Monday, April 30, 2007

Bureaucratic conspiracy

"The USDA is about to make it prohibitively expensive and logistically impossible for some hundred thousand small growers to maintain their organic certification—and importantly—to reap the economic benefits of organic prices, that can be as high as $.40/lb over conventional market price. This price (especially when combined with the Fairtrade minimum price of $1.26/lb), has saved many smallholders from financial ruin during the recurrent coffee crises.

Organic certification already comes at a high cost for smallholders. Not only do farmers have to invest more labor in weeding, pruning, and organic fertilization, they must first sacrifice three years of farming organically without certification in order qualify. They must invest their time to organize in cooperatives under one management and marketing system and maintain a strict, documented, internal control system to make sure all members in the grower group are in compliance with organic standards and production practices."

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