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Quarterly Newsletter • Spring 2018

USDA Eliminates New Animal Welfare Rule

Holistic Herd Health Management

Conservation Through Cultivation

Sage Advice on Finding Work Life Balance

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At PCO, ‘organic’ is our first language


s a nonprofit organization, PCO has a responsibility to its members and the community to have a positive impact on our corner of the world. That is a pretty tall order. How do we profess to do that? You might say that PCO’s purpose is to provide education, inspection and organic certification services to farms and food businesses, and you would not be wrong. But what all of those jobs really amount to, in a word, is communication. Could we measure our impact and develop our strategic plan based on the number of certified operations we certify or how many applications we receive? Sure. But what really feels impactful is how many people hear our message and develop a relationship with us. Our job is to make a difference, rather than a profit. We want to tell you something rather than sell you something. Which is great because we actually get to talk with you in a meaningful way. What better way to talk to people than to hold a meeting, right? I love meetings. Really, I do. Which is a good thing, because my job, like many of yours, requires that I attend a lot of meetings on diverse topics. So diverse that sometimes I feel I need to learn a new language. On a dairy farm I met with “thought leaders” in organic and sustainable agriculture. At Penn State’s Ag Council meeting we heard about “computational metapsychology” from Monsanto’s Director of “Millennial Engagement.” I can now use “internet artifacts” and “value proposition” in a sentence. But probably not the same one. I was back on familiar soil when I met with Pennsylvania’s Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and PASA’s Executive Director about animal welfare, organic dairy farming, poultry


Students participating in PCO-sponsored training learn about inspecting organic crops at PCO-certified Green Heron Farm in Three Springs, PA. Hosts Tony Ricci and Becky Smith are PCO Founding Farmers and have been certified organic for more than 25 years. Below: Miles McEvoy, former deputy administrator of the National Organic Program, presents advanced inspection training on how to audit international supply chains.

and grain production. I did not have to Google any of those words…. Expect to be inspected PCO’s 40 organic inspectors are hitting the streets and country roads on their way to performing more than 2,000 inspections this year. Our inspectors train hard, work hard and do a great job fulfilling their important role of ensuring integrity of the organic supply chain. This spring PCO hosted three organic inspector training courses presented by the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA). About 75 current and future inspectors from 18 states attended the rigorous courses over two weeks. Those who complete the training also must undergo an apprenticeship with an experienced organic inspector. If you have a current inspector on your organic farm or facility this season,

thank them for their years of service. If you have a new inspector, welcome them to their new career. In either case, please fill out the performance evaluation form they give you. Honest feedback from you is the best way to ensure that our inspectors will continue to be the best at what they do. Thanks for the calls and emails. I enjoyed our conversations and hope I was helpful. Talking to farmers about farming is my favorite part of the day and helps keep me “grounded.” A bit of a pun there. I look forward to seeing you and your family at Pennsylvania’s Organic FarmFest, July 28, in Centre Hall, PA. It will be a great time and the perfect venue for many organic conversations. Organically yours,

Leslie Zuck, Executive Director • 814-404-6567

Organic Matters Spring 201 8




president Luke Howard, Homestead Farms, Inc. vice president Michael Ranck, Charvin Organic Farms secretary Tina Ellor, Phillips Mushroom Farms treasurer Dave Hartman, Penn State Extension managing board chair Bob Eberly

3 | Best Practices for Holistic Herd Health Management Veterinarian and dairy farmer, Dr. Karreman shares tips from his trades


Preston Boop, Briar Patch Organic Kristy Borelli, Penn State University Ross Duffield, The Rodale Institute Beth Gugino, Penn State Extension Ron Hoover, Penn State Extension Ted LeBow, Kitchen Table Consultants Joe Miller, Trickling Springs Creamery Ponniah Selvakumar, GAPS EcoSys Andrew Smyre, Anchor Ingredients/ Precizion Ag LLC Marketing and Consulting Mike Spangler, Global Natural LLC

10 | Consistency, Integrity and Enforcement in Organic Industry Organic certifier training on traceability, fraud prevention and more


executive director Leslie Zuck administrative team director of operations Diana Underwood accounting manager Elizabeth Leah staff accountant Shawnee Matis administrative assistant Lia Lopez human resources manager Sandy Vandeven

2 | USDA Eliminates New Animal Welfare Standards Withdrawal of Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule spurs legal action

certification team program director Kyla Smith certification program manager Marissa Pyle operations manager Reva Baylets senior certification specialist Heather Donald certification specialist Justine Cook certification specialist Stephen Hobaugh certification specialist Cathy Jackson certification specialist Chelsea Johnson certification specialist Emily Newman certification specialist Craig Shroyer certification specialist Colleen Scott certification specialist/ forest grown program coordinator Tess Weigand program assistant Aleisha Schreffler program assistant Kristin Shade education & outreach team membership & development specialist Nicole Lawrence McNeil outreach specialist April Kocis inspections team inspections manager Liz Amos inspection program coordinator Ashley Madea materials team materials program manager Jennifer Berkebile materials specialist Sabine Carey materials specialist Adam Dalo

4 | Forest Farming: Conservation Through Cultivation Opportunities for botanical stewardship and niche marketing 6 | Sage Advice from Farmer to Farmer on Finding Work Life Balance Chris Blanchard, host of the Farmer to Farmer podcast, keynoted PASA Conference 8 | Modern, Family Farm Scaled Pastured Pork Production A behind-the-scenes look at the Rodale Institute Organic Hog Facility

11 | Building Your Farm’s Holistic Grazing Plan Dharma Lee, LLC helps farmers maximize their pastures 14 | PCO Welcomes New Advisory Board Members Farm manager, ag entrepreneur, and industry professionals join board

quality team quality systems & it manager Angela Morgan it specialist Garrick McCullough

106 School Street, Suite 201

fax: 814.422.0255

Spring Mills, PA 16875



web: OUR MISSION: To ensure the integrity of organic products

and provide education, inspection, and certification services that meet the needs of our members. PCO provides certification services nationwide

C O LU M N S 1 5 President’s Message

24 Organic Marketplace

1 6 Dear Aggy

26 New Members

1 8 Transitions

28 Calendar

2 1 Organic Updates Certification Legislative Materials Standards & Policy

On the cover: Toad by Sabine Carey, FreeRanging Photography.



USDA Eliminates New Animal Welfare Standards Withdrawal of Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule spurs legal action

By Kyla Smith, Program Director


he U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) withdrew the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule published on January 19, 2017. The rule would have clarified and tightened standards for production of organic livestock and poultry in the broad areas of: living conditions, animal healthcare, transport and slaughter. In addition, the rule would have eliminated the use of “porches” in organic poultry production and required producers to give their poultry access to the outdoors. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018. The USDA stated, “Significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule published in January 2017. After careful review and two rounds of public comment, USDA has determined that the rule exceeds the Department’s statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers.” This statement is in contrast to the fact that the USDA received approximately 72,000 comments, with more



than 63,000 in support of the new standards, and only 50 comments opposed. This withdrawal is the sixth (and final) regulatory action taken by USDA in opposition to this rule. The USDA previously delayed the effective date of the rule 5 times, beginning in January 2017. The topic of animal welfare has been debated by the organic industry for around a decade culminating in the publication of OLPP in January 2017. The debate continued on even after the final rule was published with voices of vehement opposition to those in full support. As with the larger organic community, PCO acknowledges that our membership is likely comprised of those with heavy hearts due to the withdrawal, to those feeling a sense a relief and those somewhere in between. Chris Pierce of PCO-Certified Laurel Grove Farms stated, “I’m greatly disappointed that USDA is withdrawing the OLPP, being it followed the proper creation process for over 10 years, it wasn’t a last-minute decision to implement.” As a USDA-accredited certification agency, PCO has chosen not to take a stance on the substance of OLPP but rather our position of support has always been anchored in the consistent application and enforcement of the regulations. While the existing regulations do provide some requirements regarding animal welfare they are lacking a level of detail or specificity, which has led to

inconsistencies. OLPP aimed to resolve these inconsistencies by providing more clarity to already existing regulations. OLPP’s withdrawal will mean maintaining the status quo — inconsistent application and enforcement of the current regulations regarding animal welfare by organic livestock operators and accredited certifiers. The certification community has discussed other avenues to implement pieces of OLPP through policy or best practices development. PCO will continue to engage in these conversations and keep our membership informed of outcomes reached. Perhaps inconsistencies can be overcome by certified operations and certifiers if we join together and collectively level the playing field though our own means instead of through the regulatory framework? The Organic Trade Association, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the Humane Society of the United States along with a host of organic stakeholders continue to pursue and support legal action against USDA for its failure to put into effect this comprehensive and much-anticipated rule that had been fully vetted for more than a decade by the organic sector, the National Organic Standards Board, and the National Organic Program. “USDA’s unconscionable action does not deter us. USDA is hoping this issue will go away, continued on page 14

Best Practices for Holistic Herd Health Management Dr. Hue Karreman provides an overview to managing herd health organically

By Chelsea Johnson, Certification Specialist

Observation is an important part of good organic farm management, but it can take some practice to decipher what you’re seeing especially when it comes to livestock. Dr. Hue Karreman shared his experience in a talk entitled “Organic Herd Health Management” at the 2018 PASA conference. Dr. Karreman is a veterinarian and dairy farmer who takes a holistic approach to herd health management. Dr. Karreman shares his expertise to teach what symptoms to look for and how to treat them without the use of antibiotics or hormones. These practices can be applied to dairy cows, sheep, and goats. Dr. Karreman explains that there is a three-part formula for healthy livestock: 1) manage to closely mimic nature 2) observe, adapt, and guide; 3) optimize animal density. He says that the best immunization plan is to provide fresh air, the choice to be inside or outside, lots of dry bedding, direct contact with pasture, a species appropriate diet, and lots of high quality water. This immunization plan goes hand-in-hand with organic principles of preventative care. Medical treatments which are organic-approved fall into three different categories: biologics, botanicals, and homeopathy. Biologics are products like serums, vaccines, colostrum-whey products, bacteria cell wall fractionates, and hyper-immune eggs. Botanicals are products such as garlic, ginseng, goldenseal, echinacea, and barberry. Dr. Karreman cites the book Veterinary Herbal Medicine (2007) by Susan Wynn and

Barbara Fougere as a resource to learn more about botanicals. Homeopathy is harder to explain, but the idea is that small doses of an ingredient that causes the symptoms of a disease can cure that disease. Dr. Karreman was at first skeptical that homeopathy would work, but in his own experience has found that it is often very effective if you understand the animal’s symptoms and are able to create a mental “drug picture” in your mind. Dr. Karremen also favors the technique “laying of hands,” which he finds challenging to describe, but useful to employ. With knowledge of these different kinds of products, you can create a toolkit that you can use when an animal comes down with “mysteriosis,” or a mysterious illness. That kit can include 1 or 2 different biologics, a botanical mixture in dextrose, antioxidants such as Vitamin C, electrolytes, and a topical antiseptic. This range of products can treat a variety of illnesses and help bring your animal back to health. Visual observation can be used to detect nutrient deficiencies as well. If

you notice a slight “S” shape in neck, the animal is likely low in potassium. An open mouth and laying down indicates that the animals is low in calcium; this is also known as milk fever. When it comes time for your animal to freshen, Dr. Karreman provides some advice. With a first calf heifer, only pull calf when snout is out. Furthermore, make sure the calf backbone is at the 11 or 1 o’clock position relative to the cow’s backbone. Twins are rarely good in cows, and triplets are not good in sheep or goats. If the mother retains the placenta for more than 6–8 hours, there is a higher risk of infection. He also recommends the “5 day rule”: don’t pull the placenta until a minimum of 5 days have passed. Goats and sheep need monitoring for internal parasites. Parasite larvae reside in the first two inches of grass, so grazing taller grass means grazing above the larvae zone. Letting the pasture rest for about 4 weeks provides optimum nutrition, but letting the pasture rest for 8 weeks allows for optimum parasite control. The best compromise between these is to let the pasture rest for 6 weeks. If you notice diarrhea in your sheep or goats, they may be infected with parasites. There is a multi-prong approach to dealing with internal parasites. Adding therapeutic forage such as bird’s-foot trefoil and chicory, which are high in tannins, can help prevent parasites in goats and sheep. Chamomile, black walnut hulls, and wormwood can be used for treatment, as can products with a mixture of botanicals and manganese and zinc sulfates. In fact, these kinds of treatments can be just as effective as synthetic parasiticides. Needless to say, this is only an overview of a very complex subject. If you would like to learn more, Dr. Karreman has written several books which are available for purchase at



Forest Farming: Conservation Through Cultivation PCO’s Forest Grown Verification Program offers opportunities for botanical stewardship and niche marketing

By Tess Weigand, Certification Specialist/Forest Grown Program Coordinator


sian societies have long relied on plant based medicine for a healthy and vibrant life. This is epitomized in their consumption of ginseng, specifically the root of this herbaceous perennial. Ginseng is thought to provide a wide range of health benefits when taken as a daily supplement. This trend toward plant based medicine has been slowly moving east and for which our western forest farmers are working to meet the increasing demand of medicinal botanicals. The mountains of Appalachia are rich in plant species that are endemic to the region including black cohosh, Solomon’s-seal, and bloodroot. Species like American ginseng and goldenseal are often overharvested from their wild populations due to their lucrative price tag. This is leading to their eradication from the landscape. As our culture continues to seek out organic and sustainably sourced food products they are also looking for herbal supplements and cosmetics that are of the highest quality and ethically sourced. When we farmers look at our land, rarely do we see the forested areas as providing us income other than selected



timbering. But, the developing market segment that is demanding sustainably sourced plant material is providing an opportunity for landowners to steward botanicals in these seldom used areas. Nontimber forest products can be defined as anything growing in a forest setting that is not timber. This includes things like fruits, bark, fungi, resins, and botanicals. Eric Burkhart, a Plant Science Program Director and Instructor at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, often refers to the desire to protect wild populations of these native plants while creating a niche market opportunity as, “conservation through cultivation.” The cultivation portion of this idea is referred to as forest farming and it is defined by the Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition as, “an agroforestry practice which cultivates medicinal, edible, decorative, and handicraft crops under a forest canopy that is managed to provide shade levels and habitat which favor growth and enhance production.” Through forest farming, growers can use an already existing infrastructure to produce botanicals of the highest quality with lower startup capital. In 2014, PCO introduced a new program called Forest Grown Verification.

This program established a set of standards for non-timber forest products that are produced and harvested in a sustainable and legal manner. The plants currently included under this verification are: American ginseng, goldenseal, black cohosh, blue cohosh, wild yam, false-unicorn root, bloodroot, ramps, wood geranium, stoneroot, and Solomon’s-seal. As the need for other species are identified there is potential for this list to expand. Producers and processing facilities are all eligible for verification. For producers there are two designations under which their management practices could comply. Forest Farmed products in this program are those in which the husbandry is intentional, i.e. understory cultivation, soil amendments, etc. On the flip side, Wild Stewarded production labels wild crops that are harvested in a sustainable manner with demonstrated stewardship. Verification is achieved similarly to organic certification in that it requires documentation, recordkeeping, and inspections in order to maintain integrity. It is important to note that this is a standalone program and clients are not required to be certified organic, though the programs often go hand in hand.

Since the establishment of this verification, we have been expanding the program and educating farmers, diggers, and consumers alike. PCO, along with our key partners have been working to help connect current and prospective growers with verified processors around the country, ensuring that their high quality and sustainable product receives a fair price in the market. In 2017, PCO was a representative at the International Organic Ginseng Symposium in South Korea, where we highlighted our Forest Grown Program. We are looking forward to continuing to build our international relationships to share information and develop markets. So far in 2018, we have developed and are in the process of implementing a Forest Grown Technical Advisory Panel. This panel will be comprised of industry representatives, educators, extension agents or technical service providers, and botany experts. When, during the inspection and review process, there is a question on plant specific management practices in regard to sustainability and

Tess Weigand, PCO Forest Grown Program Coordinator/Certification Specialist, in Jeju Island in South Korea holding wild Korean ginseng, the seeds of which were replanted. Opposite: PCO contracted inspector on a client’s property evaluating their ginseng and black cohosh for the Forest Grown verification requirements.

stewardship, the panel will be tasked with consulting the latest science in order to help guide decision making. This panel will be an essential part of maintaining the integrity of the Forest Grown Program standards. Whether you have identified these medicinal botanicals on your property, have forested land that would support their introduction, wish to support the sustainable sourcing and processing of these native plants, or want to learn more about the PCO Forest Grown Veri-

fication Program, please contact the PCO office. Also, be on the lookout for educational workshops from PCO or through other organizations like Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmer Coalition and Appalachian Sustainable Development. Maybe forest farmers just want to be in the shade while they work, but taking a holistic look at your farm could yield new market opportunities. Ultimately, the goal of the Forest Grown Verification Program is for the Forest Grown seal to be an identifiable label and quality marker for consumers, much like the USDA seal, while protecting these native plants from overharvest and generating income from often overlooked and underappreciated forest land.

FO R E ST FA R M I N G E V E N TS MAY 19 Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmers Coalition’s Grower/ Industry Expo and Training Kingsport, TN

MAY 20 Appalachian Beginning Forest Farmers Coalition’s Grower Field Day Duffield, VA

Herb companies, apothecaries, and herbal product makers will join experienced and aspiring forest farmers for a day of networking and learning.

Tour the Appalachian Harvest herb hub and discuss the economics of cultivating forest-grown medicinal herbs. After a catered lunch, tour forest farmer Ryan Huish’s farm, learning about his plans for cultivating forest herbs, along with plant identification and information on site selection and more. The tour will include a mildly strenuous hike through diverse forest ecosystems.

Session includes: • panel discussion with forest farmers and buyers • herb cultivation and propagation • plant conservation and certification • harvest and post harvest handling • value-added production

JUNE 15 Agroforestry Workshop Sponsored by PA Bureau of Forestry, Community Partnerships RC&D, and Mifflin County Conservation District Reedsville Fire Company $5/person for lunch and handouts Registration is required. ddunmire@ or 717-248-4695 x 3148 Topics include: • diversifying farm income • edible and medicinal plants • mushroom propagation • tree syrup production • multifunction riparian buffer plantings • small batch charcoal production

Farmers of all experience and readiness levels and businesses of all shapes and sizes who are interested in sustainable sourcing of forest botanicals are encouraged to attend.



Sage Advice from Farmer to Farmer on Finding Work-Life Balance By Aaron de Long, Delaware Valley Hub Manager, PASA Chris Blanchard, host of the Farmer to Farmer podcast, was a keynote speaker at PASA’s 27th Annual Farming for the Future Conference in February 2018. Blanchard presented insights he’s gleaned on achieving work-life balance from the more than 150 conversations he’s had with farmers on his podcast at PASA’s 27th Annual Farming for the Future Conference. Here are some of the common threads of advice he shared. n Constrain the work day. Rather than working from sunup to sundown, put limits on the number of hours you work each day. “Being overworked makes it difficult to make a living,” said Dave Chapman from Long Wind Farm in Vermont. Because you’re more focused and less exhausted, a shorter and defined workday can actually yield better results. Dan Brisebois from Tourne Sol Co-Operative Farm Quebec implemented a seemingly counterintuitive scheduling approach on his farm: During the height of the season, he lets his staff go home early on Fridays. Brisebois observed that this strategy results in greater efficiency and performance from his employees, at precisely the time when the farm needs it most. Photo courtesy of Chris Blanchard.


hen plants and animals don’t take time off and the work can be all-consuming, how can farmers balance work life with personal life? Leading sustainable farmers from across the U.S. and Canada grapple with this topic — and many others — on Chris Blanchard’s nationally renowned Farmer to Farmer podcast. Blanchard, who owned and operated Rock Spring Farm in northeast Iowa for 14 years before shifting his focus to farming education, is intimately familiar with the competing demands of work and personal obligations. As his commitments to his farm grew, his marriage dissolved and he found himself disconnecting with the things that brought him joy. “I had always wanted a farm with a trout stream,” he commented, “and in three years, the only times I went down to the trout stream was to turn on the irrigation.” With concerted effort, which included making space in his work schedule to take up hobbies such as taekwondo, Blanchard learned to take better care of the parts of his life beyond the farm: his relationships with his children and his current partner, and his relationship with himself.



“I’ve designed the farm so that it serves my life, and not so that I am a servant to the farm.” — DAVE HAMBLETON, SISTERS HILL FARM n Value yourself. “Valuing ourselves is a risk management action,” said Laura Frericks from Loon Organics in Minnesota. Put your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those you love first. Otherwise, you may find yourself losing sight of the reasons you are farming in the first place. “I’ve designed the farm so that it serves my life, and not so that I am a servant to the farm,” said Dave Hambleton from Sisters Hill Farm in New York. Additionally, recognize the financial worth of your work. Make sure you are developing and adhering to a business model that is financially sustainable, not only so that you can continue to do what you love, but so that you continue to love what you do. Anna Cure from Cure Organic Farm in Colorado put it simply: “Profits preserve passion.”

Some farmers have learned effective communication by implementing a clearly defined management model, such as holistic farm management, to guide decision-making and set expectations. Others improvise their own approaches. For Mike Brownback from Spiral Path Farm in Pennsylvania, effective communication between him and his son often consists of working through issues in email exchanges. In the Brownbacks’ case, the relative distance and impersonal nature of this method of communication serves to defuse some of the emotional aspects of managing conflict. I Ask for help when you need it. Many farmers are drawn to their profession as a statement and path toward independence, so can find it difficult to look to Photo courtesy of Chris Blanchard. others for support. Embracing commuI Communicate effectively to prevent and manage conflict. nity, however, has been a common theme in the success of many Clearly convey your expectations to employees to mitigate farms. Lindsey Shapiro from Root Mass Farm in Pennsylvania potential issues and confusion down the road. Lydia Ryall from accepted loans from friends and family when she and her Cropthorne Farm in Vancouver, British Columbia stressed the partner Landon were starting out. Many farmers have identified their market customers, CSA importance of taking the time to listen to the people around you and treat them with respect — particularly during the members, farmhands, and volunteers as integral to their busiest and most straining parts of the season. Farmers working success. Recognizing — and celebrating — that you don’t need alongside a partner or spouse emphasized the importance of to farm alone, that farming relies on community support, can discussing and deciding on a division of labor and roles to be key to maintaining your health and wellbeing. minimize conflict.

each winter, and leave energized for the season to come. The 2019 Conference will be held February 6th to 9th at the Lancaster County Convention Center. PASA, a sustainable agriculture association, strives to build a more economically-just, environmentally-friendly, and community-focused food system through education and research that directly supports farmers. PASA facilitates farmer-to-farmer workshops and events, administers apprenticeships for beginning farmers, and coordinates farm-based research on soil health and other topics. PASA’s Farming for the Future Conference offers farmers, homesteaders, educators, and agriculture and food system professionals four days of educational workshops, presentations, and panel discussions on a wide range of food and farming topics. The educational programming is interspersed with networking and social events, an expansive trade show, and regionally-sourced meals. The conference’s “Future Farmers” program offers fun and educational activities for children as well. Thousands of participants from more than 30 states and six countries gather at PASA’s hallmark event

Chris Blanchard’s Farmer to Farmer podcast provides a fresh and honest look at everything from soil fertility and recordkeeping to getting your crops to market without making yourself crazy. Blanchard is a veteran farmer and educator who draws on over 25 years of experience to get at the big ideas and practical details that go into making a farm work. Whether his guests are discussing employment philosophy or the best techniques for cultivating carrots, his down-to-earth conversations with experienced farmers — and the occasional non-farmer — will be time well spent.



Modern, Family Farm Scaled Pastured Pork Production A behind-the-scenes look at the Rodale Institute Organic Hog Facility

By Ross Duffield, Farm Manager, Rodale Institute


odale Institute designed and built our Organic Hog Facility in the winter of 2014–15 to allow for research on a variety of topics including production, pasture management, animal welfare, and farmer education. Our main goals on this 7-acre plot were to create a system that allows for high animal welfare and reduced labor for the farmer, while at that same time is scalable to a family farm operation that can use the fruits of this system to produce and market a high-value product. I, along with a former staff member, took great pains to measure the heights of the hogs, find the best quality of the concrete surfaces, the most appropriate watering system that is freeze proof, and even the tiny details of the most user-friendly latches on the doors, to provide a very workable model that farmers can either replicate or adopt into their present farming systems. Our facility uses a feeding and gating system that you would see in most confined animal feeding operations but instead of a slatted concrete floor, we allow our pigs to use a deep bedding straw pack. The straw allows the hogs to be comfortable and provides enrichment as they are playful and naturally enjoy manipulating their living quarters. The



straw and manure are removed from the facility using a front-end loader (typically only twice per year,) and then mixed into our compost operations so we can provide fertility to other areas of the 333-acre PCO-certified organic farm. Sows can make a nest in their 9×15´ pen where they farrow, at their pace and with limited interference from the facility manager. We rely on good mothering instincts and heritage breed genetics and in doing so, we have low mortality and high weaning rates for the four sows we manage.

After farrowing, the baby pigs have access to the outdoors almost immediately and are fence trained at 3–5 days of age. Hogs are very intelligent creatures and learn to respect the fence only after a few times being shocked. Our system relies on rotational grazing to reduce feed intake. Without having hogs that respect the fences, we would not be able to manage our pasture in a cost-effective manner. When the pigs are weaned from their mother at approximately 6 weeks, they are moved to their own pen with their own feeder and waterer along with

The hoop house structure houses stalls equipped with a feeder controlled by an overhead auger and two frost-proof waterers. Top: Hogs have 24/7 access to the large outdoor pastures through openings on the sides of each stall. Photos: Rodale Institute

a paddock that is moved weekly during the growing season. Rotationally grazing hogs is very similar to rotationally grazing cattle but the biggest difference is that we do not use grasses due to the fact that swine are monogastric and cattle/sheep are ruminants. Hogs are not able to gain much nutrition from grass and therefore, we must be very flexible in the species we choose to plant and select plants that are nutritious for swine. We rely on a combination of annual forages including turnips, radishes, chicory, corn, millet, beets, kale, and small grains along with perennial legume species like white clover, alfalfa, and birdsfoot trefoil. We often will establish pastures with a no-till drill, but we will rely on tillage to recover areas that have been in perennial stands that are ready to be turned over. Having hogs on pasture can create compaction issues along with areas that have been rutted by the animals. These problems can be reduced by planting covers that have a deep tap root (tillage radish, alfalfa,) but tillage is an effective means of correcting extreme problems. We believe that the hogs should be allowed to wallow, but the wallows must be managed by the facility manager. When a section of pasture is given time to recover, the farmer will then fill in the wallows and re-seed the area to allow for the growth to be ready for the next group

of animals. Rodale Institute also uses chickens and turkeys in the pasture rotations to clean up where hogs have been and to help manage internal parasites that may be present in the hog manure. Internal parasites are a major issue in organic swine production and strategies like pasture rotations, multi-species grazing, and holistic medical treatments are the few tools that organic hog producers must rely on to help combat the worms in the systems. In total the building cost can range from $150,000–$200,000 depending on what infrastructure the farmer already has in place. If the manager can reduce the amount of grain the hogs consume and can work their market prices to be competitive in their area, this model can potentially allow land owners with limited or large acreage to turn a profit and get more organic pork on the shelves and on the dinner plates to eaters in their vicinity and beyond. To learn more about Rodale Institute’s Pastured Pork operation, visit We will teach two on-farm workshops on Pastured Pork in 2018: May 5 and November 3. Another great opportunity to learn about hogs is at tge Rodale Institute Annual Organic Field Day on July 20 in Kutztown, PA. Register for these events at

Ross Duffield, Farm Manager At Rodale Institute, Ross is responsible for field maintenance including planting and seeding, maintaining the farm equipment necessary to work the fields, and expanding the livestock operations, particularly the vertical integration of the poultry and hog operations into crop rotations. In this unique position, he utilizes his teaching background and skills in sharing his farming expertise with aspiring and transitioning farmers. Within the last year, Ross has overseen the construction and operation of the Rodale institute hog facility. This facility offers hogs the opportunity to forage on organic pasture crops when they choose, as well as provide a shelter that is efficient and clean. Free access to pasture and a deep straw bedding pack provide a healthy place for a variety of hogs whether they are farrowing or finishing. Animal comfort is a direct result of the operation and a reduction of labor allows for the farmer to spend less time cleaning and more time profiting from raising these wonderful animals.

Side curtains allow air flow and protection from harsh elements. An open facility allows hogs to defecate outside, eliminating inside smell. Photo: Rodale Institute



Organic Industry Insiders Offer Insights on Consistency, Integrity, and Enforcement Organic certifiers gather for training on traceability, supply chain verification, fraud prevention, and more By Jen Berkebile, PCO Materials Program Manager

In the organic industry, where over 40,000 operations are certified to National Organic Program standards, consistency is crucial. Consistency means that accredited certifying agencies are uniformly implementing the USDA Organic Regulations; it provides a level playing field for all organic producers and promotes consumer trust in the label. And in light of recent cases of fraudulent imports, the organic industry is more focused than ever on adopting consistent practices to protect the integrity of the system and ensure enforcement against bad actors. It was with this in mind that organic certifiers gathered for the 2018 National Organic Program (NOP) and Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA) trainings in San Antonio, Texas, on February 6–8. Training focused on traceability and supply chain verification for organic goods. Betsy Rakola, NOP Director of the Compliance & Enforcement Division, presented on verifying organic imports. She discussed the potential for the application of prohibited substances during import and the threat that can be posed by the lack of control over brokers and traders that are excluded from organic certification. Timothy Cunningham, Texas State Operations Coordinator for USDA-APHIS-PPQ, discussed international phytosanitary and paperwork requirements for imports and gave a demonstration of USDA’s Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements



(FAVIR) Database; this tool will help certifiers verify that imported produce is not subjected to prohibited treatments when transported between countries. Documentation, including phytosanitary certificates and Emergency Action Notifications, must be maintained by operators with complex supply chains and made available for review during on-site inspections to verify that the integrity of the organic goods is maintained throughout the chain of custody. Preventing fraud in the organic industry was another timely topic addressed at this training. Jake Lewin, President of CCOF Certification Services, and Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of Regulator and Technical

Affairs of the Organic Trade Association, presented on traceability in the supply chain. Lewin discussed his work on an Accredited Certification Agency working group addressing certifier improvement for verification. He advocated for the reporting of organic acreage to the NOP and shared tools for tracking overseas shipments of organic goods. Wyard discussed her work on a Global Organic Supply Chain Integrity Task Force, which developed a best practice guide for certified operators to detect and report fraud. To start a larger discussion promoting consistency in material review, the ACA panel on “Best Practices for Common Material Review Issues in Crops, Livestock, and Handling,” shared the results of work within a cross-agency team of material review experts to arrive at best practices for many tricky inputs. Jennifer Berkebile, Materials Program Manager at PCO, was one of the four panelists, along with Johanna Mirenda of the Organic Materials Review Institute, Jackie DeMinter of MOSA Certified Organic, and Sam Schaefer-Joel of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. continued on page 20

PCO current and former staff gather at the NOP ACA Training in San Antonio, Texas. Jen Berkebile, PCO Materials Program Manager; Robert Yang, NOP Accreditation and International Activities Assistant Director; Marissa Pyle, PCO Certification Manager; Kyla Smith, PCO Certification Director; Leslie Zuck, PCO Executive Director; Johanna Mirenda, Organic Materials Review Institute Technical Director; Penny Zuck, NOP Accreditation Manager; Angela Morgan, PCO Quality Systems Director.

Building Your Farm’s Holistic Grazing Plan Dharma Lea, LLC helps farmers maximize their pastures by planning ahead and using the most powerful tool — their livestock! By Emily Newman, PCO Certification Specialist

Phyllis and Paul Van Amburgh of NOFA-NY certified organic, grassfed dairy operation, Dharma Lea, LLC, have structured their business around the land. Their mission is to intensively and intentionally use their land to graze their animals on robust pastures, thus creating a healthy ecosystem and optimizing human health. Phyllis Van Amburgh attended Growing Pennsylvania’s Organic Farms conference to share what she believes are the most powerful tools for better pasture management. Phyllis highly suggests starting with the creation of a Holistic Grazing Plan. This proactively should be done before the grazing season starts. The first step is understanding your lands carrying capacity. This can be done by looking at previous years’ tonnage per acre and creating an average. This number will provide you with a prediction of how much dry matter intake you have the potential to create from your land with similar

Phyllis and Paul Van Amburgh, co-managers of Dharma Lea, LLC. Pioneers in grass-fed dairy, the Van Amburghs began raising grass-fed dairy cows in 2003.

weather patterns. The second piece of information is understanding the recovery time, or rest period of your pastures. Phyllis stressed that minimum recovery time should be at least 25 to 30 days and that during different times of the grazing season, your recovery time will be longer than that. During dry times of the year, or slow growth of your pasture, you will want to move your animals across the paddocks slowly. During Spring and Summer, where your pasture is growing quickly, you will want to move the herd swiftly through the paddocks. Recovery periods are incredibly important: if it is too long,

grasses and clovers will be taken over by weeds; if it is too short, overgrazing will cause erosion resulting in poor regrowth of the pasture. The last step of the creation of your Holistic Grazing Plan is to create a system of paddocks to rotate your animals through based on your herd size, carrying capacity and recovery time. For the paddocks, the size is not of the only importance, it is also what is growing within each of these paddocks. Phyllis stressed you should be “managing for what you want.” And what is it that you want? Nutritious, energy-dense dairy cow food! By introducing clover into your seed mixture, this will provide the cows with higher energy. Another way to do this is to graze the grass when it is slightly draping. After your grazing season is over, you can continue to use your cows as tools on your pastures. Dharma Lea, LLC utilizes a concept called bale feeding. In areas of bare ground, Phyllis suggests throwing seed down and placing bales on top of this. The cows will feed on the bales, thus trampling down the ground giving the seeds contact to the soil and helping establish a new seeding. By bale feeding, you are always protecting the ground from germinating the unwanted weeds, such as thistle and providing organic matter. With the grazing season quickly approaching, it is time to get started organizing and implementing your farm’s Holistic Grazing Plan and making the most of your pasture. Managing your pastures is no easy task; remember to plan, monitor, control and when all else fails, re-plan!

Dharma Lea, LLC a 150-acre certified organic grassfed dairy operation in Sharon Springs, NY.



PCO Welcomes New Board Members Seasoned farm manager, agricultural entrepreneur, and industry professionals join PCO Advisory Board Ross Duffield, Rodale Institute, Kutztown, PA

Ponniah Selvakumar, GAPS EcoSys, Broomall, PA

As Farm Manager at the Rodale Institute, Ross oversees the Farm Operation and Facilities department and leads a team of nearly a dozen staff with expertise in orchard and vegetable production, small and large grain production, livestock management including honeybees, and general construction. Ross teaches workshops and classes including a three credit course titled Organic Livestock Management at Delaware Valley University where he is an adjunct professor. Ross travels to conferences and speaking engagements where he provides presentations supporting organic production and research at the institute.

Dr. Selvakumar is a CEO of GAPS EcoSys in Broomall, PA. GAPS EcosSys is focused on providing organic materials for horticulture and food grade coconut oil to the human and pet industry. Dr. Selvakumar is trained as a cancer biologist and has 70 research publications in the field of cancer biology and microbial food enzymes (food processing). Dr. Selvakumar has worked in Japan, Canada and USA and delivered presentations at various associations/ horticultural clubs including PennState Master Garner’s club, Tri-state orchid societies, CannaCon, and CannaGrow.

Ted LeBow, Kitchen Table Consultants, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Ted LeBow is a serial entrepreneur, has a BS from Cornell’s Ag School, has run 14 businesses, and owned all or part of 8. His first business venture (in 1980) was a farm in Idaho where he bought his first tractor, signed his first loan with the Production Credit Association and started waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the rain ruining his hay crop. He runs and cofounded Kitchen Table Consultants a business management consulting practice that serves sustainable food and farm related companies. Ted’s passion is financial sustainability.



USDA Eliminates New Rule continued from page 2

but this latest action by USDA will only invigorate and solidify more support for this regulation,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. Pierce additionally stated, “Even if USDA finalizes the withdrawal of the proposed OLPP Rule, I have confidence this isn’t the end of the road, these standards will see the light of day in the future. Consumers’ expectations being met is critical to the success and future of the USDA Organic Program.” With that thought in mind, organic stakeholders may wish to contact their elected officials to notify them of their position on this topic. And while the resolution to this debate may be destined for the courts versus congressional action, providing feedback to elected officials about OLPP also opens the door to the conversation of why organic is important to you, the value organic has to their constituency, and the need for strong standards, oversight and enforcement within the organic industry.

Andrew Smyre, Anchor Ingredients/ Precizion Ag LLC Marketing and Consulting, Mohrsville, PA

Andrew grew up working on his family farm in Central Pennsylvania. He attended Delaware Valley University and after working in the family business, he lived in Alaska for 3 years. Upon returning, Andrew took a position as an organic agronomist working to transition land in Pennsylvania. He then moved into marketing organic grain and began an agronomic consulting business. Andrew is a Certified Crop Advisor and has his Pennsylvania Nutrient Management License. Andrew is farming 50 organic acres and lives in Berks County with his wife, Kim and 1-year-old son, Lukas.

Support PCO at the same time through a program called AmazonSmile!

The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to PCO at no adiitional cost to you. To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to com from your web browser. Then select “Pennsylvania Certified Organic” using your existing account. Aadd a bookmark to to make it easy to return and start your shopping and supporting!

President’s President’s Message Message

By Luke R. Howard, PCO Advisory Board President It has been a slow start to spring. Snowy, cold and wet. None of the characteristics that I like for an April. We are about two weeks behind transplanting crops on our farm. It is always a nerve racking experience to be late. All of the worst fears grip my mind. However, I don’t feel like I have much complaining to do when I compare myself to the dairy industry. These are challenging times within our dairy industry, whether it is organic or conventional. With non-profitable milk prices it makes the trip to deposit the milk check an unpleasant experi-

ence. But especially within our family of organic dairy farmers. Organic dairy farming has been a stable industry. For the hard work of 365 days a year, organic dairy farmers had a stable, usually profitable market. But currently it seems this has changed. I am sure there are many experts that can analyze the reasons behind the decrease in price. But the bottom line is our organic family farmers are suffering. Some areas have even had to deal with difficult growing seasons on top of a turbulent market. Then with the slow start to this growing season, it adds one more additional cost. Very tough times! I am sure some in our organic family will go out of business. This is a sad event as most farmers look at their work

as a vocation, not a job. But when there aren’t enough dollars to go around then tough decisions have to be made. It reminds me of a book I read a long time ago by Dr. Robert Schuller — Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do. It is a fabulous book that really outlines several examples of endurance and perseverance. But maybe more importantly it gives some great examples of people who struggled and survived. Maybe their life wasn’t exactly as they imagined it would be, but they still survived and found new happiness and vocation in other things. Family has always helped me through tough times too. There is nothing like the honesty of a parent to bring reality to a situation. Or maybe the joy that our children can give us to make us remember that life is bigger than the problem I am worrying about today. I like to think that our organic family can be there to help people through these tough times too. Hopefully if you or a neighbor are struggling with difficult times in agriculture you will remember that we are family and tough times never last! We must always remember that whether you have a herd of organic milk cows, farm acres of organic vegetables or grow one basil plant organically in your backyard you are part of a family, our organic family. And we should always do our best to help each other. Good luck to a new growing season and I hope some warm sunshine finds us all.

Advertise in Organic Matters Organic Matters is the quarterly newsletter of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, a non-profit organization serving growers, processors and handlers of organic products. Issues contain articles on the latest news and research in the organic industry, often highlighting our certified members. Approximately 1,500 copies of each publication are distributed directly to members and those requesting information about organic agriculture, and made available to the public at conferences, exhibits and educational programs in the Mid-Atlantic region.


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* Includes a complimentary full-color calendar ad. The above rates refer to a single-issue ad placement and a subscription for ad placement in four consecutive issues. A 15% discount is granted for the purchase of the 4-issue subscription. For more information, please contact or call the PCO Office at 814-422-0251.










Dear Aggy Readers’ Letters

1 6 87

Use of Micronutrients Dear Aggy, I’m working with a new crop consultant this year. She just told me that, based on the results of the soil samples she pulled, she is planning on including micronutrients in most of my custom mixes. Am I even allowed to use these? — Martha M.

Dear Martha, Yes, synthetic micronutrients are allowed — but restricted — for use in organic crop production. Micronutrients recognized in the NOP rule include boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc. Micronutrients may be applied in sulfate, carbonate, oxide or silicate form. When using synthetic micronutrients as plant or soil amendments in organic crop production, soil deficiency of each micronutrient must be documented by testing. Soil deficiencies are typically documented by per-

forming a soil test which includes testing for micronutrients and comparing results with desired levels for a particular crop or soil type. Keep in mind that not all basic soil tests include testing for micronutrients, so make sure to confirm with your lab what is included. You may have to specifically request testing for micronutrients. In some cases, PCO will accept tissue testing (foliar testing) as a means to demonstrate a micronutrient deficiency. Tissue sampling can be a useful tool for understanding nutrient uptake and deficiencies as they occur in the growing season. For example, a soil test might show adequate levels of a micronutrient, but the plant itself could still be deficient because of other conditions in the soil (such as cooler temperatures or pH variations) that make that micronutrient unavailable to the plant. PCO will also accept justification of a micronutrient deficiency from an independent scientific source (such as your crop consultant, extension agent or agronomist) that utilizes testing as

supporting evidence for their conclusions. Examples may include a report showing that testing methods demonstrate a systemic deficiency across a particular geographic region or that particular visual indicators of the plant indicate a specific micronutrient deficiency. PCO may perform residue testing of soil to verify compliance with 205.203(d), which requires operators to not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances. As always, if you have any questions about materials, be sure to reach out to your certification specialist before application to clarify your specific situation and obtain confirmation on whether or not the application is permitted. — Aggy

Got a question for Aggy? • Email to: • Fax to: 814-422-0255

2019PCO PCO Calendar Photo Contest! 2017 Calendar Photo Contest! PCOlike would like toyour showcase farm, skills PCO would to showcase organicyour farm,organic and photography and photography skills in our 2019 calendar. in our 2017 calendar.

We are looking for pictures of your family and farm workers on your organic farm or handling operation, at work or at rest, throughout the seasons. We’ll display all submitted photos at FarmFest for in person voting and prizes. We will accept high-resolution photos via submission on our website, by email, or on a CD. 15,to: 2018 to: Please submit your entries for the photo contest by July 15 Pennsylvania Certified Organic 2018 Calendar Coordinator 2017 106 School Street, Suite 201 • Spring Mills, PA 16875 •



2016 Calendar



Transitions Record Keeping Part 4 — Livestock Production, Poultry Records to keep for poultry production

By Heather Donald, Senior Certification Specialist and Inspector In this last installment of our Record Keeping Series, we’ll be going over livestock production records specifically for poultry. Some repeat definitions: Materials: Anything that is used in, or added to, poultry production and outdoor access areas, other than seeds and equipment, such as supplements, water additives or treatments, medical treatments, egg washes, cleaners or sanitizers. May also be referred to as inputs, substances or products. Prohibited materials: The same as “Materials” above except they contain prohibited ingredients. *You should always check with your certifier for the definitive answer on whether a material is prohibited or allowed. Purchase documentation: receipts and invoices — formal or informal, which need to show the date purchased (not necessarily paid for) and the specific items purchased. Depending on your management style, a traditional poultry barn or moveable pasture pens, your records may look different, but all of the records we’ll go through below apply to all poultry operations.



Poultry must be raised as organic from the second day of life {§205.236(a) (1)} — whether they are for meat or egg production. This gives us a clear place to begin with our records. For day old chicks, you need to have documentation from the hatchery showing the number of birds that were shipped to you, the date they hatched and the date they were shipped. This document, along with your records of when the birds arrived and any mortalities, the inspector will be able to verify that the chicks meet the “second day of life” requirement. Materials used and surgical procedures that occur within the first 48 hours are not typically reviewed. Farms raising pullets (16–20 week old hens) for laying flocks must be certified organic in order for the pullets to be sold to an organic laying hen operation. The farm that receives the pullets must have a copy of the pullet farm’s organic certificate, delivery documentation showing the number of birds delivered from the pullet farm to the layer farm, and purchase documentation for that number of birds. Going back a step, before the birds arrive, you will likely have cleaned the barn or pens and equipment. This is important to note in your records as all cleaners and sanitizers used in the poultry housing, feed and water equipment, and any other equipment or structures that birds and/or eggs will contact, must be approved for use by your Certification Agency and listed on your Materials

Used Form. If a contract company is hired to wash down and sanitize the barn, they need to provide you with a receipt or invoice with the date of cleaning, what sanitizers were used, and if a final water rinse was done. If you are doing all of the cleaning yourself, you need to make the same notes in your records — when, how and with what materials. Manure management must also be considered when developing your record keeping system, both during production and at clean out. Manure should be monitored while the birds are in production to ensure that they always have “appropriate clean, dry bedding {§205.239(a)(3)} and scratch areas. This monitoring does not necessarily prompt a record keeping event itself, but if it leads to manure clean out while the flock is in place, noting this in your records provides further evidence that you are in compliance with providing appropriate living conditions for the health and natural behavior of your animals. If manure is applied to pasture or crop fields covered by your certification, application records must be kept in accordance with the crop production requirements and to show compliance with prevention of contamination of soil, crops and water (see Record Keeping Part 2, Organic Matters Fall 2017). So, your poultry housing and equipment has been cleaned and your birds have arrived. Hopefully so has your feed! If you’re changing over from nonorganic feed to organic feed, your containers or bins and feed lines will need to be cleaned, or purged, of any remaining non-organic feed. Purging must be done with certified organic feed, and you can get recommendations on how much organic feed should be pushed through from your feed or equipment supplier. As mentioned above, your records must show the date and method of clean out, and if purging, how much was purged and your reasoning for why that amount is sufficient. Once you start purchasing organic feed, you must have a copy of the feed mill’s organic certificate, purchase documentation, and if you’re receiving bulk truckloads — clean truck and delivery documentation (how much was delivered, from where, and when). Feed consumption is an area of

record keeping that often gets overlooked with poultry. You might have a computerized feeding system that can give you a report on feed consumption. If so, be prepared to share that with your inspector. Or you might be filling hanging feeders by hand, in which case, consider how much (by weight) each feeder can hold and take the time to weigh a few feeders after filling them so you know for sure how much they weigh when you fill them. Make note of this weight, as well as how many feeders you have and how often you fill them. Also include whether this changes during the course of flock, and if and when you change rations (ex: starter to grower to finisher). Your inspector will need this feed information, along with your feed documentation discussed in the last paragraph, in order to complete a feed audit. Health records for poultry generally cover the whole flock as opposed to each individual bird (unlike cattle). They must include mortalities that occur during the course of flock and may include sample weights taken for meat birds during their grow out. If you’re working

with a management company and have regular visits from a Service Technician or Representative, their reports will typically include notes about the birds’ health and production, and these can be included in your flock health records as well. Then of course, if an individual bird or the whole flock is treated for an illness, or given a supplement with the “medical treatment” restriction, these must be noted in your health records and listed on your Materials Used Form. All water additives, whether it’s softener salt or chlorine or a medical treatment, must be listed on your Materials Used Form and be approved by your certifier prior to use. Water softener salt is often overlooked since it’s not used specifically for the poultry barn, but the whole farm — but it still needs to be approved for livestock consumption. Chlorine products, commonly used in livestock water to keep the lines clean, must also be approved for livestock consumption. A chlorine product that is allowed for use as a sanitizer on equipment may not be allowed as a water additive. Some products, like regular Clorox for example, would not be per-

mitted as a water additive since they contain surfactants and other minor ingredients that are prohibited for livestock consumption. With allowed chlorine products, the chlorine levels in the water must be monitored, and recorded, to be no more than 4 ppm (or 0.8 ppm chlorine dioxide) for livestock drinking water. As with all other livestock, poultry are required to have year round outdoor access, with some exceptions for health and safety, including inclement weather, disease and predator threat. Outdoor access records can be kept easily on a calendar or chart, and must note whether or not birds were given outdoor access each day, and if not, what the reason was. Be sure to check with your Certification Agency on their policy for allowed reasons for confinement. Additional documentation may be needed for prolonged confinement periods. Lastly, we come to production and sales records. What these records look like will depend on the type of bird you’re raising — meat or eggs — and what your sales arrangement is with the continued on page 20



PCO Welcomes Certification Specialist, Craig Shroyer, to the Team Craig Shroyer, Certification Specialist Craig joined PCO in January 2018 as a Certification Specialist. Prior to joining PCO, Craig was a farm inspector for PCO and Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. He is the 2017 recipient of the International Organic Inspectors Association Andrew Rutherford Scholarship. Originally from Indiana, Craig spent 12 years living in Asheville, North Carolina where he worked on a Boer goat farm and for Organic Pharmacy & Wild Earth Market. In 2011 Craig married and moved to Penns Valley, where he and his wife live with their two children and dog. In his free time he enjoys fly fishing, gardening, and spending time with his family.

Organic Industry Insiders continued from page 10

Best practices were recommended for the review of several types of materials, including mined minerals used as crop inputs, livestock bedding treatments, and GMO affidavits. Some issues, however, require further clarification from the NOP, such as paper and container substrate as crop inputs and ancillary substances in processed goods. Finally, in an effort to work towards consistency in the organic industry, certifiers participated in Sharing Our Perspectives session. Attendees broke into small groups that provided discussion opportunities for small groups of professionals with similar roles and

responsibilities. Discussions focusing on such topics as Inputs, Education and Training, and Compliance, to identify common challenges and areas of concern and to share possible solutions. PCO’s Certification Director, Kyla Smith; Certification Program Manager, Marissa Pyle; Quality Systems & IT Manager, Angela Morgan; and Materials Program Manager, Jen Berkebile; attended the training, along with 79 other accredited certifiers and industry members. Together, the certifying agencies at this event represented a total of 823 staff, 946 inspectors, and 33,287 organic producers. This training helped make strides towards the goal of increased consistency in the organic industry.

Jen Berkebile, PCO Materials Program Manager, was recently elected to the ACA Board of Directors with a 2-year term beginning in April 2018. The Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA) strives to ensure consistent implementation of USDA Organic Regulations through collaboration and education of accredited certification agencies. They do this in various ways: • ACA provides a mechanism for discussion and sharing of information among certification agency staff members through our ACA on-line Discussion Group; • ACA provides information and feedback to the National Organic Program; • ACA provides detailed information regarding the certification process to the National Organic Standards Board in the way of comments on their Discussion Documents and official Board Recommendations; • ACA provides in-depth professional development training programs for member certification agency staff.



Recordkeeping — Poultry continued from page 19

buyer. For meat birds, you’ll have records of the number of birds loaded to go to the processor, you may have sample weights taken from before the birds left or weight might appear on your sale document from the buyer if they’re paying you by the pound. If you’re selling the final packaged meat product yourself, the operation butchering and packaging the meat must be certified organic — whether it’s an off-site facility or you’re doing it yourself on farm. You’ll need a copy of the processor’s organic certificate, a record of the number of birds butchered, an inventory of the final packaged goods, and sale records as the product is sold. For eggs, production records must be kept throughout the duration of the flock while they are laying. This is typically a daily log of the number of eggs collected. If you’re sending bulk dozens to a final packer, you’ll have pick-up slips showing the number of flats sent for each shipment and your sales records from the buyer should reflect the same numbers. If you’re also packing a few dozens and selling them off the farm to consumers, these sales must also be recorded if you’re selling the eggs as organic. If all eggs are packaged and sold retail by you the producer, whether at a farm stand, farmers market or to a grocery store, dozens packaged and sold must be recorded. As always — keep taking notes out in the field, experimenting with different notebooks, binders or tech devices and apps, and talking to other farmers! Call PCO to get or share ideas on how to make record keeping easier, and if you have examples of how keeping records for certification has helped improve your farming, let us know! Contact Heather at 814-404-1504 or Contact PCO for an easy to read copy of the NOP regulations and any of our Guidance Documents. Stay tuned for more on Transitioning to Organic. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to know more about, let us know.

Organic Updates

Certification Update Marissa Pyle, Certification Program Manager The signs of spring are slowly but surely starting to appear! Robins are emerging en masse, buds are beginning to peek out on the trees, and a few brave plants are poking their greenery out of the cold soil. Hopefully by the time you read this update, you’ve been able to start some field work and the days are more warm than they are cold! Here at PCO, spring brings a new cycle of reviewing annual updates for the upcoming year. Our operations staff are diligently processing your paperwork into our system, and certification specialists are hard at work prioritizing and reviewing your annual updates. As always, if you have any reason that you may need an early/priority inspection, please let our staff know as soon as possible. Reasons you may need a priority inspection include: adding new fields (inspection should take place prior to harvest of the crop as organic); adding a greenhouse or produce to your certification when you’re currently only certified for field crops; adding a category (such as livestock); or adding a new production line or equipment to your process. If you have any questions on whether your change to your Organic System Plan may need an inspection, please give us a call!

Speaking of inspections, PCO has created an updated guidance document titled: “What to Expect at your Inspection — Audits” that you should have received in a separate communication recently. This document clarifies some additional information PCO inspectors will be verifying on site as part of your annual inspection. Although we have always used auditing as part of the inspection process, we are enhancing and clarifying these requirements in order to ensure all operations and inspectors are on the same page, as audits are an important tool for preventing fraud and ensuring sufficient record keeping to verify organic integrity. As always, please reach out to PCO if you have any questions on this document or anything else certification or inspection related.

Legislative Update Kyla Smith, Program Director

USDA cites organic integrity as a priority in next farm bill The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) announced priorities for the next farm bill with Secretary of Agriculture continued on page 22



Organic Updates

continued from page 21

Sonny Perdue voicing strong support for legislation that will improve oversight of the organic industry and preserve the integrity of the seal. Secretary Perdue stated that the next farm bill must “protect the integrity of the USDA Organic certified seal and deliver efficient, effective oversight of organic production practices to ensure organic products meet consistent standards for all producers, domestic and foreign.” Organizations in support of the organic industry, such as the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and the National Organic Coalition (NOC), have also formulated their organic farm bill priorities. There are several commonalities, namely around oversight of organic imports. NOC states, “The Farm Bill should include additional resources and authorities for USDA to implement enhanced procedures to track organic imports and ensure that imported products fully comply with U.S. organic standards.” While the OTA’s 2018 Farm Bill priorities state, “Organic is a voluntary regulatory program that depends upon a clear market distinction backed by a trusted, verified and enforced claim, the next farm bill must include support and adequate funding for the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to keep pace with industry growth, set uniform standards, and carry out compliance and enforcement actions in the U.S. and abroad.” USDA’s farm bill priorities also highlighted the importance of investments in public research and rural development programs. These also align with NOC and OTA farm bill priorities.

White House requests $3M increase in organic program funding The President released his fiscal year 2019 budget. The budget is a blueprint for the Administration’s priorities, but it is Congress that allocates and authorizes spending through the annual appropriations process and legislation such as the farm bill. According to the Organic Trade Association, here’s how organic fared in the budget and what it means for the industry.

n The National Organic Program (NOP): For the first time in several years, the White House requested Congress increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Organic Program (NOP) to $12 million in Fiscal Year 2019. NOP has been flat funded at its current $9 million budget for years. The White House request reflects USDA’s recognition of the importance of organic agriculture in our nation’s farming sector. It recognizes the need to protect the integrity of the USDA Organic seal against fraudulent organic imports with improved enforcement and traceability implemented through technology investments and enhancements.

n The Market Access Program: The budget includes $200 million in funding authorized by the farm bill to promote U.S. agricultural exports. n The Organic Transitions Research Program: This research program supports farmers who are transitioning from conventional to organic agricultural production systems. The pro-



gram has been funded at $4 million over the last several years, and the President’s budget proposes to completely eliminate funding for the program for the second year in a row. While Congress is still working on omnibus legislation to fund the government for FY18, both the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committees have included funding for the program. n The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI): Contrary to news reports, OREI was NOT zeroed out in the President’s budget. OREI receives allocated mandatory funding through the farm bill of $20 million per year which falls well below the $50 million threshold aka “baseline” to receive permanent mandatory funding. If the farm bill expires in September 2018, OREI will not receive ANY funding in FY 2019. The President’s budget line item on OREI that states $0 for FY19 is simply an acknowledgment that Congress has yet to pass a farm bill and allocate funding for OREI.

Materials Update Jennifer Berkebile, Materials Program Manager The materials team at PCO is hard at work reviewing the new materials that you submitted on your materials used form with your annual update paperwork. As always, please call us at PCO if you have any new materials you are interested in using, and we will be happy to review them for you.

Material Review Status Changes Please note the following status changes for materials reviewed by PCO for use by certified operations. n ALLOWED — Contact PCO with any questions about the use or restrictions for these products. Crop Materials

• Biodynamic Prep is allowed with our raw manure restriction: Raw animal manure, which must be composted unless it is: Applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption; Incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles; or Incorporated into the soil not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles. If applied foliarly, operator must wait 120 days to harvest after application if raw manure has direct contact with the edible portion of the crop, or 90 days to harvest after application if raw manure does not have direct contact with the edible portion of the crop. §205.203(c)(1)

Organic Updates

Livestock Materials

• FS 102 Sanitizer and Udder Wash by IBA, Inc., is allowed as a teat dip/udder care product. • DeOdorase by Alltech, Inc., is allowed as a feed additive/supplement. n PROHIBITED — Operators must immediately discontinue use of these products unless otherwise indicated. Crop Materials

• Compost by State College Borough is prohibited as a fertilizer/soil amendment. • Compost by Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. is prohibited as a fertilizer/soil amendment. • Paper Chain Pots by Small Farm Works are prohibited as a crop production aid. Clients can use up until the end of the 2018 growing season. (see below for more information on this topic) Livestock Materials

• Liquid Organic Corner Post with No Oil by Free Choice Enterprises is prohibited as a grassfed supplement. Operators may use up until December 31, 2018. Processing Materials

• Vortexx by Ecolab, Inc., is prohibited as a food contact sanitizer/antimicrobial. Operators can use up until September 1, 2018. Paper Pots The National Organic Program (NOP) recently issued a clarification regarding paper chain transplanting pots. The NOP determined that the use of paper chain transplanting pots does not comply with the requirements at section 205.601 of the National List. Operators must remove paper chain pots from organic system plans after the 2018 growing season.

Standards & Policy Please contact Jen at PCO if you have anyUpdate questions regardingKyla Smith, Program Director

PCO Drafts New Policies to Clarify USDA Organic Production Practices PCO adopted the following polices on the following topics. Full text of these or any PCO policies are available by contacting the PCO office. Crops • Adjoining Land Use: This policy clarifies the expectations for managing the risk of an unintended application of a prohibited substance due to adjoining land use. • Baler Twine: This policy identifies the points of verification for the use of baler twine that has been treated with a prohibited material.

• Water for Irrigation: This policy clarifies the suitability, treatment, and protection requirements for water used to irrigate organic crops. Livestock • Artificial Insemination: This policy clarifies the allowance of this practice. • Off-Farm Livestock Boarding: This policy outlines the requirements for operations seeking to board animals off farm. • Transition Off-Farm Boarding: This policy outlines the requirements for operations seeking to board animals off farm during the transition period. • Certification of Auction Facilities: This policy clarifies the certification requirements for facilities that facilitate the auction and sale of organic livestock. Handling • Certification of Handlers of Unpackaged Product: This policy clarifies the verification requirements for operations that handle unpackaged organic product. • Labeling of Uncertified Products: This policy establishes the parameters for labeling requirements of uncertified products that contain any percentage of organically produced ingredients but are not certified organic. • Excluded Handling Operations: This policy outlines the responsibilities of various parties when an excluded operation is part of the supply chain. A separate policy is under development for retail establishments. Inspection • Inspection Refusal: This policy clarifies types of situations that will be considered a refusal of inspection, which may result in the issuance of noncompliances or adverse action. • Scope of On-site Inspection — Annual (for new and renewing operations): This policy clarifies the verification requirements by inspector during the annual on-site inspection for new and existing operations. Compliance • Maintaining Integrity of Organic Imports: This policy details the certification requirements and documentation needed to import organic products into the United States, PCO’s responsibilities in reviewing or issuing import related documents, and handling instructions needed to maintain the organic integrity of imported organic products. • Confidentiality and Information Disclosure: This policy clarifies PCO’s responsibilities regarding confidentiality and when and what types of information is required to be shared with certain parties. Full versions of the documents referenced above are available electronically on the NOP website ( about-ams/programs-offices/national-organic-program) or in hard copy by contacting the PCO office.



Organic Marketplace CROPS


Organic hay for sale. 3x3x8 square bales. Contact Richard Kauffman for pricing and delivery: 570.637.6509. Bradford County.

13 Foot S-tine harrow like-new condition. Excellent for seed prep. $4,000. Contact Ron Gargasz 724-520-7220, 724-730-6488 (cell), or email: Lawrence County.

Grass hay, 4th cutting, no rain, large squares, PCO certified. Analysis /delivery available. 717-535-5965. Juniata County. Organic hay for sale. Alfalfa grass mix, wrapped bailage. Round bales. Tests available. Pick up only. Please contact Melvin Stoltzfus at 717-362-8449. Dauphin County.

LIVESTOCK 100% grass-fed certified beef fed and finished. Finished on PCO-certified organic forages. Please contact Ron Gargasz: 724-730-6488. Lawrence County.



Rake tedder. New Holland 255. In good condition. All offers considered. Contact: 717-808-1402. Lancaster County.

SERVICES Ag plastic recycling. Black and white bunker covers, bale wrap, plastic twine, clear stretch film, greenhouse covers, flats, and pots. 717-658-9660. Franklin County. Will pasture organic cattle for summer season. Providing rotational pasture with water, shade, and minerals. Contact Ned Fogleman: 717-994-4630. Mifflin and Juniata Counties.

OPPORTUNITIES Executive Assistant Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) announces a job opening for an Executive Assistant. is position will serve as the primary point of contact and support for constituencies on all matters pertaining to the Executive Director. e ideal candidate will have education and experience in customer and/or executive support. We are looking for a well-organized and self-motivated person to join our team-oriented environment in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania; telecommuting will be considered. is is a full-time, non-exempt position. • Salary: $47,500–$58,000, depending on experience. • Benefits: health, dental, vision, disability and life insurance; Simple IRA, generous holiday, vacation and paid time off.



New Members PCO Welcomes 1st Quarter New Members! NEWLY CERTIFIED ORGANIC Aaron R. Stoltzfus Kirkwood, PA

Acorn Ridge Snow Camp, NC

Alan Coble Farm Ramseur, NC

Arden Byler Halifax, VA

Arrowhead Poultry Sanford, NC

Austin Farms Climax, NC

B&P Farms Bonlee, NC

Back Forty Farm (BW Pope, Inc.) Coats, NC

J Byrd Farm LLC

Lynn Deaton

Goldston, NC

Seagrove, NC

J.M. Johnson Farm

M&M Farm

Siler City, NC

Ramseur, NC

Jackie Hunter Farm

Mac Farms

Cameron, NC

Siler City, NC

James Doby Farm

Martha Chriscoe

Cameron, NC

Seagrove, NC

BT Farm

Eric McPherson

James J. Howe

Middleburg, PA

Snow Camp, NC

Matthew Gray

Mt Pleasant Mills, PA

Bear Creek, NC

Burgess Poultry Farms

Euroduna Americas, Inc.

JB Gilliland

Lillington, NC

Plymouth, MA

McNeil Farm

Goldston, NC

Goldston, NC

BW Pope, Inc.

Fields Family Farm

Jeff Burgess

Coats, NC

Carthage, NC

Ramseur, NC

Michael Walker Farm

Cain Farm

Flint Hill Farm

Jimmy Brown

Staley, NC

Sophia, NC

Snow Camp, NC

Cameron Farms

Fogleman Dairy

John Byler

Broadway, NC

Liberty, NC

Watsontown, PA

Cassius Green Farms

Fratelli Beretta USA, Inc.

John Nolt

Siler City, NC

Mount Olive, NJ

Port Royal, PA

Charles Parrish

Frozen Food Development, Inc

John Wengerd

Franklinville, NC

Michael Yow Asheboro, NC

Miriam Sheffield Farm Robbins, NC

Nelson Bowers Farm Pittsboro, NC

Fuquay-Varina, NC

Clara Todt Hanover, PA

Coble Farm Pittsboro, NC

Conyers Farm Linden, NC

Gary Emerson

Glosson Farm

New Beginning Robbins, NC

Montgomery, PA

Nog’s Farm Siler City, NC

Pittsboro, NC

Joseph Ferrell

Somerset, PA

Coats, NC

Norton Farms Bear Creek, NC

Joy Hare Farm

Balsam Breeze Farm

Hallman Farm Inc.

Brownfield, ME

Fuquay-Varina, NC

Snow Camp, NC

Fuquay-Varina, NC

Jonas Lee Miller

Asheboro, NC

D.R. Smith

Shiloh, OH

Bear Creek, NC

Grantville Farms

Toughkenamon, PA

Nelson Fox

Johnson Family Farm

Baer Bros Farm Country Fresh West, LLC

Geneva, IN

Elizabethtown, PA

Robbins, NC

Norvang Farm Siler City, NC

Ken Roberts Broadway, NC

Oregon Hollow Farms

Danny Pike Farm

Harrington Brothers Poultry

Siler City, NC

Sanford, NC

Darrell Wright Farms

Hen-Mar Farm

Franklinville, NC

Goldston, NC

David Thomas

Henry Esh

KNK Farms

Sanford, NC

Lancaster, PA

Ramseur, NC

Deep River Farm

Henry King

L&B Farms

Wooster, OH

Lancaster, PA

Asheboro, NC

Deer Creek Poultry

Heritage Poultry

Lamar Weaver

North Bangor, NY

Bear Creek, NC

Denver, PA

Deer Valley

Hickory Hill Farm

Lavern Zook

Bennett, NC

Randleman, NC

Lewisburg, PA

Delmar Weiler

Holder Farm

Laverne Wright Farm

East Earl, PA

Broadway, NC

Broadway, NC

Black River Farm (B.W. Pope, Inc.)

Doug McNeill

Horsefly Farm

Lee Owen

Pilgrim’s — North Carolina State Ports Authority Port

Coats, NC

Siler City, NC

Bennett, NC

Angier, NC

Morehead City, NC

Blakely Farms

Dutch Country Organics

Iris Terry Farm

Lloyd Campbell

Pilgrim’s Staley Feed Mill

Sanford, NC

Shipshewana, IN

Siler City, NC

Siler City, NC

Staley, NC

Bluebird Hill

Dwight Reichenbach

Isabell Thomas

Long Branch Farm

Price Family Farm LLC

Lillington, NC

Richfield, PA

Lillington, NC

Carthage, NC

Goldston, NC

Bryson Farms

Erect Farm

J & M Farms

Lucas Farm

Rackley Davis

Bennett, NC

Seagrove, NC

Baltic, OH

Asheboro, NC

Siler City, NC

Barbara Clabaugh Gettysburg, PA

Barbara Wall Staley, NC

Quarryville, PA

Kennedy Farm Robbins, NC

Liberty, NC

Kevin Lineberry Staley, NC

Barefoot Farm Linden, NC

Bill Doby Farm Cameron, NC

Billy Needham Farm Carthage, NC



Peachey Railworks LLC Denver, PA

Beard Farm Lexington, NC

Paul Johnson Farms Broadway, NC

Beal Family Farms Goldston, NC

P&J Farms, Inc.

Penn Vet Swine Center Kennet Square, PA

Philip Nolt Manheim, PA

Phillip Kiser Seagrove, NC

Ragan Farms

SNK Poultry

Tony Isley

Sanford, NC

Siler City, NC

Snow Camp, NC


Randy Smith

Stephen S. Zook

Triple H Farms of Lee

Adirondack View Farm

Ramseur, NC

Mill Hall, PA

County Inc.

Sprakers, NY

Red Hawk Rise Organics, LLC

Susan Beck Poultry

Sanford, NC

Pleasant Valley Farm

Thomasville, NC

Harpers Ferry, WV

T&T Farm Robert Payne Farm

Bear Creek, NC

Rodney Brown Farm Randleman, NC

Delhi, NY

Vernette Robbins Seagrove, NC


Vicki Phillips

Carl Modica

Bear Creek, NC

Berlin, PA

Elias Zook

Star, NC

Samuel Stoltzfus Jr. Tim’s Farm Staley, NC

Bethlehem, PA

Tyson Hill Excavating Mifflintown, PA

Elmer B. King Paradise, PA

State College, PA

Wenger Feeds, LLC

Centre Hall, PA

Robin Hill Organics Pasquale Navaro

Newtown Square, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

(Rheems) Rheems, PA


White Rock Farms Vass, NC

Advancing Eco Agriculture

Eastern Technologies/ Gary Reggiani Morgantown, PA

Middlefield, OH

Saunders Farm

Tom Morgan

Tommy Groninger

William Ring

Liberty, NC

Lakeview, NC

Snipes Farm and Education Center, Inc.

Tony Clifton Farm, Inc.

Wilson Poultry, LLC

Brian Bricker

Morrisville, PA

Benson, NC

Bear Creek, NC

Ephrata, PA

Asheboro, NC

Ryley Howells/Frass Valley

Bernville, PA

Beavertown, PA

Tim Dunn

Reedsville, PA

Mary Carol Frier Wade Bowes

Three Girls Farm

Roy Wood

Metzler Forest Products

Elsa Sanchez

Terry Johnson Farm

Asheboro, NC

Rochester, NY


Ten O’Clock Farm

Ronnie Scott

Leola, PA

Valley Farms

Mathias, WV

Coats, NC

Sanford, NC

Wildflower Farm Organics, LLC

Lexington, NC

Ronnie Love

Goldston, NC

Carthage, NC

Tamera and Edwin Hamilton

Carthage, NC Stanfield, NC

Turner Farm

Broadway, NC

Sanford, NC

Rocky Acres

Parker, PA

Daniel Eggert

Best Veterinary Solutions

Austin, TX

Mechanicsburg, PA

Box 361, 119 Hamilton Place Penn Yan, NY 14527 315-531-1038 Certified Organic Feed, Seed & Livestock Products from Northeast organic farmers for Northeast organic farmers ❖



Calendar MAY MAY 5 • 1–5PM Pastured Hogs Rodale Institute Kutztown, PA • Berks County 610-683-1400 MAY 7 • 1–4PM PASA Cultivation Innovations for the Small Scale Farm Kretschmann Organic Farm Rochester, PA • Beaver County, 814- 349-956 x17 MAY 7–MAY 11 • 8AM–5PM Photovoltaics Workshop The Good Farm Germansville, PA • Lehigh County, 740-674-4300 MAY 8 PASA Pigs on Pasture and Hogs in Hedgerows



PCO-Certified Blackberry Meadows Farm Allegheny County, 814-349-956 MAY 9 • 9AM–NOON PASA Cultivation Innovations for the Small Scale Farm Kneehigh Farm Pottstown, PA • Montgomery County, (484) 680-3778 MAY 10 • 2–3PM Webinar: Growing Nutrient Dense Vegetables Rodale Institute Kutztown, PA, 610-683-1400 MAY 22 • 10AM–2PM PASA Pasture Walk: Optimizing Forage in the Grazing Dairy Backwoods Organic Dairy Mansfield, PA • Tioga County, (814) 349-956 x25

MAY 28 Memorial Day PCO Office Closed

JULY JULY 4 Independence Day PCO Office Closed JULY 20 • 8:30AM–3:30PM Rodale Institute Organic Field Day Rodale Institute Kutztown, PA • Berks County, 610-683-1400 JULY 28 7th Annual PA Organic FarmFest Grange Fairgrounds Centre Hall, PA • Centre County See pages 12–13 for more details. STAY CONNECTED, VISIT:


106 School Street, Suite 201 Spring Mills, PA 16875

Spring 2018 Organic Matters  
Spring 2018 Organic Matters