organic Valley market, and we want a fair price for our was paying its Vermont dairy farmers, with milk. higher feed and production costs, $26.50 George L. Siemon, CEO of Organic that same month. Valley sums it up thusly, Around 2004, The high costs of production, combined organic milk became short for an extended with dwindling income, has farmers period as organic dairy experienced double begging bankers for extended credit, selling digit growth. During the tight supply off equipment or accepting foreclosure. situation, many new competitors 09InGoodTilth.qxd entered 5/19/09 10:34 AM Page 1 Continued from page 27 Home Grown shop local eat fresh The friendliest store in town. Shop online! North Pacific s Ag Products Division distributes fertilizers, ag minerals and soil conditioners throughout the U.S. Our line of natural products helps build your soil and improve your crop production and quality. We offer: PAR granulated organic fertilizer PAR granulated bone meal PAR granulated feather meal CAL-SUL pelletized gypsum PEL-LIME pelletized calcitic & dolomitic lime Menefee Humate Calphos soft rock phosphate TRUE liquid organic fertilizers Archipelago Bat Guano Ag gypsum Coconut coir pith Worm castings Warehouse: Clackamas, OR Energize your Soil For product information and dealer referral call: Bob Blum Darren MacFarlane Continued on page 31 N o v e m b e r / December 2009 I n Good Tilt h V o l u m e 20, Number 5 Page 19

20 Continued from page 9 a new variety, as well as infrastructure for growth chambers and disease and pathology testing for the plant. Andrew So even though the market for organic seed has been shown to be strong, there s still the uncertainty of making back the investment. Matt Even though they can sell the seed for more, they cannot sell it for that much more. The majority of conventional companies still don t care about organic in one way or another, and will likely never convert their lines to organic. So a farmer who uses a specific variety owned by only one company, if that company is never going to convert to organic, that farmer could be in a situation where they would never have the variety they want produced organically. The other issue that comes up with soybeans and corn, and increasing concern in brassica crops, and of course with chard, is the contamination with genetically engineered crops. At the Organic Seed Alliance we are having farmers call us and ask, how can I be certain that the organic seed I am purchasing is free of genetic contamination? Some of those calls are from people who just don t understand contamination and their concern that their carrots may be contaminated, those are rare and those An industry both tender and robust are usually gardeners that are calling, not farmers. Farmers are calling and asking questions about field corn and sweet corn, about brassica crops, about beets and chard, and they are frustrated in some degree that they don t have that information, and can t seem to get that information clearly from those companies. There is a push right now for further testing of organic seed, but of course it is a very precarious situation because organic seed companies who test for contamination, and test positive for GE contaminants that they recorded and tell their customers, their customers are likely not buying. They have no recourse to pay for their crop loss. It is a difficult situation for the seed companies, but meanwhile farmers are nervous they might be contaminating their fields with contaminated organic seeds. Some of the companies do test, but very few of them have an open policy, or print much about it in their catalogs because they are not sure they will have any recourse for liability. OSA s goal is to try to create better feedback loops and communication between farmers, researchers, seed companies to improve all parties understanding of the potential benefits that come from further investment in the trialing of organic seed systems, and try to get beyond the conflicts and into solutions. We also are doing an in-depth questionnaire for the seed industry and asking them questions about their perceptions and attitudes about farmers purchasing organic seed, and asking the organic seed industry questions about what are the road blocks they face, the technical obstacles in production and disease obstacles in the field production of plants. I think this is going to tell us a lot. We are going to be doing another questionnaire for certifiers about their questions, concerns and experiences around seed issues, and organic food companies that buy on contract from farmers about their perceptions, and what their future needs are. Processors or food companies are looking for quality traits that they can get out of good genetics. Right now this is the most important thing: increased education across sectors to understand how we can work together and move this forward, rather than drop dead deadlines of farmers must use organic seed by this date or else or the opposite of oh, eventually it will catch on. In 2010, in cooperation with the Midwest Organic Farming Conference, OSA will be hosting a State of Organic Seed Symposium. It s a working meeting to actively discuss what is working and what is not in organic seed systems. We want diverse representatives from the organic community at this event, not just the seed heads. We will be building off of the National Organic Action Plan to create an Organic Seed Action Plan. To work together to minimize contamination, and to improve the overall quality of organic seed so that organic farmers have the seed they need. If you re interested in attending the symposium, look for info on the OSA web site. There s also links to the questionnaires I mentioned. We really need organic farmers and food companies to fill these out. We think there does need to be a stimulated, dynamic dialogue amongst all of the parties in the organic community on this issue. Now is the time to engage in it. The organic seed sector is at an exciting place, and its true potential will emerge if we work on it collaboratively as a community. Matthew Dillon and John Navazio cofounded Organic Seed Alliance in Matthew serves as the director of advocacy. John is the senior plant breeder. For more information on the State of Organic Seed Report, symposium, and questionnaires please go to Page 20 November / December 2009 In Good Tilth Volume 20, Number 5