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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | September 14, 2009

Politics, Pay Price, Field Days ... And
Doing Your Part To Keep NODPA Strong

Cows and calves returning from pasture for the afternoon milking
on the Stoltzfoos farm during the 2009 Field Days.

September is a time when the seasons change and, at least in the northeast, hasten our preparations for winter with a mixture of caution and confidence. We started the year with optimism after some excellent appointments to the USDA of folks that are knowledgeable about the needs of organic production and the challenges we face with enforcement.. We hope that optimism will be transformed into action on the ground, perhaps it is and we haven’t yet seen the results. We hope to hear soon about the official establishment of the NOP as a separate division within USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the appointment of its first Director. Hopefully the hiring of some new employees that has been delayed until after the reorganization will soon follow and the NOP will get much needed help, especially in the area of rule writing. Once Mark Bradley returns from England, he will have more help in accreditation and with the upcoming National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) audit, the NOP will be subject to the same third party recognition as other USDA audit based programs. Our friend Richard Mathews will be retiring at the end of September and he will be missed after all his great years of service. He has assured us that he will finish the Access to Pasture Final Rule before he leaves and he has been putting in long hours to make that happen after his return to work from his serious illness. The next task will be the Proposed Rule on the Origin of Livestock and to work with the whole organic community on ensuring we have a clear and unambiguous clarification of the regulation that will be enforced consistently across the country.

It was evident at the NODPA Field Days that producers do not have much optimism about their future. The biggest disappointment is the loss of a stable pay price and the betrayal of trust that has been an essential factor in relationships with milk processors. The NOP’s history of poor enforcement and delay on rule writing doesn’t provide much certainty that those producers who flout the rules will have their certification revoked. While sales of organic milk have remained level, there is no indication that the current supply situation will change dramatically for at least a year.

Producers are adapting, changing and making personal sacrifices to stay in business. Many established organic farm families have the financial and fertility reserves to thrive even in an adverse situation. Recently transitioned and younger farm families who have debt and who are still building their farm operations have been hit the hardest and have few places left to turn for help.

NODPA is committed, as it has been in the past, to representing producers and working with all milk companies to develop a transparent and sustainable system of managing supply that is an essential component to a sustainable pay price that will ensure a profit for organic dairy farm families and restore confidence in organic dairy for the next generation of producers.  

NODPA Needs Your Support

Eight and a half years ago NODPA was formed in response to a threat of a drop in milk price. In 2009 NODPA is the only organization whose mission is to represent the interest of organic dairy producers no matter who they sell their milk to. NODPA has provided a national voice for producers in strengthening the integrity of the organic seal, in clarifying pasture and origin of livestock regulations, and ensuring that those regulations are enforced.

  • We have expanded the resources available to producers and consumers by providing technical articles that cover the many facets of organic dairy production.
  • We have become a great resource to the media in presenting the producers’ point of view and an independent view of the challenges and benefits of organic dairy.
  • In a market that is saturated by marketing hype that promotes the value of producers and farmers, NODPA has become an essential source of information on how family farms are being affected by dramatic changes in the demand for organics dairy products.

All this important work costs money and we need your support. NODPA is funded through membership contributions and grants, but a significant grant was lost this year due to the Madoff Scandal, so we need your support now more than ever.

Please consider making a contribution to NODPA today. In the coming months, you may be hearing from us, reminding you to renew your membership or to join for the first time. Please go to our donation and membership pages and make a donation or take out an annual membership subscription. We know you all have very limited cash and so we thank you for investing in NODPA so we can all secure our futures. 

9th Annual Field Days

After 8 years the Annual NODPA Field Days returned to the Stoltzfoos’ family farm, Spring Wood Organic Farm in beautiful Lancaster County, PA with a full educational program under the theme “Practical and Efficient Organic Dairy Farming Practices in Hard Economic Times.” The main event was held in a large tent that the Stoltzfoos family had already used for their wedding and family reunion. That tent was situated next to a pond with a beautiful pair of swans who sometimes offered their own commentary on the proceedings.

A Field Days hosted on a producer’s farm can be a strain for the family, but Lucy, Roman and Dwight made everyone welcome, and we were able to relax and listen to useful information, enjoy the civilized discourse on practical production information, reconnect with friends, make new acquaintances, and walk through productive pastures.

We lucked out this year with the weather that, while hot and humid, was blessed with enough breeze to be comfortable. Attendance was good on Thursday and even better on Friday with over 140 individuals who appreciated the workshop sessions and the tour of the farm that concluded the day.

For more on the Field days, including a great slideshow, details of the producer only meeting, a report on the pasture tour field stations and a general overview of the two days, please go to:


Feed and grain price update

With a total lack of predictability for organic pay prices, it’s too soon to assess the long term effects of the changes in procurement on long term supply management. Sales of fluid organic milk bottomed out in April 2009 and the following three months have shown increased sales with July sales in the Northeast nearly 1 million pounds higher than in July 2008 and nationally approximately 4 million pounds or an increase of 3% year over year. When supply is again short, producers will remember how their milk company treated them during this surplus. For an updated analysis and data for pay and grain price go to:


Opinions and Commentary on Organic Dairy

The last 6 months have seen the world of Organic Dairy turned on its head and, of course, everyone has an opinion on whom or what caused the problem and what a solution might be. Many of these opinions are reflected on the NODPA moderated Odairy listserve and you can find archived summaries of those conversations at:, where you can also sign up for the listserve. We also publish commentary and opinions in our bi-monthly newsletter and you can find more information on subscribing at: You can also find archived editions of the NODPA Newsletter. Finally, check out the link, above right, to the latest summary of recent O-Dairy discussions.

Here is one very emotive commentary from Pat Skogen, an organic dairy producer from Wisconsin: There is No Right Way To Become A Farmer.

Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director

News, Stories & Events


Maedke Family Dairy: Coleman, Wisconsin
John Maedke & his wife Bonnie found the transition to organic production, which they completed in December 2002, easier than they expected. Their greatest challenge? Getting acclimated to the grazing management requirements. MORE >

Value Added Producer Grants Now Available
The Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program Notice of Funds Available has been reissued. The VAPG Web site ( ) was updated with application templates and materials earlier this month. Farmers are encouraged to submit paper applications to either the Concord, NH office or the Montpelier, VT office.

Although the deadline for filing an application is November 30, 2009, they highly recommend you file your application as soon as possible so they can make certain you have all the information required for a complete, eligible application package. Please direct questions on this program to:

Sherry Paige at or 1-802-828-6034; USDA Rural Development 
City Center 3rd Floor, 
89 Main Street, 
Montpelier, VT 05602 OR

Steve Epstein at or 1-603-223-6041, USDA, Rural Development 
Concord Center, Suite 218 
Box 317, 10 Ferry Street, 
Concord, NH 03301.


Eight and a half years ago NODPA was formed in response to a threat of a drop in milk price. In 2009 NODPA is the only organization whose mission is to represent the interest of organic dairy producers no matter who they sell their milk to.

NODPA isfunded through membership contributions and grants, but a significant grant was lost this year due to the Madoff Scandal, so we need your support now more than ever.

Please consider making
a contribution to NODPA today:


The latest corn and soybean prices, and grain price trends over the past four years. MORE >

New England pay price since 2006, trends in organic fluid milk sales for the past four years, and new data comparing conventional and organic prices. MORE >

Recent Discussions
on ODairy

SCC limits, crossbreeding, loss of family farms ... and the role of women on farms.
Read more >

Upcoming Events

Check out our comprehensive listing of upcoming conferences, workshops and other events. Dozens of them are listed for July alone. Click here for details.

New Classified Ads: Updated August 1

Click here for the latest classifieds:


Milk Thistle Farm Seeks Herdsperson: Full time herdsperson position open immediately for experienced individual with a background in livestock management.
Milk Thistle Farm is a 50 cow dairy located in Columbia County, NY.

Wanted: Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs in Monroe, NH is trying to locate farmers who would be interested in joining our family of family egg producing farms.

Feed and Seed
For Sale: Certified Organic Orchard grass, alfalfa, and O/A mixes. Prices upon request due to delivery and various locations. Chambersburg, PA

GOA certified organic barley straw, 400 lb square bales, 3 x 3 x 7. Asking 150/T, can deliver. (Western NY)

Certified Organic Baleage. 1st Cutting grass/clover 4x4 round bales $35 each. Nichols, NY

High quality baleage for sale: 17-18% protein, .67-.70 energy. Groton, NY.

Cattle For Sale

Organic heifers for sale or trade: R&W Holsteins, B&W Holstiens, Pure Bred Normande, Pure Bred Normande Bull and Pure Bred Milking Shorthorn Bull
All Pure Breds can be registered. All ages, 3 mos to 18 months. Many to choose from. Very good heifers from top AI sires. Selling due to not enough winter feed and housing in barn. Prices start at $350 and up. Location: Gouverneur, NY

For Sale: We have a wide variety of animals for sale, there are 17 Breeding age heifers that have been with our Jersey Bull since Aug. 8th many will be freshening at first sign of grass next spring. Also 2 nice heifers that were bred in early summer and 4 Dry Cows one of which is a second calf heifer and ready to start making milk this next lactation. Location: Cuyler, New York

Real Estate

Needed: My wife and i are looking for a dairy farm to lease purchase for a year and then buy it. I milk cows in Concord, NC and have to move and I need to find a dairy farm ASAP. | email: