I'm Henry Perkins, newly elected president of NODPA. For those of you who don't know me, I come from the state of Maine . I operate a small herd of Dutch Belted /Holstein cross cattle, approx. 50-70 head of milkers. Prior to becoming certified organic by MOFGA in 2000, I had shipped milk conventionally for about 25 years. Until recently ,less than a year ago, all my milk went to Horizon Organic. At the present time it's going to Organic Valley. Please don't read anything into this move, as the folks at Horizon treated me with respect, and I have no bad feelings toward them.
I have been involved in NODPA from the beginning, where it started in the basement of a small church on a cold winter day in Vermont. I have seen it grow from a tiny group of organic dairy farmers concerned about their immediate future survival to what it has become today. This could not have happened without the efforts of the staff and the two previous Presidents, Steve Morrison and Kathie Arnold. I feel terribly under qualified for this position, but I will do my best and hopefully I'll grow into the job. Not much of a job, doesn't pay a dime, late night phone calls, hours in front of a computer, early morning phone calls, traveling to meetings to places I've never been in the worst kinds of weather, midday phone calls, taking time from trying desperately to keep my operation from falling apart and getting things done in a timely manner. Hope it's worth it, course it is, I've met people whom I never would have, liked most of them.
We have much to do this year, the proposed pasture rule is now finally out, looks like it could use a few alterations to become acceptable. Price of milk needs to come up to a level to where it's acceptable, NODPA needs to grow and get more members to be more active. We need to form relationships with all other sectors of the organic community, from the suppliers of raw materials to the end users of our product, the consumers. This probably won't be easy, given the present state of the economy. Who knows what surprises are right around the corner?
Mailing address: Box 156 Bog Rd, Albion, ME 04910
NODPA and FOOD Farmers Recommendations
on the Access to Pasture Rule
The National Organic Program (NOP) published the proposed changes to the Access to Pasture Rule on October 24th which contains many of the recommendations that NODPA and FOOD Farmers have made over the years. Richard Mathews and Barbara Robinson of the NOP are to be congratulated on their work shepherding the Proposed Rule through the federal system.
They have written a rule with the specificity producers and USDA lawyers asked for, and in preparing our comments and suggestions (which you'll find in the two documents linked to below), we have viewed the proposed rule within the context of ensuring that we close as many loopholes as possible; provide enough specific, legal language that it won’t be necessary to fight court battles for every non-compliance; and that has enough unambiguous language that certifiers who do not have the experience and training to inspect livestock operations are able to rely on the rule and any guidance documents.
Letter to Producers (December 1, 2008)
In this letter, in PDF format, we summarize our recommendations and provide information on how you can contribute your own suggestions and recommendations.
Access to Pasture Rule Recommendations
from NODPA and Food Farmers
(November 28, 2008)
In this abbreviated version of the rule, we mark up further recommended changes in language. Click here for the PDF version.
These recommendations are for public review: Please distribute widely! If you would like a printed copy of this document, please contact us with your mailing address.
Commenting on the Proposed
Access to Pasture Rule
The NOP will be accepting comments on the rule until December 23, 2008. We strongly encourage producers to provide comments, and feedback about the rule to the NOP.
When you submit comments please start by giving your name, farm name (if appropriate), location and the size of your milking herd. Please start by thanking the NOP for publishing the proposed rule that contains the specific recommendations advocated by NODPA and FOOD Farmers on access to pasture. The NOP is looking for documentation on how the proposed rule will affect individual operations so please include in your comments how your farm operations will be affected by the proposed rule, whether you support the changes recommended by NODPA and FOOD Farmers and why you support the recommendations. Wherever possible, back up your comments with examples from your own operation or from research by agencies, universities or other independent organizations. You may include relevant articles as well.
There are three ways to submit comments:
1) Mail written comments to the NOP. Written comments must be received (not postmarked) by Dec. 23, 2008. They must be identified with, “Docket Number AMS–TM–06–0198; TM–05–14”. Mail written comments to:
Richard H. Mathews
Chief, Standards Development and Review Branch,
National Organic Program, Transportation and Marketing Programs
USDA–AMS–TMP–NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW.
Room 4008– So., Ag Stop 0268
Washington, DC 20250.
2) Submit comments online. Visit the Regulations web portal: www.regulations.gov. Use the search terms “organic pasture.” Comments must be submitted online by Dec. 23, 2008. Do not leave it to the last moment to submit comments to the .gov site as it tends to get overloaded at the end of comment periods.
3) Send to NODPA. Mail, fax or email your comments to Ed Maltby by 12/19/08 and he will forward them to the NOP. By mail: Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, 30 Keets Rd, Deerfield, MA 01342. Fax: 866-554-9483. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Access to Pasture Listening Sessions:
December 2, 2008: 1:30-4:30 p.m. Organic Valley Family of Farms Headquarters, One Organic Way, LaFarge, WI 54639.
December 4, 2008: 1:30-4:30 p.m. California State University, Chico University Farm Pavilion, 311 Nicholas C. Schouten Lane, Chico, CA 95928.
December 8: 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Extension Research Facility, 6500 Amarillo Boulevard West Amarillo, TX.
December 11: 9:30am - 12:30 pm. The Family Center of Gap, 835 Houston Run Drive, Suite 200, Gap, PA 17527. Tel:717.442.2300. Information about the site: www.gapfamilycenter.org/
With only about 80% of corn harvest complete, prices are steadying at November 2007 prices, averaging around $9 per bushel. There are reports of producers not selling or “hording” grain to see which way the economy is headed and what the final harvest volume will be. Availability and quality is always an issue. Check out the latest feed prices >
Check out our comprehensive listing of upcoming conferences, workshops and other events. Click here for details.
Click here for the latest classifieds — livestock, grain, employement and other opportunities.
Help Us Understand Your Situation
Dear Fellow Organic Dairy Farmers—To help NODPA know your current situation and needs, and how we can better serve you, please fill out and return our survey. Results will be anonymous. Thanks!
Get a PDF version of the survey by clicking here.