CSA Farming FAQ

CSA Farming Questions and Answers

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CSA FARMING FAQ: Question #1: Do the CSA participants actually own a "share" in my (dairy) goats and chickens?

I would have to say, "yes", in so much as they have pre-paid to purchase a share with the expectation of deriving the benefits of having a supply of fresh, unpasturized, whole milk and farm fresh eggs, for a designated period of time. They may not actually own a dairy critter or a laying hen in the sense that they can come to the farm and take it away with them, but the do own an interest in the "whole".

CSA FARMING FAQ: Question #2: They can't say "NO" if I wanted to sell all my dairy goats just because they have a "share" in my total "farm produce" do they?

I would venture the opinion that the shareholders may get very mad if you, suddenly, sold the dairy goats and cut off that portion of their food supply, but I'm not sure they could actually step in and stop you from sellingyour herd, especially if you've met your obligation to your pre-paid shareholders for the specified period of time. That's where the importance of written agreements comes in. It's between the farmer and the shareholder to sit down and discuss the options available to both parties, whether those optionsneed to be exercised because of serious illness, death, or a failed farming enterprise. That's the beauty of a CSA. It's a matter of trust that is built up on the personal level.

CSA FARMING FAQ: Question #3: Say I decide that I do not want to raise green beans this year. The participants do not have a "SAY" whether I do or do not raise them...correct?

That is, most certainly, correct. If it's not profitable or feasible for you to supply a crop of fresh green beans, or anything else, then you won't be forced into continuing to offer such things. What you do an do not offer a CSA subscriber is strictly between you, the farmer, and the shareholder.

CSA FARMING FAQ: Question #4: Say someone is used to getting goat milk from me. I sell my dairy goats. They can't yell "foul" and make me pay them $4 a week (milk value??) for the remainder of the CSA year period?

If the CSA shareholder had already pre-paid for a one year "herd share", which entitles them to a percentage of the supply of milk from that herd for a period of one year, you may owe them a refund. Once that refund is paid, I wouldthink there would be no way a customer could expect a farmer to compensate for the increased cost of another source of milk, or lack of another source, but then, I'm not a lawyer.

When you say, "I would not agree or participate in a program that dictates to me what I will or will not produce, or what I keep and what I sell off my farm!", I believe you have stated it very well. (Government programs do try to dictate such things, which is another reason farmers are trying alternative measures.)

Every farm and every farmer is going to have their limitations. For a customer to expect those limitations to be exceeded would be counter productive to the reasoning behind joining a CSA, in the first place. The CSA subscriber wants the very best the farm and farmer has to offer. As a rule, a CSA is not a source of cheap food. If you want the best, you can expect to pay for it and those who produce the best should expect to be properly compensated for their talents and for their efforts.

Written by Jesse Taylor

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