FOX GUARDING THE HENHOUSE

            "I told you so" often comes off as a bit snarky and prideful, but I can't help it.  Some 30 years ago when the organic farming community was ga-ga over government organic certification, I said long and loud that it would eventually be a boondoggle like every other government program.  And to my wonderful friends in this community, I queried them why they thought putting the folks who had pooh-poohed everything about our tribe for decades in charge of determining the veracity of our practices would be a good idea.

             The Real Organic Project, which has fast moved to the front of the movement's conscience, has printed a long portion of a letter from certifying agency Americert that proves several things.  The most egregious is that in hydroponics and container-growing, no wait time is necessary to grant organic certification.

             The law that established the National Organic Program clearly talks about soil and about a 3-year wait requirement in environments where toxic prohibited chemicals have been used.  But once the soil requirement went by the wayside (the U.S. is the only country to do so) it was inevitable that the wait period would too.

             So you can have a hydroponic greenhouse operation that fumigates with glyphosate or any other toxic substance one day, then goes in with plants the next day and be certified.  Not only can it happen, it is happening, with regularity.

             What is it about the U.S. that makes us unwilling to be honest?  Why do we have to lead the world in demonizing lard, butter, real milk and in promoting hydrogenated vegetable oils and now fake meat?  This is not Democrat or Republican.  It's been going on a long time.  As much as I love my country, more and more I feel embarrassed by it, especially when I travel the world and read their newspapers and talk to folks abroad.

             And now, in the organic or clean food movement, we lead the world in adulterating the concept, in dumping chemicalized produce and factory farmed meat on the market that no country in the world would certify as organic, but we do it in spades and are apparently proud of it. 

             In this instance, it all started, in my opinion, when well-meaning people thought they could trust the government to deliver honesty.  Folks, when in the world are we going to wake up to the fact that the government does not deliver honesty?  It delivers expedience, status-quo incentivizing regulations, and inefficiency.  Louis Bromfield, that great paragon of early biological farming, gave his farm to the state of Ohio.  What a mistake.  Today, it's a complete disaster.

             I was asked a couple of years ago to be on a committee to decide what to do with it and I suggested "give it to half a dozen entrepreneur farmers and get the government out of it."  They didn't like me.  Under state control, the innovative edge left quickly and now it's just a vacant shell of nothing, costing the state instead of being productive.  Why would a guy supposedly as sharp as Bromfield think for a moment that his legacy could be continued with state ownership?

             It's almost like when people get wealthy and powerful they start commiserating with politicians and bureaucrats, who love to hobnob with movers and shakers, and then go soft in the head.  They think the government can perpetuate the climate of innovation and entrepreneurship that got them where they are.  It's absurd.  But it's just like my sincere-hearted friends in the organic movement 30 years ago:  well meaning but naive as babes about the machinations and eventual dishonesty of government.  And yes, this applies to EVERYTHING.

             The folks who wanted ecological incentives in USDA programs, like riparian protection and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) ended up with permanent livestock watering stations that PRECLUDE proper grazing management.  When the Chesapeake Bay Foundation got millions of dollars in state funding to help farmers with toxic waste abatement, we got manure lagoons and dumped more poop in the bay than before we had the program.  I mean, it goes on and on and on.

             Can you name one sincerely-begun government program that didn't end up adulterated over time?