cows in field

From the NODPA Desk

Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director

Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director

Apologies for the delay in the publication of this issue of the NODPA News. Unexpected complications following a hip replacement meant that Nora Owens took longer than expected to recover her strength, mobility and stamina. She is back with a serious mission to be fit to garden and already critical of her own progress.

There’s no good news on the horizon for organic dairy but there are signs that it will not get worse. Danone is reported as looking for milk from farms on existing trucking routes in New York at an average pay price for the northeast. The rebranded Grass Milk program is working to increase brand awareness and Maple Hill’s contract includes supply management paying more for milk at times of year when they are short and penalizing those farms that produce more milk in spring and early summer. Aurora Dairy opened its new plant in Columbia, Missouri where they can fill 500 bottles of milk in less than a minute and 30,000 in an hour, using automated machinery, plus this plant will be able to process alternative and plant-based beverage products in the future. No need to wonder where they will be getting the vast volumes of organic milk they will need to keep the facility up to production goals. Thrown into the melting pot of the organic dairy market is the rumor that Saputo is looking to purchase Dean which is sure to have some effect on CROPP’s joint venture with Dean. The organic community has seen 3 critical changes in leadership which will have a direct effect on producers, the organic market and policy.

George Siemon turned in his resignation to the CROPP board on March 12, 2019, three weeks before the Cooperative’s annual meeting and just before a Dairy Executive Committee (DEC) conference call which had been called for a livestock issue. The board has appointed Robert Kirchoff, who joined CROPP Cooperative in 2016 as chief business officer, as interim CEO. Kirchoff was formerly President at Agropur Natrel USA, and CEO at Schroeder Company. OV’s chief mission officer, Melissa Hughes’, comment to the Sustainable Food News on the resignation was, “30 years! Seems like enough?” when asked why Siemon was stepping down. George was one of the seven founders of Organic Valley in 1988. He is a leader in the organic movement serving on many Boards including the National Organic Standard Board and very active in setting the standards for the USDA NOP regulations. He tied CROPP’s mission to the revitalization of rural communities through his efforts to create economic and environmental sustainability for small family farms. Thank you, George, for all your great work and best wishes in your retirement.

On March 30, 2019, the Cornucopia Institute’s Board of Directors announced that Mark Kastel was leaving the organization after nearly 15 years of leading it. The Board praised Mark in their press release: “His foresight, dedication, and guidance have been instrumental in building Cornucopia into the preeminent organic watchdog and champion for family scale organic farming.” As one of The Cornucopia Institute’s co-founders, Mark saw the need to help protect the integrity of the organic food movement before it became an issue. Helen Kees, Cornucopia Board President, praised Mark, “There is no doubt that his efforts helped family-scale farms survive and thrive where they may have otherwise ceased operations. While the board is excited about what lies ahead, we know that our future successes will stand upon the foundation of Mark’s groundwork with Cornucopia.” The board has appointed Devin Mathias to guide Cornucopia in an interim role and direct the search for candidates to present to the board. “I’m excited to serve such a wonderful organization as we look for a leader willing to further build Cornucopia into a strong, positive force in the good food movement,” Mathias said. “Thankfully, there is a talented, dedicated team in place ready to help advocate for the interests of organic farms and their consumer advocates.” Mark is a highly passionate and talented advocate for family-scale farms and was an uncompromising attack dog when it came to important issues that would undermine organic integrity or the sustainability of family farms. Never an easy person to work with, he could and can be relied upon to translate his passion into action and motivate a large number of supporters. We wish him great success in his next venture.

Earlier in March 2019 the MOSES Board of Directors ended John Mesko’s tenure with MOSES. “The MOSES Board recognized the need for a leadership shift to move MOSES forward in line with its mission, vision, and values,” said David Perkins, Board President. The Board has appointed Program Director Lauren Langworthy to be the Interim Executive Director. Langworthy has been with MOSES for four years. She has been deeply involved in all aspects of the organization’s work, especially the annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference. “We’re confident in her abilities to assume the leadership role,” Perkins said.

Dave Chapman of the Real Organic Project (ROP) reported that during a meeting with Jennifer Tucker, the head of the NOP, she said organic hydroponics is a closed issue as far as USDA is concerned, and also that using herbicides in a hydroponic operation does not disqualify them from immediate certification. There is no transition time. Also, he was on a panel in Washington DC entitled "The Schism in Organic." Supporting the certification of the large hydro-producers were Laura Batcha from Organic Trade Association and Lee Frankel from the Coalition for Sustainable Organics. Opposing organic hydroponics was Dave Chapman (ROP) and Steve Etka from the National Organic Coalition. Dave argues that that there is no schism rather we are facing a hostile takeover. For more on the need to be actively involved got to: