Conference to unite organic, conventional farmers

Posted Jan. 10, 2011, at 10:47 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Mischa Popoff, an advanced organic inspector and author of “Is it Organic?” and Lauchlin Titus, crop consultant with AgMatters of Maine, will be keynote speakers at the second annual Convergence Conference at the Maine Agricultural Trade Show on Tuesday.

The conference is sponsored by the Maine Farm Bureau and supported by the Maine Department of Agriculture.

Popoff will highlight the steps involved in ensuring that organic products are truly organic, and Titus will discuss how to ensure that both organic and conventional products are safe for the consumer. In many cases, the government requires large amounts of paperwork for both programs, some of which may not necessarily ensure that the product consumers get is truly safe, according to Popoff.

Popoff states in his book “Is it Organic?” that the federal organic certification systems in the United States and Canada are as weak as things can get. Popoff states that without field testing and surprise inspections for organic produce, it’s all just paperwork in the end.

Titus, owner and consultant with AgMatters will talk about the paperwork now required of farmers, called Good Agricultural Practices or GAP.

The GAP certification process is being used by the marketplace to assure consumers that food is safely grown, whether organic or not. All farmers are very interested in GAP training.

“This is a good system, and with some tweaking, should have great benefit to all farmers,” according to Titus.

The Convergence Workshop is a place where organic and conventional farmers can come together to discuss issues of mutual concern.

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