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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | November 26, 2012

No Grain, Grass-Intensive
Seasonal Dairying

Rob and Pam Moore live in Nichols, NY, which is located south-central, along the Pennsylvania border. They operate a spring seasonal organic dairy farm on 300 acres of owned and 40 acres of rented land, with additional acreage certified for hay. Over the years they have fine-tuned their grazing system and ‘simplified’ their operation so that it runs efficiently with minimal input, labor, and machinery. Though their operation looks simple on the surface, behind that veil is a complex farm that is cycling nutrients, growing and maintaining healthy livestock, and producing high quality organic milk with minimal labor requirements and only a couple pieces of equipment. For more on Moore Farms please go to:

www.nodpa.com/ff_november_2012.shtml

MYCOTOXIN ALERT!

Mycotoxins are toxic chemicals produced by certain types of fungi that grow on plant material, both in the field or in storage. Mycotoxins are a common problem worldwide, with an estimated 25% of field crops globally affected annually with mycotoxins. The severe drought in the Midwest this year has resulted in significant mycotoxin-contaminated grain that is now moving ‘through the system’ and requires dairy farmers to be even more alert. To read the complete article by Mary-Howell Martens Co-Owner of Lakeview Organic Grain, please go to:

production_health_mycotoxin_alert_112012.shtml

Cream of the Crop: The Economic
Benefits of Organic Dairy Farms

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a new report recently that highlights the economic benefits of organic dairy farms and includes policy recommendations to better enable the growth of this sector and to support local economies. The report looked at financial data from organic and conventional dairy farms in Vermont and Minnesota, and showed larger positive impacts from increased organic sales than similar increases in conventional dairy sales. The report also highlights areas of modest federal support that, if implemented, would help organic dairy farmers who are already contributing to and stabilizing regional economies, and support farmers who want to transition to organic farming. These are:

  • USDA should revise the federal milk marketing orders to account for the ways that organic milk production differs from conventional dairy farming.
  • Congress and the USDA should offer a subsidized insurance program that is customized to the needs of organic dairy farmers.
  • Congress should increase funding for organic agriculture programs.
  • Congress should fund and the USDA should implement programs that support regional food system development, such as rural development grants.

The full report can be found at:
http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/food_and_
agriculture/cream-of-the-crop-report.pdf

Feed and Pay Price

With gridlock in Washington DC, dairy farmers may be the only group that could benefit from Congress dropping over the financial cliff. With no Farm Bill in January 2013, the USDA Secretary would be legally obligated to  support a pay price equal to parity price which would be $38-40+ per cwt. The current reality with organic pay price is that processors are not offering any increases in pay price. With no MILC subsidies to rely on, processors need to take responsibility for supporting their producers with a higher pay price plus pay the seasonal Market Adjustment Premiums (MAPs).

  • Now would be the time for Organic Valley producers to press their case to their representatives before their Board makes any decisions in December/January. The OV Board faces conflicting tensions between the needs of their farmer-owners for a fair pay price and the need to complete capital projects with a new produce warehouse, an expansion of their warehouse in Cashton WI along with plans for a new office building, the expansion of their not-so-old headquarters building in La Farge, and the purchase of a majority holding in an organic slaughterhouse.
  • Similarly, with Dean cashing out some of their investment in WhiteWave, Horizon producers should continue to question where the company’s priority lies and how Horizon, under their new leadership in procurement, member relations and Chairman, is going to ensure that their farmer partners stay in business.

The trend towards an increase in retail price for store brand organic milk and a shrinking gap between the store brand and branded product continues. USDA  AMS reported that the national weighted average advertised price of organic half gallons of milk is $3.48, with a price range of $2.99 to $4.89; the highest price, $4.89, is for a store brand and the lowest, $2.99, is for both store brands and national brands. Despite the increases in retail prices, sales of fluid product in August 2012 has continued to increase, up 10% from August 2011 and a year to date increase over last year of 5%, with a surprising increase in sales of Whole milk over Fat-Reduced milk.

Click here for latest pay price info >

There’s not much change in the price of corn and soybeans, but many project an increase in product from Canada, China and South America to provide for the US livestock market. The bushel price for corn and soybeans has dropped slightly from August 2012 with the harvesting of this season’s crop and is $15 and $28 respectively. Comparatively the price for corn and soybeans in November 2011 was $11 and $19 per bushel and in November 2010 it was $5 and $16 per bushel respectively.

Go to latest feed prices >

The silver lining is that the cull cow and beef prices still remain high so those that do not have enough feed on hand can lower their cow numbers to match their feed inventory. In the Northeast there are now two buyers for organic cull cows, Organic Prairie and Delft Blue, and there are rumors that a meat packer in southern Vermont is interested in buying more organic livestock.

NODPA Field Days Highlights

For those of you that couldn’t attend the NODPA Field Days, and those that did, you can capture some of the atmosphere from the excellent slide show that reflects the beautiful weather for the farm tours and the instructive and interesting workshops throughout the two days. Please go to: http://nodpa.com/fielddays_gallery_2012.shtml to view the photos. For a summary of the Field Days activities and workshops, and links to all resources related to the Field Days, please go to:

fielddays_2012_resource_page_112412.shtml

Maine Farmers Press for a New Farm Bill

Congress skipped town in September without passing a five-year farm bill. Important safety net programs like the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program and others that support local and regional food systems, renewable energy and beginning farmers were all allowed to expire on September 30. Now that they have returned it is still uncertain about what will happen to a Farm Bill during the lame duck session and whether anything at all will happen. What is always important is that our elected representatives hear directly from farmers who now number less than high tec programmers that design computer aps. New England Farmers Union members joined with more than 200 fellow farmers, ranchers and fishermen from across the country in Washington, D.C., Sept. 10-12, 2012, for the National Farmers Union annual Fall Legislative Fly-In. To read more about their experiences please go to:

www.nodpa.com/in_nefu_farm_bill_112412.shtml

-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  

NODPA NEWS & NOTES

Advertise in NODPA News ... and on the website

It is time to commit to advertising in the NODPA News for the 2013 calendar year and to Renew your NODPA Business Member or join for 2013.  NODPA News offers a 10% discount on advertising if you commit to all 6 issues (full calendar year) and an additional 5% discount on advertising costs if you become a NODPA Business Member.

Each issue of the NODPA News offers a variety of articles that will inform, educate and keep readers tuned into current industry feed and milk prices. NODPA News offers a mixture of organic production and research articles authored by many of our most dynamic industry leaders; a Feature Farm profile story; updates on regulatory and political changes that affect organic dairy farmers, and regular calendar events, classified ads, and opinion pieces. NODPA’s articles are frequently quoted/linked on the web by agricultural organizations and resource publications who comment on organic agriculture.

For more on advertising in NODPA News, click here.

For more on web advertising, click here.

The Latest Pay Price Information

With gridlock in Washington DC, dairy farmers may be the only group that could benefit from Congress dropping over the financial cliff. With no Farm Bill in January 2013, the USDA Secretary would be legally obligated to  support a pay price equal to parity price which would be $38-40+ per cwt. The current reality with organic pay price is that processors are not offering any increases in pay price. With no MILC subsidies to rely on, processors need to take responsibility for supporting their producers with a higher pay price plus pay the seasonal Market Adjustment Premiums (MAPs). MORE >

The Latest Feed Prices

There’s not much change in the price of corn and soybeans, but many project an increase in product from Canada, China and South America to provide for the US livestock market. The bushel price for corn and soybeans has dropped slightly from August 2012 with the harvesting of this season’s crop and is $15 and $28 respectively. Comparatively the price for corn and soybeans in November 2011 was $11 and $19 per bushel and in November 2010 it was $5 and $16 per bushel respectively. MORE >

Upcoming Winter Conferences

This time of year brings us shorter days and (hopefully) some time to ruminate over the previous growing season and start to plan for the next. If a farmer is ever to leave the farm, wintertime is usually the time to get away – if only for a couple days. And what better place to vacation than to a conference where you can mingle with your peers, get inspired by new ideas, and connect with various resources/
consultants that you have been meaning to contact for ages. Some of these might be in your back yard, and others might be interesting enough to warrant a little traveling (although do not change flights in Chicago O’Hare airport!) For more information, click here.

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