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The 12th Annual NODPA Field Days and Annual Meeting:
A Resource Page

Added November 24, 2012.

Field Days Summary

For a summary of the Field Days activities and workshops, please click here >

Field Days Slide Show/Photo Gallery

For those of you that couldn’t attend the NODPA Field Days, and those that did, you can capture some of the atmosphere from the excellent slide show that reflects the beautiful weather for the farm tours and the instructive and interesting workshops throughout the two days. Go to slideshow >

Top Ten Grazing Mistakes

Sarah Flack, Dr. Cindy Daley, and Kathy Soder, gave a great and comprehensive presentation on the challenges and mistakes that can easily be made when working with pasture.

  1. Badly designed grazing system & infrastructure
  2. Poor grazing management
  3. Pasture plants being damaged by overgrazing
  4. Low DMI from pasture
  5. Poor plant species selection or diversity
  6. Overfeeding Protein
  7. Poor forage quality due to wrong species, low diversity or over mature plants (low digestibility)
  8. Poor soil fertility
  9. Inadequate records to keep the certifier happy
  10. Overgrazing damage!

For more of their presentation please go to a PDF version of the Powerpoint presentation.

Profitability and Price of Feed

Bob Parsons, Les Morrison and Travis Little gave a very honest, if depressing, assessment of the next few years outlook for purchased feed. Luckily in New England we have feed dealers that are committed to the future of organic livestock family farms and will do everything they can to mitigate the effects of the marketplace. For more information on profitability of organic dairy farms please go to a PDF version of their presentation.

Washington Gridlock & Lame Duck Farm Bill

Annette Higby gave a summary of the Farm Bill, followed by Dave Rogers, giving the perspective of how it affects Vermont and what Vermonters can do to influence key, influential legislators. For Annette’s summary of the Farm Bill process and an update from the National Organic Coalition, please go to a PDF version of her presentation.

Diversification of Income Stream

The diversification and your farm’s future was a great session moderated by Fay Benson. Especially pleasing for me was Jeannette Fellow’s presentation as I’ve known Jeannette and Mark for over 15 years and seen firsthand how they have made a profitable organic dairy family farm through hard work. Henry Perkins was his usual ebullient self (he hasn’t quite reached the stage of a stand-up comic) and, despite his injury, he painted a forceful picture of what you can do if you sell your milking cows. Dave Johnson posed many questions about the economics of growing feed and the increasingly difficult challenge of making organic farming pay, reminding us there is no one silver bullet. For more details please go to a PDF version of the presentation.

Mandatory Organic Check-Off

The final session of the day featured the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) proposal for an Organic Check-Off. The OTA presenter, Laura Batcha, presented the idea and process of setting up a mandated, federal organic check-off and answered questions raised by Ed Maltby’s presentation and by farmers in the audience. In brief, OTA committed to uploading onto their website all the minutes and comments from the different presentations they plan to make across the country. The presentations will be in-person at some locations, and they will also share their proposal through webinars and on their website. After they have finished their presentations, OTA will hold a referendum of all US certified operations on whether to have a federal mandated organic check-off, butthere was no commitment to present both sides of the question in any material that goes out to certified operations and no real detail on that process. Laura disagreed with many that thought politically it would be possible to have only a technical correction allowing all organic operations to retain their check-off dollars. She insisted that there needed to be a pathway (which has now been renamed a technical correction) to a mandatory organic check-off included in any legislation. In response to one question asking how OTA could rebuild the trust of farmers around the process, Laura said she thought they had been transparent at every level. There were many more questions and comments and the session stretched out for 2 ½ hours and would have gone on longer if we didn’t have to end the Field Days. For more details please view a PDF of the presentation.