Organic farmers get high-tech tool
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
"I never met a single farmer that got into this to become an accountant," says the founder of Certified Organic Business Solutions.
A Eugene-based company is targeting organic farmers with a new online tool aimed at reducing record-keeping woes.
Certified Organically Grown Professional (COG Pro for short) is the brainchild of Richard Wilen at Certified Organic Business Solutions. Also the owner of Hayhurst Valley Organic Farm & Nursery in Yoncalla, Wilen has 21 years experience certifying his own organic farm.
Hayhurst Valley sells vegetable starts and organic produce in Lane and Douglas counties, and Wilen counts managing business records among his heftier chores.
“To be certified organic you have to keep tons of activity records,” he said, noting that every seed, crop, fertilizer application, even equipment cleaning must be accounted for. “I never met a single farmer that got into this to become an accountant. It’s an incredible burden. I’m hoping this will bring a little sanity to the process,” he said.
With more than 50 certifiers accrediting farms under the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s organic label nationally, Wilen argues sanity is needed. There are currently no uniform record-keeping standards for organic certification, and requirements vary from one certifier to the next. Farmers often receive incomplete instructions on what to track, Wilen said. And until now, he said, the spreadsheets, workbooks and checklists available to guide farmers through the process haven’t cut through the confusion.
A former anthropology student with a background in database construction, Wilen first developed portions of the COG Pro database to aid his own record-keeping on his farm. In January 2011, he launched COG Pro online after a year and a half of development and research on accreditation standards across the nation. He believes that COG Pro collects and reports farm records to meet the requirements of most national certifiers. The service is located at www.COG Pro.com, available to subscribers for $60 a year.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.