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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | July 30, 2013

No-Grain, Fodder-Fed Organic Dairy: B-A-Blessing Farm, Whitesville, NY

John and Tammy Stoltzfus own and operate B-A-Blessing Farm, and farm with their 3 sons in Whitesville, NY.  They own 500 acres of which 300 are tillable and 200 are managed as rotationally grazed pasture.  A lot of positive change has been taking place at B-A-Blessing farm - especially in the past few years. Family members are returning to the farm, and they have been fine-tuning a new feeding system that is proving to keep their cows in excellent health and body condition, rewarding them with reduced feed costs, and earning them a much needed (and deserved) farm profit. Read more at:


NODPA’s 13th Annual Field Days’ is just around the corner – September 26 and 27

This year’s event takes place in North Central Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday, September 26th and 27th at the Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall in Mansfield, PA.
With a program, titled Organic Dairy: Innovative Strategies to Stay Profitable, NODPA is collaborating with Holistic Management International (HMI), with a farm tour and educational sessions that will interest everyone.

As organic dairy farm families are digging ever deeper to find ways to produce organic milk more cost effectively, the Field Days program will feature current research and practical strategies that will increase cash income as well as enhance the health, productivity and profitability of their land.

The keynote speaker on Thursday evening will be Kevin Englebert, longtime organic dairy farmer and policy expert, who will give his thoughts on the future of the organic seal. Kevin‘s knowledge of organic farming and policy comes from practical farming experience and many long hours serving on the NOSB. Kevin will provide a perspective of the organic family farmer  which may be different from that of the processors who are looking at a variety of future options. Organic Valley, at their annual meeting, explored the idea of increasing their international partnerships; WhiteWave is looking at a more diversified product line in their future; Gary Hirschberg and Stonyfield are looking at a more regional option and tentatively exploring how they can stimulate more organic dairies in the Northeast. It will be a very timely conversation with one of the leaders of organic dairy.

Come and participate in these important discussions, learn new ways to become more profitable, eat good food and, most of all, visit with each other.

For more details and to register go to:


Pasture Quality Variation
Throughout The Grazing Season

It is important for dairy producers and their nutritionists to have an idea of the nutritional quality of the pasture they are providing to their cows. The ideal way to assess forage quality is to gather a representative forage sample from a given area, send it to a commercial lab and wait patiently for a detailed report of nutrient composition. Unfortunately, the cost of forage testing can be a limitation to producers and the time it takes to get results prevents its use to monitor pastures as they are grazed. On-going research projects conducted by the USDA-ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management
Research Unit in State College, PA can provide examples of monthly pasture quality for grazing dairy farms in this region. Read the article by USDA ARS Aimee Hafla to learn more:


Cocktail Cover Cropping

A cropping strategy that aspires to the diversity and productivity of native prairie called Cocktail Cover Cropping has taken root in Burleigh County, North Dakota and is spreading through US production agriculture.

The outcomes that are spurring uptake include increased soil health, elimination of erosion, reduced nutrient loss to leaching, reduced inputs, increased production and profit, efficient use of precipitation, drought resistance, impressive livestock performance when the crops are (lightly) grazed and more.

The farmer-graziers, NRCS personnel and scientists who have been leading the cocktail charge are doing a fine job of experimenting, unraveling the mysteries of the strategy, and translating their insights into practical lessons.

Abe Collins believes that the advantages of cocktail cover cropping could address some of the needs of Northeastern agriculture and watershed health and give us a powerful new set of tools for success. To learn more about what Cocktail Cover Cropping is and why farmers are adopting it please go to:


USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Sound and Sensible: Producers need
to have input

The NOP has recently launched the Sound and Sensible program to “identify and remove barriers to certification, streamline the certification process, focus enforcement, and work with farmers and processors to correct small issues before they become larger ones. The overall goal of this new initiative is to make organic certification accessible, attainable, and affordable for all operations.” Certifiers through their organization, the Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA), have been meeting and have drawn up recommendations and reports and it is important for all producers to comment on this program either directly to the NOP or -if you fear repercussion from certifiers - to NODPA so we can represent producers’ concerns and challenges. NODPA has in the past suggested ways in which certification can be streamlined which include: one common form used by all certifiers; educated and competent inspectors; one list of accepted products that can be used in organic production and consistent interpretations of the standards by all certifiers. We must not lose the gold standard approach to third party audited certification from field to table, nor have a process that is not robust and detailed. ‘Sound and Sensible’ cannot mean ‘easy and lax’ but we should not  dismiss common sense interpretations of regulations by qualified inspectors based on high quality organic production methods. Many producers are tired of being treated suspiciously as likely 'cheaters' by organic certifiers.  The whole organic certification process, with mountains of repetitious, invasive and semi-insulting paperwork, year-long harassment, and the stress of clue-less demands by non-farmers in the certification office, can be extremely annoying.  An inspection of an organic dairy should not be as short as two hours nor as long as ten and an inspector needs to spend ample time in the field not just riding the property in the farm pick-up.

For more information please go to the NOP Blog at :


The Organic Check-Off :
OTA pushes its initiative through
Webinars and mass mailings

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) conducted a webinar explaining their plans for taking the Check-Off through to the next steps. The presentation followed previous OTA organized webinars and meetings of being highly scripted with no real interest in feedback and a goal of updating and educating participants about where the OTA was in the process. The 27 participants who included the OTA presenters and staff were all muted but could type questions for the OTA group to answer verbally.

No real answers to the difficult questions were given - such as how the money was going to be collected from those not in the existing check-off program - but they had investigated whether organic producers could exempt themselves from both a conventional check-off and an organic one (the legislative language says you have to choose one or the other) and apparently their legal advice is that it can be done.
If the intent was to allow organic producers to continue to exempt themselves from all check-offs why put that in the language in the first place?

This is another area where we need a strong producer voice which has to be heard outside of the OTA process as it appears they will allow little real or effective input into their proposal, preferring to continue down their pre-determined pathway to a federal check-off program.

Watch for more details on ways to present the producers point of view. For more back ground on the issue please go to:


-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  


NODPA’s 13th Annual Field Days’ is just around the corner – September 26 and 27

This year’s event takes place in North Central Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday, September 26th and 27th at the Mansfield Hose Company Banquet Hall in Mansfield, PA.
With a program, titled Organic Dairy: Innovative Strategies to Stay Profitable, NODPA is collaborating with Holistic Management International (HMI), with a farm tour and educational sessions that will interest everyone.

Learn more >

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