Featured Farm: Matthew and Rebekah Fendry’s family farm: Sunny Morning Holsteins, Strum, WI
Sunny Morning Holsteins, located in the rolling, hilly terrain about 15 miles south of Eau Claire, WI, is owned and operated by first generation Organic Valley dairy producers Matt (33 years old) and Beka (27 years old) Fendry. “We bought the farm as a turn-key operation with about 75 cows and started in a 60-cow tie-stall barn which was too small for their cows, the ventilation was poor, and the feeding situation was tough as we had to dump feed with a small machine that fit in the feed alley and clean everything out by hand. The manure system was not very functional, and the single 8 parlor drove us nuts because you’d get a batch of cows in and then stand and wait,” said Beka. To read more about how they turned the farm around and what they are doing for the future, click here.
Organic Checkoff Tax:
USDA Wants More Proposals
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) spent the last four years developing a proposal for an organic promotion, research and information order, finally submitting a proposal for the check-off program to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) on May 12, 2015. GO TO PROPOSAL FROM OTA
But, AMS isn't satisfied that OTA has met the requirement to have the support of the organic community (now called “the commodity”) and less than a week later, they issued a request for supplemental or partial proposals; AMS staff "believes that it is in the best interests of the organic community to solicit a wide range of views before proceeding with the publication of this proposal." The request is at the USDA AMS site. Sam Jones-Ellard, AMS spokesperson, told Sustainable Food News that the request for additional check-off proposals was "unusual" but not without precedent. It appears that this request for alternative or partial proposals indicates that USDA is proceeding on a path similar to that used for the Mushroom Order, published in June 1992, and the Avocado industry in 2000.
NODPA and other groups will be submitting partial proposals to address basic issues of transparency, democratic decision making, and use of resources in the short timeline for proposals that USDA AMS has given. NODPA has also asked for an extension of the deadline for submitting proposals because of the burden of consulting with producers at the busiest time of the year. Click here to view the request for extension.
The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) joined check-off opposition after they held a referendum among its members that showed "not a single vote was cast in favor" of OTA's check-off proposal. "The OSGATA membership has spoken loud and clear," said Maine certified-organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of OSGATA. "Organic farmers and seed growers resoundingly reject the OTA's organic check-off proposal and our membership believes it's important that organic farmers work together to defeat the industry's mandatory tax on our livelihoods." http://www.osgata.org/
Origin of Livestock: USDA NOP Publishes Proposed Rule for Comment
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) has been promising clarification and rulemaking around an exemption to the rule that all dairy animals must be “under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation” for at least the last ten years. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on April 28, 2015. The USDA has given plenty of time for the organic community, stakeholders, and consumers to submit written comments on the proposed rule, with comments having to be submitted by July 27, 2015.
This proposed rule does provide clarity and a single standard for the one time exemption, with specificity on what the transitioned animals and their progeny can be used for. Under this proposal, the eligibility for a one-time transition is tied to the entity or producer that holds the organic certificate:
- That farms on land that meets the definition of a dairy farm (which is defined as one lactating cow and a milking parlor)
- Who manages their herd under organic management for at least a year, although they can feed crops from land that is in its third year of transition
- The transition should be part of the operation’s organic system plan
- Agrees to end the transition of the whole herd at the same time after one year
Essential points that NODPA will be proposing are:
- The Exemption that goes with the producer essentially means that any newly certified entity can get the one time exemption for establishing a whole herd using non-certified animals. What NODPA has proposed in the past is that the exemption is for the “responsibly connected person: Any person who is a partner, officer, director, holder, manager, or owner of 10 percent or more of the voting stock of an applicant or a recipient of certification or accreditation.” That would mean that it is a one time exemption and stops the same entity (producer/corporation) from setting up LLC’s as new start-ups.
- Transitioned animals cannot be sold as organic – the exemption is for the transition not to sell organic cows;
- Breeding stock cannot move in and out of organic production;
- The one time exemption should only apply to the transition of established conventional herds and not to start-ups.
To read more please click here.