It has become apparent to me that I need to explain my reasons for not certifying Provident Organic Farm with the new USDA National Organic Program.
My reasons fall into three categories:
The cost of certification is currently subsidized by the USDA. I am opposed to subsidies as they distort the true cost of any activity. Once critical mass is reached, the subsidies will be removed and costs will escalate. It is estimated that certification will cost at least $800.00 and could go beyond $1000.00. In a direct marketing situation, as we are, this is an unnecessary burden. I commit to do my best to provide you with safe, fresh and nutritious food. This is known as “face” certification. Provident Farm is open to inspection by any buyer, you are welcome to question any of my farming practices.
One of my goals is to establish a sustainable, regional food supply. The same economic model that is destroying family farms is now being applied to organic agriculture. The organic certification program, as administered by the USDA, is designed to enable large corporate farms to enter the organic market. There have been numerous attempts by these corporate farms to dilute the standards. Some of these efforts have been thwarted, some have been successful. They will not give up, organic growers will have to maintain constant vigilance to maintain the integrity of the program. I prefer to focus my attention on growing high-quality crops.
Regulations inhibit innovation. The organic “movement” has come a long way from a handful of backyard gardeners. Until very recently, there has been no research by any university or extension service. Knowledge of organic growing techniques has been mostly gained through the innovations of dedicated folks willing to share the lessons they learned with other growers. The USDA has provided strict guidelines for organic growing practices. Any new ideas will have to be reviewed by bureaucrats before being implemented. This could take years, and is unacceptable to me. If I have a new idea, I run it by my peers for review. There is no better source of information than another farmer who is dedicated to the improvement of the land, as I am.