For animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs) I ask about what the animals are fed. Are they pastured? If yes, are they 100% grass-fed? If no, then what is the percentage of grass-fed and what is the percentage of supplemental feeding, and what is the supplemental food? (For example, even the best of farmers in the upper plains states can't keep their cattle on pasture in the dead of winter, so they feed alfalfa or grains. So I'd want to know what, where they get it, is it GMO, is it organic, does it contain soy, etc.)
If the livestock is grass-fed (which I want), is the pasture sprayed with any chemicals at all? If so, which ones and why? (My beef farmer sprayed a bit this year for the first time in years because he had a noxious weed that was killing his cattle and he couldn't get rid of it. He did his research, chose the most ecologically sound product he could find, and I know all of that because I talked to him about it.)
I ask about routine use of antibiotics, hormones, etc. I ask about butchering practices.
For produce, I ask where the farmers get seed. Do they save it themselves? If not, where do they buy it? Is it GMO seed or from a company that sells GMO seed?
I ask if/what they spray on their plants, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, etc. I ask about fertilizer -- I don't want to be eating petroleum. I ask about the sustainability of their practices.
Most of the farmers I know are happy to talk about their growing practices and are very much concerned with the life of the small family farmer, which is not at all enhanced by most modern factory farming practices. They're concerned about the sustainability of the practices they employ because the land is what keeps them in business, and if the practices can't sustain the land, they'll be standing in a food line, themselves. Most of them are also concerned about good nutrition and providing good product. Most of them don't mind me asking a million and one questions.
Check out www.naturallygrown.org
-- its certification standards are excellent, and a good place to get an idea of what you want from a farmer. It's "a non-profit alternative certification program tailored for small-scale, direct-market farmers using natural methods."