August 19, 2013

Organic police shake down small farmers

Organic vegetable farmers, particularly the smaller ones, are being squeezed by government organic police.  'Police' is actually a kind term as it's more like government shakedown artists.  Pay for the

What happens if you adhere to every process restriction that a corporation that sells its food using the 'organic' label adheres to, but you don't pay the fees to get a government 'certification' and still try to claim you are 'organic' at a local Farmer's Market?

About $20,000 in government fines, it seems.

There are not many people who truly still believe an 'organic' label is healthier food. Organic pesticides are no better (or worse) for us than synthetic pesticides and the list of exemptions for synthetic ingredients that organic food conglomerates have gotten approved by the US Department of Agriculture is dizzying. Meanwhile, organic companies (and the USDA) are stuck trying to claim a fruit mutated by random cosmic rays is organic but a fruit with a precisely controlled genetic optimization is not only inorganic but unnatural and harmful, a claim that every major scientific body disputes.
The Unintended Consequences of the government regulating the labelling of produce as organic is that small farmers who cannot afford to label their products as certified organic, is that they will come up with other labels.  Who wants to pay a fee for government certification?  Only mega-producers who can afford the fees.
The farmers are getting hurt, and in an interesting twist, the granola-crunching organic-loving crowd is being forced to pay higher prices for the organic label as supply is negatively affected.  Alternately they may simply be confused by the array of labels they are faced with.
Meanwhile the government is not doing much to protect those who have paid the fee to get the organic label on their produce.  Fining the violators brings in revenue for the government but because the producers are small, they are probably getting away with it in many if not most cases.  There is too much ground to cover checking these.  Besides, the fine may be meant to scare people out of violating the organic label, it does not stop alternate labeling.  Just like the fee for certification, the fine is clearly just another shake down.

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