Thursday, May 30, 2013

Delinquent by Choice

Time limitations really slam us up side the head, and in the pocketbook, sometimes.
Seconds ago I completed and emailed all the paperwork required for our Organic Recertification along with $150 late fee. Ouch.

We are delinquent no more.

Every year we get the forms with plenty of time to complete them and every year I get them in on time. Often just hours before the deadline but still on time. This year, faced with all the work required to fight IDPH in regards to the raw milk rules they are trying to pass, we made the very informed decision to put our time and money into that issue.

Still, it was a real kick to get the letter from our organic certifying agency telling us we were officially "delinquent" Not the first time that term has been thrown my way but certainly the first time I've seen it in writing.

But, no worries. We talked to the higher ups, explained we still desired organic certification and promised to get the paperwork done and the late fees paid. And we did. So it's all good. Not only have we earned the Certified Organic label by meeting the hundreds of standards but we've paid for the designation as well.

Frustrating though to think that our late fees will go right back to the government who will then use those monies to pay the salaries of those who are often not on the side of the small farmer. Perhaps a farmer with shared frustration will start their own Organic Certification Program. Right now we have just one choice, the USDA National Organic Program

But other major agricultural certifications have been taken on by individuals before such as with grass fed certification. A farmer can elect the USDA Grass Fed Certification or go with a private party, The American Grass fed Association whose standards by the way are far better than the USDA's. It is a goal of ours to apply for this certification one day. Right now I need a paperwork break.

In the meantime "Certified Organic" can only be done one way in this country, through the USDA. So for now we follow their rules and pay their fees and also that painful late fee.

After all, it is our choice.


  1. Hi Donna,

    Have you looked at Certified Naturally Grown. Not sure how it would cover meat products. My understanding is CNG has many of the same rules, but testing is random and unannounced.

  2. It does seem so unfair that small farmer's have to jump through so many ridiculous hoops to get certified organic. Regulations are good, but sometimes the arbitrariness of some of the rules is aggravating.

    But good on ya' for getting it done! That's no small feat. I'm impressed you guys are certified organic, I had no idea.

    I totally agree on the fee thing - about it going back to pay politicians who actively work against your own self interest. It's quite the frustrating cyclical loop, huh?

  3. Bummer. Sometimes seeing our hard earned tax dollars at work makes my stomach hurt. So glad you got it in, are back on track and swallowed the bitter pill but...dagnabit to them!

  4. 'Not certified Organic, but we are!' probably sounds even more honest, and might even attract the right sort of attention (and it's free).

  5. I can't even imagine the headaches. It"s not enough that you work sun up to sundown on the farm then there"s the paperwork!

  6. Friend Squirrel, we have. And we like their standards. As yet few people (except the extremely well educated like yourself) is aware of this cert and it's meaning. And many think CNG is less stringent.(It isn't) Time to educate the public. A switch may be in our future

    Lindsey, we don't mind the fees. We do mind that the NOP certifies some chicken factories as "organic" thus always best to know your farmer and his practices.

    Camille. There are days that we calculate HOW LITTLE we must make in order not to pay taxes. It's our goal

    Cro. Like that. Like that very much

    Karen. It is more of a butt-ache! Too much sitting in front of the computer telling the government how we farm instead of actually farming. Craziness abounds

  7. Given a choice, I buy CNG over Organic, but that's because Nature's Harmony Farm educated us!

    I'm with you on hating paperwork. I won't even tell you how rarely I balance my checkbook. :( Our heifer was over 2 years old before I finally gritted my teeth and jumped through the DNA testing hoops (paperwork plus tail hair) and the ADCA registration (online paperwork). But oh, boy, that certificate made it all worth while! If only I thought I'd remember that when it comes time to do it next time! :D

  8. Susan. The more I am reading about CNG the more I keep reading. We'll see what next year brings. Are any of you farmers out there Certified Naturally Grown? How did you find the process? the inspection? the cost? Would love to hear from you