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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | December 1, 2014

US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) publishes its unified agenda for Fall 2014: Busy time for NOP and AMS

The Agriculture Department's National Organic Program is going to be one of the busiest food or agriculture agencies in the year ahead, based on the schedule published in the Unified Agenda. Besides the origin of livestock rules (see abstract below), the NOP plans to release aquaculture standards in February, pet food standards by the end of April and apiculture standards in July.

USDA NOP Origin of Livestock with a proposed rule projected to be published in December 2014 with final action in May 2016:

Proposed Rule Abstract: The current regulations provide two tracks for replacing dairy animals which are tied to how dairy farmers transition to organic production. Farmers who transition an entire distinct herd must thereafter replace dairy animals with livestock that has been under organic management from the last third of gestation. Farmers who do not transition an entire distinct herd may perpetually obtain replacement animals that have been managed organically for 12 months prior to marketing milk or milk products as organic. The proposed action would eliminate the two-track system and require that upon transition, all existing and replacement dairy animals from which milk or milk products are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be managed organically from the last third of gestation. Continuation of the two-track system jeopardizes the viability of the market for organic heifers. A potential risk associated with the rulemaking would be a temporary supply shortage of dairy replacement animals due to the increased demand.

As mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill the USDA AMS is aiming to publish a proposed rule to change the commodity promotion law to exempt all organic certificate holders from paying into any commodity check-offs (see abstract below). The proposed rule is already late (missing its legal deadline of 11/30/14) and final action is not projected until next fall. The Organic Trade Association is set to send a proposal to USDA AMS for a mandatory federal organic check-off which means producers may be able to get their money back in time to lose it again when their exemption is taken away with an organic check-off.

Exemption of Producers and Handlers of Organic Products From Assessment Under a Commodity Promotion Law. USDA AMS Marketing Order Administration Branch projected that the proposed rule would be published in November 2014 and final action is projected for July 2015.

Proposed Rule Abstract: As a result of this action, certified "organic" commodities (those comprising at least 95 percent organic components) would no longer be subject to assessment for promotion activities conducted under marketing order or research and promotion programs. In addition, certified organic commodities that are produced, handled, marketed, or imported by operations that also deal in conventional products would be eligible for exemptions. Currently, only products that are certified "100 percent organic" and that are produced and handled by entities that deal exclusively with organic products are exempt from assessments. This action is expected to reduce the assessment obligation for organic industry operators by as much as $13.7 million. Conversely, the impact on the marketing programs will be a loss of approximately $13.7 million in funds for generic commodity promotions.

Busy Time for Organic
Trade Association (OTA):

From OTA’s website: “At the September 17 meeting, the OTA Board voted to move forward to prepare and submit an application to USDA to initiate an industry referendum on an organic research and promotion order.”  The OTA seems to assume that the USDA AMS will approve their as-yet-unpublished proposal for a mandatory federal check-off program as having enough support from the organic community to hold a referendum of those that will be assessed. We do not yet know who will be assessed, what the rate will be, how it will be collected, and many other aspects of the proposal which has gone through a few iterations by a select group of folks appointed by OTA to an internal OTA committee.

OTA should have held a referendum of all organic certificate holders as to whether they want an organic check-off before they proceed to send a proposal to USDA. With all the many pieces of fancy literature and personal phone calls they have financed to promote their ideas, OTA could have used some of those funds to pay an independent entity to perform a referendum on a simple yes/no on whether we need a federal mandated organic check-off /tax. Those organizations that are holding their own referendum of their producer members have had a resounding no to setting up an organic check-off.

On The Road Again: Five Danes in a Van

What do you get when you put two Pennsylvanians and five Danish farmers and organic advisors - and all their gear - in a Chevy van and head out to get the scoop on the state of grass based dairy, Holistic Management and planned grazing in the Northeast?

Well ….. lots of miles (1190 between Sunday evening and Friday night), lots of farms (a dozen), lots of amazing and generous farmers, lots of livestock (cattle of all classes and colors, poultry, sheep and hogs), some glorious scenery and examples of the vast variety of land and farming practices in the region, not much sleep – and amazing experiences, buckets of laughter, and the foundation of friendships and collaborations that are sure to span the years. To read the full article by Susan Beal please go to:

production_grazing_danes-tour_120114.shtml

Environment and Behavior:
Biodiversity and Cattle Wellbeing

Today, many people are seeking to understand the complex interactions involved in food production and their implications for both environmental sustainability and human health. Juan Alvez from the University of Vermont and a group of colleagues wondered in particular about the connections between soil biodiversity, forages, animal health and human health. 

In 2012, their research team embarked on a collaborative, long-term study focused on assessing how ecologic habitat disruption is associated with livestock wellbeing and health, and how those in turn impact human wellbeing. With a wider lens, they rapidly concluded that these elements do not exist in isolation. Numerous researchers emphasize (and the team at University of Vermont preliminary data support) that agriculture both receives and provides a diverse array of benefits from healthy ecosystems, while also imposing dis-services when disrupted. To read Juan Alvez full article please go to:

research_ed_biodiversity-health_120114.shtml

Support NODPA – Now in its 13th Year of working for organic dairy farm families

Have you received your NODPA Fundraising letter yet? If not, it should be in your mailbox any day. When it arrives, we hope you will consider all the ways NODPA works for Organic Dairy farm families and those who support the industry, and send in your check, cash or credit card payment as soon as possible. And, if you already support NODPA through a monthly Milk Check Assignment or during NODPA’s Field Days, we say thanks!

Worried about what the “suits” in Washington DC are up to? NODPA is the only independent organic dairy farmer controlled organization that represents your interest and can keep you informed of what is happening before it is too late to act. We stood up for producer interests with the OTA organic check-off and will continue to do so in the future.

NODPA provides a wide range of resources and services, such as hosting and moderating the Odairy list serve, publishing the print newsletter (NODPA News) 6-times per year, monthly e-newsletter, website, annual Field Days, and advocacy on behalf of all organic dairy farm families through membership in the National Organic Coalition. We keep costs to a minimum but there are still bills to pay. We know you depend on NODPA for the latest organic dairy news and education and that your support is a vote for the work we do.

To contribute to NODPA please go to:

NODPA Fund Drive

-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  

NODPA NEWS & NOTES

ODairy Discussions:
Summary

“Diagnosed with gangrene mastitis, a cow had to euthanized.  The farmer described the sudden onset of symptoms, and asked the group for suggestions on how to prevent this from happening again.  A vet on this list responded that there are essentially two causes of gangrene mastitis - either Clostridium or Staph aureus.  Clostridium is a quick killer; it is characterized by a low fever (102.7 to 102.9).  It is a soil borne organism, and is one of those rare things that you see every 20 years or so.  It is definitely not contagious.  The Staph aureus type is characterized by a high fever (105 or so).  It is called "blue bag" in sheep, and is fairly treatable with antibiotics, and the udder won't slough off as it does with the Clostridial type when treated quickly with penicillin.”

NODPA President and New York producer Liz Bawden summarizes what has happened on the Odairy List Serve in her latest regular column, which can be found at:

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Want to be part of the discussion? Join Odairy, a free, moderated list serve supported by NODPA at:

list_serv.shtml

Letters and Comments

Disagree with what you’ve read in the NODPA News, Enewsletter or on the web? Think that we have the wrong angle on what is happening or the best production practices? Then please write and let us know, either at emaltby@comcast.net or noraowens@comcast.net. An article in the July-August edition of NODPA News about the Madre method of calf rearing caused Michelle Benrud to question the basis of Paul Van Amburgh’s assumptions and conclusions about what he was practicing on his farm, and the economic reality behind the practices. To read Michelle’s letter and Paul’s and Phyllis’ reply please go to:

commentary_letters
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Support NODPA –
Now in its 13th Year
of working for organic dairy farm families

NODPA provides a wide range of resources and services, such as hosting and moderating the Odairy list serve, publishing the print newsletter (NODPA News) 6-times per year, monthly e-newsletter, website, annual Field Days, and advocacy on behalf of all organic dairy farm families through membership in the National Organic Coalition. We keep costs to a minimum but there are still bills to pay. We know you depend on NODPA for the latest organic dairy news and education and that your support is a vote for the work we do.
To contribute to NODPA please go to:

NODPA Fund Drive

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ODAIRY ListServ

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If you haven't joined this list yet, we encourage you to give it a try. To Join ODAIRY, please follow these simple instructions.

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