Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Are you AgriTrue?

I am really excited about a new program that's just getting started.  It's called AgriTrue and it's designed specifically for small, local, sustainable producers and their consumers.  The whole idea is introduce a free market system without a bunch of redtape that will give consumers meaningful information.  Right now anyone can slap "all natural" on a product and free range chickens may never actually see sunlight.  Organic designation means that the farmer has done a lot of paperwork and little else.

So, I welcome the concept of AgriTrue.  Here's how it will work.  I have chicken, eggs, and produce for sale.  I meet AgriTrue's basic standards, so I register myself on their website, with details on how I produce things and photos of my operation.  You can hit the website at your leisure or I can post a copy of my certificate with a QR code in farmer's market booth or at my roadside stand.  You, the consumer, gets to know that I've met some minimum standards and you can see exactly how organic, sustainable, etc., my operation is.  I as the producer get free publicity on the site, and I can get a meaningful certification without spending hours and hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Here are the minimum standards (they're still a work in progress) from the AgriTrue FAQ:

The producer must guarantee that they do not use genetically modified seeds.

What are the minimum standards for plant based foods under the AgriTrue name?
  • The producer must guarantee that they do not use chemical herbicides.
  • The producer must guarantee that they do not use chemical pesticides.
  • The producer must utilize methods that improve soil quality from year to year and do not rely solely on chemical fertilizers.
  • No more than 30 percent of the land or space under cultivation can be dedicated to any single crop variety.
  • At least 10 percent of the land under cultivation must be planted with non food crops that provide predator habitat and/or allow for the production of organic matter for soil building.
What are the minimum standards for animal based foods under the AgriTrue name?
  • Animals must be treated ethically. Specific guidelines for individual species are forth coming but all animals must have access to fresh air, quality feed, reasonable space, fresh water and decent living conditions.
  • Animals may not be given antibiotics for preventative purposes, only for acute conditions that warrant antibiotic treatment. Such animals may not be used for production of any food for 21 days after completion of an antibiotic regime.
  • At least 20% of the animals feed must be produced on site, this can be via pasture feeding, harvesting feed for the animals, etc.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in learning about (and even helping design), visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/agritrue.

UPDATE:  A blog post by the founder describing his vision.

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