I AND MARKETING
3. 3. FERGUSON, Editor
Professor and Extension Horticulturist
UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences Dept.
PO Box 110690/Gainesville FL 32611-0690
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide production/marketing information about organic and related sustainable farming practices.
Contributions are welcome.
August 2004 Issue
Oregon Tilth Certified Organic and Grower Processing Meeting
All Things Organic
Fair Trade Elbows Organics
Fresh Trends: Growing Organics
Organic Mentoring Programs in California and New Jersey
Agricultural greenbelts are frequently used to reduce taxes on and to preserve farmland. However, reduced taxes and
agricultural zoning on farmland are sometimes linked to permanent agricultural classification of such farmland, possibly
limiting maximum resale value for development.
On July 8, Governor Bush vetoed the Agricultural Economic Development Act which would have provided that agricultural
land (surrounded on at least three quarters of its perimeter by existing developments) be classified as consistent with the
surrounding developed property. Advocates of the bill, including Florida Ag Commissioner Charles Bronson, argued the bill
would have helped landowners hurt by changes in surrounding land use classifications such as increased residential
density units per unit land area. That is farmers would have been encouraged to continue farming in areas where
development occurs. On the other hand, once designated as an agricultural enclave, farmers may not obtain as high a
resale value for their land as land that could have been developed.
The New Jersey Farmland Preservation Program, created in 1983, presents another option and has preserved about 14%
of the state's farmland. Approximately 124,000 acres on 1,100 farms have already been preserved with another 20,000
acres on 256 "new" farms added in 2003. Under this program, farmers can sell their land to other farmers for close to
what a developer would pay and state and federal funds can also provide financial support for growers who agree not to
sell their land to developers. With land prices in New Jersey sometimes reaching $50,000 per acre, the program also
provides about half of the funding for those new to farming, who want to purchase farmland but lack the necessary funds.
Overall farm acreage in New Jersey in 2003 was about 820,000 acres, down 10,000 acres from 1998. Florida Farmland,
according to the 2002 USDA Agricultural Census total 10,414,879 acres on 44,081 farms.
ALL THINGS ORGANIC
The organic industry needs to "stop trotting out'Horatio Alger' feel-good success stories ...stop whining about how the
USDA doesn't attention to us and start funding our own research...just like everyone else does", according to Gene Kahn,
founder of Small Planet Foods and Cascadian Farms and now vice president of sustainable development at General Mills.
which bought out his company in 1999. Kahn spoke at the recent All Things Organic conference in Chicago recently,
especially in terms of breaking through the current approximately 2% ceiling on organic sales. Another factor limiting
organic sales may be claims about unverifiable nutritional, health and environmental claims about organic production and
organic produce. However the newly established Organic Center for Education and Promotion within the Organic Trade
Association will focus specifically on gathering research data to bolster the health and environmental benefits of buying
The Packer, May 10, 2004
FAIR TRADE ELBOWS ORGANIC
The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is an association of fair trade wholesalers, retailers, and producers whose members are
committed to providing fair wages and good employment opportunities to economically disadvantaged artisans and
farmers worldwide. FTF directly links low-income producers with consumer markets and educates consumers about the
importance of purchasing fairly traded products which support living wages and safe and healthy conditions for workers
in the developing world. In other words, the Fair Trade Concept relies on a higher premium price that is then passed on to
The Fair Trade label is now being used on bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and table grapes but coffee, chocolate, and tea
have dominated the market in the past. However, although most of the "Fair Trade Certified" produce items, like bananas,
are organic, other Fair Trade crops like pineapple are not organic. The Fair Trade label therefore does not necessarily
include organically produced crops. TransFair, USA is the only US certifier for Fair Trade products, and receives a penny
per pound assessment. The TransFair website at http://www.transfairusa.org/content/about/index.php presents the
following mission statement:
"Fair Trade is an innovative, market-based approach to sustainable development. Fair Trade helps family farmers in
developing countries to gain direct access to international markets, as well as to develop the business capacity necessary
to compete in the global marketplace. By learning how to market their own harvests, Fair Trade farmers are able to
bootstrap their own businesses and receive a fair price for their products. This leads to higher family living standards,
thriving communities and more sustainable farming practices. Fair Trade empowers farming families to take care of
themselves without developing dependency on foreign aid."
Reaction to the concept of fair trade within the produce industry, especially among those companies that have invested in
the organic sector, has been mixed, with some companies restating their commitment to organic growers, especially in
terms of supporting the viability of this farming sector. Other companies have "educated themselves about it" and are
awaiting interest from their retail outlets to make a further commitment. The Packer, May 3, 2004.
The Fair Trade lable appears to be a global marketing ecolable. The December, 2002 issue of this newsletter at
http://www.hos.ufl.edu/jjfnweb/organicnl/Dec02.htm contains an article on "Ecolabeling and the Greening of the Food
Market" that further explains the concept of ecolabeling. Tufts University also held a conference in Boston in 2002 on this
topic and developed a proceeding.
FRESH TRENDS: GROWING ORGANIC
Starting July 26, a three-week series in the Packer entitled "Fresh Trends:Growing Organics," will feature the results of a
study focusing on organic and consumer opinions about organic. The Packer, July 12, 2004.
ORGANIC MENTORING PROGRAMS IN CALIFORNIA AND NEW JERSEY
Conventional farmers interested in organic production sometimes can not readily obtain information about the transition
from conventional to organic production. Using an innovative approach to this problem, the California Certified Organic
Farming (CCOF) Foundation in collaboration with California State University, Chico, has sponsored a "Going Organic"
program that pairs interested farmers with already certified organic growers. The first February, 2004 workshop focused
on citrus, rice, and almond production in three of CCOF's California regions with workshops in 11 other regions planned
during the next two years.
In New York State a similar workshop in January 2003 at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva
resulted in a 162-page proceedings on "Organic Vegetable Production," scheduled for an April 2004 release by the Natural
Resource, Agricultural and Engineering Service, a consortium of Cooperative Extension offices at 14 land grant
universities in the northeast. This consortium includes the University of Connecticut, University of Delaware, University of
the District of Columbia, University of Maryland, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts, University of New
Hampshire, Rutgers University, Cornell University, The Pennsylvania State University, University of Rhode Island,
University of Vermont, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and West Virginia University.
The Packer article from which this information was taken indicates that this $28.00 book on organic vegetable production
is available from the Natural Resource, Agricultural and Engineering Service at http://www.nraes.org/index.html.
Organic Vegetable Production, NRAES-165 ($28.00 plus S&H/sales tax; 162 pages; March 2004), is the proceedings of a
three-day series of meetings held at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York in January
The meetings brought together both university and farmer speakers-all experts in their fields to share information on the
management practices that have worked well for them. The 162-page book is divided into three sections. Each section
begins with a selection of papers by researchers and educators from Cornell University, University of Massachusetts,
University of Vermont, and NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) of New York. Concluding each section are
transcripts of presentations by organic producers who participated in the program to share their experiences in specific
aspects of organic vegetable production.
The first section includes seven papers covering soil and nutrient management. In addition to three farm profiles, papers
cover soil life; interpreting soil test results and estimating nutrient availability; tillage practices; and the use of compost
and cover crops. The second section includes six papers on weed management, including weed biology, cultivation tools
and strategies, mulching, and a system combining the use of cover crops and tillage. The third section on insect and
disease management includes seven papers, covering the impact of soil quality on disease and insect resistance; disease
management strategies; the use of organic insecticides; and identifying and encouraging beneficial insects. A guide to
relevant web sites and publications, along with contact information in each northeastern state, is also included.
Also, check out the extensive list of publications, including integrated crop management. manure and waste management,
general agriculture, and horticulture at http://www.nraes.org/publications.html.
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