J. J. Ferguson,
PO Box 110690/
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide production/marketing information about organic and related sustainable
Contributions are welcome.
ORGANIC PRODUCTION AND MARKETING NEWSLETTER
August 2003 Edition
University of Florida Sustainable/Organic Vegetable Crops Position
A Horticultural Sciences Department Screening Committee is currently reviewing applicants for
an extension/research position in sustainable/organic commercial vegetable crop production
and home gardening. The application deadline was July 1 with a scheduled starting date of
October 1, 2003.
This is one of the first specifically designated organic farming position at the University of
Florida, although a number of other faculty in horticulture and related departments have
conducted research in related sustainable and organic farming areas.
New Department of Citrus Rules for Organic Citrus
Effective August 1, 2003
Go to fac.dos.state.fl.us/faconline/chapter20.pdf for Rule 20-2.002 and 20-2.003 (6) dealing with
the organic trip ticket and Rule 20-39.017 dealing with the registration program. For information
on grove registration and trip tickets, contact the office of Jim Ellis, Office of License and
Bonds, Division of Fruit and Vegetable at 1-800-782-3240, ext. 225.
Required Trip Ticket
"The documentation required to be in possession of anyone operating a motor vehicle hauling
citrus fruit in bulk or in unclosed containers for commercial purposes on the highways of this
State shall be ...
..... for organic citrus fruit, numbered in sequence and in a form approved and issued by the
Florida department of Agriculture, Division of Fruit &Vegetables. Such form shall contain the
following statement in bold type in a conspicuous place: "IN ADDITION TO THE PENALTIES
PROVIDED FOR IN CHAPTER 601, FLORIDA STATUTES, ANY PERSON WHO MAKES A FALSE
STATEMENT OR WHO KNOWINGLY SELLS OR LABELS A PRODUCT AS ORGANIC IN
VIOLATION OF THE FEDERAL ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCTION ACT AND/OR USDA NATIONAL
ORGANIC PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO A FEDERAL PENALTY OF OUP TO $10,000 PER
Other sections of this rule require the following:
1) The name of each individual grower, grove and grove location from which the
fruit came on trip tickets.
2) Loads made up from lots from different groves must be accompanied by trip
tickets from each grove and grower name and grove location must be indicated.
The load must also be labeled as a "mixed load." However, when loads of organic
fruit are mixed at a packing house or other location, a single trip ticket can be
used for subsequent fruit movement. But, the fruit dealer doing the mixing will be
responsible for maintaining the above described trip tickets for each separate fruit
load that was delivered to his facility.
3) Trip tickets for organic citrus shall be completed in quadruplicate prior to
hauling citrus fruit for commercial purposes on the highways of this State.
4) No organic fruit shall be commingled with non organic fruit in mixed load.
Organic Grove Registration Program
"To aid enforcement of proper citrus fruit labeling and to assist with estimates of organic citrus
fruit volumes, an Organic Grove Registration Program shall be established as herein provided.
1) All groves from which organic citrus fruit is placed into commercial channels
shall, upon certification and by August 1, 2003, and August 1 of each year
thereafter, be registered with Division of Fruit & Vegetables, License and Bond.
2) The registration form shall include documentation of current organic
certification, the USDA accredited certifying agent name, organic certificate
number, the name of the grove property owner, the grove location referenced in
Global Positioning System coordinates, the varieties of citrus fruit, an estimate of
current season production in boxes, and such other information as may be
deemed necessary by Florida Department of Citrus.
3) All organic citrus fruit placed in commercial channels shall be harvested from
groves certified by a USDA accredited certifying agent and shall be accompanied
by an organic trip ticket when transported on highways of this state.
The most recent Brand Name Products List of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI),
June, 2003, and earlier OMRI publications list several non-synthetic, or botanical herbicides
that are regulated. That is, farmers must obtain permission from their organic certifying
agencies to use these materials. These herbicides are
AIIDown, a knockdown herbicide, advertised as effective against a range of grasses and
broadleaf weeds. Active ingredients are citric acid (5%), Garlic (0.2%) and 94/8% other
ingredients, including acetic acid. Go to www.sumrset.com/agriculture.htm for more
information. Preliminary tests determined effective burndown of grasses and broadleaf weeds.
More extensive greenhouse and field tests and costs for AIIDown, Matran, and Xpress are being
planned at the University of Florida.
Matran, a non-selective, post-emergence herbicide for annual grasses and broadleaf weeds.
The active ingredient is Clove Oil (33.7%). Contact EcoSmart Technologies at www.bioganic.
XPRESS, a non-selective herbicide for control or burndown of a broad spectrum of weeds on
contact. Active ingredients include thyme oil (10.4%) and clove oil (10.1%). Contact
BioHumaNetics in Chandler Arizona (480) 961-1220.
DEVINE biological herbicide is a mycoherbicide based on a naturally occurring fungus,
Phytophthora palmivora, that kills milkweed vine (Morrenia odorato) especially on citrus,
without hamringing citrus tree roots, fruit, or foliage, as do other Phytophthora species. This
herbicide was developed on the basis of observations made by Florida Extension Specialists
and researchers at the University of Florida. Contact Encore Technologies at www.
Sustained but Uneven Organic Sales
During the past few months, The Packer has reported continued but somewhat uneven growth
in organic sales. Coastal states, predominantly on the West Coast, and college towns
everywhere continue to be the strongest markets for organic fruits and vegetables. California
organic grower-shippers report that they are continuing to expand their operations into
conventional retail outlets as food safety concerns prompt consumers to seek more pesticide-
free products. Retailers in the San Francisco area report that if prices are comparable, buyers
will request organic over conventional produce. Better production methods have improved the
external appearance of organic produce and growers are also offering packs that are the same
size as conventional produce. One wholesaler provides information about its growers and
offers farm tours for their retailers to associate the product with the grower and to build brand
The demand for organic produce in the Michigan is increasing slowly. Chain stores across the
state are carrying more organic. At the same time some wholesalers are not carrying organic
produce, saying they tried and the items did not sell. Minnesota has a progressive political and
agricultural history and has more natural food stores per capital than other states, suggesting a
link between politics, lifestyle and organic sales.
Retailer interest and support also appear to affect wholesaler, distributor and related market
growth. In-store requirements to handle organic produce also could detract from retailers'
interest. However, the Organic Trade Association has developed a manual, CD disk, a seminar,
and has held conference calls to clarify program requirements and to review good retail
practices to implement so retailers could achieve compliance. Go to www.ota.com/index.html
for more information about the Organic Trade Association, which is the major marketing and
lobbying organization for US organic farmers.
Another approach to organic retailing was developed by Whole Foods, the largest natural and
organic supermarket chain, with 144 stores in 25 states, the District of Columbia, and Toronto.
The entire Whole Foods chain was certified June 6 by Quality Assurance International, a
federally recognized organic certification agency. Another Californian certification agency,
Scientific Certification Systems, is in the process of certifying four other small, medium, and
large retail chains. Organic certification for retail stores is different from certification for
farmers. Whereas farmers have to go through a three-year transition period, develop a farm
plan and use specific inputs, retail stores are required by organic standards to use proper
signage, keep conventional and organic produce from mixing, and maintaining careful records.
Bigger retail chains like Albertsons, Krogers, and Wal-Mart are also becoming interested in
organic. Supercenters like Wal-mart and Target, have nearly doubled their share of U.S.
retailing in the past decade. While smaller neighborhood markets and grocers have historically
had superior produce quality, these large stores have caught up in the quality of their fresh
produce. Recent surveys report that the main obstacle for consumers shopping at the large
supercenters is distance, as they are often located on the edge of town. The message here for
the local traditional retailers is to become more consumer-friendly to remain viable and retain
their share of the market.
In a related report in The Packer, "Industry Leaving Some Pioneers' Wagons Stranded, small
and middle-sized growers who built the organic produce industry are having trouble competing
with the larger, more efficient grower-shipper-packers. Many small and mid-size growers are
being forced out of the wholesale market and are selling to the public at CSA (community-
supported agriculture) programs and farmers markets. Another sales and marketing manager
said that organic operations are changing rapidly from small growers to more efficient grower/
packer/shipper operations and that "efficiencies are a must because the price differential (i.e
between organic and conventionally grown produce) is shrinking. Increased volume has lead to
more efficient production methods and more affordable pricing, which in turn increases sales
further Although it still costs more to grow organic fruit and vegetables, greater amounts are
being produced allowing for volume sales and making lower prices possible
TV Ads for Organics
A television commercial, shown in Toronto, promoted organic oranges as part of a pilot project
sponsored by the Organic Trade Association and funded by the USDA market access program.
Preliminary results indicate the ad increased sales by 10% and increased organic produce
awareness. Marketing research done in Toronto also indicated that the primary household
purchaser had low exposure to organic produce in general, and prior to these ads, little
awareness of organic oranges as a grocery item. Studies also show that consumers do not
always trust the information that has been written by organic proponents.
The U.S. population is aging and is becoming more ethnically diverse. During the next 17 years
the proportion of the population under 45 will decrease, and the proportion over 45 will
increase. As Americans age, they are also becoming more health conscious and trends
suggest that they will eat more fruits and vegetables.
The shift in the country's ethnic makeup, with the Hispanic population leading the way, will also
change produce sales over the next two decades. The USDA economists also predict that
produce quality, convenience and variety, will increasingly influence consumers' food-buying
habits. This could benefit grower-shippers of specialty crops, such as vine-ripened tomatoes
and fresh-cut organic baby leaf lettuce packaged in bags. Other bagged items currently offered
include over 100 different organic fresh-cut fruit and vegetables including: iceberg and romaine
lettuce, salad mixes blended fruits, baby carrots, herbs, and green onions.
Generic Advertising Woes
Six Florida citrus growers have brought suit against the Florida Department of Citrus to stop
collecting taxes, 80% of which are used for generic orange juice advertising campaign.
While studies covering the last 33 seasons have shown that Florida orange growers' profits
rose an average of $2.90 for each dollar the growers paid in taxes, research has also indicated
that such generic advertising has also substantially increased the level of orange juice
imported into the U.S. Accordingly, the Florida growers claim they are paying a tax that benefits
foreign orange growers. On March 31, the 10th Circuit Court in Bartow, Florida ruled that the tax
was unconstitutional because it forces growers to pay for advertising to which they object. The
growers are now asking the court to order the Florida Department of Citrus to stop the tax and
to end the advertising campaign. The case will most likely be appealed.
In another case, mandatory assessments of the Washington State Apple Commission were
ruled unconstitutional. Ironically, the suit was initiated by the Commission as a preemptive
strike to firmly establish the legal issues involved and to avoid similar lawsuits developing in
other industries like mushroom and beef production. However, according to The Packer on
April 21, 2003 the campaign backfired, the judge ruled against the Commission and it has
folded. To continue apple marketing programs, local organic apple producers are now forming
their own Washington State Organic Tree Fruit Growers Association to create and maintain
quality standards and to promote organic tree fruit. Conventional growers who supported the
Washington State Apple commission thought the Commission did a good job promoting
organic apples and said the organic growers will have to spend significantly more money to
promote their product than previously.
California Citrus Mutual and the California Grape and Tree Fruit League continue legal actions
against the USDA about that agency's new protocol allowing shipments of Spanish
clementines into the U.S. The two industry groups claim the clementines come from Medfly
infested areas and the USDA's protocol was based on an unfounded scientific foundation. The
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's current work plan allows live Medfly larvae
in 1.5% of fruit destined for the U.S. before cold treatment. The groups bringing suit claim this
protocol does not adequately protect the U.S. from Medfly infestation and challenge currently
required cold treatments, experimental design in terms of specific citrus crops used in
research supporting this protocol, and whether or not Medfly larvae have survived this
treatment in recent shipments from Spain.
During one of the worst seasons for Florida strawberries in 20 years, Plant City, Florida
growers have doubled-cropped 85% to 95% of Florida's 7,000 strawberry acres with Athena
cantaloupes, to recoup some of their financial losses sustained in February and March. Too
much rain, freezes followed by extremely hot weather, bird damage, and competition from the
Californian strawberry growers have hurt Florida's market. As a result, Florida's crop was down
at least 30%. Florida's $200 million strawberry industry accounts for 15% of the nation's
U.S. Pursues WTO Case over GMOS
The Bush administration, along with Argentina, Canada, and Egypt, is planning to file a World
Trade Organization case against the European Union over the five-year moratorium on approval
of agricultural biotech products. Australia, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico,
New Zealand, Peru, and Uruguay will also join the case as third parties. Polls indicate that while
75% of Americans would buy produce that has been genetically enhanced to reduce reliance on
pesticides, 70% of Europeans would not. I t is estimated that the European Union's policies
have cost American farmers about $1 billion during the past 4 years.
Citrus Commission Budget
The Florida Citrus Commission recently approved a $68.7 million budget for the Florida
Department of Citrus that includes a continued 20 cent per 1 3/5 bushel tax on fresh oranges;
25 cents per box for grapefruit and 21 cents per box for fresh specialty fruit.
The budget also includes a 1.5 cent reduction in the box tax for processed oranges which will
be offset somewhat by a voluntary 1.5 cent tax by Florida Citrus Mutual to finance a two-year,
$70 million campaign to preserve the federal import tariff of 29.7 cents per gallon on imported
orange juice, ostensibly from Brazil, our largest competitor.
In addition to these box taxes, Florida organic growers must also pay initial and annual organic
certification fees as well as a percentage (usually less than 1%) of gross annual sales or
organic products. Some mandarin hybrids with only limited acreage like Page, Lee, Dancy and
Robinson are exempt from the Citrus Commission box taxes.
Organic Trade Association (OTA) Publications
The OTA has a number of expensive but invaluable publications on different aspects of organic
production, retailing, and marketing on their bookstore website (www.ota.com/bookstore.html).
Guidelines/American Organic Standards
US Federal Organic Regulations Background Kit
OTA Positionn on Laboratory Testing
OMRI Generic Materials and Brand Name Products List
Market Information and Industry Research
The Organic Trade Association's Organic Fiber Shopper Study
Organic Consumer Profile
OTA's Manufacturers' Market Survey
2001 What Do Consumers Want From Organics
3rd Biennial National Organic Farmers' Survey (1999)
Searching for the "O-Word"
Promotional and Merchandising Material
List of OTA Promotional and Merchandising Materials
Choose Your Own Future Adventure Game
Good Organic Retailing Practices Training Manual
How to Harvest the Profits of Organic Produce
Video: Organic Foods: A Growing Trend
The Organic Foods Sourcebook
Natural Products Field Manual