Originally called Demeter certification, the expectations for farmers being certified organic spread across fruit and vegetable industries and grain and dairy. Bobbi Jo talked with Dr. Erin Silva, an extension specialist and assistant professor in organic agriculture at UW-Madison. She tells us about the nuances and misconceptions organic faces.
A foundation aspect of organic production is, of course, is land management and soil stewardship. Farmers not only have to maintain their soil, but enhance it through cover crops, rotation, and fertility enhancement.
“When people think of organic, they often think of the the national list, which is the list of compounds that an organic farmer can or cannot use,” said Dr. Silver, but organic regulations are much more than that.
Organic livestock must have access outdoors and have a certain amount of their diet be pasture. Many know this, but Dr. Silva said many consumers don’t realize the intensity of regulations or that it has more to do with how farmers produce their products than what is actually in the food.
Wisconsin is the second leading producer of organics, trailing only behind California. While dairy has seen a slowing down in certification, more and more farmers and certifying their grain fields.