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Featured Farm: Matthew and Rebekah Fendry’s family farm: Sunny Morning Holsteins, Strum, WI

Sunny Morning Holsteins, located in the rolling, hilly terrain about 15 miles south of Eau Claire, WI, is  owned and operated by first generation Organic Valley dairy producers Matt (33 years old) and Beka (27 years old) Fendry. “We bought the farm as a turn-key operation with about 75 cows and started in a 60-cow tie-stall barn which was too small for their cows, the ventilation was poor, and the feeding situation was tough as we had to dump feed with a small machine that fit in the feed alley and clean everything out by hand.  The manure system was not very functional, and the single 8 parlor drove us nuts because you’d get a batch of cows in and then stand and wait,” said Beka. To read more about how they turned the farm around and what they are doing for the future, click here.

Organic Checkoff Tax:
USDA Wants More Proposals

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) spent the last four years developing a proposal for an organic promotion, research and information order, finally submitting a proposal for the check-off program to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) on May 12, 2015. GO TO PROPOSAL FROM OTA

But, AMS isn't satisfied that OTA has met the requirement to have the support of the organic community (now called “the commodity”) and less than a week later, they issued a request for supplemental or partial proposals; AMS staff "believes that it is in the best interests of the organic community to solicit a wide range of views before proceeding with the publication of this proposal." The request is at the USDA AMS site. Sam Jones-Ellard, AMS spokesperson, told Sustainable Food News that the request for additional check-off proposals was "unusual" but not without precedent. It appears that this request for alternative or partial proposals indicates that USDA is proceeding on a path similar to that used for the Mushroom Order, published in June 1992, and the Avocado industry in 2000.

NODPA and other groups will be submitting partial proposals to address basic issues of transparency, democratic decision making, and use of resources in the short timeline for proposals that USDA AMS has given. NODPA has also asked for an extension of the deadline for submitting proposals because of the burden of consulting with producers at the busiest time of the year. Click here to view the request for extension.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) joined check-off opposition after they held a referendum among its members that showed "not a single vote was cast in favor" of OTA's check-off proposal. "The OSGATA membership has spoken loud and clear," said Maine certified-organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of OSGATA. "Organic farmers and seed growers resoundingly reject the OTA's organic check-off proposal and our membership believes it's important that organic farmers work together to defeat the industry's mandatory tax on our livelihoods."

Origin of Livestock: USDA NOP Publishes Proposed Rule for Comment

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) has been promising clarification and rulemaking around an exemption to the rule that all dairy animals must be “under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation” for at least the last ten years. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on April 28, 2015. The USDA has given plenty of time for the organic community, stakeholders, and consumers to submit written comments on the proposed rule, with comments having to be submitted by July 27, 2015.
This proposed rule does provide clarity and a single standard for the one time exemption, with specificity on what the transitioned animals and their progeny can be used for. Under this proposal, the eligibility for a one-time transition is tied to the entity or producer that holds the organic certificate:

  • That farms on land that meets the definition of a dairy farm (which is defined as one lactating cow and a milking parlor)
  • Who manages their herd under organic management for at least a year, although they can feed crops from land that is in its third year of transition
  • The transition should be part of the operation’s organic system plan
  • Agrees to end the transition of the whole herd at the same time after one year

Essential points that NODPA will be proposing are:

  1. The Exemption that goes with the producer essentially means that any newly certified entity can get the one time exemption for establishing a whole herd using non-certified animals. What NODPA has proposed in the past is that the exemption is for the “responsibly connected person: Any person who is a partner, officer, director, holder, manager, or owner of 10 percent or more of the voting stock of an applicant or a recipient of certification or accreditation.” That would mean that it is a one time exemption and stops the same entity (producer/corporation) from setting up LLC’s as new start-ups.
  2. Transitioned animals cannot be sold as organic – the exemption is for the transition not to sell organic cows;
  3. Breeding stock cannot move in and out of organic production;
  4. The one time exemption should only apply to the transition of established conventional herds and not to start-ups.

To read more please click here.


NOSB Update

Jean Richardson Chair of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) article says, “By the time you read this article, the April meeting will be over … but the issues and questions that she raises are important for the future. She reminds us that, “In terms of numbers to be voted on at the October meeting in Vermont: Livestock will be presenting 42 substances for Sunset 2017 Review; Crops 43; and Handling 79. There will be substances of interest to NODPA members in all of these subcommittees.” She highlights the use Acidified Sodium Chlorite as a pre- and post-teat dip treatment (205.603 (a)) to provide an alternative to iodine based teat dips, and Zinc Sulfate for use as a footbath only (205.603(b)) plus there are 3 parasiticides up for Sunset Review to be voted on in October: Fenbenzadole, Ivermectin and Moxidectin. She also explains the process that the NOSB will follow to determine what can and cannot be used in organic production and asks some questions about what is needed in organic research. To read Jean’s article please click here.

For more information about the NOSB please go to: click here .

To learn what happened at the NOSB meeting please go to:
OTA Report on NOSB 

Pay Price, Feed & Retail Price Update for May 2015: Organic Milk Feeding Frenzy

If you are in a position to move your milk to another processor, especially if you qualify for any grass-fed programs, you will find plenty of folks out there willing to buy your milk and most will give a sign-on incentive. Producers across the country are looking to move away from the national brands and change their buyers, mostly to more regionally based processors and cooperatives.  Processors are giving financial incentives for those thinking of transitioning to organic and there are reports of farms transitioning, especially in Vermont where there is active support and good business planning for those making the switch. One processor in New York is offering an incentive of $3 per hundred pounds for the final 12 months of transition plus $2.50 per hundred incentives for the first 3 months of organic production. Another is offering a $38 base price on organic (not grass fed). As Organic Valley is dropping some of its store brand contracts because of a shortage in supply, they are being picked up by more regional processors who need the customers to balance their branded product. Experienced producers are stressing the need for a higher long term base price, and a base pay price of $37 per hundred with quality and volume premiums bringing it closer to a farmgate price of $40 per hundred with no trucking costs, are increasingly common. To read more, please click here.

Nodpa E-News
May 25, 2015

No Organic Checkoff.Com

Farmers and organizations concerned by the inequities of the proposed Organic Check-off have created a web page and Facebook page to help share their view and to educate everyone to the potential for discrimination against farmers and the misuse of funds generated by taxing farmers.  Farmers are particularly concerned that the tax on their income by the Organic Check-off will take money from their pockets to pay for yet another level of federal bureaucracy and provide support for corporate interest that are weakening the integrity of the organic seal. Organic certification is not a commodity. The OTA proposal will be voted on by a select group of organic certificate holders, should the USDA sanction the plan, but an organic checkoff will affect every level of the organic community. Please visit the web page and ‘like’ the Facebook page.  Visit and share these links with your friends! 

Remembering Richard and Robert Arnold, Twin Oaks Dairy, Truxton, NY

Brothers Robert (Bob) and Richard (Rick) Arnold, 30 year partners in Twin Oaks Dairy LLC in Truxton, NY, passed away earlier this year, both after years of formidable and courageous battles with frontotemporal degeneration (FTD). Bob, 69, passed away on January 18th, and Rick, 60, on April 11, both at their homes with family nearby. They farmed in partnership with Rick's wife, Kathie, from January, 1st, 1980 until October of 2010 when both Rick and Bob retired from the business because of their advancing FTD, and Kirk Arnold, son of Rick and Kathie, became Twin Oaks Dairy's new partner. Read more…


2015 NODPA Field Days, Oct. 1 & 2, 2015, Pavilion NYThe 15th annual NODPA Field Days that will be held in Pavilion, a western New York town outside of Rochester, in Genesee County between Geneseo and Batavia, on October 1 & 2, 2015. Our agenda is taking shape around the urgent question that the NODPA Board and Representatives have been asking: “What can we do now so that our children and grandchildren will want to be, and can be, full-time farmers?” So, as we develop the program, one emerging theme will be about organic dairy farming for the next generation.  We are fortunate to be able to visit one organic dairy farm that is already incorporating strategies that acknowledge the changing needs of their next generation. The Tillotson Family will host the farm tour at their multi-generational Cottonwood Farms, LLC, in Pavilion, NY. In addition to this theme, there will be information sessions, discussions and educational workshops that focus on the important and timely issues confronting all organic dairy farm families. Read more…

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 serve clicking here.

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