Expectations and Guidelines for Iowa Food Cooperative Producer Members

This document outlines expectations of IFC producer members on seven topics. We spell these out here so everyone knows what is expected. These were developed to help assure smooth, efficient, and transparent operations. We will help producers comply with these expectations, and we will monitor compliance and work with producers when there are problems to make corrections. The IFC Board of Directors also reserves the right to revise these expectations.

Our expectations:

1.  Producers will deliver good quality product (clean, in good condition, etc). Staff will inspect product as it arrives. If the quality appears to be an issue, the distribution coordinator and two others will examine the product and reach a consensus on whether or not to accept the product. Producers will not be paid for product deemed unacceptable, and consumers will not be required to pay for these products. A total rejection of a producer’s product for quality issues will trigger step 1 of the Iowa Food Cooperative Conflict and Arbitration Policy.

Product labeling

2.  Producers will deliver properly packaged and labeled product. Over 1,000 different products come into our space, so we must be able to easily find them when consumer members arrive. Labels on most packages [1] are how this is done. The biggest issues have been with frozen meats. We need frozen meats packaged in clear plastic bags so we can easily see inside the bags to check to see if all the products ordered are in the bag. Labels should be put into the bag with the frozen product because tape does not keep labels secured to the outside of bags in our freezers. Write the member number written in large print on the upper right corner of the bag (see adjacent photo). If you must put a member’s order in more than one bag, it is very important to write “1 of 2” and “2 of 2” on the bags next to the member number. The reason is that it is difficult to know the order has more than one bag, and one of our biggest problems has been members who do not get all of what they ordered.

Weights for variable weight products will be entered by midnight on Tuesday before our Thursday distributions. This is necessary so that the producer and consumer invoices can be printed out and checked on Wednesday. Delaying this process causes hardships for the people who do this preparatory work.

Producers will deliver their products by noon on distribution day. This is important so we have time to organize the products in the space and pack up and deliver products to other sites. As we add more sites, it will be increasingly important that all products arrive by noon.

Producers will fully disclose all the information needed for consumer members to make choices based on their preferences. The most important information sought by consumers concerns two topics: 1) ingredients used for value-added products and 2) production practices used to raise crops or animals.

On full disclosure for ingredients, each product description must include a list of all ingredients used to make the product. These descriptions must also contain one of three options in the text just prior to the list of ingredients:

 1)           “all non-Iowa” – none of the ingredients are from Iowa producers.

Example verbiage: Ingredients (all non-Iowa): flour, water, raisins, sugar, oil, cinnamon, salt and yeast.

2)          “part-Iowa” – one or more ingredient is from your farm or from other Iowa producers, with these ingredients identified in the list, preferably with the name of the producer supplying the ingredients included.

Example verbiage: Ingredients (part-Iowa): flour, sour cream (from Pickett Fence Creamery), brown sugar, water, sugar, shortening, butter, eggs (from my farm), yeast, salt, baking soda, and oil.

3)         “all-Iowa” – all ingredients that can come from Iowa producers are either from your farm and/or the farms of other Iowa producers, preferably with the name of the producer supplying the ingredients included.

Example verbiage: Ingredients (all-Iowa): flour (from Paul’s Grains), milk and butter (from Picket Fence Creamery), sugar, water, eggs (from my farm), salt and yeast.

On full disclosure of production practices, the concern is about products like growth hormones and antibiotics for animals or insecticides, herbicides, or artificial fertilizers for fruit and vegetable crops. The reason for full disclosure is that some members use the IFC because they have “Multiple Chemical Sensitivity”, or sensitivity to low levels of various chemicals. Some also want to buy foods that have not had these product used because of concerns about what they feed their children.

For these reasons, producers must clearly describe their practices in two places. One is in their producer profile, which must include info on whether or not these kinds of products are used. The other is individual product descriptions, which must explicitly state whether or not any of these kinds of products have been used to produce the item, and if so, what specific products were applied or used. Note that not saying anything about the use of products is not an option. If a product has been used, you must say so and you should also include the name of the specific product.

Producers will provide current copies of licenses and certifications. These include current copies of thing like egg handler’s licenses and organic certifications, which we keep on file.

Producers will not excessively “out” members of their ordered product. This “outing” of ordered product can happen by marking ordered product “out” in the online invoicing system, or by not bringing a product that has been ordered to distribution. Producers are expected to immediately inform consumers when they mark ordered product as “out” in the online invoicing system. Producers not bringing a product that has been ordered to distribution without first notifying the customer or delivering the “outed” product after distribution will trigger step 1 of the Iowa Food Cooperative Conflict and Arbitration Policy.

[1] Certain products that are exactly the same, such as egg cartons, do not need consumer labels attached. However, they do need to be clearly labeled so can easily see what the product is, such as the size of the eggs.

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