We timed our planting of pasture grasses perfectly yesterday. Today we are experiencing a nice, steady rain that will encourage those grass seeds to germinate.
Raining days are perfect for getting paperwork done. Our organic re-certification is due May 1st. Annually, we submit re-certification forms to ensure that our farm is meeting the standards set by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), a division of the USDA. Our forms are sent to a third party certification agency. The agency that we work with is called Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA). MOSA is charged with reviewing our paperwork, inspecting our farm and making sure we are meeting ALL the requirements of the NOSB.
Organic certification is not cheap and not easy. MOSA receives .75% of every dollar we earn and .1% of every dollar when we reach $200,000 in earnings. Tim keeps a Rubbermaid container filled with all the forms, receipts, records and more that we need to keep for our certification. All the paperwork can add up to 80-100 pages.
The paperwork that we need to submit is very detailed. We need to have: manure application records, field plans, field maps, livestock housing maps, feed storage maps, animal sales records, animal health records, feed records (what was fed to who and when), records for any feed that we bought, rental contracts, seed purchase records, days on pasture and much more.
After our paperwork is submitted, MOSA reviews it to make sure we are meeting the standards. Next they schedule a meeting with us to walk through our farm and make what we say on paper is what we are actually doing. The farm inspection usually takes 3-4 hours and is scheduled only a week or so in advance. This prevents dishonest farmers from having enough time to cover up any violations.
The organic certification process is detailed for a reason. Because the USDA Organic Label is a trusted customer label, all farms producing under that label must meet the same strict guidelines set by the USDA and the NOSB. No matter if you are buying organic apples in Washington state or in Minnesota, they both had to meet the same guidelines.
Studies have shown that consumers trust the word “natural” over the word “organic.” The word “natural” can be used on many foods, cosmetics, etc without having to subscribe to a set standard. When used on foods, the label means that the food has no artificial flavoring or color. The natural label does not speak to pesticide and antibiotic uses or to farming practices. This is not the same intent as the USDA Organic Label. To learn more about the USDA Organic label visit the USDA Food Labeling page.
Some people have criticized the organic label. Of course it isn’t perfect (what government run label is), but it is a strict standard. Shopper can be assured that products labeled with the USDA Organic label are produced in guidance with the strict USDA regulations.
In addition to the USDA Organic label standards, Organic Valley has stricter animal welfare and pasture rules that all its family farms must obey by.
If you ever have questions about our organic farm, please feel free to give us a call or send us email. We happy to answer any questions.
Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, http://www.zweberfarms.com