Perspectives on an Organic Check-Off

 “A huge concern of mine is how is the organic industry positioned to meet the growing demand for organic? We do not have enough people in place to make sure there are adequate organic producers, to make sure there is enough organic information available. This check-off would greatly enhance organic’s ability to meet the demand.” 

—Roger Lansink farms 750 organic acres in northwest Iowa (Photo by Gene Lucht, Iowa Farmer Today)

“For the first time the organic industry will reach out to consumers with a single voice to educate them through various PR campaigns about what the organic seal means. I believe all farmers, large and small, will greatly benefit from the research and promotion made possible by the revenue the organic check-off program will generate.”

— Luis H. Acuña, President and CEO, Viva Tierra Organic Inc., Sedro-Woolley, Washington

“I’m really happy to see that organic is growing up. An organic check-off would help the industry be able to bring the message to consumer of why organic’s  important… Organic needs more research dollars for the organic problems we’re all fighting with— pests and weed control in particular… weed control is the biggest beast and what I spend the most money on. I probably could expand more if I didn’t have that piece of the expense associated with the hand labor of pulling weeds.”

—Donna Miller, owner of D&G Blueberry Farms in western Florida

“I’d like to see check-off funds go towards helping bring more certified organic producers into our community… We need to help ourselves do a better job of promoting what we do, and how farmers can benefit from being an organic farmer... And one of the best parts for me as an organic producer is producing something that consumers really want.”

—Perry Clutts, owner of organic dairy farm Pleasantview Farms in Ohio 

“There is a disconnect between the demand for organic products and the supply of organic ingredients. Organic food companies like my company face shortages of organic ingredients far too often. Each year there is another organic ingredient that is under-produced and difficult to source. In order to fix this supply and demand issue, more farmers in America need to go organic.”

—Nicole Dawes, founder and CEO of Late July Snacks

“Over the years of interacting with consumers, we know first-hand about how confused consumers are about organic in the broad sense. Is natural better, what about all-natural, is GMO-free as good as organic? What makes organic ‘organic?’ To have a program from a high level that educates on the benefits of organic is critical… People don’t always understand that organic is the highest standard out there.”

—Jesse Laflamme, co-owner of Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs, Monroe, New Hampshire

“I understood that the proposed check-off was controversial and decided to investigate. Largely I found that concerns stem from bad experiences with other agricultural commodity programs like beef, pork and eggs, that benefited large agribusiness and processors while American farmers were screwed over. But I found that the proposed organic check-off program has been designed with a lot of feedback from organic farmers in a sensible and fair fashion.”

—David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s 

“As a small organic dairy farmer, I can certainly understand the concerns brought by the opposition. But ultimately, I find myself thinking of my kids and the decisions I make for them on a daily basis. And honestly, I’m brought to the line from The Lorax that I've read so many times, ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get different. It's not.’”

—Abbie Corse, sixth generation farmer at The Corse Farm Dairy, Windham County, Vermont