Good Fruit Grower

May 1

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Organic & Sustainable Ag Food Alliance's FUTURE UNCERTAIN A lack of funding has forced the Food Alliance to suspend its operations, though its licensed producers will be able to use the eco-label through the end of the year. The Food Alliance, based in Portland, Oregon, established its sustainable food certification program in 1997 with the goal of helping growers obtain a reward from the marketplace for using good stewardship practices. The program began as a regional effort in the Pacific Northwest, but later expanded across the country. It has licensed growers of many different crops and now has more than 330 certified farms in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, most of which are small, familyowned businesses. It also certifies distributors and by Geraldine Warner food processors. David Granatstein, Washington State University sustainable agriculture specialist, said Food Alliance is different from both food safety and organic certification programs. Its standards cover four areas: • soil and water conservation, including nutrient management • integrated pest, disease, and weed management and pesticide risk reduction • wildlife habitat and biodiversity • safe and fair working conditions Are retailer-required certifications taking its place? It is one of few food certification programs that has standards relating to the social aspects of the business, such as how employees are treated. "There are many labels out there, and many overlap, but none of them are identical," Granatstein noted. "Food Alliance had found a niche." Financial difficulties The Food Alliance closed its offices and laid off its five full-time and two part-time staff in February because of financial difficulties, but the board continues to function. The current multiplicity of food-safety and sustainability standards was not a factor in the decision to cease operations, board chair Jeff Picarello said. The alliance, a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization, depended on grants in order to keep the license and certification fees it charged growers affordable. The alliance was constantly updating its standards and developing new ones, which made it an expensive program to operate. In recent years, some grants were not renewed, which Picarello attributes to the country's economic recession. The Portland Business Journal reported in February that Agriculture Insurance Specialists MCM provides personalized benefits and insurance solutions for individuals and businesses. We pride ourselves on offering our clients information and resources regarding current issues facing their industry, and partnering with them to make decisions for their business. Our agriculture practice group has the experience and knowledge to help you plan for the future and protect your assets. The impact of HEALTH CARE REFORM for agriculture businesses that employ seasonal workers is significant. Agriculture businesses rely on seasonal workers as much as any other industry. Beginning January 1, 2014, there will be a new set of rules resulting from the Affordable Care Act. Now is the time to understand the impact of health care reform in order to plan accordingly. Who is eligible for employer-sponsored health care? What if some of the employees already have coverage elsewhere such as Medicaid, Medicare, or the military? Does it matter how many eligible employees are on staff under the new requirements? You've laid the ground work for a successful harvest. Let us help manage the risks. 1325 Fourth Ave., Suite 2100 Seattle, WA 98101 20 MCM can help you understand the implications and make important decisions for your business. John Hickey Direct: (206) 343-3345 May 1, 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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