Organic.. Some more thoughts

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by JeffNY, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    As I've posted before about organic, and some odd things, why not post some more stuff.


    Last month the organic inspector came, the inspector who checks things over, sees things. Basically the "HQ's eyes". Now with this one inspector who was 2 hours late, she did call. But she called 30 minutes after the time range, to say she would be late. The past inspectors were on time, they did their job, and did not seem to push for things. Of course the last ones were for hay only, but hay aside. Dairy cert. should not be this invasive. Now before I continue, and not to get political, but this particular inspector was a die-hard liberal, im not saying because of her thoughts and pushyness (I felt anyways), that that is all liberals. But she fell right in the definition for liberal. Now one thing she pushed for was composting manure, while that can be good. Where I would have to compost it would be where runoff happens. Now they don't require it (as in, you will get certifiication even if you spread it without composting), but they do in a way WANT you to do it. Well she asked the question what we will do with it, she did ask this question twice. The answer as it seemed she was looking for was "we will compost it". Now I am not going to compost it, manure will go on the fields, so it does not build and smell. Funny thing, I figured organic was supposed to be clean, but as anyone knows, the bigger the manure pile, the worse it becomes.


    Which brings me to this, the whole organic thing is a liberal system, they basically want you to be this earth loving, don't do this or that type person. This inspector obviously had her favorites. The previous person she visited was a cheese maker, he is die-hard organic. I am sure the reason she was late, was because she dug them to death. Heck, she even said down here she really like them. We aren't die-hard organic, atleast I am not. While I am against spraying, I am not against most other things. I do think animals should have outside access, and should not be pushed (BST). But I am not soo die-hard, I would send the animal to slaughter, or sell it because I had to treat it to save it's life. I make the slaughter example, because this one farm that she visited, had to send a Jersey off to slaughter because if it was treated he had to sell it. The only option was slaughter for him. If you ask me, thats not ethical, or moral it is cruel. We were contacted to find out if we would take it, as it needed to be treated. We aren't set up. I would have taken it, likely fixed it up and sold it to some good use.

    Now another bit of beef that stirred me some, and it was exactly what I figured. Did you know that those die-hard organic people (like this inspector), view traditional farms all the same? She lumped the factory type farms, with small family traditional farms. What she said was unmistakeable. That soured me a little. So they view all traditional farms as evil farms. Yet it's funny, that one person that had to ship his Jersey, in the sake of organic, prooved my point. Traditional farms who put an effort into saving the animal so it stays, perhaps lives to be on the farm for years to come. Are better to the animals, than organic practices. I know with my operation, especially with it being new come next fall (2006), if I have to ship an animal because I want to stay organic, ha! See she never asked "what do you do, if an animal gets sick". I was waiting for that question, it would have been as i've said in another post, "organic goes, because I care for the animal". I hope the inspector next year is the one who inspects because it is his job. It is her job, but she has a bias for it.


    Now for those who will read this post who buy all organic, especially milk. I want to tell you a few things that might make ya think about organic, and how "organic" it may be.

    Did you know if a dairy that was traditional for 30 some years, decides to transition does NOT have to buy a whole herd? They transition their land for 3 years, and transition the dairy for 1 year. Now those animals were treated through those 30 years, so in turn the milk might be certified organic. A truely organic defnition (according to them), makes that milk one the same as the neighbor down the road from them. What do I mean? That cow that has been on the farm (that is organic now), might have been treated a few times for mastitis. It's funny, they allow that but won't allow the animal to be used again for organic when it calves and is into a different lactation. Ask yourself, whats the difference?

    Did you know, in order for organic companies to meet the demand, they have (they is horizon dairy) a 3000 cow dairy farm. In the organic rules, the animals must be pastured. Try pasturing 3000 cows. So even though the milk is "organic", they are being allowed to cut corners (don't kid yourself, 3000 cows is damn near impossible to pasture, you would need a god awfull amount of land). Funny, you can't save an animal, keep it, and remilk it again in a different lactation. But a huge farm like that, same practice is allowed. But there is reason why, if your big, you have certain advantages.


    So remember, when you buy organic milk, there is a good bet that animal was treated in it's life time, considering many organic farms today were once traditional.


    Jeff
     
  2. Meadowwood

    Meadowwood Active Member

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    Hi Jeff!

    I haven't been on the forum for a while and haven't read many of your posts, but did read this one. I guess I have to ask you why you are organic? Is it for the $$ premium that the title "organic" carries?
    To me, what used to be meant by "organic" was that none of my food had (what to me is undesirable) addatives, pesticides, herbacides etc,and was grown with care by good stewards of the land. Since most of the people producing such food were small, homesteads or farms and cared so much about what they did, there was no need for regulation or inspectors. A person could visit a farm and in a few minutes tell by just looking that the place was "organic". Prices were higher because a lot more "care" and work went into producing clean food.
    Several things have changed in the past decades that have changed all that. 1) The demand for clean food (triggered in part by the blooming, chronic diseases here in the US). 2) Big business jumping on the band waggon to get the premium prices that the lable "organic" carries/ed. 3)Now, crazy regulation and a regulatory commision created by the first two.

    Now, the term "organic" doesn't hold the same meaning for those of us who still want clean food coming from sustainable agricuture that cherish the renewal of life and land etc. Now I have to research companies to see if they are just getting the premium price or not! Horizon is just such a company. It used to be a small group of farms and now it is owned by one of the biggest Ag conglomerates. The whole idea behind the regulations in the organic certification for having to pasture your cows is that pasture grazed cows have the best milk. You are absolutly right, you can't pasture 3000 cows and milk them in a single dairy! I, personally, will not buy Horizon products because to me, even though the lables says "organic" I know that it is not what I want for my family.

    I had to smile when I read your comment about the "die hard organic" people. Years ago I was in your place and didn't really care. Things have changed me, mostly deaths of those in my family that died from things like cancer. Deaths at ages 42, 52, 60 etc. It started me on a pilgrimage to answer the question, why so young? Now I am a die hard "Organic" person. Maybe it isn't the answer, but I can't believe that giving my family stuff that is free from things that DO KILL other organisms(pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics) can't be wrong.

    From someone who really cares about where my food etc. comes from, please respect that!
    Darlene
     

  3. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    To start my response, yes we are targeting the organic milk market because of the price you get per cwt, over traditional. The funny thing about that is that the milk companies are making a killing off of organic dairys, vs traditional because of the price they get in the store. I estimated they get about 30-40.00 more per cwt over the organic farmers price in the store. Traditional farms should get the same per cwt as organic, organic should be the option because you want to become organic. This would seperate the reason for people going organic, or wanting to ship organic. Most farms that have transitioned did not do so because they wanted to ship organic milk. They did so to stay afloat.

    My original impression with organic was that you can't spray (pesticides, and herbicides), cant use synthetic fertilizer, use hormones. However you could use antibiotics for an emergency only. However, that is not the case. The animal either dies or gets treated, and gets shipped. I wonder if the organic dairy person has ever said "the big farms simply use them, and dump them". However, if you have to ship that animal off your farm because you are saving its life, whats the difference? Your dumping the animal, because you cant breach the almighty organic standards. So, I myself would like to see something like "Certified Organic-Humane". Where people can know where their foods are coming from, same exact things except you could treat the animal if needed. Dairy's over about 60 or so would not be allowed into the organic market (most about the size on down do a good job with their animals, and keep them untill they get too old to walk, or are a danger to themselves (udder hangs too low)). One of our customers we told that you can't treat the animal, you have to ship it if you do. She is organic all around, she thought it was backwards.

    With that all said, I would agree that it is good to know where your food is coming from. However someone, somewhere is making a sacrafice to let that be known. It would be nice to see something like organic-humane, it would put a nice restriction on things, and you would know where it is coming from, and also know the animals are being treated properly.


    Jeff
     
  4. Meadowwood

    Meadowwood Active Member

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    Hi Again!

    I agree with you Jeff that the "organic" standard doesn't fit the bill anymore and it is a shame. I think the antibiotic clause had to be installed because it used to have a milk witholding time period and again the big dairy industries abused it.

    One alternative is the "Certified Naturally Grown" certification. It is again old school organic people that certify eachother's farms. I believe one of the requirements is that you have to take the time to be responsible to help another farm (not you own) maintain integrety. You also have to be willing and able to call someone on something if they are out of line. Again, this only really works if you truely believe in the system and it is a passion for you.

    There are also alternative health care practices for your animals than conventional medicine. There is a company in Wisconsin called Crystal Creek and their vet has practiced for years. He was first a convetional vet and as many of the dairies around him became "organic" he had to learn and find other methods to care for those animals. He travels around the country giving seminars and his company has developed alternative cures and preventatives. He has also written an excellent book that I use as a guide for my little farm. I am not against using antibiotics in a life or death situation with one of my cows, but I will use his methods first. So far we have not had a need for antibiotics.

    In your search to make the best living from your farm, direct marketing is the best. You don't have to be certified anything if people believe in you and your product (what ever that is). I am not sure what the state legalities are for NY but direct marketing fresh, clean, wholesome milk is very big in many states. People are making choices and raw milk is a choice many people are willing to make a choice for. WWW.REALMILK.COM is a good place to start for more info. on that.

    Another thing to look into if you want to become an "organic" dairy is Organic Valley Family of Farms. They are a co-op of family farms that are organic and they pay the farmer a fair wage FIRST and then set the price of milk based on that. They do require all their farms to diversify and have more than one product so that not all their income is on one thing. They started out as a little group of "hippies" making butter in northern Wisconsin and have grown to a reputable group of farmers nation wide.

    If you need contact info for any of these groups, let me know. There are ways to make it work, it just isn't as straight forward as the convetional systems.

    All the best!
    Darlene
     
  5. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

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    An outfit called DMS was advertising for organic producers in our area. Paying $22 per cwt and no hauling charge. I mentioned this to DH ... he did not go screaming from teh room but it was close. All he said was "Organic is not for me." In my mind I had us all lined up since there was also a good heifer sale scheduled next week. But no.

    I wish there was something not as restrictive as "organic" where you still got brownie points for good all-natural cow care.

    It's all moot now. All we have are beef cattle.

    Ann
     
  6. JeffNY

    JeffNY Seeking Type

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    You can use hydrogen peroxide IV to get rid of disease. Funny thing, that stuff kills GOOD cells, imagine what it does to the animals inside cells? Skin is one thing, but IV is right smack to the blood stream. Odd that organic standards allow that usage. There should be a certification where it allows as you said, natural treatment but does not restrict you from caring for the animal properly. My mother wanted to put an info thing at the fair, and mention organic. I said, if you do, im not apart of it. Basically, if anyone asks me questions, id shrug, but then again. I think what I will do is inform those who do buy organic milk, what happens with transition, etc etc. I bet some wont like it. What I mean with transition, as I mentioned above. Animals that have been treated for years and years, are allowed to be "organic", yet an animal CANT be treated, or it will be shipped if it is. I think a lot of people have the impression organic means, "those farms are nice to the animals". If you go by the book, it is inhumane.



    Jeff