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Author Topic: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?
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  Eagles Dancing
  Coal City
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Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 16 '08 at 09:28 UTC)

I received two certified letters from the USDA regarding my ads on the Local Harvest website.

They claim that I am marketing my farm as being organic without proper certification and that there has been a complaint made to them regarding this issue.

I haven't sold any products to anyone because we haven't opened our farm stand up yet. I only posted the ad to find out if there were any folks interested in staying at an organic farm to learn how to farm organically.

I haven't had the first customer due to the fact that my husband has been ill. The only organic farming we do is for our own personal use at this time.

I can't believe that the government is spending time and money looking for folks who aren't using chemicals and trying to improve the enviroment. And then requiring them to pay $500.00 to be certified to do just that. This is crazy!!

By sending these letters by certified mail, I feel as though they are going to seek legal action against me.

Have any of you been through this?

It appears that the government is using this website to find organic growers and hassle them about beening certified.

I know the complaint can not be from a customer, as I haven't has any as yet.

You can view my ads. I am listed under Red Gates Farm and Country Blessings in Indiana.

Thanks in advance for any advice you might have in handling this matter.

 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 16 '08 at 04:31 UTC)

It is not illegal to say your farm is organic in the farm name but you do say several times on your listing you are an organic farm or soon will be. This does imply you are calling the food you sell organic. You also list yourself as in transition to organic which means you have contacted the USDA and have gone through the hoops (filling out and filing paperwork, keeping excellent input records and daily logs, etc., etc..) that being in transition to organic requires. you cannot just say you are in transition and do nothing.

You do have your farm as being certified by CNG. great but this does not allow you to legally use the term organic.

Either drop the term organic from your description (this is what I have done for all my advertising even though until 2002 my farm was certified organic) or retain a lawyer as the USDA may want to see you in court.

Scary thing getting such a letter in the mail.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 16 '08 at 07:46 UTC)

Yes! I too got such a letter, much to our annoyance!

Some creepy busybody with way too much time on his/her hands has apparently been "policing" LH for any usage of their precious, proprietary word "organic."

Ridiculous because I sell nothing here that comes from the "organic gardens" to which my farm description refers -- I sell yarns, eggs, and wild-harvested mushrooms, none of which I claim to be organic, although the mushrooms certainly are.

Moreover, I do not sell enough produce to hit the $500/year statutory amount, below which certification is not required.

If someone on this site is the troublemaker, you should be ashamed of yourself, for making trouble for other family farms, and without taking the trouble to find out the facts. VERY petty and unneighborly of you, indeed.

 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 16 '08 at 08:01 UTC)

P.S. Lucy, you should not scare this poor lady by telling her the USDA "may want to see her in court." That is just alarmism, to the point of being downright mean. I'm sure the USDA will go away upon our noting the facts, and deleting any references to "organic," as I have already done.

As someone who has taken a fallow Victorian homestead, carefully restored the soil, and never used one molecule of artificial chemicals in our growing practices, I am sickened by what the USDA has turned "organic" into -- a marketing ploy for Big Agrobiz, and a tool for burdening and hassling small family farms who really ARE organic.

"Organic" is not about keeping records and jumping through bureaucratic hoops. Under the current view, Native Americans were never organic in their agricultural practices. The term has become such bureaucratic hogwash, I'm not alone is wanting nothing to do with it.

 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 16 '08 at 08:59 UTC)

I did a web search last year for court cases dealing with use of the term "organic." All I could find were appeals cases where loss of certification was either upheld or overturned. It could be that original cases are handled by the state where the farm is located and are not available for general knowledge. This seems to be the way local jurisdictions work, by the way. For example, try to find a case in your county concerning dirt bikes. You have to go through shelves full of lawbooks and the county law libraries I have been in are not friendly places. Lawyers know who to ask and how to ask, plus they usually have access to WestLaw, which owns the primary classifying system and makes cases available to regular subscribers.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 16 '08 at 10:41 UTC)

well well well......being the agressive-in-your-face kinda guy that I am, I started making phone calls about this this morning. And guess what......I can't find a USDA office here in Iowa that knows anything about this, and they think it's kinda strange that the Ca. office would be interested in anybody in Ind. They said they would start investigating from their end and get back to me.
I'll update you when I hear anything.

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 17 '08 at 02:25 UTC)

Thanks for all your input regarding my letters.

I thought I might add more information for you all, so you can be aware of what I am going through.

The letters are from Ashley Defranco. The address I was given to respond in 20 days was; NOP Compliance, Agriculture Marketing Service, USDA, 2202 Monterey Street, Suite 102-D, Fresno, CA 93721.

On the letter there is another name of Mark Bradley, NOP 536-08

They also stated that if I have any questions regarding the preparation of my response that I should contact Compliance Officer William H. Bent phone: 559-487-5948

I haven't call. I just sent the letter telling what we are or are not doing.

Thanks for all your help and support.

I do think this might be someone with too much time on their hands complaining or reporting organic family farms. So beware.

Please let me know if anyone else has received a letter from this office.

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 17 '08 at 02:38 UTC)

I have another question or two for you all.

What if I just state we don't use chemicals on our produce instead of using the big money word "organic".

Would they still be after me for stating we don't use chemicals and practice farming without chemicals, which is ...... uh organic farming, but just don't use the word organic.

Also with the CNG certification, will they be content with that or will they make me spend the money to be certified to keep from receiving some sort of fine?

I really don't know what the penalty is for using the organic word to tell others about my gardening practices.

Does this seem crazy to anyone else? or is it just me.

What's next? If you use manure you have to record when it was produced and from which animal and where it was dropped,.....what time it was dropped...well you get the idea.

 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 17 '08 at 03:01 UTC)

I did not mean to scare anyone nor did I think i was being mean Redrosa by stating it is possible one could end up in court over this. I was just being cautious. And once someone starts this sort of thing it can come back to bite you.

I went a couple of rounds with the Walla Walla Onion growers association all because an anti organic onion grower from u[pstate New York took a dislike to my website and noted I was selling Walla Walla onions and turned me in. i was not fined but I did find out anyone who is not a member of this association may not under federal law sell Walla Walla onions (they can call them something else as the onion itself is an OP Italian heirloom). I did remove all references but still had harassment. Such is the internet and busybodies with too much time on their hands

Eagle in order to use the term organic you have to either be certified with the USDA NOP or sell under $5000 worth of farm produce and also be registered with your local organic certifier and proof that you are following the USDA regs.

CNG cert will not allow you to use the term Organic.

I believe the fine is $5000 for each offence

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 17 '08 at 08:26 UTC)

See one reason I am confused is that I haven't sold the first thing to anyone from my organic garden. My garden is for my personal use and I was going to show my guest how to garden the "organic" way.

I just want to provide a place for families to be able to come a family farm to enjoy learning about animals and gardening.

I wanted kids to find out that milk comes from a cow and not just Wal mart. I can remember how much fun gathering eggs were as a kid and I wanted to share this with others.

Now I am getting busted for using the word "organic" in my ad that clears states we are in the begining stages of starting this business and haven't open our doors yet.

If it is true that we are exempt for selling less that $5,000.00, then why is the government claiming there has been a complaint made against us?

I may take this to the TV news crew and see if they are interested in this story. I really think our USDA is begining to feel like " Big Brother" breathing down our necks.

But one things for sure, they can't get blood out of our "organic" turnips.

I just wanted to share with you all on this forum a little bit about our family. My husband was in two accidents that has left him with an unstable spine and he is going to have rods and plates place in his spine to try and help him out.
Because of these accidents, we had to start all over again. We lost our home and everything because he was not able to work. The accidents were not my husband's fault and we could have sued for these injuries, but we didn't. We just tried to go on.

Now we are trying to rebuild our lives and make a living off our farm. I wanted to do something at home so I can be here for my husband if he needs me. So this complaint about our farm has been very upsetting. Why would someone try to cause a hardship on someone they don't even know.

Using the word "organic" in "marketing" our farm was brought to the attention of the USDA. Since when is the word "organic" a trademark name with copyrights?

I just want the person who complained about our farm to know we aren't rich. We are just trying to survive and pay our bills. The last thing we need is a lawsuit with the USDA-NOP services. Remember what goes around, comes around. The harm you cause will return to you.

Any information or comments will be greatly appreciated in our effort to keep the USDA out of our business.

I will update my ads on LH in time but I just want warn those who maybe next on the list on the LH website.

 MossGathers
  North TX
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 17 '08 at 08:30 UTC)

I used wording from the CNG website to talk about growing methods without using the word Organic.
http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M10673
Look at my site and you can see that its all there without the O word. Since I sell my produce by subscription only, my biggest concern is that I can answer people's questions about Certified Naturally Grown.
It's all very confusing for the consumer these days.

Zone 8a, TX
 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 17 '08 at 09:30 UTC)

Your distress by this unforeseen turn of events (the threatening letters) is quite evident. Please don't let some busybody creep crush your dreams. Don't get too far ahead of actual events, i.e., let your mind spin scenarios that might never actually occur.
It does seem very strange that the IN office of the USDA didn't contact you instead of people in CA.
My experience with Federal Agencies-I was the former Tennessee RiverKeeper and bucked up against the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers on a regular basis, is that the initial "Official Notice" is designed to spook the citizen into taking action that the Agency has no real ability to legally enforce. We actually pulled the same tactic by issuing official looking "Notices of Violation" when trying to stop some polluter we couldn't otherwise affect. Sometimes public officials (Mayors and the like) backed down.
My advice is to sit tight for now. If push comes to shove, you can back away and make the changes in your add that others here have suggested. On the other hand, if this is all some bad hoax being played on you, then you can chalk it up as an unpleasant experience and move on with your plans for your farm. In any case, don't lose heart (or sleep). Your farming community supports you.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 17 '08 at 05:12 UTC)

Thank you all for your support and kind words. It is wonderful to have a site like this to find help with your farming problems.
Thanks for all the LH folks who have contacted me regarding this issue. You are all a great bunch of people! Farmers are special people who plant a seed and hope for tomorrow. Thanks you've help me get a grip and pointed me in the right direction.

 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 17 '08 at 07:20 UTC)

Yes, ED, I would second the advice not to worry about this. Nothing will come of it, trust me -- I am writing a similar letter to the bureaucrats, explaining the facts, and I have removed the word "organic" from my farm description, even though I plainly am not marketing any products here that I am marketing as "organic." That will be plenty to make them go away.

I am so sorry for your troubles, and I hope whoever has seen fit to torment you with this extra worry reads this thread and feels bad.

And yes, it is fine to more precisely describe your methods as free of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc. So far the USDA bureaucrats haven't forbidden that!

Best to you -- I see we are practically neighbors!

 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Jan 18 '08 at 08:17 UTC)

Well, well, well ... I'm feeling like a bit of a Nancy Drew here, having gotten to the bottom of this mystery.

Eagles Dancing, I have discovered that at least four of us in the Bloomington/Owen County area received this same letter at the same time. One person received a xeroxed photo of her truck at Farmers Market, with a handwritten notation that her sign said 'organically grown." She recognized the handwriting immediately -- her malevolent ex-husband. Apparently he has gone on a rampage and has done this foul deed not only to her, but to several of her friends; I suppose you just got roped in because you were in the general area, ED.

Anybody have any suggestions regarding a proper response to such creepy behavior? He is also a FM vendor.

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Jan 18 '08 at 09:36 UTC)

It figuires. I have that kind of luck. Sometimes I feel like I am living in a bad soap oprea or something! lol

I am glad you checked into this matter.

I uses to do the Bloomington Farmers Market years ago and it was very cliche' and I didn't feel welcomed at all. I dropped that and moved to the Bean Blossom flea market in Brown County and did very well.

Now living here in Owen County, I am too far to make the trip worth it.

I am looking forward to the new Farmer's Market Spencer is starting this year.

Hopefully this man and his "ex' will get things resolved and leave us all alone.

Some people have too much time on their hands and must lay in bed at night thinking up bad things they can do to others. That is sad. Can't help but feel sorry for them.

Me...I lay in bed thinking of what I want to grow next season. I've been getting all the new seed catalogs and am in hog heaven right now. Some many choices so little time to grow them all.

Many thanks to Redrosa for your detective work!! You should think about adding that to your many talents and market "organic detective work" Oh but wait a minute....you'll have to pay $500.00 to use that word!! tee heee heee

It has made me feel better knowing that I have this source for any trouble I might face while living out my dream of living of the land.

Many thanks!

Eagles Dancing (Lisa)

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 19 '08 at 08:33 UTC)

Good work Nancy Drew!
How about turning the tables on this creep-send him a letter from the Karma Police and a citation for "Failure to do Right" by his fellow citizens.
We might actually have an old KP citation on file somewhere from our RiverKeeper days that we could send along to you. It would need a little upgrading and modification, but a scanner and some word changing might fit the particular circumstance to "bust" this perp.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 19 '08 at 09:45 UTC)

I think you should make his tactics known for all around him to see. Let me guess; he's just a wee bit of a man....??

 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 19 '08 at 07:00 UTC)

Thanks for your suggestions, Pond-digger and Moorehaven! I would LOVE to have a template Karma Police citation. And yes, the culprit is a weird little gremlin of a man -- never deserved the woman he is now tormenting.

You know, it just goes to show how dysfunctional the USDA bureaucratic "rules" are -- entirely prone to being used for this sort of harassment, whether by a vindictive ex-husband, a jealous competitor at Market, whatever. Of course, the USDA is now entirely the captive of Big Ag, and fully devoted to the task of helping stamp out family farms -- so this kind of abuse is fine by them.

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 19 '08 at 08:00 UTC)

Hey redrosa, i would be happy to send along a KP template. We probably should move this "law enforcement" aspect off the forum and talk directly by email. M
My sweet, longtime bride is a Hoosier, so I am always ready to help her "kinfolk."

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 19 '08 at 08:15 UTC)

As annoying as this "scare tactic" was to ED and others, it had a silver lining. It was heartening to see fellow farmers jump into the issue and take it head on. It's good to know we are not "cowed like a bunch of sheep" by the USDA. Thanks to all you brave hearted folks and I'm glad real relief has come to eaglesdancing.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 19 '08 at 09:49 UTC)

I'm still confused why a California office would be messing with you folks in Ind........why wasn't it handled at the local level on the USDA's part ? Even if the main/head office is in Calif., wouldn't they want the local/regienal office to investigate/handle the complaint....??

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 20 '08 at 05:23 UTC)

Yo Moorehaven, it was a hoax man. There doesn't appear to be any California Office involvement. It was a ruse, and a good one at that! The perp apparently used a Cal. address and names to make it look real and to avoid detection on the local state level (which would have blown his authenticity immediately) and registered the letter to make it look extra legal-probably got the info off the USDA website. Heck, Nancy Drew busted the case while the Hardy Boys were still scratching their heads.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 20 '08 at 08:11 UTC)

ohhhhhhhh.....now all the pieces are falling into place.......hahahaha !!!!.....and to think if you look at the original post I was the first one to say it was a hoax too...hahaha !!! well heck this is easy then, report him to the Postmaster General; he impersonated a federal agency and perpetrated mail fraud I do believe.

Ok, now here's a good chuckle for you all too.........I've got the USDA here in Iowa looking into why it's Calif. office was bothering folks in Indiana.....hahahhahaha !!!!! What a circle.

.....wait.....that might not be funny; I gave them all the info nessesary to get back to me on the issue which really isn't an issue after all..........I'M THE ONLY ONE ACTUALLY CONNECTED TO THEM ON THIS WHOLE THING - AAAARRRRRGGGG !!!!!

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 20 '08 at 08:56 UTC)

Hey guys,

This is not a hoax. I looked up the phone number they has listed and it comes back to the USDA office in Fresno, CA. This letter looks like the real thing.

It might seem like a joke, but its not funny when it your farm they are after.

I am going to contact our Indiana USDA office and see what they have to say about this. If they say it is a hoax then I will rest easy, but until then I am a little nervous about what this may lead to.

 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 20 '08 at 04:16 UTC)

Eagles,

if this is not a hoax than you have two options either go after the USDA NOP in court to try and prove they are in the wrong by hijacking the word organic (This will take years and perhaps millions of dollars you do not have and forget any farming during this) or you simply remove Organic from every brochure, email, website etc..

Like I said, I had a similar thing happen to me over using the term Walla Walla Onion on my website and in brochures. It is illegal for any of us to use the term (unless you live in NE Oregon/SE Washington and are a paying member of the group). And now that these folks know I have violated their rule twice (I reinserted Walla Walla Onions on my site briefly to see what happened and got a cease and desist letter from them) they are watching me. I assume you are now being watched by the USDA for infractions so you need to learn the rules backwards and forwards and give them no reason to bug you again.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 20 '08 at 07:10 UTC)

Right, this is no hoax! The stationery is authentic letterhead, and the postmark shows the letter was mailed from there.

I suspect that the gremlin/ex-husband went online, found the national compliance office, and sent his "evidence" there. Makes perfect sense. I should add, the gremlin is now a competing vendor, having stolen the seedbank his then-wife had built up over decades.

ED, my strong advice is PLEASE DO NOT contact the Indiana office. We do not want them in the loop!!! If you do that, you might stir up a hornet's nest whereby they decide they need to patrol all the local FMs to see who's claiming to be "organic."

PLEASE do not do that -- your explanatory letter to USDA should be plenty to make this go away. They are thousands of miles away and probably have no interest pursuing a vindictive ex-husband's claims. (I have told them what I discovered along those lines!)

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 20 '08 at 08:03 UTC)

Ooops! My hoax theory based on an incomplete investigation seemed so plausible. Sorry folks for my over zealousness in trying to wrap up this untidy mess in a happy package. Apologies to the affected farmers.
The gremlin seems like he could be "gollum's" twin brother!
Hey ED, is it possible for you to notch up your courage another bit and actually call these folks in CA? I fully empathize with your desire to run for cover, but often that only emboldens the one in pursuit. If it gets too much for you, your phone can always "drop the signal." I don't see a down side to contacting them as they already have you in their sights.
Redrosa has a good point about not contacting the local USDA-try and keep this process at long arms length.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 needlelane
 Tipton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 22 '08 at 03:48 UTC)

Hate to break it to everyone. But this is not only an Indiana problem. I got the same certified letter from the same people in CA, here in MI in the last week. The odd thing about the one I had is that it had copies of our farm website and local harvest site from 12-06.
I have not yet replied to the letter. But have considered calling. And from the sounds of this discussion, maybe should contact a lawyer?
The big questions I have is: Are they "cracking down" on everyone? What are the penalties going to be? What should we do about this?

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 22 '08 at 06:49 UTC)

I was wondering the same thing. I have been trying to find out what the penalties are. My letter didn't state what actions they were going to take. But your letter sounds just like mine. It looks like they would post what the fines or actions they have to make us change our marketing/farming practises.

I live in an area with Amish neighbors. One of their stores has a new sign "Organic Food" When I saw this sign I thought "Oh boy, they are going to be sorry they put that up".

Still if we are expempt if we sell less the $5,000.00 what is the big deal!!

It is like the word "organic" has a copyright on it now. I would like to know if they go after the Big Ag boys like they do the little family farms.

Maybe I should request information regarding their actions. I think that would fit under the "Freedom of Information Act" . The government doesn't like it when you start checking up on them. I has to deal with local BS from the Board of Health when we were building our log home and it does make a difference when you stand up to those local guys. They told me I had to have a permit for an outhouse, so I went to get one and the gals in the office never heard of such a thing and laugh about it. Some people think just because they work from the government that gives them power to hassle folks for stupid stuff. By the way the outhouse wasn't something we were going to use full time. We were living in a travel trailer while building our cabin and we wanted to have an alternative potty for the working crew guys.

Keep us updated on what you find out when you call about your letter.

Good luck!

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 22 '08 at 08:19 UTC)

I visited the online site for the NOP, then clicked on to the eCFR (electronic Code of Federal Regulations) The whole NOP act is listed there.
The relevant sections are 205.101 Exemptions- Less than $5,000 of goods sold as organic. The other section is 205.681 and reads "Persons subject to the act...." this section deals with appealing a non-compliance action taken against a farmer. In the case of ED who has not sold ANYTHING, she would not be subject to the Act. Therefore in legal terms, the issuing of non-compliance letters to ED would be construed as arbitrary and capricious, and not have legal merit in a court of law. I don't think anyone not subject to the act would need a lawyer. The USDA is clearly in violation of their own act by harassing exempted parties.
In order to fall below the $5,000 limit, one could claim part of their produce is organic and the rest naturally grown, or whatever. Only if one claimed everything they grew, gathered, foraged, etc., and sold as being organic would they be more likely to exceed the $5K cap.
Something definitely doesn't add up here with these letters of non-compliance. All federal agencies have an Inspector General's Office that is tasked to investigate wrongful action or behavior by that agency. It is relatively independent of the agency and is certainly not the fox guarding the henhouse (even under Bush) This is where I would turn, and use the government to check the government. The next step is to contact your US Representative's Office and make a complaint. At a minimum, that office will send a letter to the USDA and ask what is going on. You have a right to see the reply from the USDA to your Rep. as they are inquiring on your behalf.
Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you run and duck for cover with your head in the sand, they'll kick your exposed butt. You have done nothing wrong. Read the act (it ain;t easy as it's lawyer/government goobedly gook) but you can get through the applicable sections. Knowledge is power here. Demand obedience to the law. Cite the applicable sections, tell them they are wrong in accusing you of non-compliance. Don't be bullied!
Skip the personal narrative of how you're doing good things for the Earth, etc. This is a bureaucracy - they understand rules and regs- this is where you need to turn them away-ON THE LEGAL MERITS.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 22 '08 at 11:16 UTC)

The head of the USDA OIG (Office of Inspector General) is Phyllis K Fong-You can go online and Google USDA Inspector General. Follow the links to contact the office and register a complaint. I would think it would fall under employee abuse. If everyone who received a letter did this, the wheels of the OIG would begin to turn. Do a follow up with your U.S. Congress Person.
When we were dogging the Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority in our official role as citizen RiverKeepers, he described us as " being like yappy dogs nipping at his heels." Get the picture?
We shall overcome this threatening harassment by the USDA-Be strong!

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 23 '08 at 07:06 UTC)

Question - As ED was not/has not/does not " sell produce or any other comdity for profit to the general public", but instead offers the "opportunity to partake in experiancing / living an organicly based life-style", does she even fall under ANYBODY's jurisdiction ????
I think I understand about the "Truth in Advertising" arguement behind organic certification, but that is based on money being paid for a product. I mean, how is an organic B&B a threat to the health and welfare of the public........??

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 23 '08 at 10:13 UTC)

In legal terms it's simply "arbitrary and capricious."

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 23 '08 at 08:35 UTC)

A few thoughts for those who have been affected by this USDA harassment, and those who may be in the future.

First and foremost, don't freak out about any such letter. Remember that bureaucrats tend to be a) stupid, b) lazy, and c) bullies who like to throw their weight around.

From this we can infer that you should never GROVEL or kowtow to them. That approach will only encourage them, because it is what bullies thrive upon. Instead, call them on their BS, make it plain you won't be intimidated, and tell them to bug off.

An example of what I mean by calling them on their BS: as someone has already noted, their silly regs only prohibit marketing a product as "organic" if you are not certified (ie, haven't paid the tax and jumped through all their hoops to belong to their little club). They cannot stop you from generically referring to your farm as "organic," in contexts where you are not selling anything. For example, they certainly cannot prohibit you from lecturing at conferences on organic methods, as the most basic matter of free speech.

Do not even think about wasting money on a lawyer; they would just love to see family farms wasting precious funds on that kind of thing. Just stand up to them and they will go away.

Who cares about using their word "organic" anymore, anyway? They have trashed the concept, by helping BigAg take it over and pervert it. If they go ahead with plans to likewise take over "naturally grown," I suggest that we give them a real fight on their hands.

 needlelane
 Tipton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 23 '08 at 09:55 UTC)

Just talked with Mr. Bent over the phone. Rather nice, patient guy who liked to talk and explain the situation. He said that there were a bunch of these letters that came out recently. They were all sent in by people and not initiated from folks in his office. Basically there are two options according to him: 1) reply back stating the "remedial actions" that you are going to take is to remove the o-word from everything in your literature. Which they would then check over to be sure it was done then "go away". OR 2) Write a rebuttal stating that you are using the o-word since you are in compliance and under the $5000 limit or using it in a matter that does not imply that you are selling organic products. All of these rebuttals would then be reviewed and followed up on.
He also said that the o-word in any context (i.e. organically grown, using organic methods, etc) was not acceptable without being certified according to the NOP.
Personally I am going to purge everything of the o-word, in the hopes that they will indeed go away so I can spend my time doing what is REALLY important. Growing fantastic o-grown produce on our small scale that we sell locally!

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 23 '08 at 10:43 UTC)

Isn't this a really great way to spend our tax dollars!!

I could think of a better use of funds, couldn't you???

It is so crazy to spend the time and resources going after small farms. What do they hope to achieve? Only thing I see coming out of this is the hard feelings every small farmer has against the USDA. They sure aren't getting any money out of us. We haven't made any!!

I think I will bring this subject up with our local paper and see what the average John and Jane Doe think about this matter.

The end results from all the letters is not policing folks from using the "o" word. It is the reality that the USDA wants to put that extra step in our way to keep the small farmers down and in turn, generate more funds to go toward the big boys who market their "organic produce".

By stopping the little family farms they (the big political farming industries) increase their market in this organic produce field.

Every consumer who looks for quaility, fresh, chemical- free produce should be concerned about how the USDA is railroading us (the small family farmers who make a small living) out of a market that we started in the first place.

Paying fees to the government just because you want your customers to know you don't use chemicals is really NUTS!!!

It's like paying someone because you breathe, or drink spring water.

It feels like the USDA is just trying to gain control over all of us.

USDA = NAZI

We really can't let this go without a fight.

I am going to use the great advice given on this forum and make a stand. The USDA has gotten my "Indian blood" up and that ain't a good thing!!! lol

I just might seek legal advice after all and try to show them that you don't mess with a hot head "hoosier" during basketball season with a stupid letter that sounds like a threat!!

Shhhhooooo I need to cut back on the coffee! Sorry about my ranting...I just am having a bad day and I am sick of the USDA'S crap.

I hope you all will join in on the fight against our rights to market our "organic produce" and the rights to teach how to farm "organically". And stop the USDA's request in paying fees to use the "O" word.

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 24 '08 at 08:05 UTC)

Hey fellow farmers, the conversation with USDA Mr Bent as related in the above entry is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG ! With all due respect, Mr. Bent is full of _hit!
Here is the applicable section of the NOP as copied from the Code of Federal Regulations.
Section 205.101 Exemptions
(1) A production or handling operation that sells agricultural products as "organic" but whose gross agricultural income from organic sales totals $5,000 or less annually is exempt from certification under subpart E of this part and from submitting an organic system plan for acceptance or approval under 205.201 but must comply with the applicable organic production and handling requirements of subpart C of this part and the labeling requirements of 205.310. The products from such operations shall not be used as ingredients identified as organic in processed products produced by another handling operation.

205.310 Agricultural products produced on an exempt or excluded operation.

(a) An agricultural product organically produced or handled on an exempt or excluded operation must not:

(1) Display the USDA seal or any certifying agent's seal or other identifying mark which represents the exempt or excluded operation as a certified organic operation, or

(2) Be represented as a certified organic product or certified organic ingredient to any buyer.

Well there it is from the horse's mouth so to speak. Mr. Bent was obviously speaking from the other end.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 24 '08 at 08:28 UTC)

............does this mean all my old books talking about organics before they decided that only those with an organic tax stamp of approval could speak the word are "illegal".......please don't tell me I have to burn my collection of 1950's Organic Farmer and Organic Gardening and Farming !!!!! Oh my, I'm shaking in my compost covered boots.......

And I'm starting to feel left out too............where's my letter ??

And you are correct when you say we have to stand up to this sort of bullying; not standing up is how we got here in the first place.

I will here-by pledge my produce was grown organicly until the USDA pries it from my cold dead hands. Nor will I pay their tax to validate my intergety. My customers already do that, and their's is the only one I am concerned about..

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Jan 24 '08 at 07:27 UTC)

Yo Moorehaven, we probably don't have sniveling little gremlins snitching on our operations, so we haven't received our letters. I know how you feel about being left out. It ain't fair. Which patriot said "Give me organic, or give me death?"
Gees, if Eagles D keeps gulping down that coffee, the USDA (as in Designated A__hole) might wish they never sent her any letters.
Keep the faith, and keep your old ORGANIC mags. They're not contraband yet.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Jan 25 '08 at 04:21 UTC)

I got a certified letter today from our friends at the NOP Compliance division. Seems they have a problem with my using the "O" word on my website and they seem to think I am still calling my farm Boulder Belt Organics based on a picture taken in 2000.

I do use the "O" word 3 times on my website, twice saying my farm was certified organic at one time and the other at the end of a rather anti USDA NOP rant.

Seems one can not even talk about being certified in the past. A bit of a freedom of speech issue IMO.

So looks like the USDA folks are surfing Local Harvest looking for infractions. It's not a disgruntled ex-husband after all

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Jan 25 '08 at 07:34 UTC)

Or it could have been a disgruntled ex-husband who got this whole thing rolling in the first place as this punitive witch hunt is a recent development. Anyway it looks like these NOP compliance types have an unlimited registered letter budget and much too much time on their hands.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Jan 25 '08 at 09:16 UTC)

Yes, I believe the vindictive ex-husband got this ball rolling, and lit a fire under USDA.

I have finally settled on what to say in my letter to them. No way I'm going to make nice. I will emphasize a few points I want to stress to folks here: basically that USDA does not OWN the word "organic" for all purposes.

Here are some things USDA CANNOT prohibit:

1) your use of "organic" to truthfully describe your farm or methods, where that description is not linked to marketing a product.

2) your lecturing at a conference or other gathering about organic methods,

3) your advocacy in any form of an organic philosophy of farming;

4) your truthful recitation of facts such as: "We used to be organically certified, from 1988-1997, but then USDA made it too oppressive/expensive and re-wrote the standards to suit BigAg, so it was no longer worthwhile. Now we are not allowed to market our crops as "organic," despite the fact that for ten years we have never used ANY chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or genetically modified anything. We purchase certified organic seedstock and regularly amend our soil with high-quality manure, natural greensand and phosphorus, and organic sulfur [or whatever you use]."

As the most basic First Amendment matter, the USDA cannot forbid such truthful narrative statements. I very much encourage people to include such statements in your marketing, and let's just see if USDA has the hubris to try to regulate it.

 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Jan 25 '08 at 09:17 UTC)

Yes, I believe the vindictive ex-husband got this ball rolling, and lit a fire under USDA.

I have finally settled on what to say in my letter to them. No way I'm going to make nice. I will emphasize a few points I want to stress to folks here: basically that USDA does not OWN the word "organic" for all purposes.

Here are some things USDA CANNOT prohibit:

1) your use of "organic" to truthfully describe your farm or methods, where that description is not linked to marketing a product.

2) your lecturing at a conference or other gathering about organic methods,

3) your advocacy in any form of an organic philosophy of farming;

4) your truthful recitation of facts such as: "We used to be organically certified, from 1988-1997, but then USDA made it too oppressive/expensive and re-wrote the standards to suit BigAg, so it was no longer worthwhile. Now we are not allowed to market our crops as "organic," despite the fact that for ten years we have never used ANY chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or genetically modified anything. We purchase certified organic seedstock and regularly amend our soil with high-quality manure, natural greensand and phosphorus, and organic sulfur [or whatever you use]."

As the most basic First Amendment matter, the USDA cannot forbid such truthful narrative statements. I very much encourage people to include such statements in your marketing, and let's just see if USDA has the hubris to try to regulate it.

 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Jan 25 '08 at 10:07 UTC)

Like the bootleggers of old, we may have to go underground, secretly selling our produce in the dark of the night. Making secret hideouts in my truck covered with inconspicuious stuff so not to raise suspicion as we make our rounds to deliver.

I wonder how the LocalHarvest site administraters feel about their site being used for this purpose as it was surely never intended as a mode of survellence and entrapment.

Do you suppose this would make the type of news worthiness that the national networks would be interested in?

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Jan 25 '08 at 10:37 UTC)

I think it would!

I am going to try and contact our local papers and maybe news crews in regards to the policing of the "O" word.

It may not be something they are interested in, but then again it is a slow time in the news right now and they might take notice.

 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 26 '08 at 01:03 UTC)

I just passed it on to my local paper.

 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 26 '08 at 01:05 UTC)

One reason i do not think this is a disgruntled ex husband turning folks in is because all the "proof" the USDA sent me was over 3 years old. They copies shots of some of the various web pages I have and all were at least three years old. So at least for me, they have had this stuff on file for sometime.

Granted something did trigger them to send out letters now, so maybe it is the ex.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sat, Jan 26 '08 at 03:03 UTC)

Lucy, I visited your website and all that came up was a photo of fine looking produce at what I assume was a farmer's market outing. Although I searched diligently, I could find nothing subversive in the photo to suggest you might be a dangerous agricultural criminal.
However, with your Walla Walla onion caper, a certified non-compliance letter from the USDA, and the fact that you are offspring from "bleeding heart liberals," it seems all but certain that you are a born hell raiser in the tradition of Mother Jones. I know you won't go down without a helava fight.
I'm glad to share this forum page with the likes of you and some of these other "rabble rousers."

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 COPE Farms
 Middle Georgia
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 27 '08 at 02:00 UTC)

I didnt realize there were two post in different spots I will repost what I put in the other one.
well CNG and Organic are two different things.
Even if you qualify under the USDA rules and are selling under 5,000 dollars worth of produce you still have to register with them. There is no cost to register but you cant say you are ORGANIC if you arent CERTIFIED.

Yes they could still come after you Original Poster. the word ORGANIC is now copyrighted, trademarked patented whatever by the USDA. CNG Certified Naturally Grown people are a different organization and can nnot say they are ORGANIC unless they also have the USDA Certification to do so.
Just wanted to clarify this so there was no misunderstanding.
Thanks Mike :)
COPE Farms.

 COPE Farms
 Middle Georgia
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 27 '08 at 02:13 UTC)

If it is true that we are exempt for selling less that $5,000.00, then why is the government claiming there has been a complaint made against us?


Because even though you are selling or not selling under 5,000 dollars worth you still have to register and do everything the NOP standards say. You could still be visited by a certifier and they can check to see if you have proper paperwork, soil test, and the like. If you dont meet the standards or have the proper paperwork even if you arent selling or are sell under 5,000 dollars worth you can still be fined.

the O word is off limits unless you are registered or certified with the USDA.
You may not like the rules but you do have to abide by them.
I for one know alot of farmers quit using the O word (organic) because of this.
Thats why the CNG people came to be. To create their own standard that small farmers could afford and be more lenient with.

 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 27 '08 at 04:16 UTC)

COPE, you are spreading misconceptions about the USDA and "organic." See my post above -- they do not have any kind of "copyright" etc. on the term "organic." You can lecture about your "organic" methods and philosophy to your heart's content. The ONLY context in which using the term is prohibited under their regs is in MARKETING A PRODUCT.

You are correct, however, in noting that even if you sell under $5000 they still require you to REGISTER with them, jump through a lot of hoops including onerous record-keeping. It's really not much of an exemption at all.

 COPE Farms
 Middle Georgia
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 27 '08 at 04:37 UTC)

if you saw I said pateneted copyrighted tradmarked whatevered.
They have the O word Nazis that will get you. I didnt mean it to be litarally taken.
Sorry that you read more into than was supposed to.
Yes you can say things are organic and use the O word but marketing a crop or food product of any kind is strictly prohibbited under USDA guidelines.
Sorry you didnt take it the way I meant it.
I should have been more clear.

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 27 '08 at 11:02 UTC)

Folks I may be missing something here, but I have read the NOP law so many times in the last week, that it's dancing around in my head. There are lots of definitive opinions about what is and what isn't allowed, and I feel lots of misconceptions to boot. I like to stick with the facts, so I copied these from the Q & A section of the USDA website for the NOP. Let's not confuse people with wild-eyed rhetoric and fear mongering.

Q: Can non-certified companies use the word "organic?"

A: Producers and handlers that qualify for exemption or exclusion from certification may use the term "organic" in compliance with the labeling requirements specific to their exemption or exclusion (see section 205.101 of NOP regulations).
(I posted this section 205.101 in a previous posting above)

Q: Please explain who may use the term organic and how the term is to be used.

A: Any production or handling operation certified according to the provisions of subpart E, Certification, may use the term "organic" (205.100). Production or handling operations that are exempted or excluded under 205.101 may use the term "organic" according to the regulations specified in 205.310, Labeling; provided, they comply with the production and handling requirements of subpart C of the national standards.

Q: Are exempt operations subject to National Organic Program (NOP) audit? If so, what fee would be charged to those operations?

A: Yes. Exempt operations that produce or handle agricultural products to be sold, labeled, or represented as "100 percent organic" or "organic" are subject to NOP compliance audits. Costs associated with compliance audits would be borne by the NOP.

Q: Please explain who may use the term organic and how the term is to be used.

A: Any production or handling operation certified according to the provisions of subpart E, Certification, may use the term "organic" (205.100). Production or handling operations that are exempted or excluded under 205.101 may use the term "organic" according to the regulations specified in 205.310, Labeling; provided, they comply with the production and handling requirements of subpart C of the national standards.
(The labeling restriction applies to the use of the word "certified," not to the term organic.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Sun, Jan 27 '08 at 08:00 UTC)

See I never claim that my farm was "certified organic" just that we use organic practices in growing our gardens.

So this is as clear as mud....so what my understanding is that I should be exempt and not have gotten these letters? Right?

I am so confused!!

 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Mon, Jan 28 '08 at 02:15 UTC)

If you are not certified organic you cannot use the word organic to describe your growing practises unless you fall under the $5000 exemption and have registered your farm with the proper authorities. Grown organically implies you are marketing your produce as organic, a no no. Change grown organically to grown sustainabley, biologically, naturally, etc., anthing but organically. But maybe organixally would work ;-)

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Mon, Jan 28 '08 at 02:33 UTC)

ED - I feel for you and your plight. Kinda makes you wonder if it's all worth the trouble, doesn't it ?
I grow fresh produce for a living. Not a "get rich" living, but it's mine. I never jumped on the "Organic" bandwagon as I always saw it as a marketing scheme that takes advantage of uneducated customers and prices good food beyond the means of some that need it most. Falls under the same philosphy as to why I don't think kids should be gratuitously rewarded for getting good grades. Just not the way I was raised. Some things you do just because it's the right thing to do. I've never denied that I grow organicly, but I don't advertise or sell it that way. If you were to ask, I'd say yes I do, but I'm not charging you more because of it.
My primary customers are grocery stores. A few have wished that I'd get certified, but only so they could up-charge for my stuff. I've refused based on my business premise that locally grown has more value ( BEFORE it became the newest battle cry btw ). Most have come to agree in the last couple years; shelf life is where their real value is to them in the long-run.
My queston to you is this ( and I'm not judging, it's your business ); why do you care about being certified. Your customer base is going to be local, and your reputation for repeat customers is going to be your selling point. Anybody can grow organic and get certified. Not everybody can consistantly provide quality. Whether it be a product you are selling or a way of life. As you are learning here: being certified really has slim returns for what you have to go thru. And you'll have to go thru it repeatedly. Even Lucy, one of the loudest ( and I'm saying this with a smile, Lucy :) organic advocates on this site, has gotten away from it, and I've never thought her to be slim-in-the-brains department. Don't always agree with her, but that's another matter......lol
I'd ask you to take another look at your marketing scheme, maybe think " hedonisticly chemically-free" instead ???

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Mon, Jan 28 '08 at 05:53 UTC)

So grow quality chemical-free produce, drop the "O" word and just let your local customers be the judge on what your farm represents. You can tell them its organic, in person, but you just can't market it that way.

This is really making me mad at the USDA about highjacking that term and cause such grief.

I changed my ad on Local Harvest to let others know of the USDA's moves to shut down organic family farms that haven't paid the ransom they have on the word "organic".

I maybe stirring up more troube, but what I have read about the organic marketing plan the USDA has, it seems to be their way to make money and gain control of farms that are becoming independent and getting away from needing government programs, costly chemicals, and high priced equipment.

I wonder what a Civil Liberties group would think about the actions of the USDA.

It wouldn't be the first time I have felt discreminated against by the USDA. I submitted a loan application 3 years ago when we bought this farm and got the "good ole boys" act and this guy never even looked at my business plan, which I spent a great deal of time putting together...I might add.

I could just drop the organic marketing, but what will be next. What will be next on the list of words we cannot use in marketing or words we have to pay to use in marketing? Heirloom seeds? heritage breeds? What terms will they enforce next that requires certification and fees be paid?

I think this is just a beginning for the USDA police to try to run our farms. They have started a pilot program here in Indiana in using IDs with livestock and the certification of the farms raising livestock. It is all supposed to be a plan to keep track of tainted foods, bird flu, stuff like that, but they could easily use this plan to start controling what animals we raise and the prices we get for them. IRS will have more information to collect their funds. Local counties will have their information to charge taxes on how many animals you are raising. (Here in Indiana you have to report how many cows you have and pay taxes on them) Chipping away at our personal freedoms here on the farm?

We are loosing more personal freedoms every year. Soon the USDA and their bed partners "Big Ag" boys will own all the farm ground and have us all at their mercy with price controls. We have to stand up and be heard to stop this control of farming and marketing our produce.

I know I am sounding like a rebel, but we need to have a "tea party" and stop paying for things that should be a God given right!!

 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Mon, Jan 28 '08 at 06:59 UTC)

That's easy.........quit giving the term Organic so much value. Both intellectually and in dollars.

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Mon, Jan 28 '08 at 08:34 UTC)

This is a question for Lucy- I have searched the NOP adnauseam, and nowhere did I run across a requirement that if one was an exempt producer under the $5K cap, they had to register with the "proper authorities" as you repeatedly state in your postings.
My question is where in the NOP is this requirement stated, and who exactly are the proper authorities? I may have overlooked this information, so please enlighten me - chapter & verse. Thanks.

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 MossGathers
  North TX
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Mon, Jan 28 '08 at 08:41 UTC)

Yes, the word Organic is really not a good descriptive term anyway. If you just drop that word and somehow get past the expection that farming is done using chemicals, then you have farming, basic, simple and the way it was done up until the last few decades where poison was added to the mix.
What they should do is make people who use chemicals pay a fine and use a label that says Non_Organic or Chemically Farmed Food. Leave the good guys alone and go after the creeps.

Zone 8a, TX
 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Mon, Jan 28 '08 at 04:25 UTC)

Pond digger, I may have made that up about having to register a farm with the area organic certifier in order to call one's .
http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Q&A.html says all one has to do is follow the rules and no one needs to be inspected. So I guess there are no authority to report to. Wow, so this exemption is far worse than I thought.

To me that means anyone can use the term organic under the $5000 exemption. All they have to say is I made under $5000 gross on my lettuce and so i will call all my lettuce organic. I am thiking of doing this with my chickens as I have to segregate their records from the produce records and I make well under $5000 gross on them.


ED I like the fire in your belly.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 Broostersmom
 San Marcos
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 29 '08 at 12:53 UTC)

I have been reading this thread with great interest. One thing that makes my blood boil is that the word organic has been patented like they are saying, "I saw it first! It's mine, all mine!" So...I was thinking and thinking about a word we could use instead that would mean "grown on a small farm with loving hands and no chemicals". I think I will patent the word so the government won't be able to take it away, then start a group only letting small farmers in as participants- no government allowed! The word I came up with is: FARMGANICS. What do you think?! We could say stuff like, "farmganically grown, grown with farmganical fertilizers from our farmganical compost piles"

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 29 '08 at 01:14 UTC)

Hey I like that!

Great minds must think a like, because I was trying to come up with something clever too.

We need a little word for all of us to use that represents our chemical-free lifestyles and farming practices.

I was thinking of naming the women's shelter that I plan to start "Sisters of the Soil" S.O.S. for a short name.

I really thing we should ban together and start using our own word that represents our refusing to give into the USDA'S actions on taking our "organic" marketing away from us!! Great IDEA!!

Everyone make up your choice of the new catch word and we can vote on it!

I bet with the comments I've received on here, there will be some very clever replies. So put your thinking caps on folks and lets start this new movement!!!

It is starting to smell like a revolution is stirring!! Tea Party anyone!!!

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 29 '08 at 01:19 UTC)

OK here's one

Farm-fresh and chemical free...... The FFCF?

 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 29 '08 at 07:17 UTC)

........sure, that will work....add another catch-phrase to the equation and confuse the buying public some more.......
Gotta be a better way, we just have to find it.

 rosemattelherbs
 Vancouver
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 29 '08 at 07:45 UTC)

I like what this commentor above mentioned about a labeling revolution of our organic but not certified organic farm products-\
The word I came up with is: FARMGANICS. What do you think?! We could say stuff like, "farmganically grown, grown with farmganical fertilizers from our farmganical compost piles"
What happened to the freedom of speech act? Had there been any attempts in litigation with this "labeling" aspect?
Sincerely, what do you think-from another farmganically grown producer

anything fresher is still growing!
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 29 '08 at 08:25 UTC)

Folks, I've been in sales and marketing for 30 plus years, on and off the farm, and there is one hard and fast rule; you have to sell yourself first and then your product....multiable cute phrases for the same thing competeing for a limited customer base won't do it, they only confuse and turn away the customers ( and we already have that problem ).

 Pond digger
 Rockwood, TN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 29 '08 at 09:02 UTC)

Sisters of the Soil and their "orgasmic " veggies.
Bet the USDA will stay far away from that word!

Living & teaching sustainable, Earth-friendly agricultural practices.
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Jan 29 '08 at 11:57 UTC)

I agree with Moorhaven. Sell yourself first and don't worry about labels. We have a local business organization here in Whatcom County that is big on "branding" and it seems like a misplaced emphasis to me and derived from the corporate playbook. Government (both state and federal) is just like the corporate world now, so they have to use the corporate playbook. Of course Congress (back in the 1990's) couldn't see what was wrong in co-opting a word by government fiat. They think just like their corporate masters. Also, it is not strange to me that a USDA office would spread the politics of fear. I am sure they see a good return on the investment of one or two registered letters. People are spending a lot of energy to address the problem (Hello problem. How are you today? Fine. Me too.).

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 Broostersmom
 San Marcos
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 30 '08 at 02:37 UTC)

I have noticed that customers ask about the use of chemicals or drugs like hormones, antibiotics or USDA approved arsenic. When I tell them that we use all natural means to grow things, never medicate our animals and compost everything that doesn't move, they are so eager to buy that they don't even care what it costs. There was one customer who was inquiring about our poultry and told me that a store was selling their organic/pasture raised/farm fresh poultry for over $8.00 a pound. I told her ours are $3.50 per pound and she was so excited that she ordered 5 without ever trying one first! I have a lot of loyal customers and about half of my business is by word of mouth from those customers. So, it is true that you have to sell yourself first...I definitely agree with that.

I really think that there is so much getting out to the general public about how adulterated our food supply is that they are even more eager to seek out small farmers for a clean food source. One of my customers is from Bulgaria. This family had lived on a farm in Bulgaria but never were excited about using the products from that farm. They usually just bought from stores. Since moving to America, they have heard about the additives that the USDA and our lovely government allows and now this family buys from us. They bend over backwards to be the best customers they can be because they don't want us to stop selling our products to them. In a way, our government is pushing the buyers in our direction whether we advertise our products as organic or natural or farm raised. The public knows what the small farmer strives to grow.

 Broostersmom
 San Marcos
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 30 '08 at 03:01 UTC)

rosemattelherbs I have been wondering the same thing about the right to speak freely in this country. For several decades that has been slowly taken away...a word at a time. Like for instance, say the word "God" in a public building and you might just make it out of there alive! Or expect our Government to uphold our immigration laws and BLAM! the ACLU is breathing down our necks! Seems like things are backwards.

 Rise and Shine
 Fallon
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Jan 30 '08 at 05:51 UTC)

The USDA is trying to put the small farm out of business because the money comes from the Big Ag Boys.
They hassle you about using the word organic. On our farm, we grow everything naturally even our pastures where we raise natural beef, sheep, goats, poultry. We sell farm fresh eggs, goat cheese, milk and meat and what they want me to do is register my property and use microchip or use some type of rfid tag on my animals beware all you Natural farmers USDA and BIG AG are out to get you

 COPE Farms
 Middle Georgia
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Feb 1 '08 at 07:05 UTC)

I have been reading this thread with great interest. One thing that makes my blood boil is that the word organic has been patented like they are saying, "I saw it first! It's mine, all mine!" So...I was thinking and thinking about a word we could use instead that would mean "grown on a small farm with loving hands and no chemicals". I think I will patent the word so the government won't be able to take it away, then start a group only letting small farmers in as participants- no government allowed! The word I came up with is: FARMGANICS. What do you think?! We could say stuff like, "farmganically grown, grown with farmganical fertilizers from our farmganical compost piles"

Certified Naturally Grown has already done this.
Check CNG on this website and their own.
They came up with the idea to allow farmers who couldnt afford the "Certified Organic" fee and problems to have some sort of certification that told what kind of farm and produce it was.


 Sandee
 Shelbyville
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 10:22 UTC)

I just don't know where to start. O.K.... Eagles Dancing. Are you familiar with the National Organic Program's Standards? Have you read them? Now that organic agriculture has a set of defined terms, one must be familiar with the terms, as they are used within the definiton used by the NOP. Even if you've been reading all your other information, you must be familiar with the standards which you have cited by claiming to use organic practices. If you were unaware that the $5000 exemption existed, then I would imagine that you have some reading to do. You must purchase all organic seeds. If you use manure, you must apply it 120 days before harvesting crops which have contact with the ground, or soil, and 90 days prior to harvesting crops which have no contact with the ground. There are very specific rules that address everything that we consider organic practices. If you don't want to become organic as is defined by the federal government, tell people you practice sustainable agriculture. Certified Naturally Grown doesn't mean anything. There are sustainable agriculture curriculums in colleges, and they will increase. What we are all doing is trying to change the paradigm, and create sustainable communities. I swim against the stream in the Local Harvest Forum, because I believe we need to be Local and Organic. Something that I never hear anyone mention on this forum is the 75% cost share that one can get from the Federal Government for Organic Certification. I don't know about anywhere else, but in Kentucky it costs $125 to be certified for produce. With the cost-share it ends up costing $31.25. I talk to producers all the time who complain about how it costs soooo much to be certified. When someone says that to me, and they live in Kentucky, I know that they don't really know very much about being organic. Or, at least not as much as they think. The Federal goverment just doesn't want us to kill anyone. Small farms are popping up everywhere, and a lot of them are people who are romantic about how "it used to be". There has always been e-coli, but only since we developed industrial agriculture and huge feed lots have we had e-coli that could kill humans. Did you know that some bacteria live up to 255 days in the soil? And, did you know that it can live inside the plant, travel up in the vascular system and contaminate the fruit ? So, if you are using cow manure you could kill someone if you don't use the NOP Standards for manure applications and composting. It would be a rare case, but not outside of the realm of possibility. I have said this before, and I'll say it again: now that we have a foot in the door with organic agriculture, we (sustainable farmers) have a voice in the USDA. Now we can begin the real work. If we become fragmented we will lose consumer confidence, and end up giving organic agriculture to the big producers.

Earth's Promise Farm
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 12:56 UTC)

God Bless Sandee's heart, for she has good and honorable intentions.
And she's right, you can't hardly get certified without knowing there are cost-sharing programs that go with it.
And I'm so glad I'm here tonite listening to another winter storm howl to see she's finally coming around to my way of thinking; Local before Organic !!!....never thought I'd live to see the day....hahaha !!! ( just joshin' ya. )
But I think she's off base about why there is a certification program. It has nothing to do with manure. That has been part of managed farming since man realized the cyclic relationship between plant and animal. And since not everyone is certified that uses manure, fresh or otherwise, that puts food into the food chain of this country, it has no control there.
The certified program on the Federal Level is about truth-in-advertising laws at it's very core premise. It makes no claims to be healthier or that it is the only legal way to grow. It's about marketing.
She's right about there always having been e-coli. Not so right that is has only recently started killing people. E-coli is only now a national topic of concern because 1) the ability of the media to tell everybody at the same time about an injection of it, 2) it wasn't always diagnosed as e-coli, but a killer flu, 3) the advent of antibiotics and change of lifestyle in the general population, which has lead to a weaker immunity system, 4) the rise in the need for feedlot fed beef to feed a nation, that if you look at it from a naturally substainable point of view, is greatly overpopulated and hungry, 5) because the logistics of the food chain in this country is so wide spread, a single contamination point is no longer localized in it's impact, thus multiplying it's reported outbreaks at one time spread across a greater portion of the population, making it seem to have a larger inpact on the nation. Had it only been the people in the area that got sick, it would only have local news coverage.
And unless I've missed some credible studies, it's not small enough to be of nutrient value of a plant. Although, plant tissue can be contaminated thru hydrolics when freshly harvested and then put into a contaminated wash.
Sorry, but I don't see any of us having a real voice in the bueracrocy of the USDA. And by our independant nature we are and always will be fragmented as a power group. And as a group, our only leverage to be heard is 1) not get certified, thus rendering the program null, 2) quit growing food. Go on strike. The impact would be felt much deeper than most people realize. But only short term as big agro ramped up to fill the void. 3) Educate the public as to the importance that their food plays in their daily lives and let time filter those people into positions of power.
Yes, you could kill poison someone using cow manure. Any manure for that matter. But it won't matter wheither you are using the NOP Standards or not.....you might say "Shit happens."
And you're behind the curve.....the public is already confused about the meaning and value of "organic". We've allowed it to 1) false valued ( local/fresh first ), 2) we've applied it to too many inorganic products. Don't forget, it's a "buzz" word to the marketing media. Not to mention they already think you're trying to poison them with manure....hahaha !!!
And you have little hope of fighting the money backing agrobusiness to control their end of the organic comerence in this country. Or how they regulate it. Or how it skews the publics perception of organics as a whole. Might as well give it to them, they have taken it already anyway. Focus on your marketing.
I'll say again, you are paying homage to an emporer who wears no cloths.
Other than that, I pretty much agree with her.

And I just want to add:
We've gotten off-topic. The post was about a gal who got a letter that wasn't even selling anything organic other than to breath the air at her place. Other's got them because they in the Past spoke the now copyrighted word. We've gotten into a debate about the rights and wrongs and virtues of to-be or not-to-be-certified. I'd be more interested in knowing from them that got the letters about what has happened since. I see it more as a harrasment post than a campaine of politcs.

 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 04:16 UTC)

manure is one of the big reasons i dropped organic cettifacation. The USDA AMS, at least the first several years had zero clue how to deal with manure. For a while they were going to ban compost and especially compost teas because they said that was where all e-coli 157h7 was coming from. they were, of course, wrong but this is what you get when you try to push a sustainable system into an industrial bureaurcracy. The people running the show make some really really bad regulations because they do not understand the system they are dealing with.

I do agree with Sandee that because of NOP there are ag schools with some organic/sustainable studies and research but it is still about .0001% of what indusrial ag/biotech gets. in other words the USDA is simply playing lip service to the small organic farmers while it allows the industrial ag folks to take over the USDA NOP. Soon there will be nothing small or local about organics (unless industrial ag figures out how to co-opt the term local and take that away as well).

I don't agree about cost. even with a small fee there still is the several hundred hours a year of record keeping that costs small farms a lot of time they could be farming or marketing (or sleeping and eating). larger operation can easily hire a person to do the paperwork but small farms have to do it themselves. Granted I keep good records because I spent 8 years as a certified organic grower but it does take time every day and I do not have to do the compilation of said records each year for the NOP application.

BTW I got an email from www.newfarm.org saying if you have a listing there check it for "O" word compliance. Seems the NOP folks are going after all web presence.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 08:14 UTC)

Yes, Lucy, I have heard around the old grapevine that the Feds are trawling all such websites and sending out these nasty letters.

As I have said, and many others as well, I am not interested in submitting to the Fed-bureaucrat's regime of "organic." The primary reason is not the certification cost: it's the unbearable cost in terms of record-keeping and intrusion. Big Ag can hire employees to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops -- we cannot. They know that, and want to use it as another way to strangle us.

Just look what they are trying to do with "naturally raised." Now USDA plans to take over that term too, and they have proposed regs that would allow Big Ag to say that CAFO animals are "naturally raised." We should have no part of this. Let their system fall of its own weight, because all the people who are really using natural and organic methods won't play their game.

 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 09:02 UTC)

I have really been surprised in the twist and turns this thread has taken.

I wanted to make it clear to Sandee, that I haven't sold anything with the label organic. I merely pull out a "feeler ad" on Local Harvest to see if there is an interest in a farm vacation program. In my ad, I stated that we are using organic farming practices and would love to share our farming experience with others with simular interest.

I haven't SOLD anything, just used the "o" word without paying the USDA fee. They claim I am marketing my business/produce ? something as organic without the certification.

I am well aware of the dangers of using fresh manure on crops. But I will tell you this, I would rather drink a glass of manure tea as to drink the chemicals poured on every field in our nation. I think you remarks on the dangers of e coli is really misleading and that the chemicals used are far more dangerous than what they claim.

We have a river that flows threw the farm fields in our area. While paddling my canoe, I have seen the run off that flows into the river directly from fields that have chemicals applied and seen the dead fish floating in the river. Now they advise us not to eat the fish from this river because they are toxic.

So you see, I think the USDA has their priorities backwards. They should be sending letters to those who use chemicals and are killing off our plant and threaten them with fines.

Hope that clears up the point I was trying to make.

I am aware of the requirements to become USDA certified, Sandee. And I disagree with your statement about CNG. Read the USDA information and you'll find there is an allowance for that type of certification as well.

The whole issue is that the USDA WANTS MONEY from the little guys and like to harass them because they know we don't have corp. attorneys at our beckoning call to fight them.

If I did have an attorney, I would love to put the shoe on the other foot and go after them for harassment. Maybe that would make them looking into matters more closely before sending out these letters.

 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 09:48 UTC)

Last week I went to a lecture by a physics prof on how peak oil will cause a drop in food production, which will in turn cause a drop in global population. The basics of this model are that the US passed peak oil production in 1970 and the Saudis will pass peak oil in either 2008 or 2009 (data out of Saudi Arabia is hard to fact check). Russia will take up some of the slack, but world oil production is slated to peak around 2030. The lecturer then introduced the Overshoot model, which basically states increased petrol use artificially stimulated economies and allowed populations to rise to current levels. There is a feedback loop, of course, so rising population also stimulates increased petrol use. Once oil production declines, the population will continue to increase for a bit (the overshoot), but then crash. This is a biological model, by the way, the same as the predator-prey relationship in biology class - for example a lag time after the lemmings or voles die off, but then the coyotes or wolves or lynx also crash. The prof's view was that we now eat oil (via industrial agriculture) - a view I am sure you all share - so after global peak oil, the world population will continue to rise up to about 7 billion in 2030 and then crash to 1.5 billion by 2100. A scary scenario, especially if you have grandchildren. The prof's solution is to concentrate on sustainable agriculture to feed yourself and those around you. However, just to maintain present levels of population would require 1500 new sustainable farmers in Whatcom County (where I live) each year alone! This is certainly not doable, so the best thing is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Now, after this windy monologue, my question to you is, "Do you really expect the US government to do anything to help change from industrial agriculture to sustainable agriculture? In a scenario where fascism is on the rise under the guise of Homeland Security and the USDA is the handmaiden of industrial agriculture, do you really want to get in bed the the government?" Not me.

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 wvhaugen
 Ferndale
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 09:50 UTC)

Pardon my poor proofreading. The last two sentences should read "with the government. Not me."

Catering to the unique Ferndale perspective.
 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 10:38 UTC)

ahhhh....but that is worse case scenerio....with a dash of the conspiritest thinking thrown in WVH......hahaha !!! ( although I tend to agree a little)...and we can't blast Sandee too much for defending what she has a vested interest in.

If only spring would get here so we/ could be planting instead of sitting here ....hahaha !!!

 COPE Farms
 Middle Georgia
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Feb 6 '08 at 11:26 UTC)

Sandee i don't know how Kentucky is but Georgia only has so much funds alloted for organic certification. if you don't get your name in the pot early enough they run out and you don't get any help from the govt paying for your certification. I know of one local farm who tried for three years in a row to get their paperwork in early and still never got picked. They finally gave up and didnt even file this year. they said they would just pay whatever it cost and be done with it rather than working so hard on paperwork and trying to beat the other farms to get the form in.

This is why the Ag Census is important. The more honesty of how many organic farms there are in your state the better funding they can get the next year. By having the ag census they can show hey we only have enough funds to fund 100 farms and we have 10000 organic farms operating in the state we need more funds.

 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Feb 12 '08 at 05:21 UTC)

.......could we get a status report from those that got letters....????

 Ohiorganic
 Eaton
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Feb 12 '08 at 03:37 UTC)

I sent them a reply Jan 27th and have heard nothing from them yet.

Lucy Goodman Boulder Belt Eco-Farm Eaton, OH http://boulderbelt.blogspot.com http://www.boulderbeltfarm.com
 Eagles Dancing
 Coal City
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Feb 12 '08 at 10:28 UTC)

I haven't heard a thing about my reply to their letters.

I don't know if that is good or bad.

 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Feb 12 '08 at 10:41 UTC)

I wrote and gave them a piece of my mind. The last line of my letter was: "P#@% off, stupid bureacrats."

I predict they will go away.

 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Tue, Feb 12 '08 at 10:50 UTC)

My hope here is to put to the test for all watching as to just what their real tactics are and how much they are willing to pursue.....we've all read the forums more than once as to how real the perceived threat has been, this is sortta like a test.

 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Thu, Feb 21 '08 at 10:41 UTC)

Can anybody update us ??

 redrosa
 Spencer, IN
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Fri, Feb 22 '08 at 07:30 UTC)

Everybody here from my Market is squared away, there were 5 farms not counting ED. We have collectively written an "open letter" to the miscreants who made the trouble.

 MOOREHAVEN
 Adair
Re: Has anyone been hassled by the USDA about marketing your farm as organic?    (Posted Wed, Mar 19 '08 at 06:59 UTC)

Went to a a meeting today on Farm to Market Safe Handling Practices.
Speakers were a Prof. from the university who's forte' was food borne illness ( all he talked about was feces ), some gal from a state agency who lost my interest after her opening was that her state agency was pretty much powerless except to pass information on to lobbiests on our behalf, and lo' an' behold; Mr.USDA.
I might add that the audience was a mix of local growers, meat producers, and institutional food administrators, a couple whom are good customers of mine.
Now Mr. USDA was the most interesting, mainly because he and the Prof. got into a pissing match over the definitions in the regulations pertaining to what constituted "packaging", which mainly confirmed what most of us there already knew; their reg.s are mostly up to individual inspectors interpretations. Under questioning at the end of the presentation, he pretty much confirmed that, to which there was much "eye-rolling" from the audience.

Now here's the part I really wanted to pass along.

Me, being the thorn-in-the-side that I am, stood up and asked him point blank ; "As a non-certified grower, who has the authority to regulate and oversee my operation ?"
Mr. USDA - "Why are you not certified ?"
Me - "Because the only people I feel the need to answer to are my customers."
( about this time a hospital cafeteria administrator can be heard in the background - " We buy from him, he has very good veggies. They are always so clean when he brings them" That made me feel pretty good.
Mr USDA - "Well......nobody......we're not OSHA, we don't levi fines or anything, we just hope you're doing the right thing. "

At this point he switches over to the next guy, a new market manager, who's question was about if he had a vender who wasn't on the up-and-up about his "orgainc operation" or playing nice, what could be done about him ?

Mr USDA - ( enter long winded non-answering explination here )
Market Manager - ( rephrases his question in hope of a clearer answer )
Mr. USDA - ( a rephrasing of his original explination with no better understanding )
Me - " I think what he's asking you is who has the muscle to back him up in this situation. "
Mr. USDA - ( deep breath ) " The vender is his problem. "

At the end of the day, I've been asked to be a paid consultant for the local ATTRA office.

As we've ( I hope ) seen proven in the dialogue of this thread: You don't have to be certified to provide quality or do the right thing in your farming practices. And when Government pushes in the name of collecting revenue simply for the sake of collecting said revenue - stand up and push back.

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