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Featured Farm: Tillotson's family farm, Cottonwood Farms, LLC, Pavilion, NY

The Tillotsons own 625 acres, 500 tillable, and rent another 460; a significant parcel of land to manage but necessary for their larger than typical organic herd which totals 300 milkers plus replacements and young stock. There has been significant movement away from what was originally a herd of American Holsteins towards New Zealand Fresian and Jersey genetics yielding a smaller framed cow with an average weight of 1200 pounds.  Milk production per cow averages 15,000 pounds per year.  Linebacks make up about a fifth of the herd and Paul noted that, “they are excellent grazers with good longevity and do well on our low grain ration,” which averages 8 pounds per cow year round. Paul Tillotson of Cottonwood Farms, LLC, commented jovially about farming with his son Jason.  “I think every farmer would love to farm with their son or daughter.   Jason is 36 now and has been farming with me for 18 years.  He grew up with it and it’s what he wanted to do even though we tried to push him out to go to college.”

To view the article, click here.

Origin of Livestock
Comments to USDA NOP

Since its formation in 2002, NODPA has always submitted comment directly to the USDA on its proposed regulations. One of the first topics that NODPA sent comment on, in 2003, was the Origin of Livestock, and have now finalized our comment in response to the Proposed Rule on the Origin of Livestock, twelve years later. NODPA’s comment will be filed before the deadline of July 27 and will reflect the long held beliefs of producers about the need to maintain the integrity of the organic seal and reward those producers that have been following the intent of the regulations for the past ten years. To read those comments please go to:

Origin of livestock comments 7.18.15.pdf

Organic Checkoff Partial Proposal

NODPA has decided to take a leadership position on the proposed organic checkoff and has built coalitions to educate producers on the implications of the checkoff and to bring some form of democratic choice to any decision making. NODPA advocated to the USDA for the opportunity to present alternative ideas on a checkoff program and the USDA granted that request. We have responded with a partial proposal with our own ideas on the process of deciding whether there will be a checkoff. OTA’s money and resources has given them the opportunity to submit a proposal for an organic checkoff and their proposal limits who can vote to establish one. NODPA’s proposal goes to a basic equality issue that every certificate holder should have one vote in any decision to form an organic checkoff. This was submitted to USDA on July 18th. To read the partial proposal please go to:

OrganicCheckoffPartialProposal NODPA final 7.18.15.pdf



Update from
Jean Richardson, National Organic Standards Board Chair

As Jean Richardson comes to the end of her time as Chair of the NOSB she states in her regular column in the NODPA News that “My goal as Chair for the next 4 months is to continue to work to expand opportunities for a broader cross section of public comment in a diversity of ways, using modern technology where possible, reduce our carbon footprint where possible, and complete this cycle of Sunset Review.  I believe that working together we can do this.”

NODPA had an opportunity to discuss these issues in a telephone conference call with Miles McEvoy, head of NOP, Jean Richardson, Chair of the NOSB, Betsy Rakola, Organic Policy Advisor from the Secretary’s office, and NOP’s new Standards Director, Dr. Paul Lewis. We talked about the upcoming NOSB meeting in Vermont, some of the issue on the table, and the need to maintain the opportunity for in-person public comment at the meeting from interested stakeholders, especially producers. Everyone agreed that this was an important part of the integrity and accountability of the NOSB and made organic unique in the marketplace, which is what producers need to ensure their profitability. To read Jean’s column please click here.

For more information about the NOSB please go to: click here .

Pay Price, Feed & Retail Price Update for July 2015

Organic milk is part of the Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO) and use of organic milk is approximately 75% in Class 1, which means that processors pay into the pool that helps stabilizes non-organic milk. While processors are always complaining about the unfairness of still being part of the FMMO they do use it to balance their usage, especially with the spring flush, and being part of the order ensures that milk plants will process organic milk on schedule. Another aspect of the FMMO is the recording of data by an independent entity which can show how all milk is being used, including organic. In the last month, Federal Order No. 1 of the FMMO has released statistics on how many organic producers are shipping milk to plants in the region. These show that while consumer demand and production are increasing, the number of farms is dropping. The FMMO also records that organic milk has higher butterfat tests by about .18% (organic at 3.91% and non-organic at 3.73%) while protein levels were about the same for both types of milk. The FMMO does not record all the information for those producing organic milk but this data is excellent at showing the trends in production and farm numbers. Whatever the reason, and there is no one reason, organic is going the way of conventional dairy: larger, but fewer organic dairy farms. Organic processors are again investigating submitting a petition to the FMMO to make changes in the way organic milk is assessed by the order, and there will be a transparent (and long) process involved. It was reported this month that organic milk sales, year-to-date, are down 0.5%, as reduced fat milks’ sales drop slightly and whole milk sales increase. For more details and information please click here.

Nodpa E-News
July 20, 2015


2015 NODPA Field Days, October 1 & 2, 2015, Pavilion, NY:
Organic Dairy -- Preparing for the Next Generation

Western New York will play host to the 15th Annual NODPA Field Days on October 1st and 2nd, in Pavilion NY, an active farming community south of Rochester, NY. This year, we tackle the critically important topic of how to attract and retain the next generation of organic dairy producers.  It’s time to figure out how to adapt the farm to the changing needs of our children and grandchildren if we hope to keep organic dairy alive in the United States. The NODPA Field Days program will explore the current obstacles and opportunities for the next generation of organic dairy farmers, and will present success stories where family farms are adopting new and creative practices for the 21st century, and will hear from young farmers who will inform the discussion.
The next generation won’t be the only topic on the program; we will get an update on the grass-fed milk trend; have an extended, on-farm workshop on cow comfort; and will hear about robotic milking in the Netherlands, where it all began. We are excited to announce that Liana Hoodes, the founding director of the National Organic Coalition will be NODPA Field Days’ keynote speaker. She will share her experiences and observations about the future of the Organic brand, and following her presentation, everyone will have a chance to jump into the conversation during a discussion facilitated by Fay Benson, that we are calling Working Together for a Sustainable Organic Dairy Future.

This year, we wrap up Field Days with a special event. The New York Organic Dairy Initiative will host a cookout at the nearby Letchworth State Park, often called The Grand Canyon of the East, to conclude this year’s NODPA meeting. It’s a beautiful time of year to view the magnificent falls of the Genesee River. Read more …

Join Odairy

The ODairy email list serve hosts robust discussions on many different issues, some practical, some on policy, some on politics and some just exchanging news on the organic community. ODairy is blessed by having so many committed veterinarians experienced in organic production who take an active part in the discussions on the list serve. There is no one way to solve a health problem in organic production.  Also, Odairy is a great place to advertise animals for sale and organic feed that is available.

To join the active and informative email list serve clicking here.

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