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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | August 6, 2012

Photo of farmers gathering at the 2004 NODPA Field Days, which took place at Applecheek Farm in Hyde Park, VT, with a field trip to Butterworks Farm in Westfield, VT

NODPA Field Days

2012 NODPA Field Days and Annual Meeting returns to Vermont this year at the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center (VABEC) in Brattleboro on September 27th and 28th. At the height of the autumn color there will be a program that’s packed with compelling, practical topics, 2 farm tours, a large trade show, delicious local and organic meals, a social hour, and plenty of time for networking with farmers, consumers, vets and suppliers.

Farming Smarter: A Nutrient and Energy Dense Agenda to Help Farmers Become More Self-Reliant

For more general details please go to:


To register online or to download our registration form, please go to:

Register Online | Download registration form

For brochure please go to:


On Thursday afternoon of the NODPA Field Days there will be a panel discussion with up-to-the-minute analysis and projections for fall production decisions on purchased inputs, especially taking into account those farmers most affected by drought conditions or have production systems based on purchased feed. The panel is titled Maintaining Cow Health while having realistic production goals and a good cash flow with UVM Ag Economist Bob Parsons and USDA Resource Conservationist Karen Hoffman, Klaas Marten, Lakeville Organic Grain, NY, and Les Morrison, Morrison Feeds, VT.

With milk processors refusing to raise their pay price, many organic dairy farmers will face critical and unusual decisions this fall and winter. Feed and bedding input costs are high to crazy high, causing some corn growers to question whether their customers can afford their product and subsequent viability in the market place plus the role of imports. Farmers will need to look at their inventory of feed and decide how many cows and young stock they can afford to feed through the winter, especially with the price of cull cows remaining high. We are headed for a tightening of milk supply, which will affect production into 2013-14. Initial figures on profitability for 2011 show losses especially on smaller operations where the cost of covering overhead expenses are shared among fewer cows. As supply shrinks and more organic raw milk moves to the fluid market, this will open the door for increased use of imports for manufacturing - especially from New Zealand. Despite the shortening of supply major store brands are cutting their retail price to attract organic consumers with the high-low retail price difference at $2.10 per ½ gallon, at the highest level since data has been collected, from a high of $4.49 to a low of $2.39/ ½ gallon. Store brand organic milk is obviously a loss leader and sold primarily on price.

How will these trends affect the long term future of organic dairy? These and other questions will be discussed at the September NODPA Field Days.

For an update on feed prices please go to:


For an update of retail and pay price please go to:


Open letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack from organic dairy farmer Kevin Englebert

“I’m publically asking you to step in to override the influence that politicians are having on the NOP.  Do the right thing.  Order the NOP staff to ignore the directives from the corrupt politicians by sending qualified personnel out in the field to determine who still do not follow the law with regard to pasturing ruminant animals.  Come down hard on the certifiers and the operations who continue to ignore not just the intent of the law, but now the irrefutable language of the law.  Do not let politics interfere with the proper action by the NOP again.”

Lisa and Kevin Engelbert and their family were the first certified organic dairy producers in the United States.  In addition, Kevin filled one of the seats on the USDA's National Organic Standards Board designated for a farmer for five years.

“I would also ask that the NOP be ordered to fast-track the clarification to the ‘origin of livestock’ section of the National Rule.  Factory “organic” dairy operations continue to purchase replacement animals that are raised conventionally for the 1st year of their life, and then transitioned to organic – a clear violation of the law even though some certifiers allow the practice to continue.” 

For the full text of the letter please go to:

Dear Secretary Vilsack and UnderSecretary Merrigan.pdf

Managing For High Quality Forages,
Part 3: The Cow
By Gary Zimmer, President, Chairman of the Board,
Midwestern Bio-Ag

In the last two articles Gary looked at our soils to be sure that they are healthy and mineralized, and then we looked at the plants we are growing to be sure that they fit our management goals. Finally, in his third and final installment, he addresses what the cow needs from that pasture to produce quality milk and meat while staying healthy and in the herd. “Balancing the soils and the plants with the needs of the cow is what grazing management is all about.” For the full article please go to:


Storage of Homeopathic Remedies & Treatment of Common Maladies on the Dairy Farm
By Glenn Dupree, DVM

Homeopathic remedies are among the most cost effective and efficient treatment options available to the organic dairy. Their biggest drawback is how to store all those little bottles of pills and keep them organized. Glenn offers some suggestions about storage of the product plus educating the organic certifier, the organic inspector, the milk inspector and others about the nature of the product and how it should be stored despite the vague description on the labels. For the full article please go to:


Alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures for dairy grazing systems in North Carolina
By Eileen Balz, Steve Washburn, and Sue Ellen Johnson

This SARE supported research report compared and contrasted organic and non-organic production of alfalfa in a controlled production plots. The results showed non-organic management generally produced more actual yields of alfalfa than organic management. However, alfalfa grass mixtures yielded as much or more useable forage without the needing chemical control of weeds and insects. Interseeding prairie grass may be useful in suppressing weed production but may or may not boost total forage production. It was clear from the initial research that managing organic stands of alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures is a feasible option in eastern North Carolina. For the full report on their research please go to:


Real Supply Management - The history and politics of a successful program in Canada
By Mike Larsson

With non-organic dairy inching towards a very limited form of supply management within the dairy title of both the House and Senate Farm Bill, Mike Larson gives a background on how the system evolved in Canada. The continuously evolving Canadian system has withstood internal pressure and trade objections to provide a sustainable pay price for farmers. To quote from Mike’s article, “A pioneer of organic dairy farming was giving a summary of how his small organic milk company shipped milk under a buy-back arrangement to the State sanctioned milk monopoly, paying himself and his fellow dairymen $40/cwt plus a 20% premium for organic. At the time in New York and New England, the going price for organic milk at the farm gate was in the mid $20’s.” For the full article please go to:


-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  


NOP Variance on pasture in drought areas

The NOP responds to request for temporary variance only from certifying agents or state organic programs. If farmers think they have a need, then they need to work with their certifier who is the only one that can request it from NOP.   The procedure (and timeline) for certifiers/NOP to follow is posted at:

NOP 2606: Instruction for Processing Requests for Temporary Variance

The Latest Feed Prices

Compared to last month, national organic grain and feedstuffs were mixed, with light to moderate demand and light offerings. Corn averaged a slightly lower price, while beans averaged a higher price. Much of the corn movement this period was comprised of partial loads, as the supplies in most areas are very sparse. Drought concerns have halted new crop contracting for some farmers, who are reportedly waiting to see what their harvest will look like this fall before taking further steps to market new crop grain. Learn more >

The Latest Pay And Retail Prices for Organic Milk

Processors report that the spring flush there is over and a minimal amount of milk is being shipped to conventional sales. The heat is affecting dry matter yield from pasture and the NOP has granted a temporary variance for Wyoming for the level of dry matter required from grazing. The expectation is for a milk deficit this fall. The most recent edition of the bi-weekly Organic Dairy Market News reports that  organic non-fat milk powder is being imported into the northeast from the west and New Zealand to satisfy the needs of specialty manufacturing plants (yogurt for example) who have specific quality and price requirements.
Learn more >

Recent Odairy Discussions

By Liz Bawden, Organic Dairy Producer, NODPA President

ODairy is a FREE, vibrant listserv for organic dairy farmers, educators and industry representatives who actively participate with questions, advice, shared stories, and discussions of issues critical to the organic dairy industry. To sign up for the Odairy listserv, go to:


Want to know about the technique involved in sprouting barley and how much to feed?  Can organic dairies use 35% hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer and at what rate? Need to find out more about armyworms and how to get rid of them? For more highlights from last month’s Odairy discussions, please go to:


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