Friday, November 9, 2007

Best Crew Ever!

Today was the last day for several members of our crew; four will be leaving for Mexico soon. But we still have work to do, so we can keep the majority of the crew busy for a while longer. We keep 6-8 people working year round in the packing shed & greenhouses, but much of the crew will return to work next spring. I made everybody (well, I thought everybody, but a couple people decided not to get their picture taken) stand outside (hoping that it wouldn't start snowing again) and smile. Back row from left to right: María, Frezbindo, Francisca, Simone, José Z., Gerardo, Adelaida, Nestor, Margo, José R., Richard, Juan, Andrea, Cristino, Rufina, & Benji. Front row L-R: Angel, Michael, Adelina, Brian, Alejandro, Aurelia, Margarita. Not pictured: Ezequiel, Ishmael, Irma, Rhiannon, Miguel, Hector, Glen, Dan, Brian.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's Snowing!

Okay, it was more of a hard rain* and it didn't last, but it's Monday, November 5th and there were flurries.
*(I met Bob Dylan's neighbor (or so she claims) at the record store in Madison this weekend. The record store guy was playing the Live 1966 release and it reminded me to see if they had Planet Waves. The clerk and I were chatting about our favorite songs & she piped in with the "Bob Dylan's my neighbor" info. Believe it or don't.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

USDA crop insurance!

Our only crop insurance is a USDA program, called NAP (Non-insured Agricultural Production), in other words, insurance for crops that are not the common commodities, corn, soybean, wheat and rice. It is a CAT type program, (catastrophic loss), which means it will cover crop expenses, but not cover the total loss of income, NAP reports to pay 27.5% of loss. Which would be $220,000 of our $800,000 loss. BUT, I knew they did not pay, based on Organic Prices, so based on limited past experience, I was realistically planning on only about 12-15% or $100,000 from 45 acres of crop loss. But this week was a sobering reality when I got the first payment sheets on four crops. They averaged 2% of our actual loss!!! How can this be? They use our reported yields from the last 10 years which are good, near or above the average yield, but the problem lies in the extremely low price that they assigned to each crop.(When is the last time you saw cabbage sell for .08/#??) and then a new factor that even the FSA field person was not aware of comes in to play, the UH (unharvested factor) ranging from .32 to .5%. In other words, because we did not have to pay a crew to harvest the crop, they reduce the already low payment by half again, so the resulting total of $150 for one acre of cabbage does not even pay for the cost of raising the plants and nothing for transplanting, cultivating, weeding, etc.
This is a new blow to our recovery strategy! I will fight it! Former CSA coordinator Will Hughes who is a high level official in the Wisconsin Dept of Ag, is arranging a meeting with Ben Brancel who is the head of FSA (Farm Service Agency) for Wisc, will let you know how it goes!, but don't hold your breath! We may ask you to contact him! If you know him or Russ Raider who is the state wide coordinator for this program, please tell them in a nice way that they are failing in their job and should be removed from the taxpayers expense if they cannot administer this program in a way that at least covers a minimum of losses!! thanks, Richard