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Grain-Free and Once-A-Day:
Hills-N-Valley Farm, Walnut Creek, Ohio

“In 2011, I attended a local grazing conference,” said Amish dairyman Andrew Coblentz.  “Cliff Hawbaker, a Pennsylvania farmer, spoke about once a day (OAD) milking. I went home and told my wife that it might work in some neck of the woods, but not here.  Ten months later I was ready to give it a try. I was tired of being tired.”
 Andrew, his wife Mary Ellen, and their four children, Adam (8), Elias (6), Amelia (3), and Elliana (9 months) make their home at Hills-N-Valley Farm in the town of Walnut Creek, Ohio.  The town is located in the rolling hills of Holmes County in the east central region of the state. Etched in one of their barns is the year 1889, a testament to the rich agricultural history of the region, which began when Ohio’s first permanent settler, a Pennsylvania Amish farmer named Jonas Stutzman, traveled to the region in 1809 and put down his roots. To read more about this farm please go to:


Organic Checkoff Update:

Letter from the No Organic Checkoff Coalition to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Opposing OTA’s most recent Proposal

Our petition opposing the organic checkoff now has 1522 signatures, more than OTA’s one supporting it. OTA’s slogan is that they can make the much-disparaged checkoff program work for organic as a once-in-a-lifetime multi-commodity program.
They said “trust us” while they secretly negotiated a GMO labelling Bill that is worthless. They are saying “trust us” as they set up a transition label for organic that will saturate the market and undermine producers’ pay price.
Experience tells us that with OTA, its business as usual in Congress and the countryside. When OTA says, “trust us,” question their track record. It’s time for the OTA to withdraw their proposal for an organic checkoff before they, once again, split the organic community.

The No Organic Checkoff Coalition, representing 1522 (as of 7-25-16) signatories opposed to an organic checkoff, including 25 organic farmer organizations and businesses, sent a letter to USDA AMS responding to the recently revised Organic Trade Association (OTA) Proposal submitted May 3, 2016.  The revised proposal discusses ideas for a new industry-funded promotion, research and information order for organic products, which would be developed under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996. To read the complete letter which lays out the argument against an organic checkoff very clearly please go to:


Organic Milk Pay, Retail and Feed Prices

Sales of organic fluid retail milk in May 2016 are the highest recorded in the history of USDA AMS recordkeeping dating back to 2008. USDA AMS data shows sales up by 5.4% January through May 2016, compared with the same period in 2015. Sales of organic whole milk are up 25.5% in May 2016 from sales in May 2015. Year-to-date sales of all organic milk are up 16.4% compared to the same period in 2015. New England continues to see strong growth in utilization of organic whole milk as reported by the Federal Milk Marketing Order 1 with utilization up by 32% in May 2016 over May 2015, and up 15% in June 2016 over June 2015. As we recognize that the organic dairy and beef market is now worldwide, with imports of organic milk, organic milk powder and organic beef manufacturing trim increasing, attention needs to be paid to changes in Europe, especially with the exit of Britain from the European Union. The EU farmgate price is approximately $26.50 per 100 lbs. of milk. Comparatively, retail prices in the EU are lower by about 35%.

WhiteWave announced that they will be reducing the MAP by one dollar as producers are seeing lower feed cost and a claim of a surplus of milk of up to 5%. There is no word yet from the other companies about their plans. Whether supply is long or not, and we have no independent proof of that, there is a steady increase in consumer demand for retail fluid product and a continued high demand from processors making a reduction in pay price unjustified. Receiving a reasonable pay price has allowed producers to pay down debt or make needed repairs and upgrades, plus, a higher pay price will encourage more small to mid-size operations to transition to organic production. There are reports from the west of the transition of large herds to organic production using the various loopholes still available under some certifiers for continuous transition while we await the publication of the origin of livestock regulation. The next thing out of the mouths of processors will be a request for lower volumes of milk and penalties for over production. After the debacle we had the last time that was tried, with numerous producers being treated unfairly, it will not be an attractive option for producers given the low price of conventional milk.

Danone announced on July 7, 2016 that the French dairy giant behind brands like Activa, Oikos, Dannon and Stonyfield yogurt, will buy WhiteWave Foods in a deal worth $12.5 billion in cash, immediately raising questions about the future of the organic supply market. Danone will now control the Horizon, Stonyfield and Wallaby organic yogurt labels and this will impact Organic Valley which will be Groupe Danone’s primary rival in the marketplace.

For further details of what is happening and some charts, please go:


The Art and Science of Grazing

How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems,  by Sarah Flack

An experienced grazier knows the art and science of grazing go hand in hand. Sarah Flack hits the mark with her new book, The Art and Science of Grazing, How Grass Farmers Can Create Sustainable Systems for Healthy Animals and Farm Ecosystems. It is written for all graziers with all skill and experience levels; it is a great resource to get the beginner off on the right start and the valuable information for the experienced grazier.” Nancy Glazier, Small Farms Specialist, Livestock & Field Crops Team, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Penn Yan, NY reviewed the book for NODPA. Her review can be found at:

art of grazing

Updated Comments on the Proposed Rule: Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices

For the past three months, NODPA worked with Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (MODPA) and Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (WODPA) to submit comments on this Proposed Rule to bring some common sense, production-based criteria to regulations that are as specific as possible. Our comments reminded the NOP and organic consumers that organic certification is already the gold standard for animal welfare. It is not just a scorecard of the health and well-being of the livestock but is a third-party certified federal program with a holistic system approach that also considers the impact of the production system on the environment, the quality and content of animal feed, and ensures that livestock are not treated with any antibiotic, artificial hormones or growth stimulants. 

For an article on the key points of the comments submitted to USDA on 7/11/2016, please go to:

livestock/poultry rule

July 26, 2016

2016 Field Days

The Future of Organic Dairy Farming: Regenerate, Renew, Refresh

2016 NODPA Field Days: September 29 & 30, 2016 - Chambersburg Mennonite Church, Chambersburg, PA

The 2016 NODPA Field Days, The Future of Organic Dairy Farming: Regenerate, Renew, Refresh, will focus on regenerating our soil, renewing our farms’ infrastructures, and refreshing ourselves in order for our farms and families to thrive into the future.

There will be workshops focused on the soil: Managing for Milk Production per Acre; renewing the farm’s infrastructure: Milking System Tune-Ups; the growing support and infrastructure for the grass-fed milk market, along with an update on the Certified Grass Fed Label, along withnews about the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program in New York and Pennsylvania. We will hear about an OREI research project being conducted by the Rodale Institute and the University of Iowa that is Integrating Crops and Livestock to Enhance Organic Farm Stability, Safety and Resilience. And, we will have some critically important updates on the Animal Welfare Rule, Origin of Livestock, Organic Checkoff and Other Issues Relevant to the Organic Community.

For all the details of the Field Days please go to:

Field Days Overview

To register online, go to:

Online registration

To download a Field Days brochure, please go to:

Field Days Brochure

To see photos of previous Field Days please go to:

Field Days Galleries

For an article on the Field Days Keynote Speaker:

Field Days Keynote

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