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By Kirk Arnold NODPA Board Co-President
For much of the season, most of my neighbors thought my cornfield next to the road was either a soybean field or that I had intentionally planted a companion crop of mustard with the corn. (Who am I to tell them any different). Oddly, my seed dealer has never asked me to put up signage....My spring hay seedings seem to have failed for the most part, if you don't count the nut grass (and crabgrass) that is going gangbusters. This particular nut grass also caught on fire in the form of big round bales of bedding that ended up being put up just a touch too wet. But looking at the whole of the season to date, though, it's been a challenge. However, the barn didn't burn, the rain came just in time for the pastures to not totally burn up in the drought, and our 4th cutting looks like it will be a good one and will save us from having to chop corn for silage.
Word has it that an auctioneer in the region is having his phone ring off the hook with organic livestock auctions coming out of his ears, with two farms selling out a week ago. Recent sales have had nice organic dairy cows averaging $2400. Others have said that there is a shortage of organic heifers. Makes sense given the low premium for organic animals over conventional animals and with higher costs adding even more to feed and raise organic heifers. I expect many others, like us, no longer raise all the heifer calves dropped on their farm but only raise enough for their own replacement needs, plus a few extra. Yet no one is raising organic pay prices, even though there is talk of a shortage of organic milk. How many farms are we going to lose from the organic dairy community because they can no longer make a living?
All of this to say I'm looking forward to a few days off and seeing everyone at the NODPA Field Days the 29th and 30th of this month in Middlebury VT! Maybe some of you will have some cropping stories that can rival my duds this year. No doubt there will be discussion, both planned and off the cuff, on the current organic dairy situation of high fuel and organic feed costs coupled with a farmgate organic milk pay price that was shaved down by all buyers a few years back and has not responded to the increased production costs and weather challenges. No wonder the auctioneer is having his phone ring off the hook.
Kirk Arnold, NODPA Co-President