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Make Plans for NODPA's 11th Annual
Field Days, September 29 & 30

An interested crowd learning about MOFGA's 5KW wind turbine, at last year's Field Days.

NODPA’s 11th Annual Field Days and Annual meeting will be held at the Cooperstown Beaver Valley Cabins and Campsites, Milford, New York  on September 29 & 30, 2011. This two day event will highlight the internal and external opportunities and challenges for producers as demand for organic dairy products is on the rise and supply remains static. We will ask the following question:

  • What can producers do to determine their own future in the face of widespread use of GM seeds, with increased contamination of organic crops and the pollution of our soil and water in the search for gas?
  • Should producers be concerned about the increasing volumes of organic milk being sold as private label and what does that do for our pay price?
  • How can producers be involved in advocating for regulation and policy change without becoming part of the “circular firing squad?”
  • Can grazing and caring for livestock still be fun and profitable in the face of increased recordkeeping and regulation?

The event starts in the morning of the 29th with a tour of Siobhan Griffin’s Raindance Farm in the foothills of the Catskills where she milks 90 cows that graze on 200 acres. Participants will learn about incorporating cheese production into their dairy farm and the process of developing markets, creating products and on farm processing of cheese.  Troy Bishopp will be at the farm showing producers how to 'Read the Landscape.' Troy is regional grazing specialist from the Madison Co. SWCD/Upper Susquehanna Coalition, and participants in the workshop will learn how to assess whether their pastures are moving forward or backward in productivity and profitability by monitoring (assessing) % forage ground cover, biological activity, plant species diversity, earthworm and dung beetle populations, and much more.

We are experimenting with a different format this year, with a producer meeting in the afternoon of September 29th preceded by a panel discussion by industry professionals entitled “What we need to know about private label milk and whether it impacts pay price?” The producer meeting in the afternoon will be open to everyone as we explore the future of organic dairy and how producers can ensure their voice is heard in regulatory, policy and marketplace issues.

We are honored to have Francis Thicke as our keynote speaker after our banquet in the evening of September 29th. Francis is an organic dairy farmer and soil scientist who has been a leader in the organic community for many years and very innovative in his farming and marketing practices. He is a leading advocate for sustainable and organic agriculture and recently ran unsuccessfully for the the position of Secretary of Agriculture for Iowa. Francis will challenge us to take more control of our future as organic dairy producers by sharing his own farming experience and vision for the future. Francis Thicke published his book “A New Vision of Iowa Food and Agriculture” in June 2010.

Friday morning workshops will include “Natural Gas Exploration: What impact will it have on Organic Certification?”  and “Advocacy Groups in the Organic Dairy Marketplace: Why they are important and necessary.” In the afternoon we will have a workshop entitled “Thinking-man's grazing: Learning how to plan your grazing for profit, production, and success.” This workshop offers practical, hands-on learning experience in grazing plan strategies and will include examples of farms that have applied these methods. Attendees will learn how to plan their grazing ahead of time to meet their personal production goals. Troy Bishopp, who will lead the presentation, is a grazing consultant and a Holistic Management Educator from the Madison Co. SWCD/Upper Susquehanna Coalition, and a project leader for a NESARE funded professional development grazing training project through the CNY RC&D Council in Norwich, NY.

For more information please go tour Field Days page:

-- Ed Maltby, Executive Director, NODPA


Can Forage Mixtures Improve Productivity
of Grazing Dairy Cows? Part 1

Pasture management traditionally focused on balancing the quantity and quality of forages for livestock production. This has often resulted in planting a single forage species or simple grass-legume mixtures. However, native grasses contain many species of grasslands, nitrogen-fixing legumes and deep-rooted flowering plants (forbs). Can we learn anything from diverse native grasslands that can be applied to managed pasture? MORE >

Will you invest management time in your roots?

Bill Emmons from Cloudland Farm in Woodstock, Vermont made a good point about the connotation of resting pastures. "The reason farmers question rest is they seem to equate it with non-working, perhaps even laziness, and not being very efficient with a farm's resource. We need to call it something more positive -- say an investment in your grassland bank. That just sounds more business-like." MORE >

Meeting the Pasture Rule Requirements:
Record-keeping resources for the grazing season. MORE >


Recent Discussions
On ODairy
Robust and practical discussions about winter teat dips; somatic cell counts; and planting brassicas and other annuals for grazing. MORE >

Alternative Forage Options
Heather Darby and Sid Bosworth of UVM Extension just released an info sheet on alternative forage options, in light of this year's wet spring. It was specifically written for Vermont conditions but will likely apply to those in similar growing conditions. Click here to download the PDF.

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