NODPA E-Newsletter is delivered monthly to subscribers, and contains news and resources for organic dairy producers in the Northeast.
Is this email not displaying correctly?
View it in your browser.

Featured Farm: Lynd Family Farm

Geordie and Emery Lynd, Walden, VT

In June of 2010, barely in their mid-20’s, George and Emery Lynd closed on the tuckered out 290 acre farm during the midst of the downward economic plunge that impelled organic dairy consumers back to the conventional cooler.  The farm, located in Caledonia County, in the hamlet of Walden, is perched at 1700 feet on the north facing side of an open hill exposed to the wrath of the Northeast Kingdom’s notoriously long winters and fierce gales. To read how they have survived and grown, please go to:


Organic Exemption from Check-offs
for all certified operations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced at the end of 2015 that they will extend the organic farmer exemption from conventional commodity checkoffs to ALL organic farmers, effective February 29, 2016.  Organic farmers are no longer required to pay into conventional checkoff promotion programs that promote conventional products directly competing with their organic products.  This is a big win for the organic sector—checkoff programs are not a good match for independent organic farmers.  Those farms that are already exempt from paying into their conventional check-offs do not have to re-apply as their exemption will continue. Those that have previously not applied for exemption will need to fill out a revised form AMS-15 (not yet available); submit that form to the commodity check-off they are currently paying into; wait up to thirty days for the check-off Board to approve the exemption or ask more questions; then work with their buyers to ensure that the check-off money is not taken out, or submit a request for reimbursement to the checkoff Board. This process has to be repeated annually. The big winners here will be the milk processing companies (including those large, vertically integrated dairies) that are currently paying into the fluid milk assessment of 20 cents per hundred pounds for Class 1 milk – they will save over $4.5 million per year in payments. For more information please go to:


Check-off’s are not inevitable

For those of you that assume once the OTA submitted their proposal for a check-off that it is inevitable, look at the experience of the Hardwood Checkoff:

The United States Department of Agriculture terminated the Hardwood Lumber and Hardwood Plywood Promotion, Research and Information Order program proposal, commonly called the Hardwood Checkoff, on Oct. 28, 2015.

The Hardwood Checkoff would have assessed wood mills of certain sizes in order to fund promotions for the hardwood industry, similar to the “Got Milk?” and “The Other White Meat” campaigns for the milk and pork industries.

The USDA terminated the proposal because of critical public comments, lingering and substantive questions and significant proposed modifications from key stakeholders.

For more information please go to:
and look at the opponents website:

Opposed to OTA’s proposed organic check off? If you are going to a meeting or conference this winter, download these handouts (EMBEDED LINK) and continue the education process, plus encourage folks to go to 

‘Baby, its Cold Outside’:
Watch out for Livestock!

This timely article by Juan P. Alvez, Pasture Technical Coordinator, Center for Sustainable Agriculture – UVM Extension, gives some important tips on how to keep livestock productive and healthy when we have extremes of weather. For the complete article please go to:


Feed & Pay Prices

Recent data published by the USDA-AMS show a continuing slight reduction in retail sales of organic non-fat fluid milk for October 2015, and a small increase in sales of full fat and 2% fluid milk. While retail fluid sales have declined, the retail price has increased and there are still shortages on supermarket shelves. The drop in sales can be attributed to a shortage of supply and milk being diverted to manufacturing as demand for the higher margin organic dairy non-fluid products is increasing. Manufacturers and retailers are continuing to look at imports as a more steady supply of both finished organic product (cheese); bulk product to be packaged within the US and organic powder because pricing and supply are preferable to buying domestic. Producers are continuing to use the end of their contract and cooperative agreements to move to other buyers, especially more regional buyers in the northeast. Conventional producers are examining their ability to transition to organic production, especially with the lower conventional price in 2015, which has resulted in enquiries to NODPA from Farm Credit about the state of the organic dairy market, as there is no independent data at the USDA. The only Federal Milk Marketing Order to publish data on organic utilization is Order 1 (Northeast) and their data show that utilization of organic whole milk had increased by 25% to 13,068,122 lbs. in November 2015 compared to 10,452,276 lbs. in November 2014. Non-fat and Reduced Fat organic milk utilization only increased marginally by less than 1%. Those transitioning to organic and their advisors should always be aware of the learning curve on livestock husbandry skills and practices and also pay close attention to restrictions imposed by their land base, plus the increased cost of organic dairy production as clearly expressed by Bob Parsons’ ongoing study. For the complete article and charts please go to:


Help USDA AMS decide if there is support for an Organic Check-Off– register your opposition now

NODPA is AGAINST ANY ORGANIC CHECK-OFF and will continue to organize against it, but OTA has purchased the right to submit a proposal so we need to ensure any process is democratic. USDA AMS has questioned the support for OTA proposal so please register your opposition to a check-off (if you haven’t already done so) by going to or write directly to Ed Maltby, NODPA, 30 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

Regional Round Up of Producers, January 2016

Aaron Bell –Tide Mill Farm, Edmunds, Maine – Horizon – 45 cows in milk. Other than dreaming of a vacuum drone under the Christmas tree that would put strewn feed back in Tide Mill Farm’s feed bunks, Aaron Bell reports that his farm is in better straights than this time last year.

Kirk Arnold – Truxton, New York – Organic Valley- 125 cows in milk
Kirk said he is feeling relatively positive about the farm’s economy as they close in on 2015. They have enjoyed the higher milk prices of the past few years.  It has allowed some overdue upgrades to both their equipment and barn.

Liz Bawden- Hammond, New York- Horizon- 55 cows in milk “Our farm is in a better situation than last year.  Feed quality is much better, contributing to higher milk production.”

Jeep Madison- Shoreham, Vermont – Horizon- 60 cows in milk
Jeep said that things are better than they have been in quite a few years.  They’re short on feed but usually plan on buying feed anyway. 

George Wright – Wright Dairy, Hermon, New York – Upstate Niagara – 50 Cows in milk
“Here in northern NY we are experiencing above normal temperatures for the fall and looks like they will continue on into the winter.”

Roman Stoltzfoos- Spring Wood Organic Farm, Kinzers, Pennsylvania–Natural By Nature- 200 cows in milk. Roman reported that the economic situation on his farm is better than last year but feels that, realistically, the pay price is $5-10/cwt. lower than it should be. 

Rick Segalla – Canaan, Connecticut – Organic Valley- 115 Cows in milk.
Rick reported he will change processors in March.  He will be switching from Organic Valley to Calabro cheese.  Calabro Cheese was the first company that bought his organic milk and he’s going back. The pay price is higher. 

John Amey – Indian Stream Farm, Pittsburg, New Hampshire – Organic Valley – 43 Cows in milk.  John reported that he’s been telling everybody that there’s never been a better time to be a farmer. He survived the Hood thing because of Organic Valley.

To read the complete article compiled by Sonja Heyck-Merlin, please
click here.

January 25, 2016

Profitability of Organic Farms up Slightly in 2014

Bob Parsons of UVM Extension concludes his excellent article on the results of his survey of organic farms now in its tenth year with the following: “In conclusion, organic farms are getting by.  Organic production is not the road to riches for many; however it has been a key vehicle of survival for many of the smaller farms who likely would be out of business if they had not had the option to go organic. Higher milk prices are needed but can the market absorb a higher price without losing consumer demand? While the coming years likely will not see an immediate loss of organic dairy farms, there should be concern for long term viability and a sustainable and healthy supply of organic milk from Vermont farms. Without a higher price, organic dairy farms have only the same options they had available when on the conventional treadmill; add more cows and produce more milk per cow to meet rising expenses.” For the full article and lots of data please go to:


Recent ODairy Discussions:
Let Us Know If You Have Problems Receiving Them!

Over the New Year some of you may have had trouble with receiving ODairy post because of changes initiated by some of the internet companies. Our technical team of Chris Hill and Jeremy Eastburn worked on it with our web provider and, I think, has solved the problem. If you are still not getting the Odairy posts then try the Spam folder of your web server and computer. If none of those works, then please contact us. Apologies for any inconvenience. Join the active and informative email list serve by going to:

To follow the thread of past discussions, visit Odairy’s archives on NODPA’s website at

Join Odairy

The ODairy email list serve hosts robust discussions on many different issues, some practical, some on policy, some on politics and some just exchanging news on the organic community. ODairy is blessed by having so many committed veterinarians experienced in organic production who take an active part in the discussions on the list serve. There is no one way to solve a health problem in organic production.  Also, Odairy is a great place to advertise animals for sale and organic feed that is available.

To join the active and informative email list serv, or to visit ODairy's archive, clicking here.

Thank you for responding to the Annual NODPA Fund Drive
Thanks to all who generously responded. If you haven’t yet sent in your contribution it’s not too late to take a moment to consider all the ways NODPA works for Organic Dairy farm families and those who support the industry, and send in your annual contribution today. If you already support NODPA through the monthly Milk Check Assignment or during NODPA’s Field Days, we say thanks!

NODPA provides a wide range of resources and services, such as hosting and moderating the ODairy listserv, publishing the print newsletter (NODPA News) 6-times per year, the monthly e-newsletter, managing the resource-rich website, organizing and hosting the annual NODPA Field Days, and providing advocacy on behalf of all organic dairy farm families through membership in the National Organic Coalition. Although we keep costs to a minimum, there are still bills to pay, and your generous support is needed.

You can also donate online at
, said Nora Owens, NODPA Fundraising Campaign Coordinator, “And, if you have questions or need assistance, please give me a call at 413-772-0444 or email noraowens@
.” Your generous financial support will help NODPA continue to provide the valuable resources and services that you have come to depend on, so please take a moment and send in your pledge today.

Upcoming Events

Check out our comprehensive listing of upcoming conferences, workshops and other events. Click here for details.

New Classified Ads:

Click here for the latest classifieds.

Support NODPA

Please support NODPA with your very valuable dollars so we can continue our great work moving forward. Learn how you can support NODPA today.