KT Organic Farms, Kewaskum, WI
Born in 1965, Kevin has always called Kewaskum home. “Farming is what I always wanted to do although I could have done a lot of things. I was the 9th oldest of out ten kids and a lot of it was timing,” he explained. “By the time I graduated from high school I had twenty heifers. In 1985 at age twenty I rented the farm from my dad who passed away seven months later. It was kind of scary the first year,” Kevin chuckled, “but I did a lot of learning on my own and from those around me and was fortunate to have an uncle farming down the road. There certainly are a lot more resources available now to beginning farmers.” In 1988, Kevin completed the purchase of the 120- acre family farm which now bears the simple name of K.T. Organic Farms. Kevin began shipping organic milk to CROPP in 1993, and since 2007 has been farming the land with his wife Lynn. To read more about how they dealt with the twists and turns of fate, family disasters and are now working on transferring the farm to a team of brothers go to:
Hydroponics: What is the Big Deal?
The National Organic Standard Board (NOSB) meeting in Stowe, VT featured a demonstration by Vermont and Maine farmers and their supporters about hydroponics, an issue which the NOSB has already made recommendations five years ago, but the NOP said they needed more information before rulemaking. The hydroponic issue was also raised by many in the verbal comments session to the Board. The farmers that took the time away from their farms to stage a very polite protest for an hour or so outside the NOSB meeting stressed the importance of cultivating, building, improving and replenishing the soil and the environment as central to the integrity of the organic label. They also accepted that they have a responsibility to play an active role in maintaining that integrity. Liana Hoodes made the same point at the NODPA Field Days, that farmers have a responsibility to safeguard the label by being involved with the process of rulemaking and deciding policy.
Often it’s the scientist or the consumer or the environmentalist that has the center stage in presenting opinion, scientific evidence and then justification in deciding what is acceptable in organic production. The voice of the farmer must be heard, especially when those decisions that are being made make no practical farming sense or common sense. Economic growth, the preservation of economic investment, or the status quo cannot be arguments that prevail at the expense of the future integrity of the organic label. With organic dairy, we went through the process where NOP said the regulation on access to pasture was not legally explicit enough to enforce and large dairies were already established that would suffer ‘economic hardship’ with a strict enforcement. We also have that issue with Animal Welfare and now, it appears, with hydroponics.
From a farmer’s point of view these seem like non-issues (of course growing and harvesting crops that aren’t grown in soil is not organic) but we do need to participate in the decision-making process to ensure that regulations are explicit and legally enforceable. Otherwise, we will lose the market to large, capital intensive operations that can game the system, especially now that organic is a worldwide commodity. For more details about what is happening with the process around allowing USDA NOP organic hydroponics in domestic and foreign production, plus the process of addressing farmer concerns, please go to:
NOSB MEETING, Stowe, Vermont
Oct 26-29, 2015
By Dr. Jean Richardson
“The meeting in Stowe was very well attended, with about 200 attendees, including 110 people who made public comment. This was in addition to the 35 additional people who had provided public comment during the Webinar format public comment in the two weeks prior to the Stowe meeting. These opportunities for public comment via an internet webinar allowed the NOSB to receive comment from farmers and veterinarians and others who could not come to the meeting in Stowe, including one person calling in from Australia to support the addition of sodium and potassium lactate for use in meat processing. Public Comment was certainly one of the highlights for me.” To read the full text of Jean article please go to: