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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | March 14, 2011

NODPA Feature Farm: A 5-generation grass-based organic dairy expands to beef, poultry & value-added.

Long time NODPA supporter, a great organic dairy farm family is featured in this month's eNewsletter. The Stricker family has been farming their land for 5 generations and for the past 10 years, they have been expanding from wholesale dairy to grass-fed beef, poultry, eggs, value added dairy products, and raw milk. I first met Forrest many years ago at PA State College when he was protesting in favor of stricter grazing standards. Now he is in the forefront of implementing it. Their story and great pictures are at

Time to complete the NODPA
survey and win a prize

Ten years into the organization, with many successes behind us, NODPA is actively seeking feedback from as many organic and transitioning dairy producers as possible. The survey looks back on the success of NODPA, who, with the Federation Of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers), led the fight for more defined pasture regulations. We want to know:

  • How is your farm business doing economically?
  • Where should NODPA be concentrating its energy and resources?
  • Are your priorities for NODPA organic integrity and pay price?
  • How has the Pasture Rule affected you and what help do you need to implement it?
  • What Federal and State policies should NODPA concentrate on?
  • Do you have concerns with the USDA National Organic Program signing an agreement with the European Union that would recognize the European organic certification as equal to the USDA organic seal? There are many differences with livestock standards which will be outlined in future articles in NODPA News.

NODPA has become a clear force in representing producer’s needs nationally through: membership with the National Organic Coalition and New England Farmers Union; presence at the NOSB meetings;  meeting with NOP leaders and USDA appointees; and by working with USDA staff on implementation of programs. As new policies are proposed by the NOP - from Origin of Livestock to EU Equivalency - we want to represent the present and future needs of organic dairy producers no matter how or to whom they sell their milk.

As an incentive and to acknowledge the time spent filling out the survey (shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes), everyone that completes the survey and attaches their name will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Dr. Hue Karreman’s new book, The Barn Guide to Treating Dairy Cows Naturally, Cody Holmes book Ranching Full Time on 3 hours a day and the DVD of the movie ‘What’s Organic about Organic. Please go to:

Alfalfa and the GE battle continues

  • On January 27, 2011, the USDA de-regulated – (in other words, they approved) – Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa, in order for it to be widely planted this spring.
  • On February 3, the President of Forage Genetics International, the distributor of GE Alfalfa, wasted no time in encouraging farmers to purchase GE alfalfa seed by saying “Alfalfa growers can begin contacting seed dealers about ordering Roundup Ready varieties.”
  • On February 4, 2011, the USDA partially deregulated GE sugar beets, following a court decision that called for a complete ban.
  • One February 11, USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced its decision to deregulate genetically modified (GM) corn that produces a common enzyme called alpha-amylase that breaks down starch into sugar, thereby facilitating a vital step in ethanol production.
  • Following the announcement on January 27, there was a massive grassroots petitioning of USDA and the White House by tens of thousands of concerned consumers, which had a significant educational impact, though no change in any decisions. All the polls have shown that consumers don’t want GE and if it is present, want it labeled.
  • The Center for Food Safety have announced they would seek an injunction to stop the planting of GE Alfalfa this spring.

There continues to be universal condemnation of the USDA decision and many organizations are working together to develop strategies and tactics to turn back the GE tide that will deny consumers and farmers the choice of what to eat and how to farm. More news, facts and resources can be found at the following websites:

Feed price and retail demand
both rising for organic dairy

According to the USDA’s “Agricultural Prices” report released on 2/28/11, the profitability of conventional dairy is worse than a year ago with a milk-feed ratio of 1.96 down from 2.36 a year ago. The all milk conventional price has risen to $18.40/cwt but the price of corn used for the February calculations was up 72¢ from January 2011. With feed cost rising more rapidly than the price of milk, the outlook for 2011 is not good.

From all accounts organic dairy has record retail sales, increased by 31 million pounds from December 2009 to December 2010; supply is tight and there is a steady retail price gap between organic and non-organic fluid dairy product which encourages sales.  Organic Valley has sent out its 13 month check to its member owners and they are experiencing increased demand for fluid milk and from their Stoneyfield Farm wholesale manufacturing account. Horizon organic is expanding retail sales and the private label market is again expanding. There has been no increase in the base pay price.

On the cost side, the organic grain market has started to respond to increased scarcity of corn and a rising conventional market. The price of feed corn has risen by approximately 60% compared to March 2010 and by 30% on November 2010, and was at $8.60/bushel in February, 2011. Organic soybean and other proteins are slower to rise with an increase of approximately 10% from November 2010, with a bushel price of $18.61 for soybeans and $781/ton for soybean meal. Availability and price for organic feed in 2011-2012, will be determined by the planting decisions of organic crop producers as well as the planting conditions. With the price of non-organic corn currently at $7 + per bushel, predictions for increased acreage of  non-organic corn from 88 to 92 million acres with at least 35% going to ethanol, there will be pressure on organic grain growers to question the economics of growing organic with all its increased costs, recordkeeping and risk. The inevitable question is whether there will continue to be enough organically certified feed to supply an expanding organic milk market and at what price.

More details:

Feed report for March
Pay Price & Organic Milk Market Update for March

-- Ed Maltby, Executive Director, NODPA


Feed Prices, March 2011

Price trends and availability as of March 2011. MORE >

Pay Price & Organic
Milk Market Update, March 2011

Record retail sales and rising prices. Learn more >

New Beginning Farmer Website Unveiled

After a year of development, the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project is pleased to unveil a colorful new website with expanded tools and a wealth of new resources. More >

Thinking about frost seeding?

Best steps to doing it right. More >

Springtime Challenges for the Grass Farmer: Homeopathic Remedies

Treatments for everything from milk fever and diarrhea to mastitis and pink eye. More >

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