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By Bethany Wallis, NOFA-NY Education Director
NOFA-NY Inc. announces a new program to help dairy farmers transition to organic management. With the current downturn in conventional milk pricing, many farmers who have been on the fence about transitioning to organic management practices are now taking a good hard look at the organic marketing option as a way to increase farm income. They are also evaluating an increase in marketing opportunities that organic processors are providing with new grass fed price premiums. This may be the largest transitioning group NOFA-NY has seen since farmers were trying to get in before the 1 year, 100% organic feed rule change.
NOFA-NY is working hard to help grow the organic dairy industry and support these farmers through technical assistance, our on-farm skill development guide, educational workshops, field days and our annual conferences. In that effort, we are excited to be working on a new Organic Dairy Transitions Certification Project supported by funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute. We look forward to working with transitioning dairy farmers in the 2015-2016 season to help them complete their certification application; identify barriers; develop a transition plan; and provide technical support to the farm.
NOFA-NY’s Organic Dairy Certification Transitions Project will work directly with dairy farmers who are interested in organic certification. Farmers who need guidance evaluating their farm production practices to comply with organic regulation and would like assistance in the organic certification application process are encouraged to apply. Farmers who participate will gain a working knowledge of the organic industry; learn how to manage their farm organically to meet certification standards; and be on their way to organic certification upon completion of this project.
Farmers who participate will receive the following services:
Registration for the Organic Dairy and Field Crop Conference to be held March 16, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Syracuse NY, where they will meet with the Organic Dairy Team to begin developing a transition plan & network with organic dairy farmers and industry professionals
On-farm site visit by an Organic Dairy Team member to discuss on-farm focus areas that need change to meet regulations, review certification information and answer specific questions, and get information as needed.
Participate in a phone/Skype meeting to address any lingering questions on certification and review certification packet for submission. Discuss farm needs for second in person meeting and determine additional consultant to participate.
Final on-farm meeting with Organic Dairy Team member and consultant to address any problem/concern areas for the farmer.
The application can be found at www.nofany.org or call our office at 585-271-1979 for a hard copy. We will be accepting application through December and will contact program participants in January, 2016.
For additional information on the Organic Dairy Certification Transitions Project please contact Bethany Wallis at 585-271-1979 ext. 513 or email Bethany@nofany.org