Organic Vs. Organically Grown
Hi Forum Members:
I own a very small malting company in Reno, Nevada. I am completing our contracts for the 2008 growing season and want to ask your opinions.
Do you need the organic certification from the USDA in your purchase, or would you be fine with grains that were grown using organically sound methods without the certification. I am willing to pay the growers certification fee, just thought I would ask for your input and any suggestions you might have.
The reno line for Wildcrafter to respond first is 2/1. AlexisScarlett 3/1.
Lance @ RebelMalt
I kinda danced around a similar thread - the "is 'organic' worth it?" I put quotes around organic for that very reason - the certified stamp v. organically grown by growers you know and trust. I've got "organic" land (not certified yet fits the criteria) and plan to grow hops "organically" - what does it all mean? I haven't checked - what is the cost of certification for growers? What premium can/does organic certification bring at the market level?
Premiums are 20%-100% over conventional versus organic and depending on topic/product- if certified. It's a paperwork chain and not too costly. Generally it's by certification topic fees ( here in NM). Sometimes it takes 3 years to get there. Sometimes it's rather a swift process if you can document farming histories. Is it worth it? Well, yeah! $175 plant topic, $175 animal topic, $175 processing topic for NM is rather cheap as far as fees. These fees are for the WHOLE operation of topic.
Originally Posted by BeerBoy
Does the marketplace care?
YES!! I sell $5/# organic heirloom tomatoes WAY faster than a conventional farmer at $3/# and the customer is who decides what they want----at the Farmer's Market. Do they taste different? YES!!! Why would a person in today's farmer's market spend $2/# more for the same genetic fruit as the guy/gal at the table beside me? Because it tastes so much better..... and for the customer, the paperwork is the proof on the pudding.
Consumers are very wary of "organic scammers". They always ask for our NMOCC # and where is the farm. The consumers wants to be more involved in understanding the "truths" behind the food they buy. Around here in Northern NM, RESELLERS are the BANE of the farmer's market as they do not grow the product themselves and tend to negatively affect the options of local farmers. I have argued with resellers that the product in the bag is NOT the product on the label- he couldn't tell the difference and was underselling the local farmers that had the REAL product. There also have been many ethics issues of mislabelling and misrepresentation of organic products. CYA-- and with pride. Consumers choose the paperwork trail with extra $$$.
Don't be a-scared of the big fiery hoops. If you are, somebody close to you can "write you a note" letting it all be OK. Generally, once you're in, you're in.
It's just knowledge, paperwork, fees, supply chain concerns, and a willing and grateful marketplace. GO FOR IT!!!!
In the long run- your wallet will thank you both coming and going.
Dig in. Do it.
In an earlier post Gael said it best-- the certification is for when the barley hops or beer leave their home and must travel among strangers. I am happy if I know where the farm is. Who are you selling to and how do they want to sell the beer then? I figure Colorado barley raised on Rocky Mountain Spring water in the beauty of Paonia sunshine is enough for any marketing campaign.
Originally Posted by wildcrafter
Hey Lance-- I was putting my money on Beerboy or Gael for first post. I win
Beerboy- your hops are on their way. Should be there tomorrow. Organically grown on land of questionable heritage and ditch water.
Just my very biased opinion.
We have been certified organic as a brewery since 2002. Prior to that, we used certified organic malt and hops, however we ourselves were not certified organic processors until the National Organic Program came into being.
Basically, to make any organic claims about your product whatsoever, you must be certified organic by an NOP approved certifying agent. So its fine to make beer from "uncertified" organic malt, but you legally are not allowed to call it organic or even say that it is made with organic ingredients. So it comes down to whether you want to use organic ingredients on principal and forget about telling the World that its organic. Hops are a different story as the NOP (unfortunately) has a rule that says you don't have to use organic ingredients in a certified organic product if the ingredient is not "commercially available" in organic form. They (the NOP) list hops as being an ingredient that may not be commercially available.
I personally have a problem with this rule because it creates two sets of standards. We are placed at a disadvantage because we have been contracting certified organic hops for the last 10 years and have them contracted forward until 2012 at this point. Other breweries' beers are certified organic to the "same" standard as ours yet they use no organic hops at all.
I commend you for growing organic barley regardless of whether you certify it or not. However, if you want to reap the full financial premium of your product as well as increase the number of potential buyers, I would suggest that you go through the process to certify it.
The actual hard cost in getting certified is not that much. The real burden is the record keeping to maintain your certification. Its all about have a sound (and of course approved) organic plan, and then documenting everything. Hope that helps!
I am still staggering around on the 40 bushels per acre.
So with so much going in, certification is a small slice of the pie that may make it more viable.
Hops get like 40 posts and all those views and barley get four? sigh
"Hops are a different story as the NOP (unfortunately) has a rule that says you don't have to use organic ingredients in a certified organic product if the ingredient is not "commercially available" in organic form. They (the NOP) list hops as being an ingredient that may not be commercially available.
I personally have a problem with this rule because it creates two sets of standards."
I agree 100%.
I still do not quite understand why hops are such a chemical intensive crop. I heard that it was only a few years ago that hops were "declassified" down to NOT a food crop which allowed even more "intense" chemicals for growing the hops crop; kinda like cotton is not food. There is no doubt that hops are like a "weed from heaven" and if it were not for diseases, would all of the "intense" chemistries be needed?
Imitacloprid for aphids is functionally systemic for 3-5 years after application? Wow! Right now use Paraquat to defoliate and encourage growth for the start of May? Really?
Some of the chemical realities of hop growing I just don't understand at all.
I'm just a simple guy. I learn every day.
I watched native hops thrive during a prolonged drought and give 2.5# dry cones with no human input.
I figured that is as close to organic as it gets and I tend to simulate nature and cheat the learning curve. I also know how to use the power of my human thumb and "how to give the girls what they want". I hope it works this year as I have really densified the field with new NM plants and cuttings- I may create my own problems of excess.
Certifications and paperwork pale in comparison to the real work at hand and certifications will relate to $ in hand and pride in workmanship.
Growing hops organically shouldn't be that hard- she's a "weed from heaven" (and hell when you don't want it there anymore).
It must be a scale issue to have to be a chemical hop farmer?