Annie & Ryan Murray
Hidden Meadows Dairy
Cincinnatus, New York
Annie and Ryan met at the 2015 NODPA Field Days and were recently married! Ryan (25) grew up on an 80-cow dairy, five miles outside of Truxton, New York. His parents went organic in 2007 in what was Ryan’s first year of high school. Post-high school, Ryan attended two semesters of college, but decided he’d rather find a way to milk his own cows.
In 2013, Ryan rented an 80-stall stanchion barn from a family friend. “When I got started, I only had a few cows at my parent’s farm,” Ryan said. “I started out by buying about 40 conventional unbred heifers,” which he began to transition to organic production in 2012. “The barn is small and antiquated but it works,” Ryan said.
Annie (21) grew up in Silicon Valley; her dad employed at Google and her mother at the University of Berkeley. She and her mother moved to New York when she was 16, and Annie joked that she had “almost never seen a cow before the move.” “My mother met a dairy farmer down the road and encouraged me to visit the farm. I began milking with him one night a week,” said Annie, explaining the roots of her farming career. For more about the featured farm presented in a different format using a SWOT analysis, please go to:
Hidden Meadows Dairy
Policy – What You as a Producer Can Do
The organic dairy community is a confusing place, especially when we talk about policy and regulation. For some, the veracity of the organic certification is a matter of whether the certifying entity decides that the operation meets the USDA regulations as the certifier interprets it. For others, the vast majority of organic producers, the organic certification must past the test of basic organic practices (grown in soil) and the reality of farming practices.
Below is an extract from ODairy list serve that illustrates the differences in opinion:
Bruce A. Scholten (BAS) interview with Miles McEvoy (MM) at the 19th organic world congress of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements conference in India:
BAS: ‘For years, I agonized over whether or not Aurora Organic Dairy (AOD in Colorado and Texas) properly grazed their cows. I worry less about Horizon Organic Dairy these days.’
MM: ‘They met the USDA standards.’
BAS: ‘So what about Peter Whoriskey’s articles in WaPo?’
MM: ‘Peter Whoriskey’s articles were based on a drive-by investigation. It wasn’t an audit. His articles are sensationalist.’
BAS: ‘He was in Texas 8 days,’ and didn’t see over 10% of that 10,0000 cow plus herd on pasture.
MM: ‘He was outside 8 days. It wasn’t an audit. Whoriskey’s not a dairy farmer.’
George Siemon, CEO CROPP Cooperative: “As far as Aurora goes I have not defended them, but I have strongly defended the NOP verification which is the whole currency of the organic market. Yes, it has flaws, and we all work to keep it improving, but it is our cornerstone. My understanding is Aurora was certified by two different certifiers and had a complete audit by the NOP. Considering that, I believe we need to all defend the organic seal process rather than supporting news headlines that implicate organic dairy as not real. This is not good for the market or for family farms.”
Francis Thicke, NOSB member and organic dairy producer: “I was the one who asked the head of NOP Compliance if they inspected Aurora unannounced, or if they made an appointment. The head of NOP Compliance told me that they made an appointment "because of (NOP) budget constraints." Apparently, the NOP was not so concerned about the budget constraints of the family-scale organic dairy farmers who are fulfilling the grazing rule but are taking a big economic hit because of organic milk surpluses, caused in part by "organic" CAFO dairies. I agree with Kathie (Arnold) that any grazing organic dairy farmer with a bit of common sense has to be suspicious--and disgusted--that the compelling evidence presented by the Washington Post investigative reporter was brushed aside based on a pre-scheduled audit of Aurora's records. Anyone who believes that Aurora would present records showing noncompliance with the grazing rule during a scheduled appointment with an auditor--regardless of whether or not the records were accurate--is a fool.”
To achieve change that will align with our beliefs as producers we need to influence policy makers in DC. With a new administration in Washington DC and the need for consistent implementation of organic regulation to ensure a fair and level playing field, organic producers need to educate policy makers on the conditions of the organic dairy market. While the policy and regulation issues within the organic dairy community are foremost in our minds, they are of limited interest to most Congressional senators and representatives. Policymakers receive many requests for support for a variety of programs and they respond to constituent requests which have a clear statement of a situation, its implications for their constituents and a way they can help.
To help with that education we provide a summary of the situation in organic dairy plus some talking points on what can be done on the Federal level. NODPA, NOFA NY, MOFGA and other organic organizations will be supplying these talking points directly to their Northeast congressional delegation. Producers can do the same -please go to:
What Producers Can Do
MYCOTOXIN ALERT 2017 –
Letter to the Editor
Dear NODPA News Editor:
It is important that clarification be made about the information published recently, both on the Odairy listserv and in the September NODPA News, that stated aflatoxins, particularly gliotoxin, interfere with the Charm tests (Charm Sciences manufactures rapid diagnostic tests across many industries) for antibiotics in milk, specifically tests for sulfonamide drugs. This information is not accurate.
When the situation referenced in that article was unfolding, I contacted the technical services folks at Charm Sciences to discuss more fully the potential for cross-reaction to their sulfonamide assays, the Charm ROSA SULF test primarily used in milk processing plants and the Charm II SULFA test primarily used for confirmation testing in certified laboratories . . .
To read the whole letter please go to:
Letter to the Editor
Closing comments of Francis Thicke at end of his NOSB term. November 2, 2017
“There are two important things that I have learned during my five years on the NOSB. First, I learned that the NOSB review process for materials petitioned for inclusion on the National List is quite rigorous, with Technical Reviews of petitioned materials and careful scrutiny by both NOSB subcommittees and the full board.
The second thing I learned, over time, is that industry has an outsized and growing influence on USDA—and on the NOSB (including through NOSB appointments)—compared to the influence of organic farmers, who started this organic farming movement. Perhaps that is not surprising, given the growing value of organic sales. As organic is becoming a $50 billion business, the industry not only wants a bigger piece of the pie, they seem to want the whole pie.”
To read all of Francis’s comments please go to:
Francis Thicke Comments
Dirt Capital: Promoting Land
Access and Security
Dirt Capital Partners invests in farmland in partnership with farmers throughout the Northeast United States, promoting sustainable farmers’ land access and security. They recognize that farming is risky. Many talented farmers with profitable operations do not qualify for a conventional loan and/or do not have enough capital saved to make a large down payment. The primary alternative is leased land, which is often short-term, insecure and requires permission from landowners to erect basic farm infrastructure. Dirt Capital fills these gaps by facilitating farmland transitions, crafting long-term leases that allow businesses to expand securely, and providing defined pathways to ownership. Dirt Capital worked with Annie and Ryan Murray to obtain their farm. To read more about Dirt Capita common land scenario, approach, legal agreements, partner criteria and a case study, please go to: