Protest in Stowe Highlights NOSB Meeting.
It has become a troubling and recurring pattern
for the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to disrespect and ignore
the Congressionally-mandated citizen stakeholder National Organic
Standards Board (NOSB). The Organic Foods Production Act of
1990 created the NOSB with the important role of advising the NOP on
matters critical to the operation and success of the organic community.
When the NOP willfully ignores guidance
from the NOSB trouble is soon to follow. Back in 2010, the
NOSB ruled that hydroponics – crop production without soil – does not
conform to the traditional definition of organic farming.
Despite this NOSB position, and shockingly, despite there being no
certification standards for hydroponics by which to assess compliance,
the NOP - bowing to corporate pressure - has been allowing organic
certification of hydroponic operations.
Two years ago, the Agraian
Elders sent a letter NOP Administrator Miles McAvoy
(drop down "Organizations" menu) criticizing NOP actions on
hydroponics. The NOP has also ignored our letter.
In exasperation, a tractorcade
protest (scroll to photo of orange tractor)
against USDA-NOP’s arrogant behavior was organized by Vermont organic
farmers in the resort town of Stowe where the NOSB
was holding its Fall Meeting. Speakers
– including Maine’s Agrarian Elder Eliot Coleman – not only spoke
against USDA misbehavior, but read specific citations from the USDA’s own groundbreaking Report and Recommendations on
Organic Farming which in no uncertain terms described the
foundational principle that organic farming must be soil-based.
I believe they call that "Checkmate."
To virtually unanimous support among
independent organic stakeholders present in Vermont, many organic
family farmers testified before the NOSB protesting the NOP’s allowance
of hydroponics and calling for an immediate moratorium on the
certifying of hydroponics operations. Wood Prairie Farm’s Jim
Gerritsen read a statement - entered into the public record - issued by
the Agrarian Elders. The statement reiterated the absolute
clarity that organic must
be soil-based and the illegitimacy of NOP’s actions allowing
hydroponics. That statement appears immediately below.
Statement to the NOSB from
Agrarian Elders. October 24, 2015
Soil is the
Foundation of Organic Agriculture.
We believe organic crop production must always be soil-based.
Therefore, crops grown from
non-soil-based production systems, such as hydroponics, must never be
considered or labeled organic.
Signed by Agrarian Elder:
Ableman, Foxglove Farm, British Columbia
Don Bustos, Santa Cruz Farm, New Mexico
Amigo Bob Cantisano, Heaven & Earth Farm, California
Eliot Coleman, Four Season Farm, Maine
Jean-Paul Courtens, Roxbury Farm, New York
Jim Crawford, New Morning Farm, Pennsylvania
Gloria & Steve Decater, Live Power Farm, California
Jim Gerritsen, Wood Prairie Farm, Maine
Liz & Jake Guest, Killdeer Farm, Vermont
Betsy Hitt, Peregrine Farm, North Carolina
Nash Huber, Nash’s Organic Produce, Washington
Norgert Kungl, Sedwood Green Farm, Nova Scotia
Anne & Jack Lazor, Butterworks Farm, Vermont
Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seed, Oregon
Hiu Newcomb, Potomoc Vegetable Farms, Virginia
Dru Rivers, Full Belly Farm, California
Susan Tyler, Whaelghinbran Farm, New Brunswick
Shirley Ward, Esalen Farm, California
Warren Weber, Star Route Farms, California
Tom Willey, TD Willey Farms, California
Our Mailbox: Crops
Thank you for this post, Crops to Courtroom: Chemical
Drift and Lawsuit Potential. This is a
topic that we're especially interested in because of the location of
our homestead with farm fields to the west of us. We've talked to the
landowner and the farmer who farms the land, and our property is mapped
and listed on Driftwatch. But the owner claims that the chemicals don't
hurt her grass (she lives adjacent to these fields, as well) and so she
can't understand that there's any danger. It's a case of don't know /
don't want to know / don't care. We've made it clear that chemicals
will harm our organic gardens and our livestock, but that has been
mostly ignored. We told her about my horse that nearly died years ago
(in another location) because of chemical drift when someone sprayed
for weeds on their property. That, too, fell on deaf ears. We've been
checking into chemical trespass laws here in our state, and your post
gives me helpful information as we continue to research this topic.
Here is the post our Facebook friend
was referring to. Find the followup Facebook discussion here.
DO ORGANIC FARMERS HAVE A RIGHT TO FREEDOM FROM UNWANTED CONTAMINATION
ON THEIR OWN FARMS? Why the lack of clarity in American agriculture?
Why the supposed confusion that every citizen's foundational right to
security and integrity on their own property - as clearly established
for many hundreds of years under English Common Law going back to the
Magna Carta - somehow may not extend to farmers on their farms? This
point of law is AT LEAST AS CRITICAL for citizens who don't farm
because if a farmer is not guaranteed the right to security and freedom
from harmful unwanted trespass then ALL citizens have lost forever
their right of access to clean, pure food.
We are extremely sensitive to this loathesome chemical/transgenic
trespass issue because in 1979 our isolated Wood Prairie Farm was
'accidentally' sprayed with "Sevin" (carbaryl) by the State of Maine's
then annual massive 3 million-acre "Spruce Budworm Suppression
Project." According to established procedure, we had provided notice to
the State that our farm was a "high sensitivity parcel with residence"
and officially filed for an exemption which was accepted and mapped.
However, despite taking these precautions we were 'accidentally'
sprayed and as a result disqualified for the pending organic
certification of our crops. We made our point by suing the state.
Acknowledging their culpability the State settled out-of-court.
Unfortunately, the farmers' legal limbo continues to this day. Here's
one hopeful development: This court action was from 2010. We need more
rulings like this one to extend the precedent of farmers having the
right to be secure on their own farm. https://www.mercurynews.com/ci_16923749
This recent article from Texas touches on various aspects of unwanted
chemical contamination. Jim & Megan
"'Trespass is really interesting because when you think about
trespassing, you think about somebody walking onto your property or
throwing something you can see onto your property,' she said.
definition, she continued, also includes particulate matter, or drops
of substances such as dust or smoke the naked eye cannot observe. An
example is Borland v. Sanders Lead Co., a 1979 Alabama case in which
the court ruled in favor of a farmer whose crops and livestock were
sickened by a neighboring smeltering operation."