Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Organic Certification Hoop Jumping

Once again it's time to prepare for our annual organic certification inspection. This will be our 6th year and as always...I'm working like a fiend to get the paperwork in order. Although the standards are extensive, at last count 222, each year we do a better job of tracking what needs to be tracked. The problem is of course remembering how exactly we tracked it.

Was it on the computer? Via hard copy records? Those little pieces of paper stuck on the bulletin board? The torn off pieces of brown cow towels scattered on Keith's barn desk? Post-its littered on the fridge? Inked notes on the back on GK's hands? Each year when I find myself sorting through masses of ephemera I think of Jessica Lange in "Country" as she frantically sorts through her stack of papers to find that one receipt for sheep feed the bank needs. She eventually finds it but the bank STILL takes their farm. Bat rastards.

I should think more positive thoughts during this process shouldn't I?

Each year we discuss if we shall continue this process. In the early years we felt it was important as we sold meat to grocery stores to customers who never saw our farm. Although no certification is a guarantee of anything it was at least visual "proof" that the meat they were buying was antibiotic and chemical free. But since we stopped selling to middle men/women almost two years ago and now sell only direct to the consumer via our on site retail farm store, to customers who can visualize our farm methods up close, we did consider not going through the process again. We would still feed certified organic feed, keep all our fields organic we just wouldn't go through the paperwork, the expense (about $1500/year) for the actual certification through the National Organic Program.

But, with a prospective buyer on the horizon last summer who at the time wanted to continue with the organic certification we decided to go through the process so the certification could transfer to them with ownership of the farm. Oh well, best laid plans and all that. So since the fees are paid for this year we go forward. Step by step. Neither of us walk backwards that well anymore anyway.

And if you are one of those geeks who just love to read government rules and/or are considering organic certification yourself here is the link for you to read. hint: they are much more entertaining to peruse if you have a nice bottle of Merlot in your mitts. Enjoy.



  1. I'm sure it's worth the aggravation and hassle in the end -- but the exercise sounds so trying -- to say the least. Good luck! And Happy Thanksgiving, Donna.

  2. Hello, I'm a new reader, just found your blog last week and have been reading previous posts and becoming acquainted. I figured this was a good post to jump in an say hi. I don't have a farm, but I do dream of one while keeping up my little suburban version.

    I truly do commend your efforts and I am learning much from reading your posts. Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. You are such a soldier to fight a rusted old machine! Keep your lance sharpened and charging the corroding regulations. You are my hero, truly.

  4. Julie and I will be considering this daunting task soon.


  5. I find it odd to compare the procedures to grow/sell organic to the procedures to grow/sell traditional. Shouldn't one have to jump through hoops to sell produce and meats rife with pesticides, hormones, GMOs and antibiotic? What an odd world we live in.

  6. I hate paperwork with a passion!

  7. I have to put my hands up to loathing paperwork too.



  8. Its very interesting to read about your experiences. I have read the Australian organic standards and thought about all the paperwork involved. I have great respect for those that go through the process and get certified. I'm not sure if we will ever be able to justify it at this stage.