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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | April 7, 2011

NOSB to meet in Seattle on
April 26th – NODPA comments
on their recommendations

Animal Welfare recommendations need to be thorough yet practical – perhaps there needs more discussion before recommendations are voted on by the full NOSB Board?

NODPA recommends that any decisions are left for the Fall of 2011.

NODPA fully supports the need for transparency and accountability when considering the welfare of the livestock that are entrusted to the care of organic farm families. We strongly believe that organic animal welfare guidance and standards must be sensible, based on reasonable regulations that are determined by the realities of farming, good husbandry, grazing, natural animal behavior, and natural healing. While we know that the essence of animal welfare is already within the existing regulations, we also understand the need to recognize the demands of the market place for some definition within the regulations, highlighting the existing Animal Welfare provisions. There is an old saying that says; “It is the eye of the farmer that fattens the beast” and similarly that can be applied to animal welfare. Survey data compiled from numerous sources point out that farmers rank at the top of the list for the best messenger in delivering an authentic communication about food quality, along with the doctors and sports personalities. In compiling new regulations we need to recognize that perception by consumers which is supported by the actual practices of farmers in providing the best possible care for their animals. We should promote the good practices of our producers rather than bring them into question.

How much space does an animal need?

In the changing of the recommendation since 2009, there has been a significant difference in definition of space requirements and what it applies to. We respect and value the different choices producers make in housing their livestock, and our recommendations reflect that. We recommend that the following is placed at the beginning of the Mammalian Stocking Rate Charts, as suggested in the 2009 recommendations:

During the non-grazing season or during times of temporary confinement, the following space shall be provided for dairy livestock:

  • In confined housing (free stalls, tie stalls etc.) at least one stall must be provided for each animal in the facility at any given time. The size of the stall must be enough to meet the requirement of the herd health plan recognizing the different requirements of the different breeds, stage of lactation and age of the livestock.
  • Operations can  make a choice to have some or all of their livestock out-wintered or not housed or not in an “outside run or pen” during the non-grazing season so long as the livestock have adequate shade, shelter,  clean water for drinking, and direct sunlight, suitable to the species, its stage of life, the climate, and the environment.
  • In loose housing (bedding packs, dry lots, cover-alls, etc.) the following table applies with space calculated by taking the total square footage of the floor area of the facility divided by the total weight of the number of animals using the facility on a regular basis, using the actual weight of each animal or the average weight of the breed calculated by using breed or cross bred industry standards:

Animal Handling, Transport and Slaughter

We question the prescriptive recommendations of the committee rather than their intent and suggest that the NOP look at what partnering can be done with other agencies who are involved on a daily basis with the issue of humane handling.

For more information please click through to the link to our full document, which will be submitted to the NOSB this week.

Only 10 days left to complete the
NODPA survey and win a prize

Make your voice heard about the future direction of NODPA and win a prize. The survey looks back on the success of NODPA, who, with the Federation Of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers), led the fight for more defined pasture regulations. We want to know:

  • How is your farm business doing economically?
  • Where should NODPA be concentrating its energy and resources?
  • Are your priorities for NODPA organic integrity and pay price?
  • How has the Pasture Rule affected you and what help do you need to implement it?
  • What Federal and State policies should NODPA concentrate on?
  • What are the concerns with EU Equivalency?

NODPA has become a clear force in representing producer’s needs nationally through: membership with the National Organic Coalition and New England Farmers Union; presence at the NOSB meetings; meeting with NOP leaders and USDA appointees; and by working with USDA staff on implementation of programs.

We have been active in the GE debate as plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit on GE Alfalfa and litigation against Monsanto to challenge patents held by Monsanto relating to genetically modified seed.

As new policies are proposed by the NOP - from Origin of Livestock to EU Equivalency - we want to represent the present and future needs of producers no matter how and to whom they sell their milk.

Everyone who completes the survey and attaches their name will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Dr. Hue Karreman’s new book, The Barn Guide to Treating Dairy Cows Naturally, Cody Holmes book Ranching Full Time on 3 hours a day and the DVD of the movie ‘What’s Organic about Organic. Please go to:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/websiteMemberSurvey

Alfalfa and the GE battle continues

March 18, 2011: Attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), arguing that the agency's recent unrestricted approval of genetically engineered (GE) "Roundup Ready" Alfalfa was unlawful. The GE crop is engineered to be immune to the herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto markets as Roundup. With the full deregulation of GE alfalfa, USDA estimates that up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides will be released into the environment each year.

“Approving the unrestricted planting of GE alfalfa is a blatant case of the USDA serving one form of agriculture at the expense of all others,” says plaintiff Ed Maltby, Executive Director of the Northeast Alliance of Organic Dairy Producers.  “If this decision is not remedied, the result will be lost livelihoods for organic dairy farmers, loss of choice for farmers and consumers, and no transparency about GE contamination of our foods.” For more information, please click here to download a PDF document.

March 29, 2011: On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit against Monsanto Company to challenge the chemical giant's patents on genetically modified seed.  The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past.

Ed Maltby, Executive Director of plaintiff Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) said, “It's outrageous that we find ourselves in a situation where the financial burden of GE contamination will fall on family farmers who have not asked for or contributed to the growth of GE crops.  Family farmers will face contamination of their crops by GE seed which will threaten their ability to sell crops as organically certified or into the rapidly growing 'Buy Local' market where consumers have overwhelmingly declared they do not want any GE crops, and then family farmers may be faced by a lawsuit by Monsanto for patent infringement.  We take this action to protect family farms, who once again have to bear the consequences of irresponsible actions by Monsanto.” For more information please go to:

http://www.pubpat.org/osgatavmonsantofiled.htm

There continues to be universal condemnation of the USDA decision and many organizations are working together to develop strategies and tactics to turn back the GE tide that will deny consumers and farmers the choice of what to eat and how to farm. More news, facts and resources can be found at the following websites:

-- Ed Maltby, Executive Director, NODPA

NODPA NEWS & NOTES

Transitioning Organic Cows On Pasture

One challenge with grazing the organic dairy herd is helping cows adjust to a new feed source in both the spring and fall. MORE >

Recent Discussions
On ODairy
Robust and practical discussions about herd-tracking software; custom heifer raising; flunixin; feeding withheld milk to calves; effects of peroxide on o-rings; and more.
MORE >

Alternative udder health management research
in progress at North Carolina State University

The College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have been investigating alternative udder health management strategies for dairy cattle. MORE >

Nutrient Availabilithy & Soil Tests: What Do They Tell You?

Next to weed control, interpreting soil tests and deciding which fertilizers to use are THE most common questions that organic farmers struggle with.
MORE >

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