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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | May 8, 2012

Feature Farm: Grass based, no grain Grazing Acres Farm, Chetek, WI

With almost 20 years of farming and investing resources into their land base, grass-based dairy genetics, and growing a competent workforce, Cheyenne and Katy Christianson have made a name for themselves in the organic dairy community. The Christiansons operate a grass-based, no-grain organic dairy consisting of 325 acres (280 is owned, 40 rented); 240 tillable acres are designated for pasture and hay with about 15 acres in ‘wooded pasture’. Their farm has grown from a nutrient-poor conventionally managed farm to a vibrant biological system that is practically self-sufficient, needing only a little seed and fertilizer for their forage system.

For more on Cheyenne and Katy’s operation please go to: http://www.nodpa.com/ff_may_2012.shtml

NODPA Field Days

Cheyenne is the key-note speaker at the 12th NODPA Fields Days on September 27 and 28, 2012 in Brattleboro, VT. In a year of grain shortages, high feed prices and dramatic weather patterns, the meeting’s theme is: ‘A nutrient and energy dense agenda to help farmers be more self-reliant by growing more of their own feed in healthy, rich soil’. For more information, or if you have questions about sponsoring or exhibiting at the NODPA Field Days, contact NODPA Field Days Coordinator Nora Owens anytime at: noraowens@comcast.net  and 413-772-0444 or go to:

http://www.nodpa.com/fielddays_2012_may8_
announcement.shtml

OTA’s proposed Organic
Check–Off program ...

... is it a technical correction to allow all organic products an exemption from paying into a commodity program enough or do we need a Federal Commodity program under USDA administration and rules?

In 2011 OTA invested $50,000 with well-known DC lobbyist, the Podesta Group, to set the scene in DC for regulatory language for an Organic Research and Promotion Order (ORPO). The Podesta group has continued to work for OTA and now there is language within the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill that opens the door for such a program. Many organic farmers and others think that OTA could have better spent their money on a national discussion on whether we need such a program and to fill in the details of who would be assessed, how would that assessment work and who would govern the program. A good model for such a discussion is the process the National Organic Coalition and its partners followed in the development of the National Organic Action Plan (NOAP): http://www.nationalorganiccoalition.org/NOAPpage.html.

OTA is now playing catch up with webinars and a few Town Hall structured meetings across the country. Webinars tend to be a sales pitch presentation, are very difficult for participants to interact and OTA has timed them for the middle of the day when most farmers are working the fields or (if you are a dairy farmer) taking an afternoon nap. Town Hall meetings like the one recently staged in DC are again good for presenting information but very difficult to get constructive input on key questions.

There are many more questions than answers about a program that is estimated by OTA would have an annual budget of $30 million. Currently it would appear that dairy, corn and soybean farmers and handlers would provide the major source of funds, with dairy between $12-15 million a year. If all we want is to take organic money away from the conventional programs and direct it to support organic, then all we need is a regulatory change to allow all organic products to opt out of check-off programs. Once they have opted out, they then have the choice to direct the money to OTA’s educational non-profit already in existence or elsewhere to other organizations or projects. Quick, easy, transparent and immediately controlled by those that pay the check-off/tax on what they produce.

One of the questions that farmers are quick to ask is why organic would want to tie itself to programs that are seen as corrupt, have been investigated by the Inspector General, have done nothing for preserving farmers income and whose governing body is chosen by a USDA  political appointees. For some more detail on the program and questions that NODPA, OFARM and other producer groups are raising please go to:

www.nodpa.com/in_check_off_proposal_05082012.shtml

Commentary: Low milk prices driving producers to the ground

Organic dairy cows losing production, condition, or leaving the farm for beef, says Ralph Caldwell, ME Organic Dairy farmer

“Horizon Organic threw us a bone last month that will take effect this month (March), with the addition of a couple dollars per hundredweight.” “The real reason they are running out (of organic milk) is because the milk companies have paid less than the cost of production for several years and the Northeast is getting over a million pounds of milk per month less month after month, even though the dairy processors are signing up new farmers all the time.” Read more of longtime organic dairy farmer Ralph Caldwell’s commentary on the state of organic dairy farming:

http://www.nodpa.com/commentary_low_milk_prices_
05082012.shtml

Open Letter to Governor Cuomo
About Fracking

As the federal government looks at the issue nationally and recommends that drilling companies have to report what chemicals they use after the fact rather than seek permission before polluting the environment, Kathie Arnold looks at the issue of fracking locally in New York. “There are far too many unanswered questions and a lack of in-depth study of what the health effects will be of widespread shale gas drilling to not invoke the precautionary principle at this point in time. We don’t really know, although there are many cases and mounting evidence from areas where shale gas extraction is in full swing that raise big red flags. First, we must do no harm. That can’t happen by drilling first and researching later.” Read more of Kathie Arnold’s open letter to New York Governor Cuomo:

http://www.nodpa.com/commentary_cuomo_
fracking_05082012.shtml

Filler Forage: Extending the
Grazing Season

Perennial pasture production is an integral part of dairy and livestock grazing operations. Understanding the growth patterns of perennials, helps match forage production needs with cows’ requirements. Joshua Baker, the Assistant Marketing Manager of Kings AgriSeeds, Inc. lays out ways to extend the grazing season and various options to increase the productivity and yield from annual forage crops. For a highly informative and well-illustrated article please go to:

http://www.nodpa.com/production_forage_
filler_forage_050812.shtml

No light at the end of the tunnel
on feed costs and pay-price

Horizon Organic announced at the end of April that their MAP will be maintained at $3 or $3.50 /cwt (depending on geographic location) until the end of September 2012. Organic Valley pay price continues to be the highest of the national brands but some of the regional processors are currently paying more. The costs of  inputs have remained high, and farmers are struggling to break even. Producers across the country are still requesting another $3 per cwt to reach a breakeven point for 2012 based on sound economic analysis from independent sources using data from farmers in all area of the US. For more information please click here:

http://www.nodpa.com/payprice_update_05082012.shtml

The costs of feed continue to remain high with soy starting to climb rapidly. Some of the feed dealers are importing corn and soy or mixing pelleted feed with “green protein” (alfalfa) to lower costs. For more information ple3ase click here:

http://www.nodpa.com/feed_prices_05_08_12.shtml

-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  

NODPA NEWS & NOTES

No light at the end of the tunnel on feed costs and
pay-price

Horizon Organic announced at the end of April that their MAP will be maintained at $3 or $3.50 /cwt (depending on geographic location) until the end of September 2012. Organic Valley pay price continues to be the highest of the national brands but some of the regional processors are currently paying more. The costs of  inputs have remained high, and farmers are struggling to break even .... For more information please click here:

payprice_update_
05082012.shtml

The costs of feed continue to remain high with soy starting to climb rapidly. Some of the feed dealers are importing corn and soy or mixing pelleted feed with “green protein” (alfalfa) to lower costs. For more information ple3ase click here:

feed_prices_
05_08_12.shtml

NOSB Meeting

The next meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) the 15-member advisory board to the National Organic Program (NOP) will take place May 22-25 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If you are interested in learning more about the topics to be discussed please click here: http://www.ams.usda.gov/
AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTem
plateData.do?template=
TemplateJ&page=
NOSBMeetings
. To read NODPA comments in PDF format, please click here:

http://www.nodpa.com/
NODPA comments to NOSB 5.3.12.pdf

Cornell Small Dairy Team
Produces New Resources

The Cornell Small Dairy Team has released a series of 6 new resources to help small dairy farms. The team, whose members include farmers and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) educators, received a grant from the Cornell Small Farms Program in 2011 to provide new educational resources and tools to small dairy producers. The new resources and tools include:

  • Financial Bench Marks for Small Dairies;
  • Off-Farm Processing Start-Up Fact Sheet;
  • Web based Geo-Map;
  • Small Dairy Case Studies;
  • Production Record-Keeping Book for Grazing Dairies;
  • Organic Dairy Forage and Grain Survey

For more information please go to:

http://www.nodpa.com/
research_ed_cornell_
resources_05082012.shtml

 

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