Natural Commerce Week and Repping Georgia on The Hill — The Grime

Natural Commerce Week and Repping Georgia on The Hill — The Grime

Have been there subjects coated within the convention you can deliver again dwelling to your work at Georgia Organics?  

Lydia (on shopper advertising and marketing and certification enforcement for integrity):  

I used to be ready to attract comparisons with what individuals have been speaking about to our personal work as a result of these large corporations have the identical issues as small, licensed natural farmers have about shopper training and advertising and marketing right here in Georgia. For them, there was extra emphasis on the product facet whereas for Georgia Organics, we’re extra centered on assist farmers educate their customers on the farmers’ market. There was this related thread of debate, just like the inundation of consumer-facing labels and the type of confusion that exists (out there). Organics is certainly one of just a few labels that has third-party enforcement and is legally outlined by US legislation.  

One other factor that may and does have an effect on natural farmers in Georgia is a brand new USDA natural regulation, the Strengthening Natural Enforcement rule, known as SOE. This was the primary main change and replace to natural laws because the Natural Meals Productions Act in 1990. This SOE rule creates stricter laws for farmers importing components or merchandise, and there’s much more checkpoints for fraud than there have been beforehand. The professionals of this rule embody strengthening the integrity of the natural label since there might be fewer merchandise which might be non-certified coming in and being labeled fraudulently as natural. The rule started to be enforced in March 2024 and inside two months, 20 non-compliances have been filed to certifiers. Plenty of motion and motion has already occurred with this enforcement, and it will increase the understanding of provide chain nuances as a result of now corporations have the regulatory excuse backed by the USDA to analyze the place suppliers and distributors are getting their merchandise and components.  

One of many panelists on the convention famous that natural certifiers inside completely different US areas have been already in dialog with one another due to TOPP and the inherent nature of partnership in that program. As a result of these certifiers are already working with one another, they’re higher in a position to successfully implement the SOE rule. The timing on that is fortuitous since TOPP is occurring along side the beginning of this rule’s enforcement.  

A consequence of the SOE rule is that this elevated regulation will fall more durable on smaller farms. One answer to this foreseeable downside is to have inspectors and certification specialists undergo retraining to know implement this rule by means of a risk-based method that’s acceptable for the farm operation. A risk-based method would imply {that a} farm that strikes $20,000 a yr in natural product is assessed with a proportionate quantity of danger and due to this fact scrutiny versus a farm that strikes $2 million value of natural product in a yr. I’ve been listening to this dialog with farmers in Georgia and there’s a big concern that too many small-scale farmers are being put beneath the microscope for fraud, when it’s the bigger multinational firms that needs to be put beneath extra scrutiny. 

 

Lauren (on market alternatives particularly for bigger natural farmers):  

The grain, oil seeds, and pulses breakout session was tremendous fascinating. The three presenters talked about corn, sunflower seeds (for sunflower oil), and peas, as in pea protein. The dialog addressed  nationwide and worldwide commerce points, however I may 100% tie it again to a few of our bigger natural farmers doing work right here in Georgia, particularly within the Ssoutheastern a part of the state.  

First, I discovered that almost all natural sunflower seed oil comes from Ukraine. Because the battle goes on, there’s a continued pressure on the US market.  

I additionally discovered that natural corn provides within the US are fairly secure. In truth, the US could also be self-reliant on natural corn within the close to future whereas the pea protein market is being flooded by China who’s shopping for uncertified product from South America after which certifying it in China earlier than delivery it into the US. This ties into the USDA’s integrity course of on imports and exports and a necessity for additional funding going in direction of enforcement.  

This ties into prospects for the way forward for bigger scale natural farming in Georgia as a result of in the end, the bigger an natural farm will get, the extra they’ll have to succeed in markets the place nationwide and worldwide competitors is going down.  

Proper now, and since its formation in 2019, the farmer-owned cooperative, Georgia Natural Peanut Affiliation (GOPA), has continued to develop crop rotations that serve their bigger format farmers, placing a stability between sustaining rules outlined and vital for natural certification and the required effectivity and tradition of bigger scale row cropping in Georgia. One problem has been to determine a spread of extra crops to develop inside their rotation whereas they’re not rising natural peanuts. I don’t know… what if Georgia peanut farmers grew natural sunflower seeds as a seed supply for natural oil whereas they weren’t rising peanuts?  

The opposite query that got here to thoughts was is there a option to manage ourselves in order that Georgia farmers develop natural peas as a part of feed for natural livestock? What if we’re in a position to tackle the licensed natural animal feed concern in Georgia (the one the place anybody who desires licensed natural animal feed has to import it throughout state traces) by working with an organization that makes animal feed with inputs coming straight from inside Georgia? May pea protein be the reply? It’s one thing that whereas sitting there, listening to the audio system, I thought of.   

 

Michael (on avian flu and meals security and market tendencies): 

I discovered the conversations on natural analysis and meals security to be notably fascinating and related for Georgia farmers, and never simply natural farmers. Extremely pathogenic avian influenza is a big deal, and I do know it’s the largest concern for tons of of poultry farmers in Georgia, and an enormous concern for our pals on the Georgia Division of Agriculture. It’s terrifying to consider what would occur to farmers and the state economic system if that virus ever touched down in Georgia (knock on wooden). Listening to how different states and what different poultry operations handled wasn’t essentially encouraging, however I do imagine it’s higher to be forewarned and forearmed when going through one thing so doubtlessly devastating.  

The opposite subject that I’ve introduced again for Georgia Organics workers, board, and farmers, is that shopper patterns present that natural consumption and buying will not be slowing down any time quickly. The proof and market information present that shopper consumption of natural produce, crops, and merchandise proceeds to develop, and the USDA’s Licensed Natural seal is probably the most trusted label of all within the shopper meals merchandise area. That’s essential intel for all growers, whether or not they’re already licensed natural, or excited about natural certification.