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Andy putting up temporary fencing for youngstock

The Milkhouse Farm & Dairy
Monmouth, Maine

In 2015, organic dairy farmers Andy Smith (30) and Caitlin Frame (30) closed a deal on a 280-acre farm in the town of Monmouth, Maine. The farm was the culmination of a search to find a location to produce milk for their already established creamery. The farm is an ideal setting for a forage-based dairy with 150 acres of open land and a centrally-located farmstead. To read more please go to:


Forecast for Organic Dairy
in 2018 & Beyond:

Organic Dairy Producers' Thoughts on the Current State of Organic Dairy

NODPA was formed 17 years ago by organic producers when pay price first became an issue, so what better folks to ask the important questions about the future of the market and organic dairy family farms than organic dairy producers. While there may be a general, underlying trend there is no one reason behind the success and failure of family farms; each are different. We hope that the answers given by these producers will put the current crises in organic dairy in some perspective for each and every family. While the essence of organics is continuous improvement and investment, these next few years will be more like 2010-2013, but with higher costs of inputs. There will be little opportunity for investment in infrastructure and equipment or for improvements in the quality of life. Producers are resilient, but stubbornness must take second place to the reality of losing money over an extended period and the effect on family and quality of life. To read what these producers are thinking please go to:


Friends of the Earth & SumOfUs Producer Survey on the Bayer-Monsanto Merger

The last year and half has brought many changes to corporate control of the farming community. One of the biggest has been the wave of mergers sweeping through the major corporations many of whom producers rely upon for seeds and chemicals. Two major mergers have been completed (Dow & DuPont and Syngenta & ChemChina). One more is still pending: Monsanto and Bayer.

In November, producers met with Department of Justice (DOJ) about the Bayer-Monsanto merger. Those that attended the meeting heard from the DOJ that they are hearing from Bayer and Monsanto that producers are okay with the merger and that farmers don’t mind having limited choices. Producers at the meeting clarified that this is not necessarily the case and that they want choices in terms of seeds and pesticides. DOJ found this information extremely valuable.  As a follow-up, the Friends of the Earth and SumOfUs have put together a producer-specific survey regarding different aspects of the merger. We think the Department of Justice, as well as state attorneys general, will find this information extremely useful in the investigation.

Please help by taking the survey below. It will be used to inform policymakers and law enforcement officials in D.C. and in state capitals about the impact of corporate power on farming.

The survey:

  • is confidential and we will not know any personal information unless you choose to give it to us
  • will take about 12 minutes to complete
  • was designed to help DOJ and agriculture policy makers understand the structure of the market and how farmers make some key decisions

Link to the survey:

Please complete the survey by February 5th.

NOSB: Blast from the Past
& Today's Reality

From the first copy of the NODP News in July 2002 an excerpt from a report on the NOSB by John Cleary who was then the administrator of Vermont Organic Farms LLC (VOF).

“According to the NOP……Certification decisions can only be made based on the standards in the Final Rule, and not based on NOSB recommendations. This places the decision making power over changes to the standards in the hands of the USDA, rather than in the NOSB. While the NOSB was required to accept public comment, the USDA can make these policy decisions without any public input….. policy statements are crafted by NOP staff and are not subject to public comment.  NOSB member, Willie Lockeritz recently resigned from his position due to the frustration of continually having the NOP ignore the work of the NOSB.” 

Fast forward to 2018 and you realize nothing much has changed in the USDA’s approach to organic certification.
On January 25, 2018, the USDA issued a statement that, “Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program began.”
This pronouncement was made despite the ambiguous vote on the issue by the NOSB at their Fall 2017 meeting and the 2010 NOSB vote of 14 to 1 recommending that hydroponic production not be allowed to be certified organic. Unfortunately, the USDA National Organic Program did not act on that NOSB recommendation by writing a prohibition of hydroponic production into the organic standards. Even the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA)—the enabling legislation that created the National Organic Program—states that “An organic plan shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility, primarily through the management of the organic content of the soil through proper tillage, crop rotation, and manuring.” That statement of OFPA clearly does not allow for hydroponic production to be certified organic.

Some Republicans on the Agriculture Committee are keen to take away the powers and diversity of the NOSB but it seems that the USDA NOP is already doing that month by month. It now dictates their work plan, the agenda of their public meetings, and what they can and cannot discuss at the committee level and in full NOSB sessions. For a more detailed report on the Fall 2017 NOSB meeting, please go to


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.

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January 29, 2018

Organic Milk Pay, Retail & Feed Prices

The supply side of organic milk can be summed up by a quote from Stonyfield Farms in a letter sent to producers: “Unfortunately, at this time, Stonyfield (owned by Lactalis) remains committed to our existing producers, consumers and the New England dairy industry.  Stonyfield is not taking on any new dairy producers through 2018.”  None of the organic milk buyers are taking on new producers; all of them, with the exception of Upstate Niagara, are lowering the farmgate to the high $20’s and base price into the mid $20’s, and DanoneWave is sending 6 month notices of cancellation instead of renewing some contracts. Whole milk sales are expanding at a consistent 6.8% rate although non-fat milk has a drop of 1% in sales, making a 0.2% increase in total sales of organic milk January-October 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.

Organic dairy has long known that there is a lack of consistency in implementing the access to pasture regulation and the one time exemption for transitioning operations. The lack of enforcement of these two regulations is part of the cause of the rapid increase in supply when pay prices were high. Large scale dairies, exploiting the loopholes, have rapidly expanded their herds, skewing the supply side of the organic dairy market. Another contributor to a drop in sales of non-fat organic milk product is the rise in sales of plant-based milk, with the Wall Street Journal reporting an increase of 2.9 percent in sales in 2017. The oversupply has been compounded because of a lack of processing facilities to make organic butter, powder and cheese due to an oversupply in the conventional market. For the full report please go to:

Pay Price January 2018

In Memorial

Bruce Drinkman's wife, Mari, passed away this past Christmas Eve. She has had leukemia for the last seven years but for those of you knew her she never let it show. In his NODPA News column Bruce dedicated these words to her:  “She has been a key part in my work to try to provide a better future for farmers. There were many times over the years when she would finish chores so I could make a conference call or make sure that I could get to a meeting whether near or far. She loved being a part of a movement that we could believe in. A movement we must continue. If we do not continue on this journey all of the hard work of people like her will be for naught. I for one will not quit. Her smile may be gone but definitely will not be forgotten.” Our sympathy to Bruce and our thanks for all his great work on behalf of producers.