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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | July 16, 2012

Kimvale Farm, Falconer, NY

When Steve and Cathy Kimball decided to transition their 5th generation New York dairy farm to organic production in 2006, they knew that they would have to make a lot of changes. They were milking 350 cows, pushing them for production, and growing a fair amount of crops using conventional fertilizers and herbicides. Learn more about Kimvale Farm that was homesteaded in 1847 and their challenges in transitioning under the 80-20 rule and the prospects for the future. For more on Kimvale Farm please click here.

Organic Check-Off

FOOD Farmers, OFARM and other farmer and consumer groups continue to advocate that the proposal from the Organic Trade Association (OTA) on an organic check-off is not "Ready for Prime Time."

Our position is YES on a technical regulatory fix that allows organic farmers to withdraw their check-off dollars from supporting conventional agriculture ...

... and NO on regulation to support the path to establish an Organic Research and Promotion Program

An amendment to the House of Representative Farm Bill sponsored by Representative Welch from VT with language proposed by OTA was withdrawn during the discussion of the Farm Bill by the House Agriculture committee on Wednesday July 11, 2012. Ranking member Peterson promised that there would be 'some consideration' for the proposal within the final Farm Bill.

For more details on the proposal and its implications for producers, please go to:

www.nodpa.com/in_check_off_proposal_07162012.shtml

To read the letter sent from FOOD Farmers, OFARM, environmental and consumer groups to leaders of the House of Representatives please go to:

http://www.nodpa.com/07_16_12_
House sign on letter 6 28 12.pdf

Pay price

The spring flush has ended and reports are that very few loads are going to non-organic sales. The heat is affecting dry matter yield from pasture and the NOP has granted a temporary variance for Wyoming for the level of dry matter required from grazing. The average pay price nationally is estimated at $30/cwt although that will vary by region. Horizon has left their MAP in place but OV has taken the $1 back of summer seasonal adjustment which will hit producers hard. Worse still, Organic Valley has informed their producers that there will not be any pay price increase in 2013.

One of the leading buyers of organic milk reports that in 2012 more milk is being sold as bulk loads rather than branded product which has reduced their profitability. Producer's profitability is being hit at every turn and by every calculation and some new entrants (they must be crazy to be transitioning right now) are rightly insisting on transitional payments. With the introduction of the new dairy margin program in the 2012 Farm Bill the margin of milk price over feed costs using the formulae in the Bill but with organic data, would give a margin of just under $1(the estimated profitability level for a non-organic 200 cow herd is a margin of $6 and upwards)! For those that claim MLC, payments for April, May, and June are predicted at $1.20/cwt, dropping to an estimated $0.60 in July and August.

Consumers have not been discouraged by higher retail prices although some have moved to private label rather than branded product. Sales of fluid milk for April 2012 are at the 2011 level but with an average retail price for branded product 22 ¢ higher than 2011. AMS reports year-to-date sales for January through April 2012 are 5.7% ahead of the same period last year. USDA AMS Dairy Market News reports that the national weighted average advertised price of organic milk half gallons in July 2012 was $3.93, and the price range was $4.49 to $2.99/ ½ gallon, with an organic-conventional half-gallon milk advertised price spread of $1.96, above the average price spread for 2012 of $1.32 (the lower the spread, the more attractive the price is for consumers, especially new consumers). During 2012 the spread has ranged from $0.78 to $2.46. For more details please go to:

payprice_update_07162012.shtml

Feed Update

The current feed situation can be summed up best with a quote from Mary-Howell Martens of Lakeview Organic on the Odairy listserve, "between the armyworm and the intense drought here in New York, crops are really not looking good and pastures are terrible ……. Heads up folks – if you think the organic grain price is bad now, I'm really afraid you ain't seen nothing yet. And there isn't going to be much hay either."

For those producers who can find and afford to buy grain, corn prices are at an all-time high since data was collected in 2008, at $15.86/bushel in the Midwest. Soybeans are higher than 2008 levels at $28/bushel with soybean meal at $1,250/ton. With uncertainty on crop yield, how much acreage has returned to non-organic production and the effect of weather and insect damage on pasture, there is no ability to predict fall prices, even with some imports and 'green' protein available. For more details on Feed prices please go to:

http://www.nodpa.com/feed_prices_07_16_12.shtml

NODPA Field Days
Farming Smarter: A Nutrient and Energy Dense Agenda to Help Farmers Become More Self-Reliant

2012 NODPA Field Days and Annual Meeting returns to Vermont this year for the first time since 2004. We will gather in southern Vermont at the scenic Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center (VABEC) in Brattleboro on September 27th and 28th, at the height of the autumn color for a program that's packed with compelling, practical topics, 2 farm tours, a large trade show, delicious local and organic meals, a social hour, and plenty of time for networking with your fellow farmers.

For more general details please go to:

fielddays_2012_overview.shtml

For registration form please go to:

fielddays_registration_2012.shtml

Farm Bill update from NEFU

In the wee hours of July 12th, the House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the 2012 farm bill by a vote of 35 to 11.  Three of the four New England members of the House Agriculture Committee voted against the bill in opposition to its steep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the new name for Food Stamps. Learn more >

Growing Annuals for Grazing

Cheyenne Christianson has been planting several different annuals on his farm for over a decade to extend the grazing season, fill in during warmer weather or drought, to give more options and variety, and as a good way to get a better mix of more palatable grasses and legumes. To read the full article, please go to:

production_grazing_annual_grazing_071612.shtml

-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  

NODPA NEWS & NOTES

Armyworms on the march for the second time this year

The early warm weather brought an invasion of true armyworm (as opposed to Fall armyworm) to New York and Vermont, causing damage in young corn crops, pasture and hay fields. Armyworm will eat anything grassy in vast quantities, they feed at night so your pasture may look fine this afternoon and be virtually gone by morning. They will also eat alfalfa, and bean, cabbage, carrot, onions, pea, pepper, and radish leaves and other broad-leafed plants when the grasses are exhausted. They get their name from moving through a field in an "army-like" fashion, devouring plants as they go. For more information, click here.

The Latest Feed Prices

The current feed situation can be summed up best with a quote from Mary-Howell Martens of Lakeview Organic on the Odairy listserve, "between the armyworm and the intense drought here in New York, crops are really not looking good and pastures are terrible ……. Heads up folks – if you think the organic grain price is bad now, I'm really afraid you ain't seen nothing yet. And there isn't going to be much hay either." Learn more >

The Latest Pay And Retail Prices for Organic Milk

The spring flush has ended and reports are that very few loads are going to non-organic sales. The heat is affecting dry matter yield from pasture and the NOP has granted a temporary variance for Wyoming for the level of dry matter required from grazing. The average pay price nationally is estimated at $30/cwt although that will vary by region. Learn more >

Recent Odairy Discussions

The NODPA sponsored Odairy listserve has many rich conversations from production tips on calving, mastitis to political and philosophical questions about the intent of organic agriculture. Liz Bawden attempts the impossible by summarizing some of the discussions that happen on the list. To join the list serve (its free and posts come directly into your email) and get the full flavor of the diverseness of organic dairy, click here.

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