Posts filed under ‘organic’

Agriculture is Environmental Protection T-Shirt Available! Great Farm Shirt!

The idea for this shirt came from Jim Chen, Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Louisville during a live agchat Twitter discussion.  Dean Chen’s (known as @chenx064 on Twitter) original quote was “I try to describe agriculture as applied environmental protection, just as agricultural economics is now applied economics.”  I’ve known that agricultural economics is described as applied economics and also applied agricultural economics, so that was not new to me. BUT I had never heard agriculture referred to as ‘applied environmental protection.’  Brilliant! I thought the saying should be made in to a shirt, and with Dean Chen’s blessing I made the shirt via Zazzle.  There are several websites that put Twitter tweets and slogans on to shirts, but only Zazzle offered maximum customization, so I chose Zazzle.  Here is the finished product:

New shirt in support of the agriculture industry.

New shirt in support of the agriculture industry.

This shirt is all-organic cotton. I spend 99% of my time working with conventional agriculture, so I specifically chose organic in an effort to support other choices in farming.  In my view all farming is good, just different approaches.  And, if you prefer not to order an organic shirt the shirt choices are unlocked in Zazzle allowing you to order a different style of shirt. This is a classic t-shirt design made with 100% organic jersey cotton. The shirt is made in the USA by American Apparel. I’ve also added ‘via @chenx064 on Twitter’ to give Dean Chen appropriate credit and for you to show how ‘hip’ you are knowing about Twitter. (Including a Twitter username on Twitter t-shirts appears to be a standard practice).  Disclosure: Zazzle has a minimum royalty of 10% paid to me for each shirt purchased (Zazzle would not allow me to set the royalty to 0%).  As such, any royalties (if there are any) will be donated to an appropriate not-for-profit recipient of Dean Chen’s and my choosing.  Enjoy!

To order, click on the following link-


July 28, 2009 update: Jim Chen and I have decided to split the royalties from this shirt 50/50 to Ohio 4-H and Kentucky 4-H.  Further, I will also match the total royalties dollar for dollar. This has been a neat project, and I am very glad to have participated.





July 24, 2009 at 8:10 am 1 comment

Value-Added Producer Grants Available

The Rural Business-Cooperative Service of the USDA announces the availability competitive grant funds for fiscal year 2009 to help independent agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. Awards may be made for planning activities or for working capital expenses, but not for both. The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $100,000 and the maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $300,000.

Specifically, the grants may be used for planning activities and for working capital for marketing value-added agricultural products and for farm-based renewable energy. Eligible applicants are independent producers, farmer and rancher cooperatives, agricultural producer groups, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Please note that businesses of all sizes may apply, but priority will be given to Small and Medium-Sized Farms or Ranches that are structured as Family Farms. There is no restriction on the minimum grant size that will be awarded. In FY 2008, 31 percent of awards were $50,000 or less.

The following ideas are suggested for the use of the grant funds:

  • alternative uses of agricultural products
  • value-added processing of agricultural commodities to produce bio-materials (e.g. plastics, fiberboard)
  • green chemicals
  • functional foods (e.g. lutin enhanced ‘‘power bar’’ snacks, soy enhanced products)
  • nutraceuticals
  • on-farm renewable energy
  • biofuels (e.g. ethanol, biodiesel).

The FY2009 Value Added Producer Grants program opened on May 6, 2009 and the application deadline is July 6, 2009. For more information about the program, interested individuals are being asked to contact their State Rural Development Office to obtain additional information and assistance. A contact person, address, phone number, and e-mail address for each State Office is posted on this website For Ohio, the contact list is available at

May 21, 2009 at 7:30 am

Community Supported Agriculture

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting on Community Supported Agriculture. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is definitely growing across the country. News stories and features on cable television have given CSAs wide exposure. Since CSAs were first established in the United States in the mid-80s they have continued to grow. Renewed consumer interest in where our food comes from, how it is grown and handled, as well as the desire to support local producers has really put CSAs in the spotlight.

Community Supported Agriculture is a direct farm-to-consumer arrangement between producers and those who are willing to purchase direct from a grower. For the consumer, it is an opportunity to be a part of what you eat and how it’s grown. For the producer, a CSA provides a known customer base with guaranteed revenue.

CSAs are unlike farmer’s markets in that a person must join the CSA. Families and individuals who join receive a share of produce every week during the growing season. CSAs typically require an up-front payment to cover the grower’s expenses. Those who join a CSA a called members, and members may purchase a “share” or sometimes a “half-share” of the season’s harvest.

For the Midwest, the typical season would begin in June/July and end in September/October. Depending on the CSA and the weather conditions for that year, the typical Midwest CSA would run 18-20 weeks. During this time, all members will receive a box of the current week’s harvest. Items will depend on the month and CSA but can include: green peas, beets, green onions, carrots, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, melons, green beans, cucumbers, white onions, herbs, eggplant, and potatoes.

Shares range in price depending on the CSA and the locality, but generally from what I have seen a full share can range in cost from $300 to $700 for the season. A full share may give you around 8-12 items during the summer months and should be ample for a family of four, or two adults who cook at home regularly and eat a lot of vegetables. Some CSAs offer organic produce, and may charge more than CSAs that do not offer organic choices.

I do not know of any active CSAs in the community right now; however, I know of two individuals who have expressed interest in starting a CSA for 2009. If you are interested in starting a CSA, please give me a call at the office (419-238-1214) or drop me a note at

Examples of a few active CSAs:

Needle Lane Farms, Tipton, MI:

D.I.G. Local:

Friendship Farms CSA:

Full podcast available here:

December 17, 2008 at 7:00 am

Organics 101: An Introduction to Organic Crop Production

All Ohio grain and horticulture crop farmers who are looking for information on organic crop production are encouraged to attend this workshop. “Organics 101: An Introduction to Organic Crop Production” will present the latest and best recommendations for organic farming.  The program will include OSU researchers and organic farmers who together will present the latest and best recommendations for transitioning to organic crop production. Participants will learn about the organic certification standards and the certification process, soil biology, crop rotations and pest management in organic cropping systems. The economics of organic production, sources for approved production inputs, and the marketing of organic crops will also be discussed. University scientists and farmers will lead sessions on these and other topics and will answer questions from farmers considering organic production. For more information and registration information visit

Location: Ohio Department of Agriculture, 8995 E. Main St., Reynoldsburg, Ohio
Date: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

November 12, 2008 at 7:00 am

USDA: Synthetic Feed Additive Allowed in Organic Poultry

Organic doesn’t always mean 100% organic. That’s certainly not a secret to those of us in agriculture, but I imagine the typical lay-person probably has no idea that synthetic components can still be used in “organic” food. In fact, foods carrying the official USDA organic seal may contain up to 5% non-organic ingredients.

Case in point: methionine. Methionine is a synthetic feed additive used in organic poultry production. Ohio has a reliable poultry (and turkey) industry, although I am not aware of what percentage of that industry is organic.

Methionine was set to be removed from organic poultry production in 2005 and again in October, 2008. The current proposal placed at the regulating agency, USDA, by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) would allow synthetic methionine use to continue in organic poultry production until October, 2010.

The argument by organic poultry producers is simple: there is no sufficient replacement for methionine. In fact, there are natural products that can be used in place of methionine, but the supply of these natural alternatives is apparently lacking.

I surmise that the USDA will accept the proposal by the NOSB and methionine will continue to be used as a synthetic feed additive in organic poultry production. Is this bad? I make no judgment whether this practice is good or bad. The point of this post is to inform non-farm readers that not everything marketed as organic is free of synthetic additives.

If you really want to live the organic food lifestyle, free of synthetic additives, you must purchase food that clearly states “100% Organic” on the package. If the food package states “organic” or “made with organic ingredients,” it leaves the door open for the food manufacturer to legally use synthetic additives.

If you can’t sleep, you can read the full story in the federal register on methionine use in organic poultry production here:

August 5, 2008 at 7:00 am


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