The Miller Dairy in Vernon, VT, one of the stops of the farm tour.
The 12th Annual NODPA Field Days
and Annual Meeting
September 27 & 28, 2012
Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center
8 University Way, Brattleboro, VT
With NODPA’S Field Days and Annual Meeting just around the corner, now’s the time to sign up. The program, Farming Smarter: A Nutrient and Energy Dense Agenda to Help Farmers Become More Self-Reliant, is a direct response to this year’s grain shortages, high feed prices, low profit margins and dramatic weather patterns (climate change). NODPA is bringing together a rich array of national and regional leaders to share their knowledge and ideas about how farmers can become more self-reliant by growing more of their own feed in healthy, rich soil, and to consider whether diversifying their farming operations is an option for them.
Southern VT Farmers
Host Tours for 2012 Field Days
The Vermont organic dairy farm tours for the 2012 NODPA Field Days are quite different in land, farming styles, facilities, and histories. Franklin Farm in Guilford, VT and Miller Dairy in Vernon, VT show the many differences there are in certified organic dairy farms across the country. They vary in the number of milking cows by as much as 200 cows and they have different ownership, management and production methods. Read more about these two different, yet similar family farms in the article written by Willie Gibson, NOFA Vermont Dairy & Livestock Farm Advisor and be sure to come to the NODPA Field Days on Thursday September 28th to tour the farm and visit with the owners. Learn more at:
Study Finds Mixed Levels of Profitability on Vermont Organic Dairy Farms for 2011
By Bob Parsons, UVM Extension Ag Economist & Professor
The preliminary results for the 2011 financial returns from Vermont’s organic dairy farms show a mixed picture. Organic dairy farms in Vermont show an average profit almost identical to 2010 at $5879, continuing a trend of lower profits since 2006. The return on assets was only 1.3%. In 2011, the average farm of 57.4 cows earned a profit of $40,879 (median of $31,941) before any charges for family withdrawal which was calculated at $35,000, leaving, on average, a return of $5879 (median -$3060) of profits for reinvestment and paying real estate loan principles. In comparison to conventional herds, organic dairy farms were not doing quite as well as conventional herds in 2011. Bob will be on a panel at the upcoming NODPA Field Days on Thursday September 27 and available for answering many questions. For the full report and data, please go to:
Feed Hard To Find, State to State Difference in Price
Corn and soybeans are not only expensive but difficult to find and, with no firm forecasts for the new season, producers are looking at limited availability for alternative feed sources and rapidly increasing prices. Some organic operations are reportedly experiencing a decrease in financial support from lenders, as well as a lack of continued interest in their operations, due to rising costs of feed. Pasture conditions vary in different regions and although there is the opportunity to extend the grazing season, some producers do not have the land base, the climate or the resources to change their production system. The price of corn has continued to increase with a September price at $17/bushel at the farm (it is now higher than the price of soybean in June 2010) along with soybeans, at $29.50/bushel, with soybean meal exceeding $1,300 per ton. For more details, please go to:
No increase in Pay Price as sales increase by six per cent and supply dries up
Times are tough! With no good news on the price of feed and no pay price increase in sight, milk supplies are tightening as producers cut back on purchased feed. While producers welcomed Horizon’s Organic continuation of their MAP, pay price is still at least $4 below the average costs of living for organic dairy family farms. There will also be the loss of MILC payments in September unless Congress can move off gridlock and limited legislation and pass a more comprehensive Farm Bill. The consumption of organic fluid milk in the first half of 2012 is up by 6% over the first half of 2011, despite increased retail prices. The national weighted average advertised price of organic milk half gallons at the end of August is $3.91, and the price range is $4.99 to $2.69 per half gallon. The lowest price for organic fluid milk is for store branded milk, which is highly advertised and used as a loss-leader by retailers, but brand-name product is also being discounted to increase sales, with an unusually low price of $3 per half gallon recorded in August 2012. The important price-gap comparison between the weighted average advertised price for non-organic half gallons compared to organic is $1.65, up from $0.99 a month ago. During 2012, the price spread has ranged from $0.78 to $2.46. For more details please go to:
How to Avoid Costly Mistakes
in Pasture Management
Three leading advisors and practitioners of pasture management collaborated on this article that spells out the mistakes that can be made in underutilizing this valuable asset. Sarah Flack, Dr. Cindy Daley, and Kathy Soder, give a taste of the presentation they will be giving at the NODPA Field Days by stepping back from the daily routine and asking producers to take a more global look at their pastures, their pasture management, and the management of the cows that graze them. This highly important asset, with its prescribed use for organic certification, will be an essential part of the planning and budgeting for 2013 - which may well be the difference between staying in business and bankruptcy for organic dairies. To learn more from these experts please go to: production_grazing_pasture_mistakes_090812.shtml
Bringing Health and Sustainable Production to your Farm with Nutrient Dense Forages
Jack Lazor, organic dairy farmer and co-owner of Butterworks Farm, agrees that cows should be primarily consumers of excellent forages but he recognizes the necessity of feeding grain to “keep the flesh on their backs” during lactation. What if it was possible to grow forages that would contain enough energy to replace the need to feed grain? Jack shares his experiment with different production methods and soil amendments to improve the levels of sugar and fat in forages that would replace the need to feed grain. He will present his experience in person at the NODPA Field Days. To read more please go to:
Managing Beneficial Fatty Acids in Forage Crops to Enhance Nutritional Quality of Milk
There has been increasing interest by consumers to purchase livestock products that are high in beneficial fatty acids such as omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). They are necessary for human and livestock health; the body can’t produce them, therefore we must get them through food.
Numerous research studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis in humans. Omega-3 fatty acids are also highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory).
Maximizing omega-3 in milk and dairy products would benefit human health and nutrition. However, little is known about the effects of adding omega-3 PUFA to the diets of dairy cows.
Such a practice may improve their immunity. Understanding how omega-3 PUFA affect the immune functions of dairy cattle may lead to the development of strategies that will decrease the incidence of diseases and improve reproductive efficiency. For more information about these strategies, presented by Dr. Heather Darby, please come to the Field Days and go to:
-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director
NODPA NEWS & NOTES
The Latest Feed Prices
Corn and soybeans are not only expensive but difficult to find and, with no firm forecasts for the new season, producers are looking at limited availability for alternative feed sources and rapidly increasing prices. Some organic operations are reportedly experiencing a decrease in financial support from lenders, as well as a lack of continued interest in their operations, due to rising costs of feed. Learn more >
No increase in Pay Price as sales increase by six per cent and supply dries up
Times are tough! With no good news on the price of feed and no pay price increase in sight, milk supplies are tightening as producers cut back on purchased feed. While producers welcomed Horizon’s Organic continuation of their MAP, pay price is still at least $4 below the average costs of living for organic dairy family farms. There will also be the loss of MILC payments in September unless Congress can move off gridlock and limited legislation and pass a more comprehensive Farm Bill. Learn more >
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