NODPA E-Newsletter is delivered monthly to subscribers, and contains news and resources for organic dairy producers in the Northeast.
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Twin Oaks Dairy, Truxton, NY:
The Evolution of a Farmer and a Farm

“Picture a four year old girl and her 6 year old brother--back in the days before IPad, cell phones, video games, and even TV in most homes. Farm life activities were riding tricycles in the driveway, playing with our nearby cousins, going fishing in the river, building forts from the piles of fence posts, and wishing there were trees on our lawn so we could play in the leaves. Luckily, our grandparents lived on the other side of the road and they did have nice, big trees with lots of leaves. So my brother and I talked with our grandfather and he made us a deal—if we raked and bagged up the leaves, we could take them over to our lawn—and we only had to pay him 5 cents a bag of leaves for that privilege. That was my first lesson in economics and business.” To read more of Kathie Arnold’s 2016 “Farmer of the Year” presentation adapted for a NODPA News article please go to:


Organic Exemption from Check-offs
for all certified operations

As of March 1, 2016, all organic operations can exempt themselves from paying into conventional check-offs. To read more about the process please go to:


To download the form for organic dairy producers to use, please go to:

AMS Organic Exemption Form

For exemption forms for other commodities please go to: 

For those that have not yet claimed their money back, don’t delay – it’s not often that as a small business you get tax money back!

Organic Check-off

The USDA AMS is reported to be moving through the process of examining all the issues raised by the partial proposals submitted to counteract the OTA’s full proposal on an organic check-off. There is no timeline for when they might publish a full proposal on the Federal Register, which will be available for comment. If you do not want an organic check-off, register your opinion with USDA AMS employees whenever you can because the USDA is under the false impression that farmers are in favor of a federally mandated organic check-off tax. To keep updated with all that is happening and to sign the petition against the check-off, please go to

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

In Milk Supply Agreement with Stonyfield, Maple Hill Creamery grows its 100% Certified Grass-Fed Milk Shed

“Stuyvesant, NY, February 17, 2016 -- Grass-fed products were recently identified as a top 10 food trend in 2016 by retailer Whole Foods Market.” Maple Hill Creamery announced it has entered into a milk supply agreement with Danone-Stonyfield which is introducing a fruit on the bottom style yogurt using Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) organically certified grass fed milk. It’s no wonder that when the demand for grass-fed milk and meats expanded dramatically, the organic community did not turn to the USDA or any federal program to verify or certify the claim. The initiative taken by Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) and NOFA New York Certified Organic LLC, to work with producers and the industry, to have the only independent standards for grass-fed organic certification is one  answer that does ensure that grass-fed has organic as its basic production method. Trying to get any additional certification through the NOP is not commercially viable because the time it takes is unacceptable to the market. It makes commercial sense for these two certifiers to launch this certification, and it has been taken up by at least one processor as the standards they require from producers in order to supply their brand. The positive aspect is that certifiers have moved this process forward under some control that can protect the producer from exploitation and the consumer from deceptive claims. The problem is that the standards themselves are not specific, not easily enforced, and attract a price premium that can be undermined by a large influx of milk that lacks the integrity expected by those who drafted the standards and the consumer. There is no one definition of ‘Grassfed’, similarly there is no definition of ‘Natural’. To read about the Maple Hill Creamery initiatives, please go to:


Acupuncture in the Dairy Cow

By Cynthia Lankenau, DVM, CVA

“Our present day dairy cow is one of the hardest working animals, using incredible amounts of energy to produce their vast quantities of milk. Often, her ability to maintain herself with this huge demand fails and she is in need of help. Acupuncture can help. Acupuncture is a very old system of balancing the flow of energy in our body and nourishing the ability to maximize our existing energy.” To read Dr. Lankenau’s entire article, complete with graphic diagrams, please go to:


Breeding Considerations for Organic Dairy Farms

By Bradley J. Heins, DVM, Assistant Professor, Organic Dairy Management West Central Research and Outreach Center, University of Minnesota, Morris, MN

At the GrassWorks Grazing Conference in January, 2016, Bradley Heins moderated an industry panel on dairy breeds to consider for grass-based production. He agreed to write an article to provide an update on the breeding plans and some preliminary results from the University of Minnesota organic dairy herd in Morris, MN. To read the full article please go to:


March 28, 2016

Feed & Pay
Price Update

Data published by the USDA AMS continues to show slight reduction in retail sales of organic non-fat fluid milk for November and December, 2015, and a small increase in sales of full fat and 2% fluid milk compared to 2014. 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 20% to 13,659,363 lbs. in December, 2015 compared to 11,306,595 lbs. in December, 2014. Non-fat and Reduced Fat organic milk utilization only increased marginally by less than 1%. There is no tracking of the increasing sales of grass-fed milk, and now certified organic grass-fed milk, both retail and manufacturing. With Danone (Stonyfield brand) moving away from purchasing all of its supply from CROPP, it is expanding its direct purchasing of organic to include organic grass-fed, there is increasing competition for a limited pool of milk. Maple Hill Creamery, selling to Danone should assist with their balancing and allow them to continue their active solicitation of producers who can meet their standards. Producers are exercising their right to move their supply to other companies with the increase in competition across the Midwest and the Northeast. Those looking for an easier entry into a value added market are looking at the grass-fed market demand, whether it is an entry to organic or not. With the price of conventional milk projected to stay low because of the decrease in exports and without any grant based federal safety net, many small to mid-size dairy operations are looking at different options to stay in business. For more on pay and feed price, 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’s proposal so please register your opposition to a check-off (if you haven’t already done so) by going to www.noorganic
or write directly to Ed Maltby, NODPA, 30 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

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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