EAAA Producer Endorsement Scheme

Outline of the program:
The EAAA producer endorsement will create a "community of ecological farmers" who through peer review, self development, assessment and mutual assistance create a brand that will give consumers confidence that the produce they buy was grown under an ecological paradigm. The endorsement scheme will also serve to help farmers "climb the ladder" from conventional industrial agriculture to an ecologically driven farming system. The other pillars of the EAAA will lay foundations for this growth through education, guidance on ethics and research on social and natural ecology.

Goals of the program:
* To allow farmers to enter a supportive environment that fosters their desire to become more ecological in their farming

* To allow farmers to learn both practice and theory from other members and from the EAAA through community support and workshops.

* To allow farmers to be recognised by their peers for outstanding work in ecological farming creating a sense of pride in their work.

* To allow farmers to be recognised by their consumers for taking the effort and time to farm sustainably.

* To allow consumers to select produce that is grown ecologically and not through an industrial agriculture process.

How the program might work in practice...

Farmers in say the Blayney district who have an interest in ecological farming would meet as a group of 4-5 four times a year to discuss their approach to ecological farming and to seek feedback from their peers.

Farmers would discuss their initiates against a backdrop of what constitutes an ecological farming practice as defined by the EAAA. These would be benchmarked against a set of outcomes defined by the EAAA.

So, farmers would asses other farmers using a defined process and set of outcomes. This would be sent to the EAAA as a form of oversight that the process was being used true to purpose.

Details of the farmer’s operation would be mentioned on ecopedia on www.ecoag.org.au web site including success in moving key indicators towards a 100% ecological outcome. This site would indicate to the consumer as well the nature of the product they are buying and how their purchasing of that product is helping the farmer to create an ecologically sustainable outcome.

A set of workshops/seminars would be established to help farmers develop an understanding of key aspects of ecological farming including soil management, ecology of the farm, people management, and, financial management.

* 1. The program is designed to allow farmers to assess farmers, do you agree this is valid?

* 2. What comments, if any, would you make on such an approach.

* 3. Do you think farmers will be attracted to such a program?

* 4. Do you think consumers will be attracted to such a program?

* 5. The EAAA program is designed to both sit between Organics and Conventional farming. It has also evolved to combat the issue of organic farmers continuing in the conventional mindset but with organic inputs.

Do you think there is a place in the industry for such program?