Michigan Organic Listserv

Nov 14, 2018


Offered by: MSU Center of Regional Food Systems

Vicki Morrone ([log in to unmask])


What’s Up?

·         Organic News

·         Upcoming Educational Events

o   GLEXPO Farm Market Tour

o   GLEXPO Organic Program to attend

·         Grant Opportunity for young farmers


Organic News


Organic Certification Is Not A Food Safety Standard


By Hank Campbell | November 8th 2018 07:03 AM

Source: Science 2.0 Nov 8, 2018 https://www.science20.com/hank_campbell/organic_certification_is_not_a_food_safety_standard-235140


When Miles McEvoy became Deputy Administrator of the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) he set out to do something in the Obama administration that Science 2.0 long had called for, and Consumers Union had been calling for a decade before us; spot field testing of organic food so their customers could be certain that the prohibited substances and excluded methods that marketers advertise in their process were actually not being used.

Or not. § 205.670 (Inspection and testing of organic products to determine their eligibility to be labeled organic) ended up being only a few samples required, and the responsibility for testing fell to organic certification groups. In other words, groups could inspect 5 percent of their clients, the corporations who were paying them for the label. Sales volume did not matter in a Big Food segment that is over $30 billion just in the United States. So instead of real food safety testing like conventional food has we mostly still just have farmers filling out paperwork and checking off boxes, with certifying groups cashing checks to say they believe them. Do I think organic farmers are less ethical than regular farmers? No, but organic farmers pay trade groups to insinuate just that about their competition, and if you think everyone else is a criminal, psychologists will bet you are a criminal.

Does that mean organic food is not safe? As Chipotle recently showed, and hundreds of dead people in Europe showed a few years ago, being certified organic actually increases your chances of eating a fecal pathogen, but when we are talking about relative and absolute risk, and you need not worry about any American food, conventional or alternative, if you wash your food. And you should wash your food, because of bacteria.

Yet organic trade groups and their allies ignore bacteria left on produce by manure and instead focus on modern chemicals. They ignore concern about legacy compounds that are far more toxic, like copper sulfate.  They are paid by their clients to dupe the public into believing if their trade group representative sitting on a panel at the National Organic Standards Board deems a chemical "organic", it is inherently safe.

Of course, that is not true. And it is certainly not true if the organic food is imported. 

Organic is a label, and a miracle of marketing. That they have convinced 80 percent of their customers that organic food does not even have DNA is simultaneously capitalism at its best and worst. But no matter what you believe it is, an organic label does not mean your food is any safer.


Upcoming Educational Events



GLEXPO Farmer marketing and agri-tourism Tour-

Register NOW-Early bird prices end tomorrow (Nov 15)

For details to go to: https://glexpo.com/


Early Bird Rate Expires Nov 15 (tomorrow) for the GLEXPO program!

Click here to register for the bus tour!

Don't miss the 11th annual Bus Tour as we visit seven NEW farm markets in Western Michigan and experience farm marketing and agritourism at its best. Michigan State University Extension will serve as tour hosts and will share current research projects and help foster new market ideas and explore collaborative partnerships.


Preview of Organic Sessions at the Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo-

Dec 4-6, DeVos Center

For the complete program or to register go to: https://glexpo.com/


It’s time to register for the 2018 GLEXPO! This is a great event to learn not only new production approaches and management that was research tested but also hear about important points that will help you improve your farming such as soil health and smart approaches to weed management using latest technologies. This is an annual event that offers great programs on a wide range of topics around fruit and vegetable production and marketing.


The program is from Tuesday, Dec 4 through Thursday Dec 6. Of special interest to those seeking info on organic production and soil health you will want to be there on Wednesday and Thursday. To top off the program we are offering a Taste of Michigan of organic products during Thursday’ organic vegetable session, that will offer 3 great talks then a Farmer Round Table, offering you time to not only ask questions but share your experiences on the topic. Here are the details of the sessions I mentioned. Hope to see you there! 


Tuesday, December 4


Room: Grand Gallery E F


9:00am Pollinators for Berries

·         by Rufus Isaacs


Room: Grand Gallery A B

9:00am Cover Crops Do More Than Just Cover For Your Soil

·         by Laura Van Eerd

9:30am Biodegradable Plastic Mulches Are Effective and Sustainable

by Carol Miles



Large Scale Organic

Wednesday, Dec 5. 9:00am - 11:00am

Room: River Overlook E F

9:00am Accessing Market Opportunities for Large Scale Vegetable and Fruit Growers Through Organic Certification

·         by Harriet Behar

9:30am Insect Management in Organic Vegetables

·         by Zsofia Szendrei


10:00am Cultivation techniques and machines for large-scale Organic

·         by Sam Hitchcock Tilton


10:30am Experiences in Large Scale Organic Production

·         by Joel Layman

Root Vegetables

Wednesday 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Room: Grand Gallery Overlook


3:00pm Organic and Conventional Weed Control in Red Beets

·         by Jed Colquhoun

Soil Health

Wednesday 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Room: Grand Gallery E F


2:00pm Cover Crops: It Doesn’t Take a Lifetime to Improve Soil Health

·         by Laura Van Eerd


2:30pm Building Organic Matter on Sandy Soils

·         by Zachary Hayden


3:00pm Linking Changes in Soil Health with Plant Tolerance to Biotic and Abiotic Stress

·         by Lori Hoagland, Liz Maynard


Organic Production - Where to Start?

Room: Grand Gallery Overlook H

Thursday Dec 6, 2018

9:00am -11:00 am



9:00am Intro to Helpful Resources for Transitioning to Organic

·         by Vicki Morrone


9:15am Painless Fundamentals of Achieving Organic Certification

·         by Harriet Behar


10:00am Choosing Varieties for Organic Markets and Maybe Even Saving Their Seed

·         by Lori Hoagland, Liz Maynard


Thursday 1:00pm - 3:00pm


Organic Vegetable Production

Room: Grand Gallery A B



1:00pm A Sound IPM Program for Organic Production


by Lori Hoagland, Liz Maynard



1:30pm Build Your Farm Brand Through Organic Environmental Stewardship

·         by Harriet Behar

2:00pm Protecting Your Farm From Pesticide Drift

Learn why to and how to register your farm on Drift Watch and how to promote good relationships with aerial applicators in your area.

·         by Bob Walters

2:30pm Farmer Round Table & Taste of Michigan

Our speakers and participating farmers will be invited to answer questions from all participants. During the conversation we will host a Taste of Michigan where you will have the opportunity to sample some of Michigan’s organic products grown in our state.




GLEXPO Bus Tour-Register NOW

Early Bird Rate Expires Tomorrow!

Click here to register for the bus tour!

Don't miss the 11th annual Bus Tour as we visit seven NEW farm markets in Western Michigan and experience farm marketing and agritourism at its best. Michigan State University Extension will serve as tour hosts and will share current research projects and help foster new market ideas and explore collaborative partnerships.




2019 Michigan Family Farm Conference-Feb 9, 2019 in Kalamazoo, MI

The MFFC will be held on February 9 at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Texas Township Campus. This year we are really excited to offer an extended workshop that includes a lunchtime tour to the Food Innovation Center AND The Culinary and Allied Health Building, in addition to our great educational sessions! Of course, we have child care filled with activities. Lunch is provided as well as offering the tour at no additional cost.


The MFFC is a forum to network, learn and build sustainable family farms but also a space to learn about agriculture for your own home as well. Our event includes a keynote to be delivered by Melvin Parson, founder of We the People Growers Association. Register at bit.ly/mffc2019 Note the price for registration is $40 now or $45 after Dec 15. You can also register a group of 10 or more for $36/each.  If you’re a student the registration price is $10.



2019 Michigan Small Farm Conference


Organized by Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology

Fri, January 25, 2019 — Sat, January 26, 2019


If you have never been to this conference before I think you are in for a pleasant surprise.  They offer sessions on all aspects of farming, farm business and of course the ever important, soil health!  The sessions are often jointly presented by an educator with a farmer or practitioner so that you can gain an understanding of how AND why this process is useful.  The Friday is a day for extended workshops or Farm School and Saturday is a day of sessions on topics for farm businesses and production. They offer child care even a youth-track program.


The NMSFC promotes and builds a local vibrant agriculture community, equips the small farm community with the tools to be successful, and provides a forum for the open exchange of ideas within the small farm community.

Please visit our main website for event information: 

www.SmallFarmConference.com. The conference will be held at Grand Traverse Resort, just outside of Traverse City, MI


Grants and Financial Assistance for Farmers


Greenstone offer grant dollars to young farmers (up to 35 years old)


There are grant dollars available for farmers to attend workshops, college courses, etc. through Greenstone Farm Credit.


Subject: GreenStone Young Farmer Education Grants - Share with Clients




With winter approaching, your inbox may be filling up with invitations to the many farm conferences, workshops and seminars held over the next several months. Understanding the importance of these educational events to our young, beginning and small farmers, we created the Grow Forward Grant Program to help with the cost of these programs. Our Grow Forward Grant Program provides up to $40,000 in grants to help offset the cost of educational programs and/or farm business services. Current customers are eligible for up to $1,000. Non-customers are eligible for up to $500.


Qualifications for the Young, Beginning, and Small Farmer program:
               • 18-35 years of age, or
               • Farming for less than 10 years, or
               • Sustain annual gross sales from agricultural production of less than $250,000
               • Must be eligible to be a member of GreenStone; reside in Michigan or northeast Wisconsin

See link above for more information and application.



Joanne Davidhizar

Michigan State University Extension and Product Center

1737 Hilllandale Road

Benton Harbor, MI  49022


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Vicki Morrone

Organic Farming Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-282-3557 (cell)

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sorrone11 (skype)



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