The owner of Jirah Milling and Sales, Andrew Eastwood, told the editor of Sustainable Food News that the suspension would have a "tremendous impact" on the company. He noted that Jirah's customers "are certainly looking at other options right now." Eastwood indicated that his company will try to remedy the situation with CFIA.
CFIA's Saumur said that Jirah has thirty days to seek a review of their organic suspension. CFIA, administering the relatively new Canadian organic program, has yet to develop a formal mechanism for fines or additional penalties for Canadian organic regulatory violations.
Cornucopia said that none of the Canadian farmers that they had directly worked with on this investigation were willing to speak on the record due to fear of recrimination or violence. "We had one incident, related to the investigation, reported to us concerning the vandalism of an automobile to the tune of many thousands of dollars," said Kastel.
"Buyers should know," said Merle Kramer of Saline, Mich., Marketing Director at the Midwest Organic Farmers Cooperative, "that when we are in a $24.00 organic soybean market and they get four bids for around $24.00 and one bid for $19.75, it should be obvious that those are not organic soybeans. Unfortunately, for some the main concern is to get cheap organic grains and a piece of paper that says it is organic."
Marvin Manges, a certified organic farmer from Yale, Ill., said, "I have been raising organic crops for 25 years (21 years certified) and there has always been a strong market for what we and other farmers produce. In the last few years we have faced unfair competition from questionable imports from China and Canada. It's good to see that regulators are finally taking our challenges seriously."
In assessing the current regulatory crackdown, Jack Erisman, the other longtime Illinois organic grower, affirmed, "The organic marketplace is only fair when we are all playing by the same rules."
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