The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

Fall 2019 NOSB Meeting – Webinars: October 15 & 17

October 18th, 2019
Source: Mariah Dietzler, Flickr

Cornucopia’s director of domestic policy, Marie Burcham, JD, attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) pre-meeting webinars on October 15 and 17, where the NOSB heard comments from the public.

Our notes from this meeting are below.

Tuesday, October 15

NOSB members present:

Harriet Behar (January 2016 – January 2020) – NOSB Chair
Steve Ela (January 2017 – January 2022) – Vice Chair
Scott Rice (January 2016 – January 2021)
Sue Baird (January 2017 – January 2022)
Jesse Buie (January 2016 – January 2021) (joined late)
Tom Chapman (January 2015 – January 2020)
Lisa de Lima (January 2015 – January 2020)
James R. “Rick” Greenwood (May 2018 – January 2023)
Dan Seitz (January 2016 – January 2021)
Ashley Swaffar (January 2015 – January 2020)
Emily Oakley (January 2016 – January 2021)
Asa Bradman (January 2017 – January 2022)
Dave Mortensen (January 2017 – January 2022)

Not in attendance:
A-dae Romero-Briones (January 2016 – January 2021)

Introductions from Michelle Arsenault. She notes that the ZOOM webinar is being recorded and there will be a transcript provided as well.

Paul Lewis, Director of Standards Division from the National Organic Program (NOP), opens the meeting.

[In Cornucopia staff notes on individual comments below, our staff has included the commenter’s name and affiliation] Read Full Article »

The Cultivator – Fall 2019

October 10th, 2019

Summer 2019 Cultivator coverThe fall 2019 Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter, is now available online. Download the PDF here.

In it you’ll find:

  • Bird by Bird
  • Import Fraud
  • Conventional Soy Damages the Environment
  • Gatekeepers of Organic Integrity
  • Good Tilth
  • Toxins Found in Conventional Milk
  • Co-creative Culture

Read Full Article »

Renaissance Family

October 8th, 2019

The Prevailing Winds of Weatherbury Farm

[This article was previously published in the summer issue of  The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Rachel Zegerius, Assistant Director of Development and Communications at The Cornucopia Institute

Nestled in the tightly woven hills of the Washington Valley, 35 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, rest the rolling pastures of Weatherbury Farm, purchased by the Tudor family in 1986. Historically a sheep farm, in the mid-1800s this region produced one-quarter to one-third of all of the wool in the U.S. The Tudors still keep a small herd of 10 to 15 lambs in homage to this agricultural heritage.

It took only one season at Weatherbury for the Tudor family to decide that they wanted to seek out alternative farming practices, in contrast the high-input methods being advocated for by extension.

From Left: Nigel, Nancy, and Dale Tudor
exhibit flours in the mill room at
Weatherbury Farm

Both Dale and Marcy came from multigenerational farm families. They remember the days: their parents didn’t spend a lot of money on fertilizers; they spread manure and made hay—an approach that may be considered “regenerative” farming today. So, in 1988, they stopped using chemical inputs altogether.

Over the next several years, the Tudors raised a family on the farm, built a successful cow/calf operation, and ran a rewarding agritourism business—all while also hosting an on-site, farm education program. Weatherbury offered farm vacation stays as a bed and breakfast for 25 years, from 1992 until 2017.

In large part, the Tudors have kept the farm economically viable over the years because of their unique proclivity to adapt, evolve, and grow access to new niche markets.

This continuous innovation sets Weatherbury Farm apart and is personified earnestly by their son, Nigel. His decision to move back to the farm opened the door for their expansion into grass-fed beef in 2007. Read Full Article »

Certifying Small Farms

October 8th, 2019

The Challenges and How Consumers Can DIY

[This article was previously published in the summer issue of  The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

Source: Adobe Stock

Farmers markets are in full swing. Whenever possible, we urge consumers to support certified organic farm vendors first. But not all small-scale farmers choose to certify. To help determine if these non-certified farms still meet your standards, Cornucopia released our Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Organic Certification Guide.

Many local farms who sell direct to consumers, either at markets or through CSAs, have chosen not to go through the organic certification process. In some cases, the challenges and obstacles inherent in the certification process are prohibitive and do not serve small farmers.

While Cornucopia advocates unequivocally for organic foods and organic farmers, it is important that we recognize and explore these issues within the certification process. Michael Losonsky, the owner of a small organic vineyard in McMinnville, Oregon, spoke with us to help us understand his situation. Read Full Article »

USDA Secretary Perdue Betrays His Disdain for Family-Scale Farmers Again

October 4th, 2019

USDA Secretary Perdue made comments at the World Dairy Expo this week that have inflamed family-scale dairy producers across the country:

USDA Secretary Perdue
Source: USDA, Flickr

“…[B]ig get bigger and small go out. … It’s very difficult on economies of scale with the capital needs and all the environmental regulations and everything else today to survive milking 40, 50, 60 or even 100 cows, and that’s what we’ve seen.”

Small dairies and other family-scale farms support rural areas with food and local investment. They are a critical part of the fabric of the rural United States.

Many small dairy farmers transitioned to organic production in order to survive the economies of scale that have overtaken conventional dairy markets. Organic producers and consumers have asked for stricter regulation for both environmental and human health, setting organic agriculture apart from conventional.

Instead of giving support to the organic market, Perdue seems determined to subvert it on behalf of industrial organic interests. Read Full Article »

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