What’s in a name?
What’s in a name?
With so many different labels, what are we really buying?
You may have been following the recent USDA announcement that it intends to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule protecting animal welfare standards. With the rise in popularity of organic food in general, big-agriculture has learned that organic is a growing market that can demand big prices and generate big profits. The USDA’s recent announcement only furthers the interests of the big producers who want less costs but all the benefit of the organic label. (For more details, go here)
Similarly, in late 2017, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) held a meeting in Jacksonville, FL where the issue they voted on is whether soil is necessary for organic farming. Despite protest by organic growers, they voted in favor of allowing hydroponic production to be certified organic. Growing without soil – soil being the literal foundation for organic farming – is now considered organic (and can carry the valuable organic label). (For more details, check this out)
While we are not organically certified, we do intend to become certified organic. We know there is a value in being certified so consumers have some assurance that their food is being raised according to set standards that promote safe, healthy food. Currently we follow organic practices and treat our land and animals with respect. This Spring we will be hatching meat chickens and raising them on pasture. This is a conscious decision that has a number of mutual benefits – the birds get fresh forage air and sunshine, the pasture gets fresh fertilizer to grow better forage, and we have healthy animals to offer our customers. In thinking about how to move forward, we will look at Regenerative Organic Certification which more aligns with our goals. As the the Rodale Institute explains,
The goals of Regenerative Organic Certification are to increase soil organic matter over time, improve animal welfare, provide economic stability and fairness for farmers, ranchers, and workers, and create resilient regional ecosystems and communities.
So what can you do? First, thank you for supporting your local farmers. Keep buying local, ask questions, read labels, and most of all, speak up! The deadline for comments regarding the Animal Welfare Standards is January 17.
Contact the USDA and let them know you oppose the proposed withdrawal of the animal welfare standards.
For more about pastured poultry, see the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association (we’re members) video below.