This is something my "mentor", a nearby organic grain farmer by the name of Bob Keatley, has said to me repeatedly.
From the latest Organic Broadcaster -
Turkey and Ukraine have exported significant amounts of corn and soybeans to the U.S. Both countries are dealing with massive civil unrest. It raises the question of how organic on-farm inspections and integrity can be maintained in those circumstances.
The European Union and Canada were so concerned about the integrity of organic imports from these countries that, in late May (EU) and early June (Canada), they cancelled the accreditation of ETKO, the agency that certifies organic production in Turkey and the Ukraine. As a result, traders from Turkey and the Ukraine had to scramble to find markets, such as the U.S, where there is less risk of rejection. That shift to non-EU destinations would explain the drastic swings in exports to the U.S. in comparable year-to-year data. There is an apparent perception that the U.S. is an easy target to dump “organic” grain.
The U.S. organic market has seen growth in annual sales consistently above 10 percent. (Source: Organic Trade Association) The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) data shows that 40 percent of organic corn and up to 70 percent of organic soybeans are imported. Will continued growth of the U.S. organic market be at the expense of U.S. organic producers, which further stifles domestic growth in organic acres?
U.S. organic grain farmers produce the highest quality organic grains. Producers are subject to rigid certification standards and an audit trail back to the fields where the grain was grown on their farm. It is what the organic label has come to mean to consumers. To ensure organic integrity, all organic imports and producers in other countries should meet the same standards that U.S. producers proudly meet.
What Farmers Can Do
1. Ask potential buyers if they are importing grain.
2. If they are, explain that these imports are lowering domestic prices to unprofitable levels for you.
3. Call your Senator and Representative to ask them to inquire what USDA’s NOP is doing about potential fraud in organic imports. Why is the U.S. viewed as an easy destination to ship “organic” grain?
The overall ag picture isn't looking good either.
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