Unbuckling the Corn-Belt – One Drop at a Time

There is an African proverb that speaks to our modern agricultural dilemma. It is said that “dirty water cannot be washed.” Yet we continue to pollute our waters with our agricultural practices in the heartland of the continent. Corn and soy are planted in vast expanses, modified to withstand extreme applications of pesticides and herbicides. They are also reliant on vast devotions of synthetic fertilizers.

All these agricultural inputs end up in our waterways and drinking water, harming our health and the environment. There is no easy method to “wash away” these pollutants so pervasive in our waters.   Continue reading

Are You an Organic Produce Veteran? Sonny Perdue Wants You!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it is accepting nominations from fruit and vegetable industry members to fill 10 seats on the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee (FVIAC). Originally chartered in 2001, FVIAC meets two times per year to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the many issues affecting the fresh fruit and vegetable sector. Continue reading

The Issues Riddling Organic Will Set the Stage for the 2018 Farm Bill

It was a rollicking time for organic in D.C. last week.The Senate AG Committee held a hearing on global & local markets, specialty crops, and organics as they relate to the next Farm Bill. Chairman Pat Roberts gave a hi-five to organic farmers acknowledging that “they are responding to a market signal and increasing their margins.” He also attached some scorn to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) by stating “… it seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the regulations associated with the National Organic Program (NOP).”

What do these seemingly diverging messages from the Chairman of the House Ag Committee mean for organic in the next Farm Bill? For answers, you must understand some of the issues currently vexing the organic seal. Continue reading

What the USDA can do for you

I have been fortunate enough to visit many foreign countries, be it for my job or volunteering with International Executive Service Corps. In my capacity working with organic farmers, I have developed a deep appreciation for the services and support our USDA offers. If you are a farmer, rancher, handler or consumer, there is something for you at the USDA. They provide a multitude of resources to help organic producers navigate the road map to successful farming. They encourage consumers to weigh in and participate in the evolution of the organic regulations. Since everyone eats yet only a few of us farm, it’s important to stay abreast of our Department of Food and Agriculture. Tune into some of the opportunities to learn more and participate in the USDA programs. Continue reading

April NOSB Meeting: Why it’s Important to be Part of the Organic Process

It was typical spring weather in the Mile High City for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) spring meeting last week. A day of piercing sunshine was followed by wind and sputtering rain that cascaded off the Rockies. The unsettled climate mirrored the tone of this biannual meeting. A cloudburst of uncertainties was gathering that could decidedly affect farmers and ranchers, manufacturers and consumers all with the swift vote of this 15-member board. While the lion’s share of this meeting was set aside for discussion, it provided a glimpse of the board’s predilections on future recommendations.  Continue reading