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By Deb Heleba
Added December 2, 2010. It's official! The eOrganic Dairy Team has recently received a three-year grant from the USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). Led by Heather Darby, University of Vermont Extension, and Cindy Daley, California State University—
Chico, the national eOrganic Dairy Team will be developing online materials on certified organic dairy production systems including articles, webinars, videos, and two online courses.
eOrganic is an online community of more than 600 farmers and agricultural service providers who are providing science, experience, and regulation - based on a range of certified organic
information - on the web at www.extension.org/organic_production.
Our eOrganic Dairy Team is made up of about 60 farmers, agronomists, veterinarians, grazing and certification specialists, animal scientists, and other professionals who are working together to publish peer-reviewed content at eXtension.org, a national initiative among the Land Grant Universities to increase collaboration and provide online education.
Recently the eOrganic Dairy Team has focused its efforts on developing content specifically related to the Access to Pasture Rule. With our new funding, we will continue to develop Pasture Rule content and, in addition, we will be offering articles and webinars on a range of topics, from herd health and milk quality to genetics and business management. We also plan to create several demonstration and farm profile videos.
The culmination of our efforts will be the development of two online courses, which will be offered to farmers; Extension, NRCS personnel and other service providers (who will be able to
earn Continuing Education Credits); and undergraduate students interested in organic dairy farming.
We are also very excited about our "regional learning hubs." These hubs will present opportunities for farmers and service providers to get together in small groups around the U.S.. They will be able view and discuss webinars and other content, and apply what they
learn on their own farms within their local communities.
Our overall goal for this project is to provide relevant, timely information to organic dairy farmers and service providers. Ultimately, we hope to build a network of agricultural service providers who are knowledgeable and confident about organic dairy production systems, and who are better able to provide direct assistance to current and/or aspiring organic dairy farmers.
Our steering committee is made up of Heather Darby, Cindy Daley, Ed Maltby, Harriet Behar, Sarah Flack, and Lisa McCrory, and we are currently forming an advisory group for the project. If you have questions about and/or would like to be involved with the project, please contact Deb Heleba, eOrganic Dairy Team Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802.656.4046.