What it REALLY means to be a certified organic farmer.
Being a certified organic farmer means MUCH more than just not using chemicals. It means a different way of farming altogether than conventional farming. Certified organic farming means you have to leave buffer strips to make sure that adjoining fields can't contaminate your fields with chemical sprays and GMO crops. This is done by tilling under a large section of your fields that are near neighboring fields. We can't use chemicals in organic farming so we have to remove weeds with the tractor and methods called multiweeding and harrowing. These methods also remove a portion of the crops which you lose so you have to seed heavier to compensate for this which makes it more expensive than conventional farming is and also means hours and hours spent in the tractor. Water quality is also checked and soil samples are required much of the time. This all costs money. We have to rotate the crops each year which helps to keep the soils from being depleted of nutrients , which means you can' t grow the same crop on the same field two years in a row. You have to let some fields "rest" or lie fallow for a year which helps to remove weeds by not planting that field that year, you just keep tilling the weeds under to kill them. When a field lies fallow you don't make any money from it that year, but it helps to produce a better crop the next year. We grow a specialty legume crop that produces nitrogen for the ground instead of using a deadly chemical such as annhydrous ammonia. Nitrogen is key to the protein content of the wheat and we are proud of our 14% high protein wheat-produced organically. Being certified organic means that you have to pay to join a certifying agency.THEY in turn choose an inspector to send out to the farm each year to perform an all day inspection. You can't choose your own independent inspection company in certified organic farming. Companies can't do inspections, only certifiying agencies can. The inspector checks the fields and crops, the machinery and grain bins and the mountain of paperwork and records that you have to have. You have to have certificates and affidavits for many things. The machinery, grain bins and trucks have to be cleaned out between crops and be rodent proof and the trucks and combine are checked to make sure that they aren't leaking anything that could contaminate organic soil. The semi trucks that haul the grains to the mills have to also be cleaned out and have affidavits also.If you use any fertilizers such as molasses, you have to provide the paperwork that shows that they are approved by your certifying agency, and also provide the labels for these. If you have too many weeds in your fields the crops can be condemned and are not certifiable. Just because an inspector comes and checks your farm does NOT mean that your farm will be certified organic. All of the certifying agency's requirements have to be met in order to become certified. If they choose not to certify your crops you don't get your money back and you can't sell your crops as certified organic. We CHOSE to be certified organic farmers because we believe that it is so much better for us, our families, the earth and our customers who buy directly from us and ultimately for the consumers who end up with our high quality grains and flours. We work hard to grow these crops while we also try to build up the soils to replace what the crops remove each year. I hope that this has helped to educate some people about what it really means to be Certified Organic. Going the extra mile to become a cerfied organic farm means that our customers can be assured that we have done everything possible to provide them with the highest quality wheats and flours that we can while we also are stewards of the land that is so precious to us. We have been a certified organic farm for almost 14 years. www.organicwheatproducts.com