A Sea Change in DC
With all the dismal news from organic dairy there are positive thoughts and actions – yes ACTIONS – coming out of DC.
From the somewhat symbolic to the more substantive: the politically significant USDA organic Peoples Garden (to be certified by PCO) and the White House vegetable garden; announcements of more funds specifically for organic; a Deputy Secretary of Agriculture from New England who wrote the organic rule; and USDA National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) officials asking us to join a meeting so they can better understand organic production.
Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, spent over an hour at the recent National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting not only giving a standard speech but to answer questions from the audience as well as from NOSB Board members. In answering my question about the publication of the Access to Pasture Rule, she knew who I was and she knew about the proposed rule and its significance. She reminisced about working “all-nighters” with Richard Mathews (the NOP employee responsible for rule writing) to get rules finished on time.
Finally, a more farmer friendly attitude to getting work done!
Kathleen also announced that the National Organic Program (NOP) would no longer be part of the Transportation Department of Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS), but instead would be a separate department within USDA AMS. Also, NOP is busily hiring at least 4 new employees. In a recent announcement of the Obama administration’s 2010 budget, there is a request for $6.7 million for NOP with a lot of language about the need for protecting and enhancing the integrity of the organic seal through greater enforcement. This funding level would represent a $2.9 million dollar increase over the FY 2009 level.
Finally, Kathleen announced a $50 million initiative through the USDA NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for producers who are converting to organic production or are already certified and are increasing their certified acres or organically certified producers who want to increase their conservation practices.
If you have not been able to afford improving your production practices around conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational grazing, and forage harvest management then this initiative will provide you with grant funds so you can put them in place now. As this is a “use it or lose it” pot of money, there is only a 3-week national sign-up deadline beginning Monday, May 11 and ending on Friday, May 29. For more details, click here. We will also be sending out more information in the next few weeks to make it easier for producers to apply.
We have set the date for NODPA’s 9th Annual Field Days for August 13th and 14th at Roman Stoltzfoos’ family farm in Kinzers, Pennsylvania. It should be a great event on the farm and geared to looking at profitability of organic dairy in difficult times. MORE >
Milk quality and contracts:I have had many reports from producers who feel they have been targeted by milk companies over milk quality. Some milk companies are threatening to drop producers after one or two bad test results, with some not even honoring the required 180 day notice required within a contract.
Two critical things to remember: First, get your own independent milk quality test from an independent lab; and second, all your organic milk contracts are under state, not federal, law so interpretation might vary state by state, and the best advice will come from lawyers in your state. Unfortunately there is not yet a legal requirement for milk companies to negotiate in good faith, just a moral one. For more on organic milk contracts:
Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director
Hall and Breen Farm, LLC
A lifestyle, a livelihood, a father/daughter partnership and a future. MORE >
Puzzled By PI Spikes?
Things you can do to reduce the count. MORE >
What's the Value of High Quality Forage?
The key management factors influencing forage yield and quality, and an economic comparison of 3 forage systems. MORE >
COMMENTARY: Producers Working as Partners
It is important that producers use collective marketing to achieve a price level that is fair for all involved rather than going it alone and only serving just oneself, says Charlie Johnson, an organic grain producer in South Dakota. MORE >
SAVE THE DATE:
NODPA’s 9th Annual Field Days And Producer Meeting
Noon Thursday August 13 5 pm Friday August 14th
Spring Wood Organic Farm, Kinzers, Pennsylvania
NODPA Field Days will return to Roman Stoltzfoos’ family farm for the 2009 Field Days. The first Field Days was held at Spring Wood Farm 9 years ago this August, and we are returning to walk the fields again, with the always interesting commentary of Roman and his family.
Learn more >
GRAIN MARKET UPDATE
The latest corn and soybean prices, and grain price trends over the past four years. MORE >
PAY PRICE UPDATE
New England pay price since 2006, and trends in organic fluid milk sales for the past four years. MORE >
Not surprisingly, the current state of supply and demand in organic dairy and worry about how the spring flush will play out were common threads in discussions this past month. But there were lots of other management and health issues that became the focus of discussion. Read more >
Check out our comprehensive listing of upcoming conferences, workshops and other events. Click here for details.
New Classified Ads: Updated May 7
Click here for the latest classifieds:
Land Certified turnkey organic dairy farm in Texas. 50 acre organic farm, Sheldon WI. MOSA certified farm near Eau Claire WI. Employment Several OMRI positions open.
Forages & Grains High quality organic hay from Colorado. Nofa-NY certified organic hay. Certified Organic Hay & Baleage for Sale in Central NY. PCO certified 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cut hay in small squares. 115 bales certified organic baleage-2nd cutting clover and grass. 1st and 2nd Cutting Grass Hay 4x4, NY. 100 roundbales of certified organic second cut dry hay available, NY. 100 roundbales of certified organic second cut dry hay available, NH. Wrapped 4x4 round bales grown with compost on mineralized soils, VT. 100 ton of triticale, 60 ton of rye, & 2 ton shell corn, NY.
Animals For Sale: NOFA Certified Cows and Heifers, Holsteins, Jerseys and Holstein-Jersey crosses. Normande or Normandy cross service age bull. 80 Holstein/Jersey/Normande mixed breed milking cows. Herd of Highway beef cattle. WANTED: Looking for Jersey heifers, calves.
Equipment 12 foot pull-type Gentil Aerator. Wanted: 575 New Holland square baler.