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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | December 6, 2011

Organic Milk in short supply.
Bonanza for Farmers?

When a product is in short supply, the retail price increases and the price to the supplier increases to encourage greater production. These three basic economic facts may be true for most commodities, especially when there is a short supply and increased demand at the same time but organic dairy is an exception to that rule. For the last six months there have been predictions of shortage in the supply of organic milk as costs of inputs have risen dramatically and consumer demand continues to increases at 8-10% year over year. This shortage in the dairy case is accompanied by the highest ever number of organic dairy farmers choosing early retirement or returning to conventional production as profitability for organic dairy is at its lowest since 2006.

The answer to the problem of shortage in supply was simply stated by former NODPA Board president and Organic Valley producer Steve Morrison in the November issue of NODPA News “If processors work with the interests of their farmers at heart, this necessary adjustment [increase in pay price] can be accomplished quickly and safely.” Steve was suggesting an increase in base pay price of $4/cwt ($0.17per ½gallon) over the next 12 months. The average ½ gallon price for organic milk as reported by the Federal Milk Marketing Order, FMMO, is only $3.77, with Minneapolis MN being the highest at $4.57 and the lowest is Denver Colorado at $3.02 per ½ gallon.

With such a wide price spread and an average retail price at the same level as 2008, passing on an increase to consumers to ensure that farmers have a sustainable living wage should be a win-win for everyone. Obviously it is not that simple as we have many hands that touch the product from farm to table but how does this situation speak to the future of organic dairying? When looking at the priorities for the next year for organic dairy farmers, as the Organic Valley/CROPP board will be doing in the next few weeks, perhaps it would be good to envision how a future pay price will affect the type of operations that we are encouraging. Do we want at least 2/3rds of organic dairy farmers struggling to survive or 2/3rds of farmers thriving and reinvesting in their land? Do we want to mirror the conventional dairy industry where the economies of scale dominate with larger herds and the disappearance of smaller operations from our communities? For more analysis and information go to: 

Organic Milk Market Update >
Organic Pay Price Update >

NOSB – Two firsts in Georgia

The NOSB meeting took place for the first time in Georgia and for the first time the recording was available within a few days. Those that are interested can see it at

Of interest to organic dairy, the meeting approved the continued use of the non-synthetic, vegetarian plant-based source of DHA Omega-3 that Horizon/White Wave use in their products which has contributed to increase sales of Horizon product. In his report to the NOSB Miles McEvoy responded to the concerns that NODPA has raised with the National Organic Program about the certifiers and inspectors lack of consistency in interpreting organic regulations and the increased regulatory burden that farmers now face. He said that it would be a priority in the NOP auditing of certifiers to ensure that there is consistency in interpretation of regulation and that they should require adequate not excessive paperwork from farmers. He also mentioned that the Origin of Livestock Proposed Rule would be published in the Spring of 2012, not a moment too soon. For a further report please download the NOP's December 2011 newsletter.

New NOSB Members

The NOSB also announced the next set of NOSB members who are all very competent and knowledgeable and will serve the industry very well. We welcome their willingness to serve our community. One question that McEvoy raised at the NOSB meeting in Georgia was the need to have every stakeholder at the table that will actively raise issue of concern to their sector. NODPA continually advocates for a producer representative that has experienced both the joys and tribulations of organic production agriculture where the perfect is seldom achieved. A producer who has had to balance the economic necessities of a family farm with the unpredictable weather and marketplace, understands the practicality of balancing integrity with common sense. If you haven’t experienced those long days and sleepless nights, you cannot bring the realities or organic farming to the NOSB table. For more information on the new members:

Still time to complete weed survey

The 2011 Northeastern Weed Survey seeks to determine the most troublesome, difficult-to-control weeds in non-irrigated grain crops.  It is designed to assess differences in weed species composition in organic and conventional grain or silage corn, soybeans and wheat as impacted by tillage system and local climate.

This survey is targeted towards Extensionists, CCAs and industry professionals. The 5-question survey is simple and can be completed in 5-7 minutes.  

If you are an Extensionist, CCA, researcher, technical or outreach educator, or other ag professional and you'd like to take the survey, the Cornell University programs involved in the project encourage you to become a participant by emailing Elizabeth Buck at    

The online survey will remain open until December 15, 2011. To date, responses for organic systems have been limited. They encourage you to participate in the survey so that they can collect a more robust and reliable data set, which translate into stronger research conclusions for you and your growers.

New England Farmers Union Meeting
on Friday December 9th

Farmers and consumers speaking together are heard, planning together are seen, and advocating together are successful. The only way to amplify the importance of New England agriculture is to work together. Our local voices are being heard and understood at the national level. Join us on December 9 from 1 to 8:00 p.m. as we celebrate accomplishments and plan our next steps. The New England Farmers Union Annual Meeting, December 9 from 1 to 8:00 p.m., is a time to learn about the state of New England's agricultural community and an opportunity to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones. Business Meeting, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dinner, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Evening Program, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a special presentation by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).  For more information go to:

Food Farmer Resolutions
Regarding The 2012 Farm Bill

At their respective annual meetings in November, and through national tele-conferencing, the Federation Of Organic Dairy Farmers (Food Farmers) agreed on a number of resolutions as key points in any 2012/2013 discussions of the Farm Bill. Learn more >

Supplementation of Organic Dairy Cows; Getting Started

Grass based dairies often struggle with the question of what to supplement their cattle with. How does one know what dairy cattle on grass really need? Am I buying too much? Not enough? Is it “balanced?” What about the “missing factors”, etc? Read Jerry Brunetti’s article.

USDA Supports Research and Marketing of Organic Agriculture in 18 States

The grants, totaling $19 million in all, are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA)
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through two unique programs: the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Organic Transitions Program (ORG). To learn more, click here.

Meat Framers are Getting Butchered

‘Buy 1, Get 2 FREE,’ shouted this week’s flyer from the Big Y World Class Market, a Massachusetts-owned grocery store chain. One-pound packages of ground beef are on sale, as are whole chickens, boneless rump roasts and pork tenderloin. Buy one, get two free is a good deal, and many shoppers will fill their carts with ground beef and other meat products. But you have to wonder if the farmer is making any money on this.”
Read more >

Organic Commodity Futures Trading
is a Step Backwards

“Yes, there is more that we must do if we are to have the right model for pricing organic farm products. The road to that important goal is one of farmers resolving to unite and stand together for economic justice in the market place, not one of turning our future over to the whims of global speculators.” Oren Holle charts the way forward in this commentary piece.
Learn more >

-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  


Feed Price Updates

The latest corn and soybean prices from the East and Upper Midwest regions.

Learn MORE >

Pay Price Update

The latest pay price information from Organic Valley/Cropp and Horizon Organic.

Learn MORE >

Organic Milk Market Update

What is good for the processor and the consumer, isn’t so good for the family farm.

Learn MORE >

Recent Discussions
On ODairy

Robust and practical discussions about cutting and wrapping corn as baleage; controlling gophers; treating Coccidiosis; high grain prices and grain self-sufficiency; sprouted barley as sole grain source; and impact of communication towers on lifestock health.

Learn MORE >

Center For Food Safety Action Alert!
December 13 Deadline for Public Comment

The USDA is once again pushing for GE Sugar Beet Commercialization. Please act on this alert by sending your comment to the USDA today. Urge them not to approve the deregulation of Monsanto's genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" sugar beets!
USDA recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) proposing a full-scale deregulation of Monsanto's genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready sugar beets and is accepting public comments until 11:59pm EST on December 13, 2011.

To send your comment, click here to go to the Center for Food Safety's Action Alert Page.

Consider Advertising
in the next NODPA Newsletter

It is time to commit to another year of advertising in the NODPA Newsletter for the 2012 calendar year and to renew your Business Membership.  

NODPA News offers a 10% discount on advertising if you commit to all 6 issues and an additional 5% discount on advertising when you renew/join as a NODPA Business Member.

New Ad Rates for 2012: We will be increasing our ad rates for 2012 to reflect the increased costs of 'doing business' (printing, mailing, etc).

Early Bird Special: Commit to a full year of advertising by December 31st and receive the old 2011 ad rates. For more details, click HERE.

Consider becoming a
NODPA Business Member

Business Membership costs $150/year and provides you with a free listing in the Web Business Directory, discounts on newsletter advertising, free on-line classifieds, a subscription to the NODPA News, and the satisfaction of supporting NODPA’s work on behalf of organic dairy farmers. 

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