(Not So Hot) Commodities

(Not So Hot) Commodities

Diana with Ryan Hartman at Four H Organics

We are a company with strong values that guide our path. With a mission to make “honest, wholesome organic animal feed products with the most heartfelt regard for our planet and fellow living creatures”, Scratch and Peck lives that mission to the fullest. Since 2010, when Scratch and Peck was born, our founder Diana Ambauen-Meade has been set on being as transparent in the process as is possible. Supporting our local community, organic and non-GMO agriculture, and happy and healthy animals are cornerstones of our mission.

When building a business from scratch (pun intended), where do you start? Well, you start with your base ingredients, and for us that means finding suppliers of raw, organic, non-GMO whole grains. We asked Diana what sort of research she did when starting the business. She said, “From the very beginning I knew I wanted to use organic grains and I wanted to source them as close to home as possible. I originally used the Washington State Department of Agriculture website which lists every organic farm and crop that they certify. If I could find an email or phone number I used them and in some cases I actually mailed handwritten notes.”

Diana’s dedication to her values made it possible for Scratch and Peck to be grown and milled in the Pacific Northwest. The “Buy Local” movement has gained substantial traction; the word is out regarding many of the benefits. When you purchase locally you are investing back into your community—supporting jobs and economic growth at home. However, in the world of organic whole grains there are a host of other benefits to buying local that are not widely known.

Our grains come direct from Pacific Northwest farmers or suppliers, yet that is not the route many feed companies choose. Companies commonly source grains from the commodity market to be imported into the US—the commodity market deals with trading raw materials or agricultural products, like oil or wheat, rather than manufactured products. This trend began when the consumer demand for organic food began to rise, but the majority of the United States’ agriculture was conventionally grown. With limited access to organic grains, brands began to use foreign markets to source their grains organically.

The issue there is that the USDA lacks the level of oversight and enforcement to ensure the commodity product is truly organic when importing foreign organic commodities. In order for a product to be imported as organic, the company must verify the supplier has a “USDA Organic” certificate. While invoices and receipts are kept, it is not required to trace back to the farm—grains are pooled together and their source origin is lost. With so many middlemen involved in getting a product from A to B, and so many people that stand to financially benefit from an “organic” product, there have been a lot of suspicion and multiple cases of fraudulent organic grain imports. Thankfully many of these shipments get turned away upon inspection, but that is not always the case. As with the 36 million pound shipment of fraudulent soybeans that traveled from Ukraine to Turkey to California, 21 million pounds had already been distributed by the time the fraud was discovered.

Consumers aren’t the only ones at the disadvantage in this scenario. Since imports have become the new normal, organic farmers in the United States are feeling the repercussions. These farmers are finding that there is so much foreign grain coming in that it is often difficult to find buyers for their grains. For farmers who put in the time and money and have finally earned their organic certification, instead of the payoff that was promised they face financial stress and uncertainty.

Ike Jahns of Jahns Farm

Trust and transparency are things we take to heart at Scratch and Peck. We are dedicated to supporting local agriculture by buying directly from farmers we know and trust. Sourcing local grains for Scratch and Peck Feeds gives us the unique opportunity to get to know our growers. It takes roughly 3 hours for Jahn’s Farm to deliver their organic peas, corn, and wheat to our mill, and the organic barley we source from Sno-Valley Farms travels less than 50 miles to reach us—we truly are a farm to feed company! Diana built personal relationships with these farmers, learned about their values, and worked out the agreements for them to grow to our high standards. Going the extra mile to know our farmers gives us the trust and confidence in the quality of our feeds, a confidence and peace of mind which we want you to share with us. When you buy a Scratch and Peck product, you can trust in your purchase.

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