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15th Annual NODPA Field Days
Organic Dairy: Preparing for the Next Generation

The 15th Annual NODPA Field Days took place on October 1 and 2 under excellent weather, despite the wind at Cottonwood Farms.

The farm tour was attended by over 60 folks who spent over three hours at the farm courtesy of the Tillotson family. For more details on the farm please go to:


The rest of the day was filled with an exceptional presentation by Rick Kershbergen, Extension Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, followed by a honest and thought provoking panel of younger producers who highlighted the challenges and opportunities available for the next generation.  Liana Hoodes gave a unique key note speech drawing from her many years of experience of building consensus within the organic community and encouraged producers to be part of the process to protect the integrity of the organic label, with many practical examples of success. Fay Benson led a discussion around the different challenges to organic integrity to close the evening.
The producer breakfast meeting on Friday morning elected a new NODPA Vice President, Kirk Arnold,  and New York State Representative, Ryan Murray, and had a well facilitated discussion around major issues facing producers, especially around parasiticides.

Tim Joseph from Maple Hill Creamery gave a great presentation on grass milk and its increased presence in the marketplace which was followed by the door prize raffle and a short presentation on the final workshop of the day on cow comfort at the Cottonwoods Farm. For more information on this topic please go to:


We must thank Fay Benson and friends at the NY Organic Dairy Initiative for a terrific cookout at Letchworth State Park. The quality of the food matched the unique setting which is rightly called the Grand Canyon of the East. For photographs of the event please go to:


NOSB meeting next week
in snowy Vermont

The NOSB meeting will be held at the Stoweflake Conference Center, 1746 Mountain Road, Stowe,
Vermont 05672 and starts on Monday, October 26, 2015 at 9:00 am and runs to Thursday, October 29, 2015, ending at 6:00pm. The National Organic Coalition (NOC) will hold its pre-NOSB meeting on Sunday October 25 at the Conference Center – starting at 9:30 and running until about 5:00 pm. These meetings are an ideal time to hear from colleagues around the country with passionate and varied opinions.

NODPA has presented written comments on Parasiticides, Procaine, Mineral Oil and Lidocaine. NODPA also supports the comments presented by the National Organic Coalition including their position on hydroponic systems, “Until a clear definition and guidelines based on the 2010 NOSB recommendation have been provided by the NOP, certifiers should not be allowed to certify hydroponic systems. Certifiers need to be directed as to which soilless systems may be certified, and which do not meet the criteria and are not eligible for organic certification. NOC urges the NOP to write “NOP Instruction to Certifiers” that leads to Rulemaking. The instruction should include clear criteria that follow the NOSB 2010 recommendation, and adhere to the definition of organic production presented in the Rule.”
NODPA has commented on the withholding time on different drugs which seemed to have an arbitrary withdrawal time and recommended reducing it to 5 days for Fenbenzadole and Moxidectin, and sun-setting Ivermectin. Lidocaine and Procaine are used as local anesthetic and we have recommended reducing the withdrawal time to 48 hours, and also recommend the continued use of mineral oil, topically.

Taking the time to ensure that we have a scientific basis for the use and withdrawal time of different drugs will benefit organic livestock producers, so NODPA fully supports the NOSB’s work on these issues.

To read NODPA’s comments sent to the NOSB please go to:

NODPA comments to NOSB 10.8.15.pdf

To read the National Organic Coalition’s comments, please go to

ACTION ALERT: Proposed Rule Change
on Requirements for Field Testing Regulated Genetically Engineered Wheat

Deadline for comments is October 26th

The US is the world's largest exporter of wheat, an $8 billion business. Market rejection of genetically engineered (GE) wheat both domestically and abroad is longstanding. Two recent detections of GE wheat in Oregon and Montana did not go unnoticed on the world stage. The USDA has yet to uncover the sources of these contamination events.

That is why we welcome the news that the USDA wants to improve oversight of GE wheat trials by requiring permits for these trials. This is a step in the right direction, since nearly all GE crop field trials are currently regulated through a notification system that relies on voluntary compliance by the developers of GE crops. These field trials go largely unmonitored by the USDA. In fact, by our estimate, only 13% of experimental GE wheat trials have been inspected since 2000. That leaves a huge gap in information and accountability.

Requiring permits should improve regulatory oversight, including requiring inspections of field sites, but permits alone are not enough. Updated regulations coupled with improved oversight are desperately needed to protect our seed and food supply, and the livelihoods of farmers. Without improvements in regulation and oversight, contamination will happen again.

Submit your comments at this link by October 26th

Join us in telling the USDA that: There should be a moratorium on GE wheat field trials until regulatory improvements are made. USDA admits that despite extensive investigation, it does not know the origin of unauthorized GE wheat found in Oregon. The agency is still investigating unauthorized GE wheat found in Montana. Even without an understanding of how the GE wheat appeared where it did, it is reasonable to conclude that the current field trial requirements are inadequate.

Permits must establish mandatory contamination prevention measures and hold GE crop developers liable for contamination events. Permit requirements should include descriptions of how field tests will be performed, specific measures for ensuring confinement of the crops to reduce risks, and detailed plans for destroying crops at the end of the season. The USDA should also inspect field trials several times, including after the crop is destroyed and in subsequent growing seasons to look for volunteer plants. Developers of GE crops should be financially responsible for testing costs and losses associated with their field trials.

Permit holders should be required to notify growers who could be impacted by the trials. Farmers, seed companies, and plant breeders within the vicinity of GE field trials should be notified of their existence. This helps ensure that area growers are able to take precautions to avoid contamination and test their crops to ensure containment is successful.

AGAIN, submit your comments electronically at this link.

Organic Farmers: Weigh in on National Organic Survey

National policies, issues and institutions affect all organic farmers, yet we lack a strong presence to ensure that the certified organic farmers’ viewpoint, needs and concerns are represented in the national arena.  To address this situation, several organic farming organizations have been discussing building a more effective and clear voice for certified organic farmers. We are proud of certified organic’s growth and growing prominence in the marketplace, and believe now is the time that farmers, who are at the core of this success, establish a focused and strong voice.  

To ensure we are going about this the right way, and to make certain this direction is desired by organic farmers and ranchers, we need YOUR feedback! Please complete this short 10 minute survey to tell us your thoughts about a national effort to organize organic farmers, and to identify issues important to you. Please contact Kate Mendenhall, kate.mendenhall
, 585-944-2503 for more information and how to be part of the larger discussion. Paper surveys are available to those without access to the web.

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

NODPA, along with at least eight other organizations, submitted partial proposals to the USDA AMS on or before July 20th on a proposal for an organic check-off. NODPA’s position in submitting the partial proposal was to ensure that there would be a democratic process in any decision on establishing an organic check-off, that all certificate holders would have a vote on such an important issue. OTA’s proposal would have limited voting rights to the largest one third of certified farmers. We do not know how USDA AMS will use the partial proposals and how they will be incorporated into the OTA proposal when they publish the proposal(s) to form an organic check-off on the Federal Register for public comment. Hopefully, USDA will recognize the importance of allowing all members of the “organic commodity” the right to vote on establishing an organic check-off.

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 the No Organic Checkoff site or write directly to Ed Maltby, NODPA, 30 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

October 20, 2015

What Eating Organic Food Does for the World

“Sure, I eat organic food because I think it's healthier for me than food grown with synthetic, toxic agrochemicals or food that's been genetically engineered or injected with growth hormones. But equally important to me are the multiple ecosystem services and broader benefits for society that organic farming provides.

"For starters, when you eat organic, you support a system of food production that taps into the very best of what nature has to offer. You eschew farming practices that aim to overpower nature's complex ecological systems by taming them with artificial chemicals. You reject the growing of a single crop on sterile land bereft of vegetation that extends for miles. And you sustain organic farmers and farming practices that enrich nature's ecology by producing strong plants that resist pests and disease and produce healthy and delicious food.”

For the full article by Lisa Bunin, PhD, organic policy director, Center for Food Safety please go to:


Pasture, Calves and Internal Parasites

This is a timely article by Hue Karreman that looks at the prevention and treatment of stomach worms. Hue recommends production practices and alternatives to parasiticides to solve problems and sums up nicely what producers should be doing now and year round in caring for their livestock:

“Remember, now is the time to really check your young stock on pasture for signs of internal worm infestation. If they are infested and nothing is done about it, the first batch of damp cold weather will likely bring on pneumonia – and that is not at all desirable. So be mindful: stop and observe your animals and take action as needed now, not later.”

For the complete article by Hue please go to:



By Sonja Heyck-Merlin, Clovercrest Farm, Charleston, ME

“What do some Kentucky Derby racehorses and the Jersey calves raised on our central Maine farm have in common?  Both have gone through a process known as imprint training or imprinting at birth.  Roughly five years ago we were encouraged by an experienced horse trainer with a background in natural horsemanship to experiment with imprinting our newborn heifer calves.  We took her advice because she stressed that it wouldn’t take a lot of time, it was virtually free and we would see positive results two years later when we milked these heifers for the first time.”

For the complete article by Sonja please go to:



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