Certification to help farm sales
By Jim McLain Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Ventura County Star
Agromin Inc., a Camarillo company that uses green waste to manufacture some 250 soil and mulch products, has won a key designation that is expected to boost its sales to the organic farming industry.
Company officials were notified last month that Agromin products meet the requirements of the nonprofit Organic Materials Review Institute, an executive said.
The designation means that Agromin's composted products may be used in certified organic production or food processing according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program.
"This has tremendous potential for us because now this allows us to sell our composted products into the organics agricultural marketplace," said Bill Camarillo, Agromin's chief financial officer. "We had not been able to do that before."
Agromin is one of only five companies in the country that produce composted products from plants that are approved by the Eugene, Ore.-based organization.
Camarillo said Agromin will include the OMRI approval in its advertising and packaging labels. The designation, he said, assures growers that Agromin products contain no chemicals or human or animal waste, and it certifies that the company uses composting procedures that kill any pathogens and tests its products regularly.
The company recycles more than 250,000 tons of green waste annually from businesses and residences in 19 cities in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties, including all 10 in Ventura County. It uses the grass, leaves, branches and other plant material to make a variety of topsoils, soil amendments and mulches for commercial farming operations and backyard gardeners.
Launched in 1972 as a wholly owned subsidiary of California Wood Recycling Corp. in Ventura, Agromin employs 70 people in six processing facilities in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Company sales last year totaled about $12 million, Camarillo said.
The OMRI designation should boost sales, he added, because increasing numbers of growers are switching to organic crop production. Organic farmers use fertilizers and pesticides made from plants and animals instead of manufactured chemicals.
Agromin has strategic partnerships with the Limoneira Co., Newhall Land and Farming Co. and other agricultural companies to turn their green waste into a variety of mulches and soil products for their crops. Because mulches retain moisture, their use enables growers to reduce irrigation, Camarillo said.
The company also is working to earn green waste recycling agreements with additional cities, he added. He noted that state law requires cities to recycle half their total waste by 2012.
Camarillo said Agromin is working with the state on a study that the company hopes will show that organic green-waste recycling reduces the release of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Labels: Agromin, compost, farming, OMRI, organic, Organic Materials Review Institute, organics, U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program