In 2010 former horse-powered produce grower Michael Hari (a member of the old order Brethren) launched Equicert, a business that provides services to horse powered farms. Equicert owns the rights to the horse powered farm certification mark.
For nearly 300,000 old order Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren people in the United States and Canada, the horse and buggy takes the place of the automobile for family transportation. For about 25,000 people, the horse takes the place of the tractor as well on horse powered produce farms all around the country. A small but increasing number of people outside the traditional horse and buggy religious groups are also trying their hand at farming with horses.
A certification mark is a special type of trademark that identifies characteristics of a product such as its geographic origin or compliance with a set of production standards. The kosher mark, USDA organic mark, and Fair Trade coffee certification marks are examples. This mark, registered with the government for its protection, helps horse-powered farmers to identify their produce as it moves in the marketplace as a premium agricultural product like organic, free range, or other premium eco-label products. Fruit labels bearing the outline of a man plowing with a horse and walking plow identify the produce of horse powered farms on grocery shelves. The certification mark can also be seen on labels for products containing horse powered farm products, accompanied by language explaining just what portion of the product comes from a horse powered farm.
In the past, people who wanted to buy such products had to go directly to the farmer to be sure of what they were getting. Now farmers can ship their products to the cities and still properly identify them to conscientious consumers. Equicert certified horse powered farms number over 100, as far south as Kentucky and Tenessee, east to New York State, and including most of the Mid-Western states. Last year produce from Equicert certified farms hit the shelves in many large grocery chains as well as small regional and local produce outlets. In today's green-conscious marketplace it makes little sense for horse-powered farms to market their produce alongside other cheap produce farmed with industrial farming methods. Consumers prefer the horse powered product because it pollutes the environment less, uses less fuel, limits producers to family scale operations, and supports communities. Producers like to see their produce marketed without potentially offensive use of religious terms like "Amish tomatoes," while still getting the premium price that alternative production methods can command.
Equicert also provides Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) audits, GHP audits for produce auctions and coops, and prints a quarterly publication (Equicert News) on produce regulation and food safety for the small farmer.
Contact: Equicert; 209 West First North; Clarence, IL 60960; or call 847-970-0131.
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