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Crisis Among Organic Family Dairy Farmers

There is a growing crisis on organic family farms – many of them Amish – which honestly and humanely raise their cows on pasture and produce sustainable amounts of authentic, high quality organic milk. Peter Whoriskey of ‘The Washington Post’ reports.
A huge milk glut created by fraudulent, renegade, massive-scale CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) – has severely depressed prices and stolen markets away from family farmers. Meanwhile, USDA, charged with enforcing tough organic REQUIREMENTS continues to suffer whiplash from looking the other way. USDA’s continued failure to enforce the grazing law places on shameful display its bald-faced scale-bias in favor of monied Industrial Ag and bitter disdain for family farmers. Jim

“’This is our living and our way of life,’ said Eldon T. Miller, 71, an Amish dairy farmer here. A little over 20 years ago, Miller began holding informational meetings in his basement about organics, and the idea slowly spread across the area.

“The question for small organic dairy farmers is how long they can hold out against growing competition from very big dairies producing large volumes of organic milk that, in the view of many here, does not deserve the label.

“A glut of organic milk has sunk prices across the United States, threatening livelihoods and rekindling long-standing suspicions that some of the large organic dairies that have emerged are swamping the market with milk that does not meet organic standards. Over the years, some of these very large dairies, most of them in the West, have been cited for violating organic rules by the USDA or inspection agencies. To the chagrin of many here, most have been allowed to continue operating…

“Over the past year, the price of wholesale organic milk sold by Kalona farms has dropped by more than 33 percent. Some of their milk — as much as 15 percent of it — is being sold at the same price as regular milk or just dumped onto the ground, according to a local processor. Organic milk from other small farmers across the United States is also being dumped at similar rates, according to industry figures…

“‘We know with that high concentration of cows that it’s impossible to meet the grazing rule,’ Swantz said. ‘They’re not organic. No way'”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/amish-farmers-square-off-against-big-organic-in-milk-battle/2017/07/05/7fa9467c-4ee6-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98_story.html?utm_term=.406fe6436b07

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Critique of Amazon Buyout of Whole Foods

So far, much of the analysis of the Amazon buyout of WFM comes across as superficial fodder from tech-enamored pundits and absent a food- or farm-centric perspective.
Therefore, this thoughtful piece from food-community author Dr. Wayne Roberts and posted in ‘Medium’ is a breath of fresh air and definitely worth a read. Jim

“The Bezosification of food will have a long tail, and it will mostly be bad for all important things food-related.

“Not just bad for farmers, workers and the same old/same old bricks and mortar crowd we’re used to seeing left to eat the disruption dust. This will be bad for health, the environment and cities — and even more important, for the fundamentals of food as a major definer of the human experience.

“So let’s look at Bezosification not as a retail disruption story, but as a food story — one which accelerates the decline of people-centered food systems, not just traditional bricks and mortar retailers…

“Farmers, together with fishers, are the people who feed us. Farmers in countries that will be most impacted by Bezosification are well into their 50s, because neither their kids nor any other grouping see a way of making a viable career or life out of working the land. This is the problem staring anyone concerned with overall food security in the face…

“A deal that is bad for farmers and farming deserves to be seen as a deal that starts off by violating the public interest and human needs. Perhaps worth a pause for reflection before going headlong down a path of disruption?…

“The Amazon takeover of Whole Foods is a blip in that overall pattern of monopolization — with all due recognition of Amazon’s power, it is only a blip in the overall picture quickly summarized in this report. But an important blp, because it ramps up the speed by which tools will be adopted to intensify the impacts of monopolization — particularly the impact of squeezing farmers one more time to lower their prices below their costs of production and to devote their production to outsized wholesalers…

“Anything that increases the power of Amazon reduces the power of working people to shape their own, or the world’s, future…

“Nothing like insisting that businesses pay the real costs of the way they do business to throw a real disruptive curve to those who just want to externalize their true costs.”

https://medium.com/@wayneroberts/why-amazon-should-not-be-allowed-to-take-over-the-whole-food-industry-2524e792671

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Landmark Report: Organic Superior & Ag Toxins Far Worse than Previously Believed

A just released landmark study by the European Parliament validates the high value or organic food. At the same time, the study cautions citizens that the effect of pesticides on ‘conventional’ food are far worse than previously believed.
Also, remember, the “uncertainties” about the superiority of organic food – to a great extent – have been the effect of the unmasked self-serving Monsanto propaganda campaign which has targeted organic food (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/monsanto-fingerprints-fou_b…). Jim

“Consumers should consider going organic because pesticides on foods are far more dangerous than was thought, causing damage to the human brain, a major study suggests.

“The research, published by the European Parliament, warns of the ‘very high costs’ of current levels of exposure to pesticides – especially for children and pregnant women.

“It could result in new limits on pesticide levels or changes to labeling of foodstuffs, under EU laws which require the UK to review its policies by next year.

“The landmark study suggests that the damage caused by pesticides across the EU amounts to at least £125bn a year, based on the loss of lifetime income from such damage.

“The report warns of increasing evidence that residues from insecticides are damaging the brain, and reducing the IQ of the population. And it raises concerns that the chemicals could also cause cancer and damage to the reproductive system.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/02/organic-foods-backed-landmark-report-warning-pesticides-far/

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Cornucopia on Corporate Grain Fraud

On the heels of a second scathing expose’ by the Washington Post on corporate driven fraud – this time massive corporate fraud in the import of extremely suspect “organic” grain – organic watchdog Cornucopia Institute is calling for a change in NOP leadership.
The frustration within the organic community is understandable, as is the desire to hold individuals accountable.
One thing is for sure, the operation of USDA NOP has been grossly dysfunctional. Yet the ultimate question remains: how much of that dysfunction is due to inept mismanagement and how much is due to NOP’s implementation of destructive directives from hostile captive political leaders?
We know many dedicated and honest individuals who work for USDA. However, as an institution, USDA is eye-ball deep in gross collusion with Industrial Ag. With its 35 (formerly 45) employees, NOP is just one important but small drop in the bucket of USDA’s 100,000 employees. Jim https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/6d165984-2b76-11e7-a616-d7…

“Cornucopia’s letter to Perdue follows the release of a new investigation by The Washington Post documenting massive shipments of fraudulent organic grains entering the U.S. from China and Eastern Europe. The May 13 article, The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t, details how easy it has been for exporters to sell gross amounts of fraudulent ‘organic’ commodities to U.S. markets.

“‘This is the second organic major-league scandal uncovered this month by The Washington Post, and it confirms a longstanding pattern of negligence and corruption documented by our researchers,’ said Will Fantle, Cornucopia’s codirector.”

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Precedent-Setting Court Ruling Upheld

The right for all Coloradans to be secure in their home and free from unwanted chemical trespass has been upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals. Here’s an article from the local ‘Delta County Independent.’ Jim http://www.deltacountyindependent.com/appeals-court-upholds…

“Rosemary Bilchak, listed as a plaintiff with Gordon MacAlpine, called the decision ‘a win for private property rights.’

“‘We’re very grateful that after a thorough review of the facts, the Court of Appeals upheld the District Court judgment against Mr. Hopper,’ she said. ‘The United States is a nation of laws and there is a long and rich history of protecting the private property rights of citizens. Like every American, we pay property taxes on every acre of our farm and we want free and full access to our entire property. There is a growing body of evidence of negative health impacts from many sprayed toxins. It is our choice — and our right — to protect our property and our family from unwanted chemical trespass. We’re very glad the Court of Appeals agreed with lower the court ruling and upheld our property rights.’

“According to court documents, the underlying dispute between the parties was over Hopper’s application of pesticide on his property to control mosquitoes. MacAlpine and Bilchak asserted his application of pesticide invaded their property, exposed them to harmful health consequences and threatened their organic farming operation.

“In 2012, after two years of litigation, the trial court issued a permanent injunction that, among other things, prohibited Hopper from applying pesticide within 150 feet of the MacAlpine-Bilchak property and required he become a licensed pesticide applicator.”

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Organic Farming Aligned with Conservative Values

Jim makes some good points that good organic farming represents a lot of values which should make conservatives happy. And Jim also explains that soil-less hydroponics DOES NOT MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ORGANIC LABELING LAW.

“Riddle, a 60-year-old who grew up on an Iowa farm and now raises berries in Minnesota, says there’s an unclaimed common ground between organics and conservatives.

“His own perspective is certified organic. For 20 years he was an organic inspector, one of those folks who show up at least once a year to determine if certified farms really do merit the federally approved organic label by avoiding harmful pesticides and genetically modified seeds, among many other strictures…

“‘In part, I want to talk about how organic values are conservative values,’ he said. ‘At its core, organic farming is pro-life. From the ground up, it’s about keeping things alive – the seeds, the soil health, pollinators and wildlife. It embraces all species at all levels of farming.

“‘And I also want to say that organic farming is really free-market farming. It’s farming the land in response to consumer demand. The demand for organic products is skyrocketing by double-digits each year. But because organic crop rotations are more complex methods, there typically aren’t government subsidies. That matches really well with the conservative agenda.

“‘The organic community went to the government and said it wanted standards that protect the word organic, and it worked really well. We’re really a model for self-regulation with clear, strong, transparent standards and protection of the word organic.’

Riddle believes organic food corresponds to the perceived conservative values of heightened personal responsibility.

“‘We are what we eat,’ he said. ‘If it’s junk, you have lots of health problems. If you eat clean and live a smart life, your health improves and you’re less of a cost to society'”…

“Riddle, along with major players in the organic community, also worries about the rise in hydroponically grown products being labeled as organic.

“‘It’s right in the law that the term organic means it enhances the health of the soil. If there’s no soil, how can you apply the term? It’s misleading to the consumer. It’s fine if they want to label the products as pesticide-free, but hydroponic growers shouldn’t be cashing in on the organic market.'”

http://www.cleveland.com/cooking/index.ssf/2017/02/organic_leader_jim_riddle_seek.html

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Appelate Court Ruling Protects Organic Farms From Spray Trespass

In an important and precedent-setting case – in which an organic farm was outrageously REPEATEDLY sprayed in contradiction to Court orders – an Appellate court has thrown out the appeal of the spray-trespassing-neighbor.
Last April, at the 34th Annual Pesticides Forum (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkM3rkoNpCg), I met and spoke with Rosemary Bilchak, the innocent victim and next-door neighbor to reckless sprayer, Mr. Hopper. Contrary to media reports Mr. Hopper IS NOT A RANCHER. He is a retired utility worker who stubbornly refused to abide by spray-license restrictions AND COURT ORDERS TO STOP HIS EGREGIOUS, SERIAL ILLEGAL SPRAYING.
To make matters worse, Ms. Bilchak’s partner, Gordan MacAlpine suffers from leukemia and MUST avoid chemical toxins.
Let’s hope justice has now been finally served. It is long past time for the last chapter in dealing with a jaw-dropping breach of civility. Mr. Foster demonstrated unapologetic callous behavior towards peaceful neighbors who were forced to assume VERT COSTLY legal defensive action.
The law MUST be made stronger to protect rural residents – including organic farmers – in their right to be free from trespass by unwanted toxins. Jim

“‘This is very important to us,’ Bilchak said. MacAlpine, diagnosed with leukemia before moving to Colorado, had been told by his doctor to avoid pesticide exposure and was registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture as a sensitive resident. ‘It is important for us personally, for his health condition and because we also set a precedent that pesticide drift is a trespass,’ she said.”

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/02/colorado-appeal-rancher-mosquitoes-faces-jail/

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State-of-Organic 2017

IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) – of which OSGATA is a member – has issued their 2017 Report (http://www.ifoam.bio/…/files/press-release-world-2017-engli…) documenting the ever-growing world-wide strength of organic agriculture. The Report is chock full of statistics and explains the organic boom with twenty graphs and charts.
Organic growth continues at a rapid pace – driven by strong consumer demand. Major markets continue to show annual sales increases at double-digit rates.
Some of the highlights are, worldwide, organic production is now practiced by 2.4 million farmers in 179 countries (up from 172) on almost 126 million acres of farm land. In eleven countries, 10% – or more – of farmland is organic. The three countries with the highest percentage of organic farmland are Liechtenstein (30.2%), Austria (21.3%) and Sweden (16.9%).
Sales of organic goods has topped $80 billion world wide with half of those sales in the United State alone. Denmark has the highest organic market share at 8.4%. Jim

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Protecting Seed Ethically

An ahead-of-the-curve citizens’ movement – leaving failed governmental seed patent plodding behind – encourages cutting edge seed breeding and permanently protects the resulting seed genetics by re-securing seed back into the Commons where for hundreds of generations seed has resided, blessed by collective and collaborative human ownership. Jim

“…The Open Source Seed Initiative, inspired by ‘the free and open source software movement that has provided alternatives to proprietary software,’ was created to ensure that some plant varieties and genes will remain free from intellectual property rights and available for plant breeders in perpetuity. As part of the initiative, commonly known as OSSI, U.S. breeders can take a pledge that commits the seeds they produce to remain available for others to use for breeding in the future.

“That doesn’t mean they can’t build a business with or sell them. What the pledge does is allow farmers who buy seeds from an open-source breeder to cross them with other material to breed their own varieties and save them for future seasons — two things many crop patents forbid. Dozens of breeders and seed companies have committed to OSSI since the initiative’s launch in 2014…

“Furthermore, Morton takes issue with the very concept of patenting a plant trait. ‘You didn’t actually create it,’ he says. ‘The plant created it, and the plant breeder has no idea how the plant created that trait. It is just nature at work.'”

https://ensia.com/features/open-source-seeds/

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Eat Well & Save Money

Our friend, Max Goldberg, is a prolific and trustworthy proponent of organic food. Max offers all of us a wide range of genuine and FREE media-savvy content – including his newsletter.
You may already be using several of Max’s ideas for filling your pantry with organic food while saving money. #5 includes links for money-saving coupons from organic brands including longtime standup independent company ‘Eden Foods.’ Jim & Megan

“WHY EAT ORGANIC?

* Organic has more antioxidants, much fewer pesticides, and less cadmium than conventionally-grown – Read

* Eating organic can decrease pesticide exposure by 90% – Read

* Toxic flame retardants found in conventional food – Read

* Organic milk offers superior nutrition than conventional milk – Read

* GMOs and weedkiller found in conventional cereal – Read”

http://livingmaxwell.com/top-5-inexpensive-ways-to-shop-organic