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Feature Farm - Dharma Lea Farm

Dharma Lea Farm is located in Sharon Springs, NY and owned by Paul and Phyllis Van Amburgh. The farm consists of 730 acres of which 233 are owned and 500 are rented. The 233 acre home farm is used primarily for pasture and some hay and the remaining 500 acres is rented land used for hay production. They are the first of a growing number of dairy farms to start shipping milk to Maple Hill Creamery, a 100% grass-fed organic dairy production company that is in its 5th year of production. Maple Hill Creamery uses only whole, unhomogenized milk, and markets European-style yogurt and drinkable yogurt. They also raise grass fed beef, sell hay, sell surplus dairy stock, and offer their services as consultants and speakers. With training in Holistic Management, Paul and Phyllis have recently been selected by the Allan Savory Institute to be one of the first ‘Self-Sustaining Savory Hubs’ in the world, empowering people to use properly managed livestock to heal the land. For more on how they transition to full time farming and their production practices please go to:


Pay Price, Feed and Retail Price update

We learned this week that MOO Milk in Maine has ceased production because of the lack of processing infrastructure to match the growing market needs (http://moomilkco.com/ ). For at least the next three months, their 12 members will sell their milk to Stonyfield yogurt which started to source its own milk in the last couple of months. Stonyfield’s first and only producer was using the MOO Milk transport to ship their milk and Stonyfield was buying the rest of the load from MOO Milk. MOO Milk has stated that all vendors will be paid and almost a year ago they were able to refund the founding members capital investment with a $3 million anonymous donation through Slow Money. Fortunately this thoughtful and obviously well planned decision to stop packaging milk comes as Stonyfield started their own sourcing program in New England so it appears that no producers will lose money. The demise of yet another independent processor highlights the complexity of the supply chain for those producers that want to work together to coordinate the direct marketing of their product, especially for organically certified product that has to be kept separate from non-organic during transport, processing and delivery.

With retail fluid sales increasing by approximately 7% per year, an increased demand for no-grain milk, and a supply shortage, which has some supermarkets posting lack of availability signs in stores, we are seeing a distinct difference in how the two national brands of organic milk are responding to the increased demand for milk. CROPP Cooperative is tentatively offering a small $1/cwt increase and WhiteWave Horizon Organic is extending their MAPP for Northeast farmers until December 31, 2014, but offering no increase. CROPP is responding to increased demand for “Grass milk” by upping their premium in the face of competition from other companies’ higher pay price and increased marketing of “100% grass-fed” organic milk. The Northeast market has become increasingly competitive for milk due to a late ‘spring flush’ and producers who have cut back production in the face of high feed inputs and stagnant pay price, with one processor reporting that they are down 40 tanker loads from last year, and no milk going into the conventional market. Non-organic producers in the northeast are seeing an increase in per cwt pay price over a five year average of approximately $4 per cwt and a return on equity of 4.3% (Northeast Dairy Farm Summary 2013, Farm Credit East) whereas organic dairy farm families are looking at increased input costs with no increase in pay price. For more details and charts please go to:


A Pasture is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Spring has finally come to the Northeast and as the soil warms up, we have an explosion of pasture. How do we use it most productively and efficiently to maximize growth over the whole grazing seasons? In his article, Hue Karreman goes back over the basics on managing the size of paddocks and measuring growth so that it meets the needs of you livestock. To read his very practical advice on managing pasture and utilizing what you have on your own farm, please go to:


2014 NODPA Field Days, Stonewall Farm, Keene, NH September 25 & 26, 2014
Organic Dairy: Getting Down to Business

Increasingly, organic dairy producers are faced with the ‘glass ceiling’ on the price processors are willing to pay for wholesale organic milk. So what are the alternatives? An approach gaining traction is to go beyond wholesale fluid milk and focus on other value added dairy products – such as raw milk, yogurt, cream, butter, cheese, ice cream, and ‘grass-milk’. Organic dairy farmers are also exploring new strategies that market their milk with a focus on local consumer needs and interests, and new niches such as ‘grass-milk’ products, small scale processing and local brands. The 14th annual NODPA Field Days will look at the business behind these production practices and marketing strategies, and help you determine if something is right for you. 

We will be offering workshops that will analyze the economic benefits of diversifying production and marketing, and share how Northeast organic dairy farmers can become involved. You may be asking, “Is this an option for me?” In order to answer your questions, we will feature presenters who have first-hand knowledge and experience, providing participants with up-to-date and relevant information regarding product diversification, small scale processing and niche marketing, and putting the resources and information in the context of how this can work on the Organic Dairy – both large and small. In addition, we will have workshops that address on-farm micro-processing, small grains production, and alternative veterinary practices, such as Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Acupressure for cows. And back by popular demand will be the Veterinary Q & A.

There will be a farm tour of Stonewall Farm; plenty of time for catching up with old and new friends during the social hour and Thursday evening banquet; many opportunities to meet with industry professionals at the full trade show, and plenty of good local food to enjoy throughout this 2-day event.
Stonewall Farm, a non-profit, working organic dairy farm and education center in the Southwest corner of the state, is well acquainted with production diversity. As cost of production outpaced the pay price for organic milk, they recognized that diversification and niche marketing were important components of their business model. They produce yogurt, ice cream and cheese, and have the capacity to bottle their own milk. Previously, raw milk was a big seller at the farm but they stopped due to an arrangement they have with their current milk buyer. In addition, the farm has a vegetable operation, a CSA, farm store, sprouted grains fodder system, and, in conjunction with Antioch College, they are in the process of establishing a 1-year, full-time farmer education program. With so much going on at Stonewall Farm, we thought it would be the perfect setting for this year’s NODPA Field Days program. We hope you will mark your calendar and plan to spend time with us this September in New Hampshire.

To learn more about sponsorship and exhibit opportunities, contact Nora Owens at noraowens@comcast.net

GMO Labeling Law passes in VT

In a landmark bill a GMO labeling bill was passed recently in Vermont with no trigger that requires other neighboring states to have similar bill in place. The bill requires labeling as of July 1, 2016, on many food products (not milk and meat though) that contain genetically modified ingredients, which often includes corn, soy, and canola. Food manufacturers say some 70-80 percent of packaged food on a typical supermarket's store shelves would need to be labeled. The bill grants the Attorney General's Office the job of establishing rules surrounding the labels. While many folks have been involved in this fight, NODPA’s first director and now Newsletter and Web editor, Lisa McCrory, has been working on this issue since 1999. Congratulation to Lisa and her husband Carl for their great work and dedication to the cause of knowing what is in our food. You can see the video of Lisa and Carl’s speech (as Rural Vermont board members and representative farmers) at the celebration of the GMO labeling law at http://vtdigger.org/featuredvideo/gov-peter-shumlin-signs-gmo-labeling-bill/ 

NODPA News Editor Lisa McCrory and her husband Carl Russell at the GMO labelling law celebration

-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  


SAVE THE DATE: NODPA 2014 Field Days

The 14th Annual NODPA Field Days will be on Thursday and Friday September 25 & 26, 2014 at Stonewall Farm, in Keene, New Hampshire. Stonewall Farm is centrally located in Southwest New Hampshire, not far from Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH. The farm is an educational farm that has an organic dairy, micro-milk processing facility, on-site hydroponic barley fodder operation, cheese and yogurt making capacity, farm store, CSA, and educational programing, and they are experimenting with growing canola for biodiesel as well as creating a small grains cooperative where they share combine harvesting equipment.

For more details and to reserve limited trade show space, please contact NODPA Event Coordinator, Nora Owens:


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