OPEN-FIELD CROPS DIVISION
Bishop James Crowder
Mission – The mission of the Open-Field Crops Division is to cultivate large expanse of land – make it sustainable by staggering cultivation – adhere to seventh-year land-rest biblical principle, while growing organic fruits and vegetables to meet supply demand and help alleviate hunger domestically and worldwide. (Lev. 25:4)
Goal – The goal of the Open-Field Crops Division is to be the major producer and global distributor of healthy fruits and vegetables, utilizing natural and pesticide-free sustainable production methods and practices, while protecting the environment and at the same time, providing on-the-job training and education to secure available economic opportunities.
The Field Crop Division oversees the growing of herbaceous plants, grown on a large scale in cultivated fields, primarily foods based in grains, sugar, oil, or fiber. Its responsibility also includes crops other than fruits and vegetables.
Laws and Standards
The Open/Field Crop Division of EIF collaborates and works closely with the government’s certified USDA body and all other professional and certified organizations to ensure that the organization is in compliance with all laws and standards to fulfill its God-endowed plans of successfully feeding the world and helping to reduce hunger.
Crop production is a complex business. It requires knowledge in many areas of expertise including, biology, agronomy, mechanics, and marketing that involves a range of operations functioning throughout the year. The regularity and when the operations need to be carried out can be a daunting task – the type of machinery or equipment farmer’s use, environmental concerns related to that component, and management practices recommended, are all important factors that minimize environmental problems.
Crop farmers have to:
Get the soil ready to plant (make a place for the seeds or plants to be planted).
Plant the crop.
Cultivate the crop. (Pull out and bury the weeds between plants).
Pick the crop and separate it into its usable parts.
Sell the crop, store it, or make it into food. Some crops become feed for animals and are stored in silos.
One current controversy related to planting crops, is the seeds chosen. More and more seeds planted in the U.S. are genetically modified (GMOs) to make crop production more efficient, better withstand the environmental stresses of drought, flood, frost and extreme temperatures. The seeds are also modified to protect crops against pesky weeds, insects, diseases, and to be resistant to herbicides.
The environmental concerns related to GMOs also include increased pest resistance, development of weed tolerance, and decreased genetic diversity. For example, insects exposed to a genetically engineered crop with the Bt gene (Bt is a natural toxin taken from the Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria, which is toxic to a number of insects) may become more resistant to pesticides. This is a serious concern for organic farmers who use Bt on their crops as an alternative to chemical insecticides. Another environmental concern is that over time, some weed species could develop a tolerance to herbicides that are applied repeatedly to a crop tolerant to that herbicide. A transgenic crop might cross with another crop or weed, resulting in an undesirable crop or weed species. Others are concerned that reliance on a few genetically modified crops may reduce biological diversity. Also, a lack of genetic diversity in the food supply could increase the risk of catastrophic crop failure and threaten our food security.
Organic farming encompasses both crop and animal production, however for our purposes of crop production, promotes and enhances bio-diversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony.
‘Organic’ is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act (of 1990). The principal guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole.
“Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil, water or other contaminants. Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.” This includes practices such as minimizing or eliminating the use of herbicides in crop production.
In addition to the ecological definition of organic farming, there is also a legal definition. In the U.S., all products that bear an organic label or advertise organic ingredients must meet or exceed the regulatory standards established the National Organic Program (NOP), regardless of the country of origin. Since 2002, organic certification in the U.S. has taken place under the authority of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) NOP, which accredits organic certifying agencies and oversees the regulatory process.
Certified organic farming systems produce and process products to uniform standards, comply with record-keeping requirements and have been verified as compliant with the regulatory standards by an independent state or private organization that is accredited by the USDA.