Search

The Prying Mantis

No Justice, No Peace – reflections on organic farming, CSA and domestic fair trade.

Category

Uncategorized

World Board Candidate Responses to NOFA Questionnaire – fall 2017

In alphabetical order

Frank Eyhorn

 

  1. What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?
    <That organic agriculture fails to deliver on key sustainability expectations of farmers and consumers: being healthy, environment and climate friendly, profitable for farmers, affordable for consumers.
  2. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?
    <Yes, as an important inspirational concept that allows organic agriculture to grow while continuously improving its performance and inspiring mainstream agriculture. Organic 3.0 as defined in the landmark document submitted to the General Assembly for approval (see WB motion W53). It shifts the focus of the organic movement from proofing that organic agriculture is better and improving certification and value chain aspects to positioning organic agriculture as a significant contribution to making agriculture and food systems more sustainable. This gradual shift and evolution is already happening, and IFOAM needs to adjust its role to the changing context to remain relevant.
  3. How can IFOAM – Organics International best contribute to better know-how and improved systems in farming, processing and marketing?
    <By enhancing the capacities of trainers and leaders, by facilitating processes that lead to innovation and continuous improvement, and by supporting the transition of farmers, processors and traders to adopting best practice. For this, IFOAM needs to work with and through its members and other allies.
  4. What role should the organization play in raising public awareness of the potential of organic agriculture to help sustainable development?
    <It needs to ensure that organic agriculture is not left behind in communication related to sustainable development, agriculture and food. Since IFOAM itself has a limited outreach it needs to develop convincing, evidence-based messages and communication tools that can be distributed by a broad range of multipliers through their communication channels.
  5. What should be the organization’s priorities in contributing to policy environments that support true sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption?
    <We made significant progress in getting organic agriculture recognized by UN organizations and many governments. The focus should now be on supporting policy development at regional and national level, in collaboration with our members. The Supportive Policy Toolkit positions us well for this task. We also need to advocate for policies that reward truly sustainable agriculture and discourage non-sustainable practices. In order to be effective we need to build alliances with like-minded organizations that share this objective.
  6. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?
    <Yes, see WB motion W51*. I’m afraid we have no other choice. Breeding methods are rapidly evolving, with far-reaching consequences for organic farmers. We need to critically follow these developments and ensure that we can guarantee organic integrity. More importantly, we need to advance organic seed multiplication and breeding strategies that provide farmers with a broad range of robust and productive varieties also in the future.
  7. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done.  Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?
    <See WB recommendations to the respective motions.* Transparent financial reporting is a must, in a level of detail meaningful to members. The current membership requirements and fee structure have significant disadvantages that hinder the organization in fulfilling its mission.
  8. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.
    <Not clear what the objectives and terms of reference of this task force should be. If the question refers to the elaboration of a “Guide on Key Themes Related to Sustainability”(Member motion M62), the answer is Yes (see WB recommendation).* Organic agriculture often ranks low in standards-based sustainability ratings because the standards do not explicitly mention relevant sustainability dimensions to which organic agriculture contributes. The proposed guide can help rectify this.
  9. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?
    <Yes, see WB recommendation to Member motion M64.* Needed, but not a high priority area in my personal opinion.
  10. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?
    <Yes, see WB recommendation to Member motion M64.* Organic agriculture is bigger than certified organic, and estimates of non-certified organic agriculture are better than completely ignoring it. “Measure what matters!”. The collaboration with FAO in this regard provides a good and cost-effective opportunity.
  11. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?
    <Yes, see WB recommendation to Member motion M68.* To be precise, the current motion is to review and highlight the social dimension of local organic markets. We need to communicate the social advantages of organic agriculture better. The Food for Life campaign that we recently initiated will address this.
  12. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?
    <No, see WB recommendation to Member motion M69.* Unless we can raise additional resources for this work-intensive task. I personally believe that it would be relevant to develop simpler IT-based tools to manage ICS data. This would not only save time and costs but also allow to return the processed data to farmers so that they can make use of it.
  13. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?
    <No, see WB recommendation to Member motion M70.* IFOAM should advocate for the cause of true sustainability in agriculture and the common good by contributing solutions. That does not hinder us to clearly name the problems including greenwashing (see Organic 3.0 brochure), however if this is made a core strategy we will lose credibility and ground in international advocacy.
  14. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?
    <Yes, see WB recommendation to Member motion M75.* This is basically the reason why IFOAM exists (see statutes and vision statement). The motion calls for a strategy and program to be established. We are already one step ahead of this motion: The new Strategic Plan is exactly this, and it outlines how to go about it (“Theory of Change” and strategic pillars): Capacity development to strengthen organic production, communication to raise public awareness and enhance demand, and advocacy and expertise to develop conducive policy environments and guarantee systems.
  15. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?
    <No, see WB recommendation to Member motion M78.* The current location has many crucial advantages and a shift would incur important costs and risks.
  16. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?
    <Yes, see WB recommendation to Member motion M79.*
  17. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations?  How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?
    <Yes, see WB recommendation to Member motion M80.* Most effective is to work in broad alliances (see examples at IFOAM website).
  18. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?
    <See the new Strategic Planand the proposed budget for the next period. I always stressed the importance to shift core resources from standards and certification related topics to capacity, market and policy development, which is now more balanced. In addition, I initiated and lead a task force that developed a fundraising strategy for IFOAM in order to strengthen the financial base of the organization.
  19. What is your primary source of income?
    <Employment (70% position) for a Swiss NGO (Helvetas) dedicated to sustainable development of disadvantaged communities in rural areas of low-income countries. In the remaining time I volunteer for the IFOAM WB, grow organic vegetables, keep bees, and look after my little daughter.
  20. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?
    <I work as an advisor, project manager, advocate, coach, trainer, researcher, expert… Since advisor and consultant are quite similar I guess the answer is: Yes.

*Note that WB members support WB decisions irrespective of their personal opinion.

 

Bablu Ganguly

greetings from Timbaktu !!

 

At the outset I must say that I am very impressed by the list of questions that you have sent me. I see that you and the NOFA have been giving some serious thought to the issues that have been plaguing the organic world. I will definitely try and answer the questions. However, I must state that, if I am elected to the world board, I will be part of a team and not all my personal views will be or can be final. I must also state that I do not have answers to all the questions here. There are many things that I will have to learn as I go into them. So, of course, my present views may change, if and when I am convinced that I am wrong and that there are other ways to look at the concerned issues. I request you to please understand my answers from that point of view. So here goes –

  1. What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?

The intensification of modern industrial agriculture is now one of the greatest threats to organic agriculture and biodiversity worldwide.

  1. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?

Yes I do support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM. As I understand, Organic 3.0 says that the organic movement is ready and keen to ally with and be seen as a partner of all those who share the vision of truly sustainable agriculture.The third part of your question is something that I cannot yet answer except that I expect IFOAM will do all it can to mainstream organic agriculture.

  1. How can IFOAM – Organics International best contribute to better know-how and improved systems in farming, processing and marketing?

I believe this to be a very important contribution that IFOAM can and should make. Infact as far as I know this is one of the aspects of organic 3.0. Looking out for and promoting best practices, disseminating information, organising farmer to farmer contact, visits and exchange, building a body of knowledge, bringing the various players in organic together, unifying the organic practitioners, are some of the ways I can think of right now.

  1. What role should the organization play in raising public awareness of the potential of organic agriculture to help sustainable development?

That I would think is the key. Getting producers and eaters together…..lobbying with the governments…….making it a UN subject…….

  1. What should be the organization’s priorities in contributing to policy environments that support true sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption?

That is a huge question. I have lot to learn about IFOAM and how it works before I can even begin to answer that.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?

I would expect not just seed breeding methods but all protocols and methods to be re-assessed and re-evaluated from time to time. But this can only be a suggestion and the board must take a call on this.  S

  1. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done. Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?

I do believe in total transparency, that is the way I have worked over the past 40 years. However, every organisation has certain compulsions and unless I have a clear understanding of what compulsions IFOAM works with and how things are run, I am unable to give blanket answers to what you ask.

  1. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.

Sustainability is one of the most vague or should I say broad terms I know off. There are so many different definitions to it and so many different perceptions. Of course I would like everything measured in life but the fact is not everything can be measured. Sustainability is an ideal and it should be treated as such. There will always be relativity in measuring such ideals. To me sustainable means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Now can this be measured? So yes we could set up a task force but I am not sure how they will be able to find a perfect way to measure sustainability.

  1. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?

I have no idea about this subject and will need to learn more before making any comment on this.

  1. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?

If possible, yes it will be valuable to organic 3.0

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?I would add political to that.
  2. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?

Like I said earlier, all protocols and methods need to be re-assessed and re-evaluated from time to time.

  1. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?

I will need to go into this more deeply to be able answer this question.

  1. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?

I do believe that the organic movement should expand. However, I also believe that there is a lot of agriculture, especially that which is done by small holder families and peasants in the south, is by default organic. Its just that they are not under the purview of organic certification and so we really do not know how much organic agricultural is being practised through out the world.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?

I guess that IFOAM will decide this matter depending on its needs and compulsions. One has to look at all aspects of its work before such a decision can be taken.

  1. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?

Absolutely. We have been doing that in India.

  1. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations? How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?

Absolutely. We have been doing that in India. But I have no idea as yet how IFOAM can do it unless I understand the organisation better.

  1. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?

Woah!! This is a loaded question to a person who has no idea of how IFOAM’s resources are apportioned. However, I think both participatory guarantee system is very important and so is developing and promoting local markets along with support to small holder farmers and peasants. How funds will be allocated and to what, I will be able to look into only when I become a board member and am able to understand how things work.

  1. What is your primary source of income?

I am an organic farmer and a social worker. My primary source of income though is social work through my organisation – The Timbaktu Collective – http://www.timbaktu.org.

  1. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?

No I do not but I do give free advice whenever I can.:-)

Hans Herren

 

What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?

This question is hard to answer as formulated. Which definition of integrity do you mean?

the state of being whole and undivided, or the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness

I will answer once I have that information….

  1. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?

This is key to success. It will bring OA very close or at par with agroecology and its principles. IFOAM will by going to OA 3.0 be more integrated and holistic, something that was lacking in the past, and I guess also partly responsible for some of the criticism re its sustainability in all three sustainable development dimensions.

  1. How can IFOAM – Organics International best contribute to better know-how and improved systems in farming, processing and marketing?

By being a networking organization, linking the right institutions and users for research, training and extension activities that reach across the  (organic) food system.

  1. What role should the organization play in raising public awareness of the potential of organic agriculture to help sustainable development?

That should be a major area of activities, given that the public is now part of shaping the development agenda in the SDG framework

  1. What should be the organization’s priorities in contributing to policy environments that support true sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption?

Get into the SDG policy development process – that is where key decisions are being made now. The other area are the main development partners such as the UN, World Bank and Regional Development banks, and major Foundations. Activities in these circles are the best investments that can be made to inform policies with evidence

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?

I don’t think this is IFOAMs role, maybe that some of its members can do this

  1. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done.  Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?

Transparency is always very healthy and makes for a very good working atmosphere. At MI (Millennium Institute) salaries are known to all….as well as in my Biovision Foundation.

On the IFOAM program coverage, information should be available, its easy these days with websites.

  1. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.

What is the rationale behind this idea? The term sustainability needs to be defined first in term of food production, consumption, the food system. There are initiatives under way already. I would rather work at looking how can OA be close to agroecology, a comparison of these two approaches seems to be more relevant to me at this time.

  1. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?

I would wait a bit until there is really a market developing. One could then also say the same for synthetic meat, plant based meat I guess…..

  1. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?

I don’t think this is a priority. Also what would the criteria be?

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?

Yes, I do fully support this. It will provide the necessary information and action needs to make OA what it needs to be, also an organization that is socially aware.

  1. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?

I am not informed enough yet to answer this question

  1. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability.  Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?

The best way to deal with this is to pull together research data and publish these in peer reviewed journals, then one can reach the wider public with good data backing up the claims.

  1. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?

Yes, OA needs to go to scale, the present acreage is far from what it should be after all the years it’s been promoted. We have now a unique chance to go to scale because we have the SDG framework, which implies that we need sustainable ag and food systems to reach the targets in almost all goals, and then we have the Paris Initiative on the 4 pour mille, which also implies to use OA and agro ecological practices to get the C into the ground.  Therefore IFOAM need to be very active on these two fronts….its already doing a good job, but now it also needs to provide support to the local communities to help with policy development

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?

I have no thought about that yet….would have to listen to the arguments and analyse the reasons, pro and cons….benefits and costs

  1. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?

Yes, this is the single most important issue right now, somehow leading the way for other products to be taken under the magnifying glass. Here some coordination with other organization may be welcome and lead to synergies and faster ban…..but just as important are a total ban on the neonics because of the bee killing.

  1. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations?  How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?

Yes, it’s important that IFOAM is working with other organizations on exposing the threat pesticides, GMOs, all synthetic products and the concentration of agri-biz companies represent for food security and health, via these products and also via policy influencing.

  1. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?

I would suggest that the allocations be made following a survey of the actual needs in the different countries. One size does not fit all…..

  1. What is your primary source of income?

President and CEO of the Millennium Institute

  1. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?

No

 

Azim Khalid

  1. What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?

The greatest threats to the OF are:

  • The massive lobbying of GMO’s and chemical pesticides companies at the political and the regulation level of countries
  • The stand to take over the genetic diversity of plant/animal/microorganisms by Hell-Mergers
  • Parallel movement of natural agroecology movements that dilute organic standards and make organic regulation as optional and sometimes doubtful.
  1. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?

Partially, I do support Organic 3.0 to be the core of IFOAM. I believe that Organic 3.0 is a differentiation of an Organic Movement to a wider World Organic Organization by turning from niche to mainstream action and including likeminded movements. I think that the inclusive approach could be dangerous to the extent that it could be a slight switch of our core basics of OF and giving it up. I believe that IFOAM should strengthen its relationship with FAO and UNIDO.

  1. How can IFOAM – Organics International best contribute to better know-how and improved systems in farming, processing and marketing?

There is no sole solution for an issue, some solutions fit, and some others do not. The key approach is to continuously improve practices at ecology, society, economy, culture and accountability levels. IFOAM International is organized at regional level, IFOAM-AgriBioMediteraneeno (as an example) could easily play an essential role to improve and share the know-how within farmers and operators of the Mediterranean basin in the whole value chain.

  1. What role should the organization play in raising public awareness of the potential of organic agriculture to help sustainable development?

I consider that IFOAM could help in raising public awareness by preparing videos and documentation for members that are in contact with the public. In the other hand, social media could play a key role to reach public. This action should be done after a survey to identify the nature of the public to reach and also to know what are their interests in OF (consumer/farmer/seller/distributer/politician…)

  1. What should be the organization’s priorities in contributing to policy environments that support true sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption?

I’m quite sure that an action to the top organization as FAO and UNIDO could have a snowball effect on countries’ politics in agriculture and rural sustainability.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?

Yes, sometimes with the inclusive approach we can end with tolerating high level of GMO’s percentage in organic food.

  1. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done.  Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?

Yes, because how can IFOAM know if the members have more than 50kEuro/year and less. Beside, is there any evaluation of the R&D share of the member?

I do not think that this is a good idea to publish the salaries of the five top IFOAM staff. Gross salaries of the IFOAM staff is enough in my point of view.

  1. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.

Yes, it’s a research question that could be answered through ISOFAR. There is already a similar question about sustainability of soil fertility in EU research project. The results are astonishing.

  1. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?

It depends on the importance of the market. I’m not sure but the core producers could start a draft to be submitted to IFOAM-standards.

  1. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?

At this time no. what is the interest? If done, what IFOAM could do with it? This is an issue that could be discussed with FAO. I can raise another question: what is the impact of OF to reduce climate change impact?

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?

I’m convinced that it’s becoming mandatory to study how to influence consumers to purchase organic products? What is the best approach to market an organic product depending on the social and the economic facts of the region/country?

  1. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?

No

  1. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability.  Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?

No. IFOAM could respond to competing claims of sustainability by highlighting the strength of organic tractability (inspection and audit) and scientifically based impact of OF on sustainability in rural development.

  1. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?

Some answers are given in questions 5 and 10. The key action is the open market and the creation of an interactive map of organic product’s needs. It’s a kind of stock Exchange that could organize supply and demand and thus open chance for new organic areas to be certified.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?

No

  1. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?

All chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers among them glyphosate.

  1. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations?  How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?

Monsanto is a name among others but the practices are the same for all. Better for IFOAM to highlight its ethical practices and standards rather than pointing groups.

  1. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?

I think that IFOAM should not rely on this kind of financial resources. Funding bodies have enough money to raise to climate chance adaptation that IFOAM should take in consideration. FAO, UNIDO, COP22, EU funds World Bank and others spend a lot of money for rural development. What are we waiting for to prove that IFOAM is a world organization for rural and sustainable development?

  1. What is your primary source of income? Salary of the research institution
  2. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture? Yes, sometimes but not often (certification, composting, organic horticulture…)

 

Julia Lernoud

  1. What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?

I would like to talk about challenges more than threats. I believe one of the biggest challenges the organic movement is currently facing is its fast expansion, opening the door to bad practices, and in some cases, fraud. This also brings the integration of big corporations that see in the organic sector a growing market. However, I believe all these challenges are part of the growing process of the organic movement and can be tackled and worked out.

  1. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?

I believe Organic 3.0 represents the new strategy of the organic sector and was developed by the organic movement. I see Organic 3.0 as a roadmap to further open the organic movement to the world and make it more accessible for all actors. There are many key points, like the involvement of young people, the recognition of agroecology and non-certified organic, the cooperation with like-minded movements, etc., that will help the organic sector to continue growing in a sustainable and more open way.

  1. How can IFOAM – Organics International best contribute to better know-how and improved systems in farming, processing and marketing?

We have to tap into the energy and knowledge of our members. There are state of the art experts around the world that are part of the IFOAM family, and we should work on empowering those experts. IFOAM could work as a platform to connect the need for knowledge with those experts. This will not only strengthen the link between IFOAM and its members but also showcase the expertise of the organic sector.

  1. What role should the organization play in raising public awareness of the potential of organic agriculture to help sustainable development?

We can see that public awareness is increasing worldwide, but still, a lot of work needs to be done, and it should be one of IFOAM’s primary goals. Currently, consumers are getting confused by the increasing offer of “eco-friendly” products. We need to produce more state of the art research to advocate organic practices with a solid foundation. Furthermore, from a social and economic sustainability point of view we should strengthen the principle that organic is for everybody, that it has no limit, and that it empowers farmers around the world, provides consumers with real food and goods, and creates a fair trade, building a more just economy.

  1. What should be the organization’s priorities in contributing to policy environments that support true sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption?

Currently, many policies, intended to improve our environmental and social impact, are being developed in many regions and at the UN level. However, there is still a need for linking all these policies towards a common goal, a better future for all. We should work on this link, see them with a holistic approach. We need to work on creating awareness of the concept that our environment, our diet, our consumption, our social order are all interlinked, and as such, our policies should also be interlinked.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?

I believe we should always research the upcoming breeding technologies and methods to base our decisions on scientific facts in order to be able to advocate in favor or against. However, this should not put in danger our biodiversity heritage; we can’t allow corporations to own them, seeds and breeding methods belong to all of us. We should always promote research on the long-term effects and the social and environmental impacts that these methods could bring. The breeding methods and technologies that go against our organic principles shouldn’t be promoted.

  1. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done. Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?

I will always promote more transparency as a norm. However, I believe the publishing of the total expenses in salaries as it is currently being done it’s enough. If the membership decides that the top 5 salaries should be published, I would suggest that it should only be available for IFOAM members and not to the general public. We need to take into account that salaries around the world vary according to the country/region, and in many cases can’t be compared, and this could bring misunderstandings.

  1. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.

Definitely! I believe IFOAM should work on developing, or choosing from the already existing, a method to measure the different aspects of sustainability. This will not only bring more credibility to the sector but will also set an example for other labels and farming practices to imitate and show their real impact.

  1. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?

I believe that we should always try to expand and improve our norms. However, it should be based on the available resources.

  1. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?

Definitely! We should try to know how big the non-certified organic/agroecology sector is. I come from a region where these movements group a large number of farmers who believe in better farming, and we should work on integrating them into the organic family.

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?

I believe farmers’ markets are a great trade tool for small organic farmers around the world and help develop local markets reaching new consumers. Farmers’ markets create a connection between the farmer and the consumer. In many developing countries, farmers’ markets help to build and strengthen the local organic market and increase consumers’ awareness.

  1. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?

I believe IFOAM has done an extensive work on the topic and a lot of resources are available. However, a discussion to update specific issues of the ICS should be encouraged. All forms of organization for small farmers and producers should be encouraged by IFOAM, and IFOAM should develop the needed tools when resources are available.

  1. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?

I believe IFOAM should focus on promoting organic farming and showing the potential it has. The organic movement should inspire others, cooperate, and be open to learn from each other. I believe that by giving a good example and showing the good results of organic practices, we are giving a stronger statement than by confronting.

  1. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?

The global IFOAM membership should develop a common strategy, much of the work has been done with Organic 3.0. IFOAM was born to expand and protect organic agriculture; we have to do both, now on a global scale.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?

I believe that Bonn is a strategical place for the head office as it is close to many other international organizations bringing more opportunities to advocate and create change. I understand that this motion refers mainly to reduce costs, and it’s a good reason, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Furthermore, IFOAM is a global organization that can be placed wherever in the world, wherever is more practical, and I believe Bonn is currently the best place.

  1. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?

I come from a region where the dangers of glyphosate are in front of you, and even the media is reporting on them. Therefore, I believe that more research needs to be done to show with facts the threat glyphosate represents. However, I don’t believe that IFOAM should be the main face behind this awareness campaign.

  1. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations? How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?

I believe we need to be clear where we stand and what we believe are bad practices and are contributing to the unsustainable development of the agriculture sector. As stated before, I come from a region where Monsanto has a big impact on the agricultural sector, and you can see the outcomes of its presence. However, I believe that IFOAM’s  focus should be on empowering the organic sector and create the alternative to Monsanto.

  1. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?

This is a very tricky question as all of those topics are crucial. I believe that the development of alternative certification methods for smallholders and the development of local markets should be the priorities for the organic movement in order to reach some of the Organic 3.0 goals. However, we should continue working on the harmonization of organic norms in order to build a stronger sector. I believe that we should evaluate the resources available and distribute accordingly depending on the potential projects/campaigns IFOAM has planned for that period.

  1. What is your primary source of income?

Currently, my only source of income if through my work at FiBL, working on the global organic survey, “The World of Organic Agriculture”, and the global survey on voluntary sustainability standards, “The State of Sustainable Markets”.

  1. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?

Not currently.

Karen Mapusa

  1. What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?

In many parts of the world a direct threat to supply chain integrity is GM contamination. But a broader threat is the risk to the blurring of lines between organic and other sustainable production systems. While supporting and encouraging like-minded systems we also need to ensure that organic is not lost in the long list of agricultural systems that are being touted to respond to climate change, production levels etc. We need to ensure best practice organic is seen as the ‘gold standard’ of these systems. 

  1. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?Yes I do support Organic 3.0. In the Pacific we have advocated for many years that organic is more than a production system or certification – it is a holistic development tool that can improve lives, livelihoods, protect our environment, help us adapt to climate change etc. This is how I see Organic 3.0. When I’ve watched and participated in dialogues around climate for example it is very rare that agriculture is discussed or prioritized. While there is a general acknowledgment that conventional agriculture is damaging, we look for solutions in other sectors such as energy. Frequently when discussing organics with policy makers I’m told ‘organic is too narrow’, this demonstrates that it isn’t. This focus will facilitate us offering solutions in a more powerful way and allow us to leverage other initiatives to bring more growers to organic farming.
  2. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?

Yes- we need to keep learning so we can maintain the integrity of organic standards by understanding exactly what we are dealing with, with regard to seed breeding methods

  1. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done. Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?

Transparency is an important element in building trust, confidence and good governance. If it can be improved then it should be and this should cover all programs and projects. With regard to staff salaries, I think a disclosure of whole staffing budget is sufficient, not staff members individually. If there are concerns about salary scales and how salaries are determined then the system for this should be explained and the over all salary scale be made available.

  1. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.

Globally there are several activities like this already evolving. I believe we should be aiming to be involved in these initiatives. Partly because of resources, do we have the resources to do this ourselves? But also so that indicators that are important to the organic world and demonstrate the value of organic agriculture to broader sustainable development issues are included in the global/regional/national plans and monitoring systems.

  1. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?

Yes

  1. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?

Yes, coming from a part of the world where many countries have considerable land area that is managed under organic practice (traditional systems) and not certified tis would be valuable to convince policy makers that they should be investing in research that benefits most of their producers rather than the few that are farming non organically.

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?

Yes – if we only focus on economic outcomes we are missing half the picture. Building social capital is essential to supporting change and to sustainability.

  1. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?

Yes – all IFOAM standards should be on a review schedule.

  1. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?

I think a positive approach is important, promoting organic, being clear about what it means is more productive than discrediting others claims.

  1. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?

I think it is throughout the world, there are different levels of commitment and understanding but there is not a continent without organic farmers. To expand further it is about empowering local farmers and movements to grow organics. I think this happens organically (sorry J ) but with more support – information tools, capacity building etc. it can occur at a greater rate. This is necessary if organics is to really make an impact on our big global issues like food and nutritional security.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?

I think any relocation should be based on a complete cost benefit analysis which includes things like access to development partners, policy makers etc.

  1. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?

Yes – it is so common in the Pacific, and I can only assume globally, and there is so little awareness. I have stopped by a school to stop a maintenance worker spraying within 2 meters of children eating their lunch, most farmers in the Pacific work in the field with flip flops- the exposure risk is enormous. At the same time we need to be able to provide alternatives to farmers, only then will be get the policy support we need from Agriculture departments etc.

  1. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations? How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?

Yes it is, this type of advocacy aligns with the principles of organics. I think the most effective way is to add our voice to the existing lobby, and where ever we can contribute evidence to support claims.

  1. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?

These are so linked and no doubt equivalence and certification is critical to many organic growers – but I believe that development of local markets and guarantee systems (PGS) are a real priority. SO many farmers will never move to exporting products and we can have real impact here, for many more farmers and for many more consumers. We need to feed ourselves safe healthy food first.

  1. What is your primary source of income?

I work for a Pacific intergovernmental technical agency (Pacific Community)

  1. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?

No

Peggy Miars

Thank you for this opportunity to present my thoughts about IFOAM – Organics International and some of the motions presented at the upcoming General Assembly. IFOAM’s World Board policy is that when decisions are made, we speak as one group, regardless of personal opinions. As I answer the questions, you’ll see that I support World Board positions as posted in the IN ACTION publication.  ~ Peggy Miars

 

  1. What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?

At this time the greatest threats are acts of fraud and their coverage in the media which cause consumers to lose confidence in organic. As organic grows around the world, growers and processors want to join the market, and they either innocently or fraudulently cause non-organic products to enter the marketplace labeled as organic. The international organic industry has been working on this, from the U.S. Organic Trade Association task force to the Anti-Fraud Initiative international conference in Ukraine. We need to tell consumers that we are collaborating on a solution and that they can maintain trust in the organic label. Then we need to follow our words with action.

  1. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?

I support World Board Motion 53. Organic 3.0 has been a topic of discussion for the last three years, and it has drawn together people unlike other initiatives that I’ve witnessed. There are many features to Organic 3.0. The key takeaway for me is that Organic 3.0 brings organic out of a niche and into a collaborative environment with like-minded organizations to grow sustainable agriculture based on organic principles. IFOAM has already been engaging with other organizations and seeking partnerships with organizations that are not strictly organic.

  1. How can IFOAM – Organics International best contribute to better know-how and improved systems in farming, processing and marketing?

IFOAM – Organics International should rely on and support regional Self-Organized Structures to help reach local markets where education and information can best be distributed. Sharing information at a local level increases trust within the marketplace. Printed materials and online resources, including webinars, are additional ways that IFOAM can distribute information to areas where it’s needed whether in established or developing countries.

  1. What role should the organization play in raising public awareness of the potential of organic agriculture to help sustainable development?

IFOAM should be a leader in this area. As the global change agent for organic, IFOAM can use its influence through multipliers (e.g., members, media, bloggers, communicators) to reach the greatest audience with our messages. IFOAM’s communications department has already implemented campaigns, including social media, to raise awareness about organic as the solution to many of today’s social and environmental issues.

  1. What should be the organization’s priorities in contributing to policy environments that support true sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption?

IFOAM has laid out our priorities in the new strategic plan which is based on three pillars: 1) supply (pull) 2) demand (push), and 3) policy and guarantee. By working equitably in all three areas, the organization can use its resources to influence sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption to grow organic acreage around the world.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?

I support World Board Motion 51, which addresses this topic. Because new breeding and genetic engineering techniques continue to be developed, this is an issue that is dynamic. The only way to stay up to date on the ever-changing issue is to continue to reassess and reevaluate the methods as they become known.

  1. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done. Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?

I support World Board Motion 54 which proposes a new way to assess member fees in order to simplify administration and to include more and diverse members. We need to take this different and innovative approach to increase the membership of IFOAM – Organics International, which has remained stagnant for the last 15 years.

While I believe that IFOAM already provides transparent financial information, I support Member Motion 76 which proposes increased financial transparency.

I do not support Member Motion 77 which proposes that the salaries of at least the top five paid employees be reported to the membership. This is not a common practice among NGOs or corporations and micromanages an area of responsibility of the Executive Director. The total amount for staff salaries is published, which the ED uses to determine individual salaries. In addition, the ED’s salary is determined by the World Board.

  1. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.

I support Member Motion 62 which suggests assessing sustainability standards. The guidelines that are proposed support Organic 3.0 by assessing other schemes to understand the impact of organic practices on sustainability.

  1. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?

I support Member Motion 64 which is supported by the IFOAM Standards Committee. I have witnessed increased interest in invertebrates in organic production either for human or livestock consumption. Since the marketplace is demanding this certification, I believe the time is right to develop standards for organic invertebrates.

  1. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?

I support Member Motion 67. We can tell from official certification databases how much certified organic production occurs around the world. However, much of organic agriculture is uncertified, and we have no way to know of organic’s global reach. This data is critical to have as we discuss and advocate for organic policies.

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?

I support Member Motion 68. Organic agriculture is a solution for many of today’s social and environmental challenges. We have seen many studies about organic’s impact on the environment. Studying local organic farmers markets will help quantify organic’s impact on social issues as well.

  1. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?

While it is critical to have strong functioning internal control systems for grower groups, I do not support Member Motion 69. The motion maker stated that “the concept and practice of internal control systems has weakened in recent years, affecting its credibility.” Why have the concept and practice weakened? Rather than updating the IFOAM standards, perhaps reinvigorating communications and advocacy strategies might make a difference.

  1. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?

I believe that IFOAM should take a proactive approach in communicating the benefits of organic rather than trying to take on the various sustainability standards that are identified as false. Rather than focusing on what we disagree with and don’t like, we should be leaders in inclusivity as espoused in Organic 3.0. Instead of using scare tactics, let’s tell the world about how truly sustainable organic is (e.g., better carbon sequestration, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, better water quality, better quality of life for farmworkers).

  1. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?

I support this motion which is in line with IFOAM’s new strategic plan. The motion urges IFOAM – Organics International to take a more active role in promoting organic. The new strategic plan includes promotion of organic agriculture in terms of production (supply/push) and consumption (demand/pull).

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?

I do not support Member Motion 78. There are numerous financial benefits to retaining the head office in Bonn. I also suspect that all or many of IFOAM’s long-time dedicated staff would not move to Asia which would create a significant knowledge drain from the organization. IFOAM Organics Asia is a strong force and can continue to serve as the face of IFOAM on that continent.

  1. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?

I support Member Motion 79. Glyphosate has long been known as a contaminant negatively affecting human health and the environment. I support the purpose of the motion to bring to the attention of the world community the gravity of the problem of glyphosate contamination, to increase the support for organic agriculture and to discourage laws or rules which set unattainable low levels for glyphosate in organic products. This is a concern around the world, and I believe that we can recruit the best minds and sufficient funding for this project.

  1. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations? How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?

I support Member Motion 80. IFOAM – Organics International must stand up for the rights of organic farmers. Using Organic 3.0, we can partner with other international organizations outside of organic (with similar principles and ideals as IFOAM) to influence decision makers.

  1. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?

I think that all of these areas are important. Organic certification and harmonization of standards is an area in which IFOAM used to lead the world. However, as equivalency arrangements are becoming more common, this is perhaps an area in which IFOAM – Organics International should work with regional Self-Organized Structures. We saw IFOAM EU take the lead as a strong participant in revising the EU standards.

Participatory guarantee systems may seem a world away to those of us in developed countries with strong government-led certification programs. However, hundreds of thousands of farmers grow organic crops using PGS. It seems that IFOAM is a natural leader in this area and can work with governments to increase their understanding and support where needed. We need to understand the breadth of non-certified organic agriculture to truly understand organic’s impact. To do that, we need to continue to focus on and support PGS.

IFOAM’s new strategic plan includes strategies for developing and supporting local markets for organic products. When someone asks if organic can feed the world, my answer is that organic farmers around the world can feed the world. It’s not a matter of lack of production. Rather, it’s a matter of getting organic food to where it’s needed. We can do that through local markets.

  1. What is your primary source of income?

My paid position as Executive Director/CEO of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), a non-governmental organization

  1. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?

No

 

Shimpei Murakami

  • What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?

 

I believe that the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time is the genetic contamination by GM crops.  Canola’s pollen can travel up to 2km. It means organic agriculture is impossible within 2km diameter from GM canola farm. BT corn also has same problems. More and more genetically modified crops are being approved by many governments. The genetic contamination is the greatest threat to not only organic integrity, but also to whole ecosystem of the planet.

  • Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?

Yes,

Organic 3.0 is to broaden the truly sustainable agriculture (food system) which is Ecologically sound, Economically viable, Socially just, Culturally diverse and transparently accountable.

IFOAM will work not only for Organic standard, but for providing solutions to the global issues, hunger, inequity, climate change, pollution, etc. in order to achieve truly sustainable society and environment on the planet.

  1. How can IFOAM – Organics International best contribute to better know-how and improved systems in farming, processing and marketing?
  • Publication of books (web) for concept and practices of truly sustainable

agriculture, processing and marketing.

  • 2) Implementation of Training courses, workshops for especially young people.
  1. What role should the organization play in raising public awareness of the potential of organic agriculture to help sustainable development?
  • Constructive advocate of Organic 3.0 Both internationally and locally
  • 2) Resource center for concept and practices of Organic 3.0
  1. What should be the organization’s priorities in contributing to policy environments that support true sustainability in agriculture, value chains and consumption?
  • Constructive advocacy along with Organic 3.0
  • Research on true cost, etc.
  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?

Yes. GMOs and synthetic biology have been already and going to be great threat to seed breeding and farmers who grow their own seeds. Seed is the issue of future.

  1. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done.  Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?

Yes, Transparency is one of the most important factors for fairness and democracy of the organization. However, it seems to be quite sensitive issue to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners. Wouldn’t it be the cause of negative reaction?

  1. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.

Yes. The term Sustainability has become very common now. But it seems that most people who use this term often do not have concrete images or clear understanding on what true sustainability is. Setting up a task force is meaningful and step forwards.

  1. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?

Yes. The standard for the invertebrates productions can improve the situation of water pollution and environmental problems especially in coastal area.

  1. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?

Yes. It would be valuable for understanding real status of organic movement in the world. I am also a non-certified organic farmer.

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?

Yes. It can prove the potentials of farmers markets.

  1. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?

Yes. It is needed to update the IFOAM standards along with Organic3.0.

  1. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability.  Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?

No. It is not wise to deal with those claims by confrontation, it often causes negative reactions.  Better to approach them with suggestions and recommendation in order to be more truly sustainable agricultural practices.

  1. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?

Yes. It is not easy task and there is no instant answer. The importance is to increase committed people who understand deeply truly sustainable agriculture and choose it as the way of life. I have been involved in educating young people for truly sustainable agriculture and livelihood not only concept but also practices.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?

No, I don’t think so.

  1. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?

Yes. Almost of all home improvement centers in Japan have been campaigning Roundup (glyphosate) intensively. Because most people don’t know how bad it is.

  1. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations?  How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?

Yes. IFOAM can make a clear statement about what the unethical practices are and reasons why against them in web. IFOAM can be a member of alliances that are against the unethical practices.

  1. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?

I have no idea about it. I don’t know much about the present situation of IFOAM’s resources and regulations.

  1. What is your primary source of income?

From farming

  1. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?

Yes. I have some consulting work both voluntary and paid.

 

Gerold Rahmann

  1. What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?
    Gerold: There was always a risk of integrity and fraud. Nevertheless, there is an increasing risk of integrity as far as the products face a bigger public and market attention. Not all actors are willing to keep high standards of integrity, as it was in the past with the actors, who had a high committment to the targets and standards of Organic Agriculture.

  1. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?
    Gerold: With 3 other farmers I have set down in 2010 to design the next face of Organic farming, but with respect to the pioneers and the developing markets and professionalism. We called the next face Organic 3.0, which was taken by the movement. Therefore I am full in line with the recent discussion and strategy of IFOAM with Organic 3.0. There is a need to have a development of Organic Farming to help to solve future challenges and not to stick in the past and in market opportunities.

  2. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?
    Gerold: Yes, there is always a need to reassess issues like breeding etc. Nevertheless, it should be lead by the members.

  3. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done. Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?
    Gerold: I think transparency is always important and necessary, but IFOAM is already good. I would not have any objections to do it even better (including the salaries, which are not high in relation to comparable jobs in Germany: I believe: good work is done with good payment.)

  4. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.
    Gerold: that is one of the most important issues, which I will focus in the next term. Organic is not always sustainable, the challenge is to do all levels of sustainablity in one: climate smart, biodiversity high, income for farmers good, consumer can afford organic food, animal welfare, good food qualities. There are antagonism of goals. Real sustainablity needs to be prooved in the competition with other food systems. As researcher I have a long and deep knowledge about the measurement tools and discussions in sustainablity. This I will bring into IFOAM action.

  5. Do you agree that it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?
    Gerold: The question is, if IFOAM should do this. Insects need standards as well, but invertebrates like moluscia etc are already with standards.

  6. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?
    Gerold: yes, indeed. Certified is only 1 % of total farm land, but Organic by default is probably more important than conventional farming. I have experienced this in my last 2.5 years sabbatical in Africa, where I helped to reduce hunger with better farming practice. There are hundred of millions farms in less developed areas, which practice organic by default. We need to know them and to help to go an organic way, and not the chemical one.

  7. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?
    Gerold: yes, indeed. The social and fairness issue is not good enough in the Organic food chain.

  8. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?
    Gerold: yes and no, the Internal Control Systems are an important issue for integrity and fraud avoidance. Nevertheless, it should be done by the movement and probably not by IFOAM.

  9. What is your primary source of income?
    Gerold: I am officer of the German government, working as Director of the German Federal Research Institute of Organic Farming.

  10. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?
    Gerold: yes and no, I work as consultant without payment, because I like to support the movement and actors. The world board is part of this consultancy work. It is a honor for me to do it without payment. 🙂

  11. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability. Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?
    Gerold: there was, is and will be a permanent competion of “sustainability”, and this is good. We need to find the best food systems to make the world sustainable. Organic is strong, but can learn as well, to become stronger and better.

  12. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?
    Gerold: My target would be 100% organic farming, but probably (I am shure) not in the understanding of the high standards of international traded organic commodities. I would be happy, if every person on the earth would have the chance to eat organic, means pesticid and antibiotic free food production chains with high standards in animal welfare, environment protection, fair food for farmers, staff and consumers. If it is certified or not it not important in my understanding.

  13. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?
    Gerold: I am not sure, to have good arguments to shift the head quarter. I like the SOS, and a global network. Bonn in Germany is not bad, Asia is becoming stronger, but others would also claim to get the headquarter. Why not Africa? Staff needs clear working facilities and not fear to change every 3 years the location.

  14. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?
    Gerold: Pesticides and drugs as methodology to make food production possible (zero tillage or antibiotic in feeds or standard in prevention of diseases) are a problem, not only Glyphosate. Glyphosate can be used as a symbol, but we should not forget, that this substance is “only” 20% of the total pesticide. In Africa I have experienced the vast trade of internationally banned pesticides, because nobody does control this. Glyphosate is important as well.

  15. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations? How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?
    Gerold: I am a scientist and do not believe, that there is only “one enemy”, Monsanto was and is extraordinary, but if Bayer will take over, what shall we do in that case. The unethical practices needs clear assessments of actions and this should be highlighted as best as possible. I do like to have clear results for such highlights of unethical actions, not populistic arguments.

  16. Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?
    Gerold: Recources are always limited. Even if IFOAM would have 10x more money, it would be not enough. Good management means to have a good balance of resouces and actions. This was done successfully in the last 3 years. Nevertheless, to become more relevant, it would be important to have more resources, but without the risk of integrity and neutrality. I think, that the action group and networking approach is good to find new resources and/or to utilize limited resources better. Clear is: IFOAM should look for “money for ideas” and not “ideas for money”.

 

Deva Vikrantha

  1. What do you believe presents the greatest threat to organic integrity at this time in the history of organic agriculture?

The wide scale marketing campaigns that are carried out by TV, newspapers, magazines and governments to showing how easy it is to increase production in a short time.

  1. Do you support making Organic 3.0 a central focus for IFOAM? How do you understand Organic 3.0? What will IFOAM do differently through engaging in Organic 3.0?

In my opinion, this matter needs further discussion so as to avoid any over lapping areas.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should continue reassessing and reevaluating seed breeding methods?

Yes, as scientific research keeps bringing forward more and more newer methods.

  1. Several of the motions before the 2017 General Assembly call for greater transparency in financial reporting to members and more complete coverage of all IFOAM programs, as well as a proposal to change the way member assessments are done.  Do you think this is necessary?  If yes, why do you think so? Do you think it is a good idea to publish the salaries of the top 5 earners among IFOAM staff?

Yes. Same as transparency is part and parcel of a clean production method.

 

  1. Do you agree that there should be a task force set up to consider how to measure sustainability? Do you think this necessary? Please explain why.

Yes. Sustainability thinking and sustainable methods vary from country to country and also within the same country, based on the local laws, climatic conditions and other financial & domestic situations that keep cropping up all the time.

  1. Do you agree it is time for IFOAM to create standards for the organic production of invertebrates?

Yes. The lobby from environmentalists and hobbyists will increase in due course.

  1. Do you agree that it would be valuable to organic agriculture to calculate how much non-certified organic land there is around the world?

No not at present as it is first important to have an accurate forecast of what land area is organic as there are constant changes taking place due to the risks presented.

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to study and document the social as well as the economic development aspects of farmers markets?

Yes.

  1. Do you think it is timely and necessary to review and update the IFOAM standards for Internal Control Systems for grower groups?

No. Many grower groups still find the previously updated Internal Control Systems confusing. What is needed is a clearer interpretation to the controlling bodies in the implementation of the ICS systems.

  1. Motion 70 calls upon IFOAM to confront false claims of sustainability.  Do you agree with this approach? If not, how do you think IFOAM should respond to competing claims of sustainability?

No not agreed. IFOAM must take a firm stand on what is sustainable and what is not in keeping with the basics.

  1. Motion 75 calls for planning the expansion of organic agriculture throughout the world. Do you agree that this is necessary and if so, how would you go about it?

Yes it is necessary as conditions and practices vary from country to country and also within the same country. The various IFOAM representatives worldwide must first check and indicate the lacking areas. Once this is done discussion panels must take over for implementation.

  1. Do you agree that IFOAM should move its head office to Asia?

Yes. This would help to resolve question 11 too.

  1. Do you think it is urgent to raise awareness of the dangers posed by the widespread use of glyphosate?

Yes the sooner the better using all social media as available with organic giants contributing towards the costs.

  1. Do you think it is important to highlight the unethical practices of Monsanto and other multinational corporations?  How can IFOAM be most effective at doing this?

Yes, same as question 14.

  • Given that IFOAM’s resources are limited, how do you think the World Board and staff should apportion resources among organic certification and the harmonization of standards, participatory guarantee systems and the development of local markets for organic products?

Firstly by carrying out constant assessment of the success and failure rates of the projects carried out previously on the apportioned IFOAM funds and other resources.

  1. What is your primary source of income?

Consultancy in economically upgrading and uplifting tribal farmer projects via organic and forest garden production methods.

  1. Do you work as a consultant in any aspect of organic agriculture?

Yes. Freelance work as mentioned above in question 17.

 

 

Advertisements

Keep the Soil in Organic: Plan B

Dear Dave Chapman,

I am writing to explain why I will not be coming to Jacksonville to join the great effort to “Keep the Soil in Organic!”

Instead of traveling to Florida, I will be traveling first to Baltimore in September for the General Assembly of IFOAM NA, and then in November to New Delhi, India for the Organic World Congress and the General Assembly of IFOAM, Organics International.

I believe that our two efforts are complementary. It is urgent to try to keep the USDA organic label’s integrity, but it is also urgent to have a Plan B that is grounded in the full meaning of organic and contributes to maintaining and expanding family-scale farms as well as to the greater movement to transform our world.

As the NOFA representative to IFOAM NA, I have contributed to a Strategic Plan that will place top priority on spreading and deepening understanding of the Principles of Organic Agriculture and of Organic 3.0 in the US and Canada.

THE PRINCIPLE OF HEALTH

Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible.

THE PRINCIPLE OF ECOLOGY

Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.

THE PRINCIPLE OF FAIRNESS

Organic Agriculture should build on relationships
that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment
and life opportunities.

THE PRINCIPLE OF CARE

Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.

At the Organic World Congress, I will be speaking on community supported agriculture around the world, introducing and moderating a day-long workshop on CSA in Asia, and contributing to the Main Track on the challenges to realizing Organic 3.0 and Fairness for all.

The National Organic Program is a market-based approach to organic agriculture.  Under the conditions of globalized, industrialized capitalism, the grassroots organic movement in this country has always been swimming against the stream with the risk of being swept up by commercial success  –  or swept away.  Globally, organic farming is a way of life rather than a marketing angle, and organic farmers are allies of the peasant movements that represent the majority of food producers on the planet.

Organic 3.0 is the new stage of organic agriculture internationally, and follows 1.0 – Pioneering, and 2.0 – Legitimation and Codifying. 3.0 signifies: “Mainstreaming – organic agriculture is moving from a niche into an accepted set of solutions to the challenges of the sustainability of food and fiber production promoting organic food and farming systems as a modern and innovative approach based on organic principles. As distinct from current approach of certified organic agriculture, organic 3.0 does not enforce a set of minimum rules to achieve a final static result, but is outcome based and continuously adaptive to the local context. As a culture of continuous improvement through stakeholder driven initiatives for the transformation of farming systems towards higher levels of resilience, sustainability and systemic health, Organic 3.0 is motivated by innovation, transparency and inclusion, while remaining based on local priorities.”

We will have to be very creative in implementing this phase, though it is already underway.  There are obvious pitfalls – the domination of the market by large corporate entities, temptations to cheat, rampant unbridled greed.  And important attractions – this should be inspirational – a way to unite disparate efforts that currently compete for scarce resources and speak at cross-purposes, or do not even connect well at all.  Agroecology, urban agriculture, food sovereignty, certified organic, biodynamic, regenerative organic, domestic fair trade, soil and health – we must all come together. The struggles of farm workers and other food chain workers, of Black Lives Matter and Cosecha for justice and equity must be our struggles too if we hope to realize our dreams of a world of peace, security, health and abundance for all.

For Peace in Our Lifetimes,

Liz

“La Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad es uno de los ejemplos más extendidos de economía solidaria en acción:” Entrevista a Elizabeth Henderson, agricultora ecológica y autora del libro “Compartiendo la Cosecha”[1]   

Entrevistador: Daniel López García 

Entradilla:

Libros en Acción ha publicado el pasado junio en formato e-book la primera traducción al castellano, actualizada y ampliada, del libro “Compartiendo la cosecha. Agricultura Apoyada por la Comunidad: una guía ciudadana”. El texto, publicado inicialmente en 1997, ha sido denominado “la biblia de la Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad”, y desvela con detalle, flexibilidad y una impresionante riqueza de experiencias, los principales debates prácticos y teóricos alrededor de la creación de este tipo de experiencias de relación directa entre producción y consumo. La ASC va mucho más allá de los grupos de consumo, y constituye un movimiento social que podría suponer más de 15000 experiencias en todo el Mundo.

Elizabeth Henderson, autora del libro, es agricultora ecológica desde hace más de 30 años, activista incansable por la sostenibilidad y la justicia alimentarias, y presidenta de honor de la Red Internacional Urgenci de Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad. Desde el Área de Agroecología de Ecologistas en Acción hemos tenido el gran placer de entrevistarla con ocasión de la publicación. Continue reading ““La Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad es uno de los ejemplos más extendidos de economía solidaria en acción:” Entrevista a Elizabeth Henderson, agricultora ecológica y autora del libro “Compartiendo la Cosecha”[1]   “

A Visit to Cuba – Organic Farming in a Country that Values Human Dignity

June 26 – July 1, 2017

Jack and I traveled to Cuba with Peter House and Michael Hannen, long-time friends in Rochester and members of Peacework CSA. Cultural Contrast, an agency that specializes in Cuban travel, organized our trip, a licensed “People-to-People” exchange (https://www.culturalcontrast.org/).

IMG_9231
Sunrise from the window of our 15th floor “casa particular”. A new day breading over Havana.

I have wanted to see Cuba for decades and decided to just go before I get too old to enjoy a visit to a nation that shares so many of my values.  Six days, a mere glimpse, yet better than nothing. Long enough to confirm that the Cuban revolution has made good use of their scarce resources. Cuba was a poor colonized country to start with and constrained even more by the US economic blockade. There may be few new cars, inadequate internet and building exteriors in need of repair, but the streets are safe, healthcare and education from elementary school through graduate studies are free, every citizen receives a monthly ration of basic staples (rice, beans, sugar, coffee, cooking oil), and city governments are required to provide housing for everyone.

IMG_9405
Shop in old Havana where Cubans pick up their monthly rations of rice, beans, cooking oil, coffee and sugar.

You see no beggars or homeless in Havana, though plenty of hustlers. And since the collapse of Soviet support, there has been a great flowering of organic farms, urban and rural, guided by permaculture and agroecology.  That is what I was most curious to see and will write about here.

Continue reading “A Visit to Cuba – Organic Farming in a Country that Values Human Dignity”

“Sustainability, Farm Labor, Immigration, ALRB, and Cannabis” – April 14, 2017 California Agriculture and Farm Labor Conference at UC Davis Law School

 

By Elizabeth Henderson

Alannah Kull and I attended this highly informative, though rather depressing, conference on farm labor issues in California. Despite decades of farm worker organizing, most of the housing is lamentable and wages have actually gone down. Farm workers have the right to organize and there is an Agriculture Labor Relations Board (ALRB).  However, 100% of the orders it hands down are challenged in the courts (in contrast to 30% for the National LRB). You can find a full report with most of the presentations with their slides at https://gifford.ucdavis.edu/events/.

The first panel analyzed the different approaches to improving conditions for farm workers.  Nathan Smith of SureHarvest reviewed FairTradeUSA, CIW’s Fair Food, the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) and Food Justice Certification (FJC), and noted that so far, the bottom up approaches are rarely self-sustaining and rely on foundation support.  Referring to himself as a “capitalist pig,” Ernie Farley, one of the managers of Andrews and Williams, a large produce operation that is a founding participant in EFI, noted that this program is bringing about real cultural change. As proof, he says he now talks to people like Margaret Reeves of Pesticide Action Network and Eric Nicholson of United Farm Workers.  Hector Lujan, representing Reuter Affiliated, the parent company of Driscoll’s, gave a glowing account of his company’s efforts to improve labor conditions, wages and housing, claiming that they offer the same standards in the many countries where they operate. Lujan’s main theme is an important one – “the economic model has to resolve things for everyone in the supply chain, including workers.” Continue reading ““Sustainability, Farm Labor, Immigration, ALRB, and Cannabis” – April 14, 2017 California Agriculture and Farm Labor Conference at UC Davis Law School”

Time to Replace H2A, the US “Guestworker” Program

By Elizabeth Henderson

Farmers who need to hire workers face a painful dilemma: revenues from farm products are too low to pay attractive wages, most local residents prefer cleaner, less physically demanding jobs, and many of the skilled farm workers are undocumented immigrants. Knowingly hiring an undocumented worker is a felony. As the new administration’s anti-immigrant policies unfold, pressure from farmers and farm organizations is increasing to expand the H-2A “Guestworker” program. Farmworker advocates question this program’s fairness to the workers from abroad and to the undocumented workers who make up 55 to 70 percent of current farm labor and who may lose their jobs to the imported workers. Farmers complain about the heavy paperwork burden involved in H-2A. Improving the guestworker program does not go to the source of the problem: the US cheap food system functions as long as there are sources of cheap labor. In a farming system worth sustaining, work as a professional farm worker will be a respected vocation that provides living wages with decent benefits.

But while we are transforming the cheap food system, we can at least reduce the injustices of the one farmers and farm workers must navigate in order to survive. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) proposal to reform the program identifies its major flaws:

“The so-called guestworker programs such as H-2A, and H-2B suffer from the same structural defect—they provide temporary workers to the companies that have been least successful in attracting a labor force.  The visas are given to workers, but the visas are tied to specific businesses, which often use intermediaries to recruit, transport, and supervise the workers.  The lack of portability of the visa inevitably leads to abuses by the intermediaries or employers—such as taking bribes, charging workers for equipment or transport, or demanding a portion of future earnings–since the workers fear retaliation if they complain.  These heavily bureaucratic programs should be abandoned for an approach that gives the workers a portable work visa and allows the labor market to function.”

The NSAC proposal envisages creating North American Agricultural Work Visas (NAAV), “dual intent” visas that would allow guestworkers to change employers and to come and go across the border.  The same freedom to cross the border legally should be instituted for the 11 million undocumented people in the US, including the million or more farm workers. Continue reading “Time to Replace H2A, the US “Guestworker” Program”

Local, Organic, And Fair: We Want the Whole Loaf!

 

By Elizabeth Henderson

With the financial recovery looking more like the Great Recession, people are turning to the real goods and services of the earth economy.  As stock prices rise and the top 1% bloats with wealth, for many in the 99% incomes are eroding and job security is a quaint concept from the past. A stream of books by Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Bill McKibben, Barbara Kingsolver, and others have put local food at the top of the best-seller list. And deeper, systemic analyses (Wayne Roberts’ No Nonsense Guide to World Food, Wenonah Hauter’s  Foodopoly) are helping us understand why the hard times are failing to evaporate and how small local actions can add up to transformative change. Stressed families are eating out less and planting gardens.  Small seed companies are experiencing double digit growth. The number of CSAs all over the country has tripled over the past ten years. Downsized bankers and PhDs are signing up with the spreading network of new farmer programs. And more people are turning to local farms for the ingredients essential to their newly recognized priorities of health and self-reliance.

The pundits tell us that local trumps organic and for many people a certified organic label from a farm 3,000 miles away does not provide the reassurance they seek.  But will they be satisfied when they realize that the farms within 100 miles of home use toxic chemicals, underpay their workers, and can barely manage to stay in business? Maybe there is more that people need from farms than comforting proximity.

Becoming a locavore follows from a deeper change in consciousness. Going local provides many benefits at the same time.

* Your money is circulating in your own community: family-scale farms are independent businesses that tend to support other local businesses.  Some corporation is not siphoning your dollars off to line its coffers or pay its stockholders.

* If ever there were “green” jobs, employment in local sustainable agriculture meets the definition.

* Economically viable farms preserve open space and beautiful working landscapes.

* And finally, eating local food saves energy. David Pimentel, Professor of Insect Ecology at Cornell University, has calculated that modern industrial agriculture expends 10 calories for each food-calorie produced. Many of those excess calories are burned up in transportation, packaging, and marketing. Continue reading “Local, Organic, And Fair: We Want the Whole Loaf!”

Justice for Family-Scale Farmers and All Food Workers

Keynote speech by Elizabeth Henderson at the Future Harvest CASA’s “Cultivate the Chesapeake Foodshed” conference, January 14, 2017 

All the people of the land – farmers as well as farmworkers – have the human right to live in dignity and respect with a secure supply of the foods of their choice produced in harmony with the natural environment, and to live in a healthy, rich natural environment in a world in peace.

Greetings! It is an honor to be asked to share my thoughts on justice for farmers and how this relates to justice for farmworkers and workers in other kinds of food enterprises as well as people with low-incomes. I just attended the new farmer session. It is so exciting that there are 65 people in this program!

The promise of industrialized agriculture has been that it would feed the world with plentiful, inexpensive and safe food.  That promise has not been kept. Food insecurity and food access are still heavy burdens– in your region, the Maryland Food Bank alone supplies 120,000 meals a day. In the Future Harvest states, over 19% of the children live in food insecure households and the figure reaches a shameful 30% in DC.   Continue reading “Justice for Family-Scale Farmers and All Food Workers”

Charter for CSAs in the USA and Canada

charter logo color (1)
Logo designed by Ruth Blackwell, farmer at Mud Creek CSA, Victor, New York.

It is up to each CSA farm and its community to build a model that suits them best and to mutually ensure that the CSA upholds the principles of this charter.

  1. Farm members buy directly from the farm or group of farms. There is no middleman.
  1. The farm provides member families with high quality, healthy, nutrient-dense, fresh and preserved, local and low fossil-fuel food or fiber, filling the share primarily with products grown on the farm or, if purchased from other farms, clearly identified as to origin.
  1. Farm members commit to the CSA, sharing the bounty and the risks of farming by signing an agreement with the CSA and paying some part in advance, even as little as two weeks for those on Food Stamps.
  1. The farm nurtures biodiversity through healthy production that is adapted to the rhythm of the seasons and is respectful of the natural environment, of cultural heritage, and that builds healthy soils, restores soil carbon, conserves water and minimizes pollution of soil, air and water.
  1. Farmers and members commit to good faith efforts for continuous development of mutual trust and understanding, and to solidarity and responsibility for one another as co-producers.
  1. Farm members respect the connection with the land upon which the CSA grows their food and strive to learn more and to understand the nature of growing food in their locale.
  1. Farmers practice safe-handling procedures to ensure that the produce is safe to eat and at its freshest, tastiest, and most nutritious.
  1. CSA prices reflect a fair balance between the farmers’ needs to cover costs of production and pay living wages to themselves and all farm workers so that they can live in a dignified manner, and members’ needs for food that is accessible and affordable.
  1. Farmers consult with members, take their preferences into account when deciding what crops to grow and communicate regularly about the realities of the farm.
  1. Farm members commit to cooperation with the community of members and to fulfill their commitments to the CSA.
  1. Farmers commit to using locally adapted seeds and breeds to the greatest extent possible.
  1. The CSA seeks paths to social inclusiveness to enable the less well-off to access high quality food and commits to growing the CSA movement through increasing the number of CSAs and collaboration among them.

The Story of the Charter

By Elizabeth Henderson

Similar to what happened in Japan after 30 years of Teikei, CSA in the US is facing something of a crisis.  Across the country, CSAs that had waiting lists are having trouble finding enough members. So, individual CSAs and CSA networks around the country have decided act together as a CSA community.  Taking a clue from the rapid growth of CSAs in new areas of the world (France, UK, all of Europe, China), we are proposing the adoption of a CSA Charter that provides a definition of what CSA is all about.  Together, regional networks and independent CSAs launched the Charter on CSA Sign-up Day, February 24, 2017 as a way to attract public attention and, hopefully, inspire many new people to join CSAs. The CSAs that endorse the Charter are posting it on their website along with a logo that identifies them as charter endorsers. In doing this, the CSAs commit to upholding the values of the Charter.

Flashback: In February 1979, a tractorcade of 6,000 farmers tied up traffic in Washington, D.C. to protest farm policy that ended parity, the pricing system that had linked farm prices to the costs of other sectors of the economy. The deepening farm crisis of the 1980s accelerated the loss of family-scale farms. Developers were grabbing up farmland at the rate of many acres a day. In face of the grim reality that small and mid-sized, family-scale community based farming could disappear completely in the US, people who wanted to farm and support farms had to invent creative alternatives – that is how Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was born.

In the words of Anthony Graham, farmer at Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire, one of the first two CSAs in the USA:  “Ideas have a way of hovering until the time is right or the right person or group can give it form. Booker T Whatley sounds like he was a forerunner in the idea of communities supporting farms and farmers, but I don’t think he can be said to have created the CSA concept.  In the mid 80’s what has now come to be known as CSA was an idea whose time had come, with roots in many places and in many people. It grew out of a sense of community and it came as an answer to a need. When the time was ripe it grew exponentially through the work of many people, not the least of whom were the farmers who recognized a great idea and ran with it.”  In the South, Booker T. Whatley researched and taught farmers “How to Make $100,000 from a 25 Acre Farm.” Inspired by Swiss and German examples, Robyn Van En and Trauger Groh, Anthony Graham and Lincoln Geiger established the first CSA farms in the US in 1986, Indian Line Farm and Temple-Wilton Community Farm. Robyn became CSA’s Johnny Appleseed, spreading the concept at Biodynamic and Organic conferences across the country. In 2017, there are over 7300 CSAs in the US.

At the 1993 New York State CSA Gathering in Syracuse, I shared my thoughts on the significance of CSA as an antidote to the dominant industrial food system: “We need to take our work more seriously.  We have the chance to build the food system that will replace the current one.  CSA is an idea – a tremendously flexible concept for a new consumer-farmer connection, an alternative system of distribution based on community values.  The economics of direct sales make this a win-win solution for farmers and consumers.  The farmer gets a decent price and the consumer pays less, since there is no middleman.  For the farmer, the CSA offers the possibility of a broad support group of people who genuinely care about the farm’s survival and who are willing to share the farmer’s risks.  Consumers have the opportunity to connect with the earth, know and trust the people who grow their food and support the local economy and to transform themselves into the much more meaningful and empowered stance of a person who is taking responsibility of one of the most basic needs of a human being.  The big question we must answer – will this be sustainable?”

Anthony Graham writes: “When we started the Temple Wilton Community Farm with a series of community meetings in the winter of 1985/1986, one thing we were sure of was that we were not selling anything – we were far more interested in community and in the ‘culture’ in agriculture. What we were attempting to set up was a way for a community of people to support the existence of a farm through good times and bad by making pledges of financial support over the course of one year. By agreeing to support the existence of the farm our members became co-farmers….At that time we were all talking and thinking a lot about how to bring form to the ideas that were swirling around, and in one of our conversations Trauger was the one who came up with the idea that the members could also be seen as farmers and we also decided that the farmers should make pledges as members (which we still do).”

Interesting to note is that CSAs that stick to their guns are not having trouble.  Temple-Wilton, which does not even have a price but asks members to contribute what they can afford and then take as much food as they need, still has a waiting list. Core member of a CSA in New York City, Ruth Katz writes: “We at Clinton Hill CSA have been very fortunate thus far (knock wood!) that our membership has stayed up in the last few years. I’m aware that it can change at any time. I think one reason is that our neighborhood, for all of its gentrification, is still a bit of a food desert, with no really terrific supermarket. Honestly, the CSA is about convenience to some degree. We’ve kept up a long wait list, and that has been our most reliable tool to fill our membership each year; we’ve just almost doubled our winter share membership by offering the winter shares to the wait list. We also have started offering half shares, and that seems to be a strong and important tool to reach people who might not have room in their lives for a full share. And we have a wonderful farmer in Ted Blomgren; his expertise has grown so much in these last 15 years.”

Emilie Miyauchi of Just Food, a CSA network in NYC, writes: There’s been a lot of talk about how to make CSA more “consumer friendly” and flexible. While we understand this mindset, especially in trying to compete for NYC’s attention, we see this as a potentially endless pursuit. Someone else will always be there with an easier platform for food delivery, generally someone with a lot of up front capital. Our farmers and our communities can’t play by the same rules as companies like Farmigo, Good Eggs, or whatever comes next to replace them. The CSA model works and is equitable only when we recognize and try to meet the real needs of farmers and share-holders. We need to get better at listening to one another, expressing ourselves, and finding ways to engage and get creative when we feel our interests are in conflict. We need to dig down deeper into what community is and what it can mean with the understanding that for some time now and certainly going forward into a new administration, community is in jeopardy. Part of the hardest work of keeping the CSA model viable is building back community, protecting what exists, and galvanizing people around a shared sense of our entanglement with one another and the natural world. It is also time for CSA farms to address the tension between farm owners and farm workers to make CSA a model for healthy business and fair labor.”

List of resources to help strengthen CSAs that sign the Charter.

Elizabeth Henderson, Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture (Chelsea Green, 2007) and also Compartiendo la Cosecha, available as an e-book from Libros en Accion, 2017.

Simon Huntley – Small Farm Central

Cultivating Customers: A Farmer’s Guide to On-Line Marketing – wonderful contrast with Temple-Wilton and Steven McFadden.  Just the facts, mam.  Super practical.

From Steven McFadden:

Farms of Tomorrow Revisited: Community-Supported Farms

“Community circle develops dynamic vision for CSA farms & food”:  http://bit.ly/2hFKjv0

Just Food website: http://www.justfood.org/csa

Learn more about CSA through our Resource Center, where you will find:

  • Tipsheetsthat will guide you through the process of starting and managing a CSA project in NYC
  • Videosthat will provide tips to better manage your CSA
  • The full inclusion and representation of community means making the effort to bring in low-income community. Ways we’ve had success in this include:
    • Sliding scale payment structure
    • Accepting SNAP and processing EBT payments
    • Fundraising to make revolving loan funds available
    • Sister CSAs – CSA is high(er)-income community shares funds with CSA in low(er)-income community
    • Half-share/ share-a-share

Fair Share CSA Coalition website – http://www.csacoalition.org

Urgenci the International Network for CSA – http://urgenci.net/

 

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑