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KT Organic Farms, Kewaskum, WI

Born in 1965, Kevin has always called Kewaskum home. “Farming is what I always wanted to do although I could have done a lot of things.  I was the 9th oldest of out ten kids and a lot of it was timing,” he explained. “By the time I graduated from high school I had twenty heifers.  In 1985 at age twenty I rented the farm from my dad who passed away seven months later.  It was kind of scary the first year,” Kevin chuckled, “but I did a lot of learning on my own and from those around me and was fortunate to have an uncle farming down the road. There certainly are a lot more resources available now to beginning farmers.”  In 1988, Kevin completed the purchase of the 120- acre family farm which now bears the simple name of K.T. Organic Farms. Kevin began shipping organic milk to CROPP in 1993, and since 2007 has been farming the land with his wife Lynn. To read more about how they dealt with the twists and turns of fate, family disasters and are now working on transferring the farm to a team of brothers go to:

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Hydroponics: What is the Big Deal?

The National Organic Standard Board (NOSB) meeting in Stowe, VT featured a demonstration by Vermont and Maine farmers and their supporters about hydroponics, an issue which the NOSB has already made recommendations five years ago, but the NOP said they needed more information before rulemaking. The hydroponic issue was also raised by many in the verbal comments session to the Board. The farmers that took the time away from their farms to stage a very polite protest for an hour or so outside the NOSB meeting stressed the importance of cultivating, building, improving and replenishing the soil and the environment as central to the integrity of the organic label. They also accepted that they have a responsibility to play an active role in maintaining that integrity. Liana Hoodes made the same point at the NODPA Field Days, that farmers have a responsibility to safeguard the label by being involved with the process of rulemaking and deciding policy.

Often it’s the scientist or the consumer or the environmentalist that has the center stage in presenting opinion, scientific evidence and then justification in deciding what is acceptable in organic production. The voice of the farmer must be heard, especially when those decisions that are being made make no practical farming sense or common sense. Economic growth, the preservation of economic investment, or the status quo cannot be arguments that prevail at the expense of the future integrity of the organic label. With organic dairy, we went through the process where NOP said the regulation on access to pasture was not legally explicit enough to enforce and large dairies were already established that would suffer ‘economic hardship’ with a strict enforcement. We also have that issue with Animal Welfare and now, it appears, with hydroponics.

From a farmer’s point of view these seem like non-issues (of course growing and harvesting crops that aren’t grown in soil is not organic) but we do need to participate in the decision-making process to ensure that regulations are explicit and legally enforceable. Otherwise, we will lose the market to large, capital intensive operations that can game the system, especially now that organic is a worldwide commodity. For more details about what is happening with the process around allowing USDA NOP organic hydroponics in domestic and foreign production, plus the process of addressing farmer concerns, please go to:

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NOSB MEETING, Stowe, Vermont
Oct 26-29, 2015

By Dr. Jean Richardson

“The meeting in Stowe was very well attended, with about 200 attendees, including 110 people who made public comment. This was in addition to the 35 additional people who had provided public comment during the Webinar format public comment in the two weeks prior to the Stowe meeting.  These opportunities for public comment via an internet webinar allowed the NOSB to receive comment from farmers and veterinarians and others who could not come to the meeting in Stowe, including one person calling in from Australia to support the addition of sodium and potassium lactate for use in meat processing. Public Comment was certainly one of the highlights for me.” To read the full text of Jean article please go to:

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Organic Milk, Pay, Retail and Feed Prices
November 2015

Total retail sales of organic fluid milk for July and August 2015 showed a decline in sales over the previous year. Sales of non-fat products continue to drop while whole milk continues to increase. While retail fluid sales have declined, the retail price has increased and there are still shortages on supermarket shelves.’ The drop in sales can be attributed to a shortage of supply or milk being diverted to manufacturing as demand for organic dairy non-fluid products is increasing. Producers are continuing to move to different buyers as contracts end and pay price continues to increase in response to higher inputs and competition for supply. In the northeast farmgate price between $35-40 per hundred pounds are being reported and higher with operation that meet the grass-based criteria of some buyers and at least two certifiers. In the Midwest the mailbox price can average $33-35 per hundred pounds.

As domestic supply is tight and producers transitioning or expanding are slow, the two major national brands are looking overseas and to other beverage products to expand their operations and profitably. For more details and charts of trends over the last seven years, go to:

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Help USDA AMS decide if there is support for an Organic Check-Off – register your opposition now

NODPA, along with at least eight other organizations, submitted partial proposals to the USDA AMS on or before July 20th on a proposal for an organic check-off. NODPA’s position in submitting the partial proposal was to ensure that there would be a democratic process in any decision on establishing an organic check-off, that all certificate holders would have a vote on such an important issue. OTA’s proposal would have limited voting rights to the largest one third of certified farmers. We do not know how USDA AMS will use the partial proposals and how they will be incorporated into the OTA proposal when they publish the proposal(s) to form an organic check-off on the Federal Register for public comment. Hopefully, USDA will recognize the importance of allowing all members of the “organic commodity” the right to vote on establishing an organic check-off.

NODPA is AGAINST ANY ORGANIC CHECK-OFF and will continue to organize against it, but OTA has purchased the right to submit a proposal so we need to ensure any process is democratic. USDA AMS has questioned the support for OTA proposal so please register your opposition to a check-off (if you haven’t already done so) by going to the No Organic Checkoff site or write directly to Ed Maltby, NODPA, 30 Keets Road, Deerfield, MA 01342.

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 serv, or to visit ODairy's archive, clicking here.

NODPA E-News
November 24, 2015


It's November:
Time for the Annual NODPA Fund Drive

Has your NODPA Fund Drive letter arrived? When it does, we hope you will consider all the ways NODPA works for Organic Dairy farm families and those who support the industry, and send in your annual contribution. If you already support NODPA through the monthly Milk Check Assignment or during NODPA’s Field Days, we say thanks!
Do you wonder how the events happening in Washington, whether in Congress or at the USDA, are impacting your organic dairy farm? NODPA is the only independent organic dairy farmer-controlled organization that represents your interests and can keep you informed of what is happening before it is too late to act. Are you wondering how to be informed of what the different processors are paying and what opportunities exist to sell your milk? Do you want to know and understand the current retail price for organic milk? Are you interested in learning new and successful animal health care methods, new production practices, and what other producers are doing? The NODPA News print edition, NODPA E-newsletter, and the NODPA website are full of the best and most up-to-date information.

NODPA provides a wide range of resources and services, such as hosting and moderating the ODairy listserv, publishing the print newsletter (NODPA News) 6-times per year, the monthly e-newsletter, managing the resource-rich website, organizing and hosting the annual NODPA Field Days, and providing advocacy on behalf of all organic dairy farm families through membership in the National Organic Coalition. Although we keep costs to a minimum but there are still bills to pay, and your generous support is needed.

“NODPA supporters are dedicated organic dairy farmers and industry professionals; hardworking, committed to the principles of organic farming and focused on operating their businesses in the most efficient and informed way possible,” said organic dairy producer and NODPA Board President Liz Bawden, “We work long hours and have come to expect reliable information delivered in the most convenient manner possible, and NODPA delivers! We know you depend on NODPA for the latest organic dairy news and education and that your support is a vote for the work we do.”

You can also donate online at www.nodpa.com/
donate.shtml
, said Nora Owens, NODPA Fundraising Campaign Coordinator, “And, if you have questions or need assistance, please give me a call at 413-772-0444 or email noraowens@
comcast.net
.” Your generous financial support will help NODPA continue to provide the valuable resources and services that you have come to depend on, so please take a moment and send in your pledge today.

The 15th Annual NODPA Field Days Wrap-Up:
Organic Dairy -- Preparing for the Next Generation

As you will read or may already have heard we had a great Field Days and Annual meeting with plenty of networking and education along with bringing some younger folks into the NODPA leadership. We welcomed Kirk Arnold as NODPA Vice President and know that he will bring new thoughts and energy into our activities and policy work. Fresh perspectives are always important as organic production evolves into new markets, fresh challenges and more products. The theme for the Field Days was “Preparing for the Next Generation” and a panel of young farmers openly discussed their goals and challenges as they pursue their farming careers.  Virginia Chamberlain, Eric Beiler, Stephen Gould, and Peter Martens shared their personal stories and ideas about farming in the future, expertly moderated by Joan Petzen.  Not surprisingly, these young farmers highlighted good pay, time off and good training as critical elements required by the next generation.  They recognized the limiting belief that there are few opportunities for them “out there” in farming to be a real barrier.  Access to capital and financial concerns was the other main barrier.  For those coming into an existing farm business, they saw the merits of a generational transfer plan, and emphasized the importance of re-investing in the business.  Technology, they felt, also has an important role. Under the excellent moderation of Joan Petzen, the parents were also brought into the discussion to verify some of the assumptions made by the panel and also give some history to the decision making around generational transfer. Recent data from USDA confirms that there are more young farmers in organic production than conventional agriculture which presents great opportunities for the future but, as was apparent from some of the panelist answers to questions, also a great responsibility to more experienced organic producers to pass on the history and values of organic production which are essential to the future of the integrity of the organic label. To read all about the Field Days please go to:

field days summary

For more photos please go to our

gallery of photos