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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | September 6, 2010

Best way to remember the labor of farmers ... a better price for their products

On this Labor Day it would be good to remember what share of the retail dollar our farm families receive as one way of indicating how we value them. The family farm is often used in marketing, quoted by politicians and recognized as the backbone of our rural communities but we consistently undervalue and underpay them for their service in feeding us and preserving our environment.

USDA data shows that the costs of farm inputs have risen by 60% since 2001. If we relate that to organic milk production the “all milk” organic price per cwt would be at least $32 rather than a national average of $26 per cwt. For those that think in terms of parity, the conventional price should now be $41.80/cwt, so the organic price would be in the mid $50’s per cwt. Canada currently pays its dairy farmers $30 (US)/cwt and add an 18-20% premium for organic, and the retail price for a gallon of conventional milk is approximately $4.00. A 50 cow herd in Canada can support 2 farm families. In the US at least one member of the family would be working off-farm to pay for health insurance and other costs not covered by farm income in order to support a single family.

The average US retail price for a half gallon of organic milk since 2008 had a peak of $3.86 and a low of $3.68 which gives the farmer 29% of the retail dollar. If the conventional dairy farmer currently gets 53% of the retail dollar, why is the organic percentage so low? It is too easy to heap the blame on the retailers that control the real estate that sells the product. We need to look at all of the supply, distribution, administration and marketing chain to evaluate a fair share for the producer.
If we value organic production, why is the price per bushel for conventional corn almost the same as organic? With the heroic struggles of the farmers and community involved in making Maine’s MOO Milk work, what is our future without an infrastructure to support producer led initiatives? What choices are we giving the next generation of farmers faced with these economic facts?

NODPA’s Field Days is a must for all those who care for the future of organic dairy. It will feature in-depth discussion on supply management and the advocacy role that NODPA can play to increase the producer’s share of the retail dollar, which are key areas of the NODPA mission. The head of the NOP, Miles McEvoy will be giving the keynote speech and will be available with important members of his team for a Q and A session and an update on the implementation of the pasture rule. NODPA’s work in preserving organic integrity continues by ensuring that the producers are treated fairly and consistently in implementing the new pasture regulations. We have devoted a trade show and panel discussion to looking at how to control input costs with environmentally sound energy practices.

So much to learn and see; great food and company; wonderful door prices. Register now for the 10th (yes 10th!) NODPA Field Days. The brochure for NODPA’s 10th annual Field Days is available at

The Field Days will be in Unity ME on October 7th and 8th at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s (MOFGA) Education Center and Common Ground Fairgrounds, Unity, Maine. To register online, click here. NODPA values the opinions, input and presence of all producers so we have funds available to assist with any costs incurred by producers to attend the Field Days. To apply call or email Ed Maltby – tel: 413-772-044 or .

Ed Maltby
NODPA Executive Director

News, Stories & Events

An Interview with Richard Mathews
– Architect of the Pasture Rule

Included in the September NODPA News is an in-depth interview with Richard Mathews, who will be joining us at the October NODPA Field Days. Information covered in the interview spans the history of the creation of the Pasture Rule, equivalency agreements, suggested steps to improve the performance level of accredited certifiers and more.

Click here for a portion of that interview; subscribe to the NODPA News to read it in it’s entirety.

Why Organic Milk Supply Management?
Finding a way to balance supply with demand that is equitable for producers and processors. MORE >

What’s Organic About Organic?
This award-winning film will be shown at the NODPA Field Days on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. There will be two copies available as door prizes at Field Days. MORE >

On Farm Fuel Production
Current field-based research is indicating that local farmers have a significant opportunity to produce more of their own liquid fuel, livestock feed, and other high value co-products through oilseed crop production in a crop rotation that is compatible with forage production. MORE >

New NOP Director of Standards
NODPA would like to welcome Dr. Melissa Bailey to her new position. Learn more >


NODPA’s 10th Annual Field Days And Producer Meeting
October 7 and 8,
MOFGA's Common Ground Fairgrounds in Unity Main

Click here to learn more about the event ... and register online.

Pay Price & Organic Milk Market in August 2010

Click here for the latest organic milk pay price information, including the retail gap between organic and conventional, total sales figures, price trends and more.

Grain Price Update

The latest prices for organic corn and soybeans, plus spreads between eastern and midwest prices, and price trends over time. MORE >

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