Instead of having the govt come round and decide if you can call your stuff organic, I propose an invitation-only network of producers who perform peer to peer inspections.
Open to ideas but a basis might be....
You only get in if an existing member knows you.
An existing member inspects your operations annually (not the same member in consecutive years and not the member who introduced you).
There is no fee for inspections but every member performs 1 inspection per year in return for their 1 free inspection. Maybe extend this to a requirement to do a days work for another 1 or 2 members per year to spread the knowledge and maintain minimum standards.
Criteria are common sensepermaculture based, might be less strict than "organic" in certain areas and more strict in others.
- no pesticides
- animals live and die with respect
- diversity as opposed to monocropping
- efficient use of water - responsible stewardship of the soil and terrain
There is an element of trust vs strict govt style inspections. Keep it simple is a good idea.
Some workable way of bending the membership rules initially to get a critical mass started.
Informal with no legal standing. consumers get interested when word gets round that there's a group of producers who don't spray chemicals or abuse their animals and who keep each other in check.
By the way, I don't want to run this and I'm not about to start pushing for something to be setup, and I don't want anyone else to say "I'll set it up" then try to make money out of it. If there are 1000 members, I'm happy to do 1/1000th of the overhead work. The purpose of this post is to put an idea out there, and see if it can be improved on to the point it might actually work and be beneficial.
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:The alternate to "Organic" already exists. For example, "Certified Naturally Grown".
There are lots of organizations willing to certify humane treatment of animals. For example: "Certified Humane Certification Program", "Animal Welfare Approved", "American Humane Association", etc...
Want a permaculture certification? I suppose that you'd have to come up with a definition of what permaculture is so that you could measure whether a farm conforms...
Lots of organisations exist but I think they are generally run by a central committee who charge their members for a cert. I'm suggesting peer 2 peer. All the members have a say and a part, and there isn't a flow of money from the certificated to the certificators.
Jack Spirko's been trying to get a transparency model of agricultural practices going for a while at Agritrue. Not quit the same, but I like his feature of having consumers rate the producers as well as peer-to-peer.
There is a similar scheme operating in New Zealand. It was set up so that small growers could afford to be certified without the huge costs associated with the mainstream certifications. They use a pod system, so the review is done within a group (usually geographical I think).
OrganicFarmNZ is probably best known for its “pod” system. The Pod system works on a ‘peer review’ process. This is where a group of between 3-5 growers (a pod) will peer review one another. In short – they check you out and you check them out. The Pod Peer Review involves a review of the Producer’s Property Management Plan, a check of their inputs and outputs and a property inspection (involving all members of the Pod). This occurs to every member of the Pod, annually.
Alternatively – Producers have the ability to be audited individually by an independent Audit.