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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | March 17, 2014

Stonewall Farm, Keene, NH

Stonewall Farm is a nonprofit working farm and educational center whose mission is to connect people to the land and the role of local agriculture in their lives. They operate a 30-cow certified organic dairy, which has been in operation for over 125 consecutive years (under various owners) and is the oldest and only working dairy farm in Keene, NH. Set in a scenic valley, it consists of 70 acres of pasture, 15 acres of crops/gardens, and 30+ acres of wetlands, woods and hiking trails. The dairy farm has been certified organic since 2007 using the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food as their certifier. Their motivations for getting certified was for the increased income they would receive for their fluid milk, the anticipated improvements in their dairy herd health, and the environmental advantages.  To read the whole article please go to:

ff_march_2014.shtml

SAVE THE DATE: NODPA 2014 Field Days

The 14th Annual NODPA Field Days will be on Thursday and Friday September 25 & 26, 2014 at Stonewall Farm, in Keene, New Hampshire. Although it seems like it was only yesterday, NODPA had its last Field Days in New Hampshire in 2006 at University of New Hampshire’s Organic Dairy Farm. Stonewall Farm is centrally located in Southwest New Hampshire, not far from Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH. The farm is an educational farm that has an organic dairy, micro-milk processing facility, on-site hydroponic barley fodder operation, cheese and yogurt making capacity, farm store, CSA, and educational programing, and they are experimenting with growing canola for biodiesel as well as creating a small grains cooperative where they share combine harvesting equipment. As we move forward with the planning for the Field Days, as usual, we welcome input from organic dairy producers and their supporters, especially around topics you’d like to learn more about.

For more details and to reserve limited trade show space, please contact NODPA Event Coordinator, Nora Owens:

noraowens@comcast.net

National Check-Off Program?

“At the Task Force Meeting one of the producers asked for a show of hands to see if any of the nine producers in attendance supported the checkoff initiative. There were no hands raised.” This informal vote is part of the report from the New York Organic Dairy Task Force at its December 6th 2013 meeting at the Dairylea Offices in Syracuse. This supports other evidence that the majority of producers have expressed their opinion that they do not want an Organic Check-off. The purpose of the NY Organic Dairy Task Force meeting was to discuss this potential organic checkoff program that has split the organic community amongst producers and processors. The New York Organic Dairy Task Force has been funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute since 2005. The Task Force is comprised of organic dairy and crop farmers, certifiers, processors, and related support services. It meets twice a year to assess opportunities and barriers to the organic dairy industry in New York, allowing farmers to offer and develop informed opinions. To read the complete report please go to:

in_national_checkoff_03172014.shtml

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has been congratulating itself on their success in changing the law to enable an organic check off with the passage of the Farm Bill. At the recent Expo West trade show, OTA claimed that its check-off initiative is really rolling now. "We changed the game, and we got it done," OTA’s CEO and Executive Director Laura Batcha is quoted as declaring at a workshop, “The program should be up and ready to go in 18 to 24 months.”  OTA Board Chair, Melody Meyer, of UNFI also expressed delight that the check-off scheme is moving forward: "Hopefully gone will be the days when we have to do fundraisers for separate areas of industry and meet in hotel rooms and at dinners to raise funds." Significantly it is the processors and manufacturers that attend and give at these dinners; OTA seems pleased that the money will now come from producers and others instead of their processor members.

OTA propaganda also seems to be misleading, implying that all levels from retail to farmers will be assessed for the check-off. As most of the margin and profit on organics is made at the marketing and retailing level, they should pay the most. No-one has yet described how they will get large corporations like Coca Cola, Heinz and Con Agra and retailers like Stop and Shop, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Safeway to pay into the check-off across state lines and on a national scale. Which leaves producers paying either directly or indirectly when handlers are assessed and producers are paid less for their milk.

NODPA is committed to working with its partners to ensure that the producer voice is heard at USDA as it is obvious that OTA remains deaf to what farmers and their families want and need. Please remember that:

You can still be UNITED FOR ORGANIC without supporting a Check-Off program

For more information please go to: http://www.nodpa.com/checkoff_opposition.shtml

In Memory of John Kinsman

In January, the organic community and family farm community lost one of its shining lights. John Kinsman passed away peacefully at his farm. John farmed organically most of his life. After an incident with chemicals early in his life, which hospitalized him, he decided to move forward without them. The introduction of BST lit a fire in John that was never put out. John's view on this created tensions in certain circles. John viewed BST as a total loss. It was a loss for the farmer, a loss for the cow, and a loss for the consumer. The loss of farmers that resulted from this along with poor pricing policy would be devastating. John knew the hardship caused to our cattle would be severe and declining consumer confidence would be the final nail in the coffin. When organic came to the forefront John was already there.
John will be missed by many but the benefits of his work will be enjoyed by all of us for years to come. We can all hope to carry his message and work forward. I know I intend to. For the complete article please go to:

in_memory_john_kinsman_03172014.shtml

Share of the retail dollar – how important is it in determining pay price?

Organic pay price changes have come from shortage of supply (increase of $4 from 2003 to 2006); increased competition when HP Hood entered the market; and most recently increases in the Market Adjusted Premiums (MAP) when high feed costs threatened supply. Coincidently, those increases happened at the same time as the producer share of the retail dollar increased and the average retail price decreased. Using the existing data, we would need a $3 increase on base price to bring the share of the retail dollar up to the same level as non-organic, assuming the retail price does not drop. History shows that an increase in pay price has no direct effect on the average retail price.

When looking at calculating pay price, an easier place to start is with costs of production and a pay price that gives an adequate Return On Investment (ROI) to re-invest in the farm (an essential part of organics), a modest family income (in the $60,000/year range), and an ability to service all debt so producers have at least 60% equity against liabilities. Available data and reports from producers suggest that non-organic dairy will be more profitable than organic dairy for 2013 and 2014 based on accepted financial comparisons like ROI and net income. How we use the limited existing data to determine an equitable organic pay price and how this might be tied in with the new margin insurance program in the Farm Bill could be a way to address a pay price that is falling behind costs of production. For the complete article and charts:

payprice_update_03172014.shtml

The Story of the CowVac

The Horn Fly is a very tough pest to control and seemingly resistant to most every chemical control. It only reproduces in cow pastures, which means there is always breeding material in the manure and research shows that as few as 200 Horn Flies per cow is the starting point of production losses. A loss of 15% in milk production has been reported during summer months and a 10% reduction in lifetime milk production has been reported from sub clinical mastitis in young stock caused by Horn Flies before the first lactation.  For the past 16 years, North Carolina State University entomologists, Dr. Wes Watson and Steve Denning, have been researching IPM practices for pest fly control for commercial livestock and poultry operations.  Horn Flies have been a target for much of their work. Their research was the start of the CowVac. For the complete article please go to:

production_health_fly_control_cowvac_03-17-14.shtml

-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  

NODPA NEWS & NOTES

SAVE THE DATE: NODPA 2014 Field Days

The 14th Annual NODPA Field Days will be on Thursday and Friday September 25 & 26, 2014 at Stonewall Farm, in Keene, New Hampshire. Stonewall Farm is centrally located in Southwest New Hampshire, not far from Brattleboro, VT and Keene, NH. The farm is an educational farm that has an organic dairy, micro-milk processing facility, on-site hydroponic barley fodder operation, cheese and yogurt making capacity, farm store, CSA, and educational programing, and they are experimenting with growing canola for biodiesel as well as creating a small grains cooperative where they share combine harvesting equipment.

For more details and to reserve limited trade show space, please contact NODPA Event Coordinator, Nora Owens:

noraowens@comcast.net

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