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Director's Column

by Desmond Jolly, director, Small Farm Program

You will notice on our cover that this is the "spring" issue of Small Farm News. Resource considerations indicate that Small Farm News should be published quarterly. We will continue to bring you timely information in a variety of formats, including this newsletter.

This edition of Small Farm News addresses issues concerning the U.S. organic agriculture industry. For so long, the industry seemed to languish in the shadows of our society. Organic agriculture is no longer a cottage industry. It is big business. With big business comes big problems, and sometimes solutions that can become problems. Such is being said about the National Organic Program Proposed Rule. In this issue, you will find an article about the challenges this former cottage industry faces as it shatters sales records and struggles to maintain ideological balance.

Within this issue, we also present questions and answers regarding the proposed rule, and a section of additional resources to help you make an informed comment before the April 30, 1998, deadline.

It has been said that organic production can cost more than conventional methods. In this issue, farm advisor Paul Vossen addresses that idea in his organic apple production article. For a look at a different enterprise, this issue's grower profile introduces you to landscape plant grower Solomon Teklu, a native of Ethiopia who sells organic drought and climate tolerant potted plants at prices lower than conventional methods.

Below is an article published in the New York Times on March 3, 1998, that says better than I could what small farms mean to the United States. We must continue the fight to keep our vital resource alive.