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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | April 2, 2010

Looking forward ... and back ...
to the good and the bad

This April will see a heavy mud season but hopefully a quick warm-up as temperature rise quickly. Many organic dairies will want to have their livestock out on pasture to moderate their purchase of feed but will still be looking at a cash crunch in financing the purchase of seed, fuel and supplies for harvesting some high quality winter forage during 2010. 2009 will almost certainly be the worse year financially for organic dairies since 2005. A large number of producers have extended their lines of credit and cash reserves, while cutting back on hired labor and other overhead costs to survive.

Supply in the Northeast and Midwest is coming back into balance as demand starts to grow again and the effect of many producers that have left organic production is felt on supply. One processor is starting to allow increased volumes of production, although the effect of a spring flush is difficult to estimate. While the spot market for organic milk is improving in the midwest and northeast, the west is still very long on supply with some producers being paid on utilization. DFA in the west is now handling an increasing volume of organic milk, paying on utilization without adequate accountability and leaving many dairies with no opportunity to continue in organic production. As we plan for the future, supply management needs to be a priority.

The 2008 results of an on-going financial analysis of Vermont’s organic dairy sector by UVM and NOFA-VT have recently been published and Bob Parsons gives us a preview of his upcoming article in the May NODPA News. The landscape of organic production has changed considerably since 2007 and Bob’s analysis is based on actual data collected from organic dairy producers so it provides great insights into the economic drivers for organic dairy profitability. He might even be tempted to project forward for 2009!

The details of how the Final Access to Pasture Rule will be implemented are being discussed with a lot of attention to defining the grazing season. To learn more about how NOP will be assessing compliance there are still two more NOP trainings: April 7, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza, Denver and April 26, at the Heidrick Ag History Center 1962 Hays Lane Woodland, California. Lisa McCrory has posted a summary of the questions raised at the Albany training which can be found, with a lot of other information, at:

The NODPA Odairy listserve has some very spirited discussions about different aspects of the new rule plus many other issues. Liz Bawden summarized some of the posts during January and February in the attached article, plus you can easily join the free listserve by going to  or emailing .

The first meeting of the USDA Dairy Industry Advisory Committee (DIAC) will take place April 13, 14 and 15 in Washington DC. There will be two other meetings in DC, June 3/ 4 and September 23/24. This is a great opportunity to present ideas about the future of dairy and, with the non-organic market being used to balance organic dairy and many organic producers benefiting from the MILC and the NELAP subsidy payments, the future of organic cannot be separated from the non-organic market. If you want to present public comments you can use the Public Comment Tool on the DIAC website at or by sending comments to Solomon Whitfield, Price Support Division, Farm Service Agency, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 4095-S, Stop 0512, Washington, D.C. 20250-0512. Click here to learn more. Ed Maltby is a member of the committee so you can always email ideas or questions directly to him at

Should keep us busy!!
Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director

News, Stories & Events

NOSB ventures to the West
For the first time in many years the USDA NOP National Organic Standards Board will meet outside of Washington DC. The next meeting of the NOSB will be on April 26-29 at Heidrick Ag History Center, 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA 95776. For more details, click here.

NODPA Awarded Grant From OFRF

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) awarded NODPA a grant of $12,000 for a one year project that will organize the NODPA website archives, making information more easily accessible, searchable and downloadable for certified and transitioning organic dairy producers and professionals serving the needs of organic dairy producers. MORE >

Current Research On Molasses As An Alternative Energy Source For Organic Dairy Herds

As organic grain prices have increased and organic milk prices have decreased, dairy farmers are seeking lowercost supplementation strategies. Sugarcane molasses, a rich source of sucrose, seems to be a viable option as a source of energy.


NODPA’s 10th Annual Field Days And Producer Meeting
October 7 and 8,
MOFGA's Common Ground Fairgrounds in Unity Main

Save the dates! NODPA Field Days will be October 7th and 8th at MOFGA's Common Ground Fairgrounds, Unity, Maine and is shaping up to be a great educational and social event. Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) will be attending and has been invited to address the group at NODPA’s Annual Dinner Meeting on Thursday evening and to lead a Q & A session on the Final Access to Pasture Rule on Friday.

Click here for more details.

Grain Price Updates
The latest corn and soybean prices, and grain price trends over the past four years.

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Upcoming Events

Check out our comprehensive listing of upcoming conferences, workshops and other events. Click here for details.

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