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Organic Broadcaster Online Issue 19.1 January/February 2011
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Table of Contents
- Sharemilking - One Family's Experience by Joe Pedretti
- Where's the Profit? Did the (turkeys, beets, steers...) make money this year? by Jody Padgham
- News From MOSES: New staff introduced
- Inside Organics: Open the Henhouse Doors! by Harriet Behar
- Soil Trace Elements and the Organic Farmer: How do we meet the organic rule? by Gary Zimmer
- Book Review: MDA organic labeling videos by Jody Padgham
- Expanded Tax Options Give Farmers More Flexibility: Jobs Act changes - Purdue University News Service
- Making the Most of Your Vegetable Seeds by Harriet Behar
- Proof Positive: 2011 Organic Research Forum by Joe Pedretti
- Become a Champion for Organic Farming Education: Your $$ are valuable by Kelli Cameron
- Growing Great Small Grains: A conversation with Klaas Martens
- NEW! MOSES Young Organic Stewards Program: Youth programs at the OFC
- USDA Announces Options for Approving GE Alfalfa
- News Briefs
- MOSES Organic University
- Classified Advertising
Altfrid and Sue Krusenbaum feel very passionately about fostering the next generation of dairy farmers. To this end, they have spent the past 25 years nurturing interns on their organic dairy farm near Elkhorn, WI. Despite this commitment, very few of the interns actually became farmers. Altfrid laments that “we were very frustrated with how few of our interns got into dairy farming. Most of them simply wanted the life experience.” Altfrid himself was not raised on a farm, so “the issue of getting into farming is important to me.”
Altfrid has identified three key factors that prevent the successful establishment of interns on their own farms:
1. Lack of equity.
2. Too much risk.
3. Too little business experience.
To help overcome these barriers, the Krusenbaums decided to try a new approach. “Our goal, before our farming sunset, is to get four to five couples established on the landscape and successful in the dairy business,” states Altfrid. A trip to New Zealand in 1995 was a key moment on Altfrid’s path to creating a new model on his own farm. Through the Center for Integrated Ag Systems at the University of WI, the GRAZE-L listserve was created in 1993/1994 as a pilot project linking graziers in Wisconsin with graziers in New Zealand. This innovative online discussion forum allowed Altfrid to forge relationships with his peers on the other side of the world. New Zealand is renowned for their innovative and well developed grass-based dairy industry. When the Krusenbaums were ready to build a new swing parlor, Altfrid used his new relationships to arrange a 10 day trip to New Zealand where he visited 13 farms. While his main goal was to trial parlors, he also got his first exposure to sharemilking, a very common dairy career path in New Zealand.
Essentially, there are two types of sharemilking programs in New Zealand. The first is known as “lower order” and the second simply as “higher order.” Lower order sharemilking is more of an introductory system for beginning farmers. In this system, the farmer starts as a “cadet” or intern for two years to learn the basic skills of dairy farming. After this internship period, the farmer upgrades to lower order sharemilker and works for a straight percentage of the milk check, typically 21%. The sharemilker owns no cattle, land or equipment in the lower order program. This program works well for younger, inexperienced farmers with no equity to invest. This program is also ideal for farmers at the mid-point of their careers looking for labor help rather than transferring their farm or retiring.
Higher order sharemilking is better suited to those with experience, equity (in the form of cattle) and savings. In this program, the milk check is usually split 50/50 with the sharemilker providing cattle, labor, and management. The landowner is responsible for the land, facilities, and equipment. Typical contract agreements run from two to five years and are often modified to fit the needs of the landowner and sharemilker. The equity built may allow the sharemilker to buy the farm or to place a down payment on another. This makes the higher order sharemilking program a good choice for retiring farmers.
Altfrid came back from his trip with a newfound interest in incorporating these sharemilking concepts into his own operation. After much thought and more research, the Krusenbaums arrived at these key criteria for their own sharemilking program:
1. Looking for couples (for stability).
2. Looking for some experience in dairy farming (for commitment).
3. Looking for those interested in running a business.
“We do not want an employer/employee relationship. We want to have a relationship more like an independent contractor,” says Altfrid. With these goals in mind, they created their own modified sharemilking program that features a percent of the milk check, equity in the form of every fifth heifer calf born and a three-year commitment (contract). In this program, sharemilkers should be able to accumulate 60 head of cattle over three years, equity to invest in their own farm.
The Krusenbaums entered their first sharemilking agreement in March of 2006. The first sharemilkers were first interns that then decided to move forward with their dairy careers through this new relationship with the Krusenbaums. This first attempt was a learning experience for everyone, especially Altfrid. “I tend to be a detail oriented person. I had to try and not micromanage. Over time I got better at judging when to intervene and to not.”
After two years of sharemilking, the husband decided that he did not want to milk cows anymore. The Krusenbaums found a flaw in their agreement- they had no provision on how to dissolve the agreement. In the end the wife stayed on as a hired hand for the final year and the Krusenbaums bought back the cattle from the couple. “It was a huge disappointment for us and for her,” regrets Altfrid. “In the end however, the sharemilking did its job. They came out of the experience without debt and with accumulated savings. It was much better that they found out this way than going into debt on their own farm.”
In their effort to find the next couple, the Krusenbaums advertised for sharemilkers in Graze magazine and also in the Organic Broadcaster newspaper and Organic Trader newsletter. In New Zealand, dairy farming is a much desired profession and there are waiting lists to sharemilk. Sue and Altfrid anticipated a lot of interest, but were instead shocked by how few applicants contacted them. “That became our biggest frustration- finding a good match,” added Altfrid. “The biggest issue with the applicant pool, inherent with American culture, is that money was always the issue,” lamented Altfrid. “An American looks at the situation and thinks ‘I am working for someone else,’ and that he can do better striking out on their own.”
The Krusenbaums found their second couple in 2009. They were determined but very inexperienced. Instead of immediately entering a sharemilking agreement, they agreed to start as interns. A good move, as the couple decided to leave after one year, mainly because they had a different vision of farming and wanted to pursue value-added dairy farming/processing.
The third couple started on February 1st of 2010. This couple has experience but will start first as herdsmen and then start sharemilking in March of 2011. Altfrid is happy with the relationship so far, “it has been good. Making a good match is very difficult.”
These experiences have given Altfrid new insight into how to find sharemilkers in the future and about ways to promote the concept. He intends to network and advertise more and to take every opportunity to talk about sharemilking as a professional career path. In his opinion, “this is the big thing that we are lacking- a defined way to get into a dairy career. Increasingly, interest is coming from people with a non-farm background. It is very difficult for them to find a way into farming. My hope is that this will shift. Lenders need to know about this path.”
Despite the lack of understanding in the United States and his own difficulties, Altfrid sees sharemilking as the perfect way for farmers to share their experience and to promote family scale sustainable agriculture. “Sharemilking poses an opportunity for the exiting farmer to share their knowledge and to receive an income while providing an opportunity for the next generation.”
To learn more about sharemilking:
Sharemilking in Wisconsin: CIAS Research Brief
Sharemilking in the Midwest: Larry Tranel, IA State Extension
Joe Pedretti is the MOSES organic education specialist.
Just about now many of us are heaving a sigh of relief, with the heavy part of the season over. We can start refining the ideas for change that came to mind throughout the busy time. If the beets did really well this year, maybe it makes sense to explore some new wholesale accounts. Or, if the market was really good for dairy steers, maybe it would be worthwhile to grow out a few more calves. On my farm, the questions are: how much money did I make selling organic broilers and turkeys, and which did better for me? Which might I want to expand or contract next year?
The answers to these questions can be found through the right kind of record keeping, collected into a report called an Enterprise Analysis. Through enterprise budgeting and analysis, you predict and track the incomes and expenses of a particular sub-set of your farm activities. This information is very helpful in a number of ways- it will allow you to see if you are making money within a specific area of production, it will give you a sense if you are charging the right prices, and can help you determine if you are in the right markets. An enterprise analysis will also give you the opportunity to look at how your time and money is spread in your operation.
To effectively do an enterprise analysis you must track expenses, income, and time by each enterprise. For a diversified vegetable operation, this will be complicated, but doable for those that really want to know. For row crop and most livestock operations this figuring can be fairly straight forward. As you collect your figures you want to be sure to include the value of any trades - though you may be inclined to fudge for the taxman, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by cheating on your enterprise budget numbers! If you aren’t including the real costs of production, you won’t have enough information to make real decisions and set real prices.
On my farm I sell 200-300 organic pastured broilers each year and up to a couple dozen turkeys. I raise the young birds in a brooder for 3 weeks (broilers) to 6 weeks (turkeys). I then move the young birds out into moveable pens in the pasture and manage them daily out there for the remaining five to six weeks (broilers) or three and a half months (turkeys). I butcher all of the broilers here on the farm, but take the turkeys to a neighbor for processing. I market everything from the farm direct to customers, and have marginal marketing costs (a little postage- most is done by email). As I said above, I am interested in finding out how well each of my mini-enterprises did this year. I have in the back of my mind that turkeys are more time and cost effective, and am considering trying to raise more of them, and fewer broilers. Let’s see what happened this year.
First in our equation are overhead expenses that are a part of everything you produce. Within overhead are the expense of your land and buildings, your insurance, the electricity to keep the lights on, the expenses of the non-specialized equipment. If you are doing a really detailed enterprise budget, you will want to sit down and figure out how much each enterprise utilizes each overhead expense (what % of the land, how much of the electricity, how often with particular equipment, etc.), but my operation is small enough that I will figure that each enterprise can be assigned a certain percent of the total value of all these expenses. I will base my calculation on the total income that each enterprise brings in, though you could base this on a different variable, such as the total amount of time each takes or the amount of space each takes. You decide what makes the most sense for your comparison.
Cost of Labor
There are some costs, however, that will be specific to each operation. Labor is the first big one. You will need to track (or estimate, for budgeting), how much time you spend on each operation. Again, this can be difficult for a diversified vegetable producer, but may be easy for a livestock producer. A serious vegetable producer will want to ask each worker to write down how much time they spend each day or week to plant, weed, harvest, process for market, and then sell the beets, the peas, or the salad mix. I can imagine this will take just the right kind of cajoling (or bribes) to make happen. This figure will involve your time, as well as any hired time. Multiply the time used by the rate you either paid or want to value your own time at.
The labor for marketing a particular product on a diversified vegetable farm will again be very challenging to calculate, but could be estimated by figuring the total marketing time for a particular market (ie CSA, farmers market, wholesale, etc.) divided by the percent of the finished product that a particular crop makes up. For example, if 10% of your income at a farmers market comes from carrots, I’d say that 10% of your farmers market prep, sales, and cleanup time can be assigned to the carrots. This is rough, but it can work.
The cost of management time can be controversial in figuring labor costs. For my purposes, I am assuming that I will spend the same amount of time planning, bookkeeping, and marketing whether I am raising broilers or turkeys, but this will obviously vary greatly if you are looking at the difference between growing commodity wheat or a diversified CSA. You will want to include your management time when trying to set prices or assess profit.
Lucky for me, I can estimate from my chair that it takes me a total of about 63 hours to raise, process, and sell my 225 broilers. Since I like to pay myself $10 per hour, I am making/charging the operation $630 for my broiler time, or about $2.80 per bird.
The turkeys take less time per day (only about 10 minutes), but there are fewer of them and they are on the farm for much longer. They are here for five months, taking an estimated 26.5 hours total, for a labor cost of $265, or $15.50 per bird for the 17 that were butchered and sold.
Cost of Inputs
For the vegetable or crop farmer the inputs will be seeds and any nutrients, minerals, protection or treatment products that were applied to the crop. Some crop farmers may want to include the costs of a green manure crop, if it is specific to a particular harvest crop, but others may assume this contributes value to all potential crops grown on a given field.
For the livestock farmer inputs will include the costs of feed (paid to yourself if you produce the feed), any other nutrients used (for poultry, grit or oyster shell would be here), and any expenses for health supplies (vaccines, mineral, salt, kelp, etc).
I also put the cost of my day-old chicks and poults here, but you could have a separate “stock” cost if you preferred. Breeding animals should be valued at their sales value divided by their breeding life span. For example, a $150 ewe in a herd with an average eight year production would have an $18.75 annual “expense.”
Do you have specialized equipment for this particular venture? Perhaps a salad cutter or a root washing machine? How about a transplanter, or a special holding area for the calves? For poultry I have pens, feeders, waterers, processing equipment, brooder lamps, etc. that I use only for the poultry and nothing else, (except an occasional bottle lamb...) and so I must consider these expenses in my enterprise budget. However, most of my equipment was made or purchased 6 or 8 years ago and is still working fine, so I can estimate an annual amortization value, which is a calculation of the total investment in equipment divided by the number of years I think the equipment will last. For the broilers I will estimate this cost to be about $100 per year, for the turkeys, about $30 per year (they have a very sturdy pen that I made out of scrap!). If your equipment is shared with other enterprises, you will want to only include the percent of the value that is relevant to this particular crop.
In the supply category put “disposable” things that you buy every year to use in your enterprise. For me that means brooder bedding, bags, and labels for the processed birds. For you that may mean CSA boxes or 50# carrot bags, egg cartons, or canning jars for your jams and pickles.
Costs associated with your particular market will be assessed here. Obviously advertising, customer contact costs, signage, brochures, websites etc. go here. Again, farms with diverse enterprises or product lines may want to just divide a total figure by the percent a given crop makes of the total sold through the marketing system. I am under the $5,000 small farm exemption, and so don’t have organic certification costs, but those with certification fees will want to split them out by crop here.
For me, other costs include the butchering costs for the turkeys, as I hire this out. I also include the cost of propane for running my scalder. You may have machinery rental, or hired crop work done. Perhaps you rent a ram or a bull, or store your hay in a neighbor’s barn. I include here my mileage to pick up the chicks and poults and travel to pick up supplies and make deliveries (which is minimal, since almost all of my customers come to my farm, or I deliver on the way to work).
You will want to track all of your income from each enterprise. Those utilizing a variety of markets may choose to itemize income (and any related expenses) by the type of market (ie CSA vs farmers market) to see which is your most cost-effective market. Those of us who utilize only one type of market can just track all income per enterprise. Be sure and include the value of any product that you take for your own use or give away. I track my sales of broilers and turkeys separately, and I charge a pre-paid deposit, which is included in the total income per each type of bird.
Calculations and Assessment
Your net income per enterprise will be the amount of the gross income from that operation minus the expenses. Some people like to look at this number before they add in their own labor costs and take whatever profit as the payment back for their labor. I don’t recommend that you do this, unless you just want to hobby farm, as the value of your labor is an important cost of the production. If you are not including its value in your calculations, you will likely not price your products properly.
Hopefully the result of the income minus expense equation, which is the net income for the enterprise, will give you a positive number. This is the profit that you are making by producing this product. If you like the number you see, then economically this may be a good venture for you. If you compare it to other enterprises on your farm, you can judge if it is a valuable thing for you to do financially.
If your net income is negative it means that you are not able to pay yourself what you had hoped for your work. If the net is a negative number that is larger than your labor figure, it means that you are actually losing money by raising this product. This is not good! If you see a negative number, large or small, you will want to reconsider this enterprise, or figure out ways to lower your costs or raise your prices.
However, there may be other, non-financial reasons that a particular venture may or may not work on your farm. Some people don’t like the daily year round work of livestock, others would prefer to sit on a tractor to bending over and weeding. The numbers won’t tell you everything you need to know to make your enterprise decisions, but they will tell you a lot of very interesting things.
A Look at my Numbers
I was hoping that the less labor-intensive turkeys would bring me in proportionally more money, but it’s looking like that isn’t the case. The broilers are, in 8 weeks of more daily work, netting me $782, while the turkeys, which I have to manage daily from July through the end of November, only bring in $136 above my labor.
Unfortunately, some of the numbers here are more of a guess than a reality. I am guessing on the breakdown of the feed costs, as I have a 4,000 pound bin and everyone gets the same feed with a few modifications on either end of the turkey production. I am guessing how many buckets I carried to each group, and could be wrong. Next year this would be a good thing to track! I have not assigned very much to overhead. I justify this in that I have no machinery and no additional premium on my household insurance for the poultry, and the birds don’t really use any of the buildings. I would be paying for the farm mortgage whether I raised poultry or not. Others would justify assigning more expense here.
There are a few ways that I can look at these numbers to better understand what is going on and allow me to compare things year to year. One of the analyses that I find interesting is called the “net income ratio.” By comparing the net income to the gross income I can see how much of every dollar of sale is going into my pocket. To get this ratio I take the net income and divide by the gross income. For my broilers, this is $782/$3,346, or .23 or 23%. This means that for every dollar I take in selling the broilers, 23 cents is profit (above what I pay myself to do the work). For the turkeys this number is $136/$1,257, which is only .11, or 11%, meaning 11 cents of every dollar I take in is profit.
Another useful ratio is the net income per hour of labor spent. Here I take my net income and divide by the number of hours I put in. For broilers this number is $783/63 hours, or $12.41. For turkeys this is $136/26.5 hours or $5.13. This means that for broilers, along with the $10 per hour I am paying myself, I am making an additional $12.41, for a total of $22.41 per hour! For the turkeys this total is only $15.13, which, though not as good, still isn’t bad.
In looking at the numbers and ratios it seems that I should continue to focus on my broiler production, or raise my turkey prices. I am limited in my broiler production by my on-farm butchering capacity (limited by my off-farm work and time availability!) and so am happy to see in this analysis that, for the price I paid for feed last year, I have my customer prices about right. Overall I’m making about $1,813 in income (my labor costs + my profit), which isn’t bad for 225 chickens and 17 turkeys. What a nice reassurance that is!
I wish you good luck in your own number adventures. I am currently managing a project which will be bringing you a book in early 2012 offering more fun with numbers like this! Look for more on that project soon.
Jody Padgham is the Organic Broadcaster editor. She is also the manager of a three-year project “Developing Farm Financial Knowledge of Beginning Organic and Sustainable Farmers.” The primary products of this project will be an easy-to-understand book on farm financial management, due out in January 2012, and a two-day workshop on the same topic planned for December 2011. Look for more information about the project in upcoming announcements!
Winter has come early to the Midwest. We’ve been a little surprised to be spending long hours digging out so early in the season. It makes one appreciate the power of snow plows, heavy trucks, and bobcats, and also wonder at the efforts needed before machinery so easily took over these heavy tasks. I am glad to have been on my own farm long enough to have learned the importance of digging out well and early, before the cold sets in to cement any lazy clearing efforts into annoying season-long hurdles.
We’ve been keeping warm in the MOSES office with lots of planning projects. Taking the most time is setting details for the Organic Farming Conference (OFC) and its associated events. You all should have received a Conference Flyer in the mail in the last few weeks, highlighting the many exciting offerings for the event, February 24-26 in La Crosse. New this year are a series of events for young farmers under the Young Organic Stewards Program. This initiative was begun in response to the direct request of young people telling us “we want our own programs and our own time to share with each other.” Read more about that on page 11.
Also new this year at the OFC will be expanded networking opportunities. Every year your evaluations tell us that networking with others is one of the most important things that you value at the conference. So, we are now offering the opportunity for you to connect with others at open “Farmer Connection Roundtables.” These provide the opportunity to sign up for a time to talk with others interested in the same things you are, be it heirloom hogs or raising hops. See the information on page 19 of your conference flyer, or go to the web at www.mosesdorganic.org/conference.html. The networking area will be in the Upper Concourse at the La Crosse Center, near the new book sales area.
As we are going to press, the Food Safety Bill has reared up one more time. This hot off the press from the Organic Trade Association: The U.S. Senate on Sunday Dec. 19th once again approved food safety legislation, this time by unanimous consent, in an effort to get the bill adopted before the end of the lame duck session. The version passed on Sunday was amended from the version the Senate adopted Nov. 30 to avoid including tax provisions that are by law to originate in the House. This version, which must be approved by the House before it can be signed into law by the President, still includes provisions that protect organic producers from duplicative trace-back and record-keeping systems, or any requirements that would violate National Organic Standards. To keep up with the latest news, visit the OTA website or the National Organic Coalition website.
A reminder that any of you wishing to NOT receive the Organic Broadcaster in the mail can contact the office and ask to be taken off the print copy mailing list. Those that would like to receive an email notice announcing the electronic version can ask for that as well. 715-778-5775 or http://www.mosesorganic.org/broadcaster.html
I hope that your New Year starts out well,
Organic Broadcaster editor
Welcome New MOSES Staff
MOSES is very pleased to introduce two new staff members.
Kelli Cameron joined MOSES as Director of Development and Systems in August 2010. She has followed her passions for education and agriculture through academia and the corporate world to the realm of nonprofits. Kelli worked previously in corporate education and training at American Family Insurance and Johnsonville Sausage. She earned a bachelors degree in agricultural education and agricultural extension from Iowa State University and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Purdue University. Kelli will be managing MOSES fundraising and helping to develop more effective systems and program measurement. Her background in education will also help in her work on the Young Organic Stewards program and with other special projects.
Joe Pedretti came to MOSES in November as our new Organic Education Specialist. Many of you already know Joe’s name, as he was a long time Organic Valley/CROPP employee and also worked for a time at MOSA. We are tickled to bring Joe’s dairy expertise into the MOSES office. You can look for his influence here in the Broadcaster (you probably noticed his cover article in this issue!). He will also be leading up the Research Forum activites at the conference, and helping to guide field days and other trainings throughout the year. Joe’s focus on our educational programming will allow Harriet to spend more of her time concentrated on her outreach work, including ever expanding time in DC working with partners on important national policy work.
After more than eight years of focused debate, the National Organic Program recently put in place clear and quantifiable regulations detailing pasture access for ruminant animals. The discussion on outdoor access for poultry has been going on for just as long, but was overshadowed by the problem of organic confinement dairies. There are many similarities in the debate between the access to pasture for ruminants and the access to outdoors for poultry. Both the confinement dairy and poultry folks state that their animals can be better cared for within a controlled environment.
Contrary to the belief that all large organic farms are “bad actors” and small family run farms are always the best model, I believe that the lack of outdoor access for chickens is not a big versus small issue, nor a corporate versus family farm issue, either. It is true that on a smaller scale it is easier to provide the outside access required in our organic regulation, but large farms who want to meet the regulation can do it with some forethought when planning their buildings and system. When we focus the debate on large versus small we lose sight of the real issue.
The real question is whether an industrial model is one that should be embraced by the organic community. Those in favor state that the efficiencies that come with large, confinement poultry houses offer organic food at a “more reasonable” price, making it more available to the general public and not just for the affluent in our society. Many also state that the welfare and health of the birds can be better maintained in a controlled environment, rather than the great outdoors which brings the danger of coccidiosis, avian flu, and other wild bird transmitted diseases. Does it make sense to provide the consumer a more reasonably priced product, at the expense of lowered standards? Does this really increase the demand for organic products, or leave organic food open to criticism that it is not any better than conventional production? Is the difference between organic and nonorganic only the nonuse of the most toxic materials, or is it also a type of production that respects and nurtures natural systems, including the natural behavior of animals?
There are two parts to this discussion. First, what does the regulation actually say, and what interpretation best meets the rule’s true meaning? Second, what type of poultry production model fits not just the wording, but is compatible with the general understanding of what organic agriculture is? The regulation is quite general, stating only that access to the outdoors is necessary for poultry. What does this mean? One small door at the end of a 1,000 foot long building? An outside area with a wooden floor, roof and screens, in other words an enclosed porch area? How about just having open windows when the weather is nice? I believe these narrow interpretations are very far off the mark of what was intended when the regulation was written, and absolutely do not meet the expectation of the organic consumer.
The organic egg business has grown rapidly in the past 10 years. Many conventional egg producers entered the marketplace by transitioning their current large confinement chicken houses to organic by taking out cages and allowing the birds to “free range” within the buildings and changing their diet to organic feed. Their buildings did not have enough land around them to offer an outside run area, especially for the large numbers of birds in each house. Other producers saw a business opportunity and purchased bankrupt conventional poultry houses at a good price. With a little bit of remodeling were ready for “organic” production. They cannot offer their birds outside runs where the birds get direct sunshine, scratch and dust themselves and generally express their “chickeness.” It is amazing to me that a minimally modified, failed industrial system of poultry production has been so easily accepted as organic. These large producers have stated at National Organic Standards Board meetings that they provide the majority of the organic eggs in the United States. If outside access would be mandated, they say they would go out of business and there would be great disruption to the organic marketplace. Should this rationale be used for the continued allowance of these confinement operations?
The National Organic Program interpretation that a small enclosed porch is “outside access” has been in place for almost a decade. Organic certification agencies (it seems, with the approval of the NOP) bestow organic certification on operations that do not have any outdoor access at all for their birds. Other operations offer small pens for many thousands of birds, where there are few doors and the birds rarely venture outside. The regulation does not give certifiers the authority to require more doors, larger pens, or even placing food and water outside for a few weeks to get the birds accustomed to being outside.
Many egg laying birds are raised in pullet houses where they do not go outside, which is explained to be needed in order to allow the vaccinations they have received to become effective. When they are moved to the new house where they mature and become egg layers, they have no familiarity with sky, wind, sun, soil or living plants. Putting a few feeders and waterers outside an open door should be sufficient incentive to get them outside. But if a certifier mandates this, a producer could appeal the requirement and would probably not have to perform this task. The regulation as currently written does not give support to actually having the birds outside, only that the birds have “access” to the outdoors.
In addressing these issues it does not matter who owns or operates the facility, how large the operation is, nor how many birds they have. What does matter is that the system in place respects the need for these creatures to breathe fresh air, scratch in the dirt, eat bugs, and flap their wings. Any size operation can set up rotationally grazed areas, offering fresh greens to the birds periodically, while at the same time lessening their exposure to soil borne diseases. Vaccinations are useful for the vast majority of the wild bird diseases, and providing both indoor and outdoor living areas lessens the rapid spread of disease that can happen in high density enclosed confinement houses. There are examples around the country of viable organic commercial poultry operations where the birds spend time outside as weather permits. These birds are healthy and productive. The producers are making an acceptable living and the consumer is truly getting a superior product. The confinement model of livestock production is not compatible with organic agriculture and should be rejected.
Organic agriculture is about finding a better way to farm that mimics as much as possible the elegant natural systems around us. The excitement of being an organic farmer comes from experimenting with ways to enhance our environment and integrating agriculture with nature. Organic ruminant livestock has a quantifiable and clear regulation detailing what “access to pasture” means. It is time for the National Organic Program to put a date on ending the allowance of organic confinement poultry operations and provide all nonruminant animals the opportunity to be outdoors.
Harriet Behar is the MOSES organic specialist. She lives with her husband on an organic farm near Gays Mills, WI.
What is Restricted? What is Allowed?
Micronutrient use in organic agriculture is an allowed but controlled practice. Though micronutrients, commonly called trace elements, are allowed for use according to the NOP standards, “Soil deficiency must be documented by testing.” It also says, in the Rule in §205.601 (j) (6) that they are not to be used “as a defoliant, herbicide, or desiccant” and “those made from nitrates or chlorides are not allowed.”
Clearly, you have to prove you need trace minerals before you can or should use them. I believe that this is a wise practice for every element, including calcium from lime. If you are short of a nutrient, add it, and if you have enough, don’t add more – in fact, under §205.205 Crop Rotation Standards, it states that producers “must manage deficient or excess plant nutrients.” That’s the purpose of soil testing and should be a farmer’s objective, to identify limiting factors and address them.
Once you’ve proved that you need traces the next question is: what is the right amount to apply? Can we set a ‘correct’ level?
I believe that it’s accepted knowledge that there is a certain soil sufficiency level of many soil minerals, trace elements included, but we must remember that there are also mineral interactions to be taken into account. For example, zinc and phosphorous function best at a ratio of 1 part zinc to 10 parts phosphorous. So a soil sufficiency level for zinc of 5 ppm would be one lab’s goal, but if phosphorous is 100 ppm, then zinc should be 10 ppm in order to provide adequate plant zinc. I don’t want to make this complex, but each farm should have a plan in place for micronutrient application due to all the variables involved.
In addition, soil test labs don’t all use the same methods of testing and their results will give different numbers. So you can’t just pick a number as a minimum, or as adequate, and say that it will work for all situations. There are also going to be variations by soil type. For example, sands with lower pH and lower nutrient holding capacity are at one extreme, and low organic matter clays high in pH are at the other extreme. Do both these soil types need the same nutrient levels? Sandy soils can’t hold enough nutrients to grow a good healthy crop without added inputs. High pH, low organic matter clays may be short on biology and soil structure, making it difficult to access what’s there And what about crop removal, how does that affect the need for traces?
The organic standard says, in section 205.200 that “Production practices implemented in accordance with this subpart must maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.”
We as organic farmers need to protect soil and water and not deplete natural resources. Aren’t minerals natural resources? So if we don’t maintain them, if we don’t add them but rather allow the trace elements to be depleted, are we following the NOP standards? Should the farmer be decertified for this?
There are application rates to be considered, along with mineral sources. How much can I use, when, where, and from what source? Can I use synthetic if there is not a natural source available? What about the form it comes in, chelated or carbon based? Homogenized blending makes distribution easier, more accurate and, because of the low levels of trace elements used, more precise.
There is the law, there is the science, and, finally, there is common sense. As organic farmers, if we want to be successful with healthy, high yielding crops, we have to do everything we can to get the soil healthy and mineralized to provide all that’s needed for that quality crop. Never forget that for the organic farmer, prevention is our tool. The consumer is supporting our farming methods with their dollars and in return is expecting mineral rich, healthy food that tastes great.
A Program for Healthy Crops
Compost, manures both green and brown, minerals, proper tillage, crop rotations, plant diversity –- they’re all our prevention tools, along with high levels of available calcium and an adequate balanced supply of at least 12 other minerals. I like to use natural materials from different sources to provide those minerals we don’t test for and manage, and yet are needed by plants. Kelp is an example. It comes from the ocean and contains over 70 minerals. If budget wasn’t a factor, it would be in all our fertilizer programs. If you garden or produce high value crops of any kind, applying 200 lbs. of kelp peracre each year is not a bad idea. There are also other natural mineral deposits found in North America that people use and make claims of their benefits. Do I need to claim the trace elements provided by these sources in my organic plan?
Even though we only need relatively small amounts of them, trace elements have a lot to do with plant health. There is a thin line, however; overuse can fall into a category of insecticide or fungicide. Copper is a good example of this, and has an interesting story, as there appears to be much concern about possible excesses. I believe that story got started when it was used at very high levels in citrus orchards as a fungicide. (I once visited an avocado orchard in Australia where copper sulfate was heavily used in the past, and the soil test level was 1300 ppm.) I used to set my target level for copper on a soil test at 2 ppm, but have recently increased that to 5 ppm. At the 2 ppm level, feed tests showed we just didn’t seem to get enough uptake into feeds. And if we had enough copper in feeds, would dairy farmers really need those copper sulfate foot baths? I would like to see 15 ppm in forages as a minimum, but that is rarely achieved.
For plant health, even white mold in soybeans, we see fewer problems with soil copper levels at 3-4 ppm. I believe, again, that if economics wasn’t the issue, but my only concern was providing soil levels necessary for growing quality feed/food, I would set my copper goal closer to 10 ppm.
So how do we set those levels? Is it the job of the certifying agent to determine what is ‘right’ in each instance? I don’t see how they can: it’s not what they’re trained to do. Then there’s the lab differences along with regional differences, and differences due to crop requirements. Setting levels can be a tough job.
Keeping the trace element levels in the soil at sufficiency and providing the crop with an adequate diet of plant available traces makes sense and is a good program.
Are we worried about toxic levels of these elements and people getting sick? I don’t think that’s a big consideration. Maybe that’s more of a concern when trace elements are used for disease and insect control. But if we as farmers do everything we can to get soils healthy and mineralized with lots of nutrients, and we keep things within the proper ratios, we need less plant protection. That is organic farming, using our natural methods to prevent disease, not fight it. So I could say that my farming method serves as a chemical-use prevention management system.
Because of the high cost of trace minerals, I don’t think most farmers over apply them, even if we had a way to determine what ‘over application’ is. We haven’t perfected a system to know the exact numbers needed for each mineral, and all the other variables involved in sampling, testing, and applying these small amounts makes it even harder to know exactly how much is the right amount.
Issues with Fixed Numbers
I believe the problems with trying to set ‘fixed numbers’ starts with the variation in the labs. All labs are not the same – split a sample and send some of it to six different labs and you’ll get six different numbers back because their testing protocols and extraction methods are all slightly different. And don’t forget the differences in sampling methods, soil pHs, and soil types, all of which will affect your soil test results.
The soil test levels are established as ‘minimums’ based on yield and these numbers get distorted at both low and high pH soils. Are we trying to provide a minimum? Or grow the healthiest, highest quality crops that we can?
For accuracy, we should be testing the plant, both as tissue tests for growing crops and for feed tests for forages fed to our livestock.
Another factor affecting the need for micronutrients is what crops are being grown. Alfalfa may require more boron than oats, for example. Expected yields, soil type, and rainfall levels would also affect how much and which elements need to be added. Monitoring is essential!
If you feed/sell (and therefore remove) nutrients from your farm, you need to replace them. They are natural resources that, by NOP rule, must not be depleted. So even if my soil tests show sufficiency levels, I do need to feed the crop or replace what the crop removed.
It’s the Rule
So how does the organic certifying agent deal with all these different soils, farms, soil tests, application rates, crop removals, etc? The organic rule says that I, the farmer, must demonstrate that I need trace minerals. So I need to have a plan, conduct the soil tests, and explain how, why, and what my plan is, both in which nutrients I need to add and what is lost via crop removal. I also need to have plant and/or feed test results in hand before I add any trace elements. I would be following the NOP rule, and I can justify the why and what of my actions. It should be cased closed, I am in compliance.
The way it seems to be working now is that if I take a soil test and the mineral I am working with is below sufficiency levels based on the advice of a lab, or a consultant, then I can apply that trace element. No one seems to know or question how much we are allowed to add, or how much and from what sources, or when it should be added. The rule says we can use soluble boron products. We can also use sulfates, carbonates or silicates of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and cobalt. Are these soil applied, sprayed on, mixed with other things? If it’s a liquid solution, one pint of 8% zinc won’t change soil levels (that’s less than 1/10 pound). It may feed the crop a little, but that’s it. For soil fixing, if I know I need to raise the soil level of all traces, I like to use 5# of zinc sulfate, 10# of manganese sulfate, 4# of copper sulfate and 1# of actual boron. Have them all ground real fine, mix with other things, and add carbon—now distribution is easier and more uniform. Do this for 4-5 years and re-test to see how you are doing. You may need to add extra of one or more mineral or just reduce the rate of the blend. Also, test the plant. Levels in the soil are not going to change very fast.
The question remains, who should make the decision of how much to add? I don’t believe that’s the job of a certifier -- it seems like that’s way beyond the “content” of the rule and above the expected tasks of the certifier.
Many organic farmers do nothing at all for soil fertility, they don’t even do soil testing. Isn’t that in violation of the NOP standards? What about §205.203(a) which states “The producer must select and implement tillage and cultivation practices that maintain or improve the physical, chemical, and biological condition of soil and minimize soil erosion.” How is that tested and monitored by certifiers? Do they just use their own personal judgment? Or are they testing for organic matter levels, checking compaction, counting earthworms, and/or monitoring soil chemistry levels?
Follow A Plan
When things work right, I don’t need synthetics and I grow healthy, nutritious crops. But to do this, I can’t starve them of any mineral, especially traces. At Midwestern Bio-Ag we manufacture homogenized trace element blends for a crop fertilizer, blends that make up 25-30% of the fertilizer additions on most farms. They are finely ground and made in a base of carbon, calcium, sulfur, and natural mined minerals. This improved method of delivery allows us to distribute them better and more efficiently, and the manufactured blend fits many crops and farms. On certain soils where we are really short in some elements like zinc, we would or could add extra of that individual trace element as needed. If the soils are extremely high in some trace elements, we would be limited on the use of these blends, but that is extremely rare and even then we still have crop removal numbers to deal with.
It appears that one logical approach to dealing with trace minerals in organic farming systems is to review the farm’s plan and the farmer’s methods of dealing with trace elements, rather than trying to impose exact, set in stone numbers that don’t account for all the variables.
Just like in the production of a grass-fed animal, quality and care is what the consumer pays for and supports the farmer to provide. Crop and organic dairy production are the same: the consumer is paying for a “system” of farming along with great tasting, nutritious food. Is there a perfect way for everyone? I believe that the consumer is paying me for nutrient rich, tasty, cleanly raised foods following a sustainable farming method.
A common sense plan needs:
1) Testing of both soils and plants.
2) A plan for maintaining and building mineral levels for many nutrients, including traces.
3) A monitoring system that over time watches for extreme excesses and maintains soil levels and ratios. This is also true for major elements like potassium, which at extreme levels can cause many problems.
Can we keep this simple and understandable? Can we keep burden of how and how much away from the certifiers? The high cost of traces already does help limit the amount used, along with the wisdom of skilled farmers, and the results we see. This seems to be the intent of the rule being followed.
Remember, doing nothing is also a violation of the federal organic rules.
Gary Zimmer is an organic farmer, educator, author and agribusinessman. For more information,
call 1-800-327-6012 or email attn: Gary Zimmer at firstname.lastname@example.org
“How can you tell if a food is organic? Meg’s here to make sense of it!” Thus begins the first of a series of six YouTube videos recently released by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) (http://www.youtube.com/mnagriculture)
The Meg referred to is Meg Moynihan, the MDA organic specialist. Knowing Meg, I knew I’d be in for something well done, informative, and, yes, probably a little quirky. I was not disappointed in this useful, educational, and just a little bit goofy series of short videos.
The series was created to help consumers cut through the confusion of organic labeling. The videos highlight Meg wandering store aisles, picking up products, and exploring and explaining the details of labels on organic products.
“We created this video series to help consumers read and interpret organic claims,” says Moynihan. “Food manufacturers use all kinds of terms to influence buyers. A product labeled “100 percent natural” may still contain additives or preservatives. In contrast, “organic” is a highly regulated claim. These products must meet federal organic requirements and the farms and food companies that produce them must be inspected by a USDA-approved agency.”
At less than two minutes, the videos are each just long enough to answer one question.
How can you tell if a food is organic?
What does certified organic mean?
Are organic and natural the same thing?
Where do you find an organic cookbook?
Can you find organic shampoo and makeup?
Besides food, what else is organic?
I’m no expert myself in YouTube, having just recently discovered the value of catching these short bites of information or entertainment. But, I expect that you could send a few of these videos to your sisters or cousins or high school chums to help them understand a little better what this organic stuff is that you have dedicated your life to. Or, how about hooking the ones on “What does certified organic mean?” and “Are organic and natural the same thing?” to your website, so that those browsing can understand a little better what you commitment to organic production means?
For those computer savvy, these brief vignettes are great little pieces that may help clarify organic labeling. We at MOSES congratulate Meg and her crew for doing a great job in clearing up these common confusions for consumers, and having a little fun doing it. Even Barbie™ has something to say!Review by Jody Padgham, Organic Broadcaster editor.
New and expanded tax incentives for farmers and small businesses provide more flexibility in tax management this year, says Purdue Extension agricultural economist George Patrick. The “Creating Small Business Jobs Act of 2010” offers a larger Section 179 expensing deduction of up to $500,000 for tax years 2010 and 2011.
“Section 179 allows a taxpayer to deduct or expense part or all of the cost of an asset in the year of purchase, rather than depreciating the cost over several years,” Patrick said. “The Section 179 deduction is typically limited by the amount of qualifying assets acquired or the taxable income of the taxpayer, but it provides great flexibility in managing taxes.”
Most depreciable assets qualify for the 50 percent additional first-year depreciation, which was extended to include qualifying property placed in service between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2010.
What this means, for example, is that farmers who purchased property for $50,000 can take $25,000 as additional first-year depreciation. They also can take the regular depreciation on the remaining $25,000.
“The property eligible for additional first-year depreciation is broader than that eligible for Section 179,” Patrick said. “For example, a shop or machine shed qualifies for the additional first-year depreciation but does not qualify for the Section 179 deduction. Both Section 179 expensing and additional first-year depreciation result in faster cost recovery for producers, which helps stimulate economic growth.”
For 2010, self-employed individuals can deduct the cost of health insurance for both income and self-employment tax purposes. “This puts the employee and the self-employed on a more level playing field with respect to the after-tax cost of health insurance,” Patrick said.
View Patrick’s 29 page publication titled “2010 Income Tax Management for Farmers"
IRS Farmer’s Tax Guide Available
The IRS has published a new tax guide “2010 Farmer’s Tax Guide” available at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p225.pdf, or by calling 800-829-3676.
Some relevant highlights included in the guide:
The standard mileage rate for operating a car, van or pickup in 2010 is 50 cents per mile for all business miles driven. (Chapter 4)
For tax years beginning in 2010 you can elect to deduct up to $10,000 of you business start-up costs paid or incurred after Oct 22, 2004 (Chapter 4)
For more detail, see the updated Tax Guide.
This is the time of year to plan for next season’s garden. Perhaps to daydream about the taste of a sun-warmed, juicy vine ripened heirloom tomato (Cherokee Purple anyone?) or a sweet and beautiful Romanian Frying Pepper. Each year many new hybrid vegetable varieties are offered, and in recent years we’ve also seen more open-pollinated heirloom varieties. Before you decide what you want to grow next year, think about what was successful and what was challenging this last year. Some solutions to your problems could be solved through your choice of seeds.
In Southern Wisconsin, where I live, we have been in a cycle of wet summers for a few years now. This type of hot, humid environment is perfect for the spread of late blight on tomatoes and potatoes. If you have had late blight, or it came close to your location, you know how devastating it can be. Organic producers have limited tools to protect against late blight, mostly copper-based products that are unpleasant to use. Their use must be closely monitored to prevent accumulation of copper in the soil. There are varieties (both hybrids and open pollinated heirlooms) that have shown some resistance to late blight, allowing you to avoid the use of copper. Tomato varieties such as Better Boy, Golden Sweet, Green Zebra, Juliet, Legend, Matt’s Wild Cherry, Pruden’s Purple, Roma, Slava, Stupice, Sun Sugar, Wapsipinicon and Wisconsin 55 have all shown some resistance to late blight. Magic Mountain and Regal Plum tomatoes have shown excellent resistance to the many variants of the late blight in a wide range of environmental conditions.
Planning to include some of the above varieties in your tomato mix gives you at least a chance to have some tomatoes at your stand, in your CSA box, or in your home garden. Some varieties like Stupice offer more than just late blight resistance. I have noted over the years that while it is not a huge tomato, it is medium sized with very good flavor. It is also an early variety, but unlike other early varieties, it continues to produce throughout the summer and into fall. Sun Sugar does not crack as easily as Sun Gold, and has just a good, if not better flavor than the Sun Gold.
Were your pumpkins too big or too small last year? There are so many pumpkin varieties, you can surely find a few to trial and make sure you have exactly what your market is looking for in a pumpkin. How about your peppers, did they turn red early enough? Which ones produced the largest peppers, and lots of them? Each year the offerings of organic vegetable seed continues to increase, so remember to search a wide variety of sources for organic.
This brings me to the subject of trialing out new varieties. It is very easy to get over-eager with enthusiasm when reading the alluring descriptions in the catalogs. You then buy lots of different varieties with good intentions to track them through the season. If you are trialing more than a couple of varieties, chances are you will not be able to remember what was where. It is helpful to jot down notes throughout the season about these varieties, not just at the end. For instance, which one was first to produce fruit, which variety seemed to deal with stressful climatic conditions better than the others?
I have a small organic bedding plant operation and I trial out all of the various plants I sell every year. I grow a wide range of peppers and tomatoes. I have found that if I put a plant tag in the ground with the plants, I can read it for about 30 days before it either fades or gets covered up by grown plants or through cultivating. Now, instead of using a lot of tags, when I am planting my slicers in between the 10 or so plants of each variety I plant a plum tomato. For the paste tomatoes, I insert one slicer between varieties. Then I walk the row after planting and make a listing of the first slicer, second slicer etc. When the plants are mature, I can tell one variety from the other by having the paste tomato marker inbetween each type of slicer. Mixing in yellow and cherry tomatoes helps to also keep the various varieties distinct from the adjoining variety. Last summer I tried a new cherry tomato, Black Cherry, a delicious, dark purple, large cherry tomato that was very nice in a mixed pint of sungolds, red, and black cherry tomatoes at the farmers market.
Open pollinated tomato seed is one of the easiest to save and replant. The variety seems to stay true and, if you follow the instructions, you should get very good germination from your own saved seed. (Check out the bookstore at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference for good books on saving vegetable seed.) Being able to keep track of each individual variety is the first step in saving seed, so plan ahead when you are planting to keep those varieties separate. Humans have been saving seed for as long as there has been agriculture. Choosing the best fruit for your soil type and climate and building upon that year by year will give you the opportunity to continually improve upon what you have. Saving seed is another way to save a variety that may be discontinued by the supplier. Remember, only nonhybrid seeds will remain true to variety year after year. If you ever get a chance to take a tour of Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah IA, I highly recommend you go and explore this exciting aspect of vegetable growing.
When reading your seed catalogs pay attention to the various resistances to fusarium or powdery mildew. While all of your seeds may not be resistant, having a few varieties that are can mean the difference between having some produce or none at all. The abundance and diversity of seeds available to us is astounding, and every year there are new introductions. However, there is a reason that certain varieties are present in all of the catalogs every year. These have shown to be reliable and productive. So take a chance on some new varieties, and plan to buy a few types that you can save seed from and enhance your farm operation. Be proactive in dealing with disease issues and don’t forget to also plant those varieties that made you say WOW! last summer.
The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Educational Service (MOSES) and the Organic Research Forum Committee are pleased to announce the second Organic Research Forum to be held in conjunction with the Organic Farming Conference Feb. 25 & 26, 2011, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The Organic Research Forum, first established in 2008, is now an annual part of the conference.
The Organic Research Forum offers a unique opportunity for students, scientists and farmer researchers investigating organic topics to share their work with a grower audience. Even more importantly, it offers the farmers a chance to share their needs and ideas with the researchers. The forum also provides a chance for researchers and educators to network with one another and stay informed about current research in organic agriculture.
Organic Research Forum Workshops
Seven Research Forum workshops will be held during the conference on Friday and Saturday. These workshops will cover such diverse topics as “Organic No-Till,” “Integrated Pest Management,” “Weed Management and Cover Cropping,” “Cucumber and Flea Beetle Control,” “Crossbreeding Dairy Cattle for Improved Production on Pasture,” “The Economics of Grain Supplementation on Organic Dairy Farms,” and “How to Conduct Research on Your Farm”. In a continued effort to make these workshops directly applicable to farmers, most of these workshops will feature the researchers that conducted the research in conjunction with farmers who have actually implemented the techniques. The goal is to show the real life applications of cutting edge organic research- information that you can use on your own farm.
The Organic Research Forum
The Organic Research Forum will also hold a panel discussion on Friday, February 25th at 4:00 pm. Key researchers from many of the land grant universities in the Midwest and beyond will highlight their present and future research work in organic agriculture. There will also be an opportunity for farmers, graduate students and others to suggest research areas and to ask questions of the research panel. A reception will be held following the workshop allowing for additional networking opportunities. Researchers need to forge relationships with organic farmers. In fact, researchers have identified the lack of willing and experienced organic farmers as a key roadblock in their efforts. Researchers often compete against each other for farmers. The Organic Research Forum is your chance to make the needed connection between farmers and researchers.
Organic and Sustainable Research Poster Session: Call for Poster Submissions
The Research Poster Display will return for 2011 with researchers, including government scientists and staff, academic faculty and staff, graduate and undergraduate students and farmer researchers, invited to submit posters for display at the conference as part of the Organic Research Forum. The poster session will document on-going research projects related to organic and sustainable agriculture.
Submission of poster abstracts devoted to the following topics will be accepted for review:
1. Weed management in organic vegetable and row crops.
2. Organic dairy production.
3. Economic and marketing research in organic agriculture.
4. Organic livestock production (other than dairy) and crop-livestock integration in organic systems.
5. Insect and disease management strategies on organic farms.
6. Nutritional quality of organic foods.
Summaries of research submitted for consideration should be clear, descriptive, and not longer than 300 words. They should contain the following specific information: purpose of study, experimental treatments used, results obtained, significance of findings, conclusions, and implications of results. Keep in mind the research forum audience will predominantly include growers and the general public, so focus on the implications and applications of your work and less on methodology.
Please submit summaries to email@example.com either as a Microsoft Word compatible attachment or simply in the text of your email on or before Friday, January 14th, 2011. Summaries will be reviewed by the Research Forum Committee and the owners will be notified by January 21st if their posters have been accepted for presentation at the conference. Poster presenters must be present from 12:30 to 2:00 PM on Friday and Saturday at the conference to answer questions and discuss their work. Members of the Organic Research Forum Committee will judge the posters and announce winners at the Organic Research Forum on Friday afternoon.
A limited amount of funds are available for student scholarships to cover or off-set the cost of attending the conference. Scholarships are in the amount of $500. If you would like to be considered for a scholarship please submit an additional summary, by the same date and not to exceed one page, outlining your educational and professional background, your experience with and commitment to organic agricultural research and the research you are involved in and its relevance and value to organic growers.
Full details about the 2011 MOSES Organic Farming Conference can be found at:
Your tax-deductible contribution is essential to the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service’s mission to provide education and resources to promote sustainable and organic agriculture. As a champion and funder, you are vital to the future of sustainable and organic agriculture. Your support strengthens our educational programs and resources for farmers, while increasing the visibility of organic food. When organic farmers succeed, rural economies thrive, and the environment remains healthy and diverse.
Together, we can accomplish these worthy goals.
Giving to MOSES:
• Provides trainings and farm field days hosted by experienced organic farmers.
• Supports the toll-free Grow Organic Info Line.
• Generates scholarships for the Organic Farming Conference and Organic University.
• Develops free educational publications and directories.
• Fosters the mentoring program for new and transitioning organic farmers.
• Increases the voice and impact of women ecopreneurs in the organic and sustainable community through networking, educational and media training opportunities.
Building Educational Resources
If you would like to join in building the educational resources and opportunities provided by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service through thoughtful giving, please consider the following types of gifts:
• Gifts of Cash: The simplest way of contributing, and most beneficial, is to make an outright gift of cash.
• Honor a friend or family member’s birthday, anniversaries or special events.
• Donate to support the scholarships for the Organic Farming Conference.
• Establish a monthly automatic donation.
• Create a memorial to recognize someone when they have passed away.
• Gifts of Appreciated Securities
• Gifts of Closely Held Stock
• Charitable Lead Trusts
• Gifts of Real Estate
• Gifts of Tangible Personal Property
• Matching gifts through Employee/Company Giving Programs
Donations can be made online, or by calling the MOSES office, or may be mailed to:
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service
P.O. Box 339
Spring Valley, WI 54767
For more information please contact Kelli Cameron, Director of Development and Systems, at the MOSES office (firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-778-5775) or consult with your financial advisor. Thank you for being an organic agriculture champion!
First printed in “Tails and Tassles,” the newsletter of New York Certified Organic, Inc. March 2010, Vol. 12 No. 3.
With the increasing demand for organic small grains, both for feed and increasingly for food (milling) use, it seems appropriate to consider how we might do it better. One first step is to create a rotation that prepares a field to be in the best condition for crop you wish to grow. When you plant a crop, you are already preparing the field for the next crop. Whole farm crop rotations need to planned in advance to match local conditions, soil types, labor and equipment to your available markets and interests. Small grains work very well to add diversity, both in species and in timing, to your operation.
Small grains respond strongly to soil fertility and soil condition. Most small grains will do best in well-drained, fertile soils with a pH of at least 6.0, and respond well to manure or compost applications, though applying too much nitrogen may cause lodging. Short straw wheat and barley varieties can take more fertility without lodging. More fertile soil that has adequate calcium will definitely give better yields. If possible, spread compost, lime and gypsum in the fall on fields where spring small grains are planned, especially if there is a cover crop.
What Should I Grow?
There are winter and spring versions of most of our small grains – make sure you plant the spring version in the spring, otherwise the plants won’t try to reproduce and form grain. Barley needs a higher pH (>6.5pH) and oats can tolerate more acidity (>5.8pH) Barley prefers high fertility and dry (even droughty) soil, while oats can tolerate lower fertility, poorer soil tilth and wetter fields. Wheat is the fussiest of all our small grain choices – it needs soil with excellent tilth, moderate fertility, and cannot tolerate being planted in soil that has been tilled too wet. Wheat is the least competitive against weeds - some spring wheats have very short straw, making weed control especially difficult. Triticale is the most forgiving of less than perfect conditions - it is fast growing and covers the ground quickly. Triticale can tolerate wet and dry soil, a wide range of fertility conditions, and is competitive against weeds. Spring spelt needs conditions similar to wheat, but it is much taller, very long season (the last grain to ripen). Because spelt is so tall, it can tolerate weeds better than wheat and makes a great straw yield, but may be more susceptible to lodging.
Peas need high fertility, can tolerate cold wet conditions, and are much easier to harvest when mixed with a small grain, otherwise they are very likely to lodge and be nearly impossible to combine. There are yellow, green and purple peas – the yellow and green are more likely raised for grain, but are very intolerant of high temperatures and drought. Purple peas are generally used as forage peas because they make more vine, but they can produce a high quality grain that is higher in tannins. Flax is the least competitive against weeds, with small delicate plants. It needs to be planted very early and can tolerate frost, and does not use much soil fertility. Its biggest weakness is that it can’t compete against weeds well.
We’re seeing lots of interest these days in hull-less oats for the food market. The varieties of hull-less oats currently on the market are ‘just about’ hull-less, but still tend to have 1-5% normal hulled oats. This is fine if being used as animal feed, but it may require extra cleaning or dehulling to be fully food-grade (unless you like really rugged oatmeal!). The yield is about half of normal oat yield, and you must be really careful to harvest when they are ready - in our experience, leaving them out in the field after maturity can result in much of the crop shelling on the ground.
Planting the Crop
With spring-planted small grains, the best strategy is to plant as early as soil moisture allows - late March is ideal, though rarely is our soil dry enough then. It is always better to wait until the soil conditions are right, rather than “mud-in” a seeding. In central New York, a yield decrease of about 1 bu/acre can be expected if oats and spring barley are planted after April 15. A yield decrease of about 1/2 bu/A can be expected if spring wheat is planted after April 15. Small grains should be drilled to a depth of 1–2 inches. The optimal seeding rate for oats is 3 –4 bu/A (about 100 lb/A) , while barley, wheat and triticale do best at 2.5-3 bu/A (125-150 lb/A). For oats and barley to be used for forage, seeding rate can be reduced. If growing peas and small grains together for forage, use approximately 75 lb/A small grain and 50 lb/A peas.
Generally, fields should be plowed, tilled and rolled before planting to make a level, fine seed bed. Where there isn’t an erosion risk, fall plowing can help the ground dry out quicker, and warm up faster in the spring for earlier planting. After soybeans, or other crops leaving little residue, a field cultivator and roller pass may be sufficient to make an adequate seed bed, but there is likely to be more weed pressure. If there is time or if weeds are expected to be a problem, a blind cultivation, with a tine weeder or chainlink harrow, just prior to emergence can be a lot of help. You will need to dig into the soil aproximately one week after planting to determine when the crop is about ¼ inch from the soil surface.
Harvest and Storage
If you are growing for the food market, learn what vetch, wild onion/garlic and corn cockle plants look like in the field and try to avoid harvesting grain with them. Seeds of these weeds are unacceptable in food-quality grains and, because of their size, can be very difficult to remove from harvested grain. Often separately harvesting weedy sections of fields will result in a better quality product. Also become familiar with conditions that favor the development of mycotoxin-causing fungi and be prepared to have your food-quality grains tested for mycotoxins before sale.
Plan to harvest your crop shortly after it reaches physiological maturity, even if that means it must be dried before storage. Grain that sits out in the field after maturity is likely to sprout, lose test weight, milling quality (“falling number”) and develop molds and mycotoxins. If you must store your grain after harvest, a clean tight bin with a good fan will keep the grain in better condition but make sure it is clean (it’s a great idea to run it through a rotary cleaner) and dry enough to store safely (no more than13.5% moisture) otherwise you will get heating, mold and insects.Klaas Martens farms with his family in Penn Yaan, New York. They also own an organic grain mill, Lakeview Organic Grain (www.lakevieworganicgrain.com/). Klaas and his wife Mary-Howell will be joining Harro Wehrmann and Carmen Fernholz in teaching a full day Organic University course on Successfully Growing Small Grains on Thursday, Februaury 24th in La Crosse. For more information see the description in the article about MOSES' Organic University or visit the web at www.mosesorganic.org/ou.html.
Young people have always been at the heart of the MOSES Organic Farming Conference. In partnership with Renewing the Countryside, the new Young Organic Stewards program now honors them and collects their activities into exciting new programming. This group includes anyone 18-25 years old who is interested or involved in the organic industry. During the 2011 OFC four workshops and two social activities will be offered to hit hot topics identified by our young farmer planning group. We encourage all youth ages 18-25 to gather to participate in these special learning and social activities. Workshops will also be of interest to young farmers under age 18. The conference is in La Crosse, WI on February 24-26, 2011.
Beginning Farmers Friday - 8:30 am
Beginning farmers have a lot to learn, from fixing tractors to navigating investment choices to managing relationships with mentors, landlords, or even parents. Young farmers Laura Frerichs, Michelle Benrud, and Janaki Fisher-Merritt will reflect on the challenges and unique opportunities available to young people getting started in agriculture.
Acquiring Land Friday - 2:00 pm
Even if you didn’t manage to have yourself born into a farming family, you can still find ways to get started in agriculture. Join Wisconsin Farm Center Director Paul Dietmann for this look at various farm start-up options, including leasing, partnerships, and the purchase of land.
Educational and Experiential Learning Opportunities Friday - 4:00 pm
Internships, farmer-training programs, and university degrees - there are a variety of opportunities to begin a career in organic farming. Learn from a panel discussion with Ryan Jepsen, Melanie Timpano and Bev Ruesink on the pros and cons of their experiences participating in a farmer training program, working as an organic farm intern, and completing a college degree.
Planting the Seeds for the Young Organic Stewards Saturday - 4:00 pm
A grassroots group of 18-25 year olds formed during the 2010 conference to recommend workshops and social activities for future conferences. This Young Organic Stewards group initiates dialog, learning and relationships for organic and sustainable agriculture. What is the next journey? Join the leadership team to discuss challenges, opportunities and create next steps for the Young Organic Stewards.
Coffee Jam Thursday - 8:30 pm
The Root Note, 115 4th St. S, Downtown La Crosse. The Root Note is a popular place to sip Kickapoo coffee. Join other Young Organic Stewards to relax, jam to music, or nibble on local food. Meet in the lobby of the conference check-in area for a short walk to The Root Note for an evening of good company. Participants should bring money to pay for food and beverages. If you are under the age of 18, parents must grant permission to leave the conference grounds.
Cook and Connect Friday, 6:30 - 8:00 pm, Radisson Center
Maybe you saw a delicious-looking dish, but you could not figure out how to make it. Why not learn how to make it yourself? Food is a force for creating authentic connections with others. In this class, learn the essentials of vegan cooking and prepare appetizing recipes. No fee, however participation limited to 30 on a first-come basis.
December 17, 2011. USDA today announced their preferred options for approving GE Alfalfa in the release of the court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement. USDA rejected from further consideration an option for the complete ban of GE Alfalfa. This decision puts organic integrity at risk.
The National Organic Coalition (NOC) has previously identified essential principles to drive GMO contamination prevention discussions [see NOC’s principles at http://nationalorganiccoalition.org/]. These principles must be incorporated in any program adopted by USDA in order to adequately protect organic farmers and consumers.
The two options put forward by the USDA are allowing the planting of GMO alfalfa with no restrictions, or allow the planting with a specific set of management restrictions including geographic isolation areas to address the very real risk of contamination. Restrictions proposed are mostly in seed producing areas, and did not address cross pollination when the GMO alfalfa is planted as a forage. Farmers growing GMO alfalfa as forage are supposed to cut the hay at no more than 10% bloom to lessen pollen drift. There is a 30 day listening period, with the organic community developing their response to these options as this release goes to press.
Watch NOC NEWS for an analysis of the 2400-page USDA Environmental Impact Statement and further action. To read USDA’s announcement and for a link to the EI, go to: http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2010/12/0667.xml
Searchable Database of Certified Organic Operations Available
The National Organic Program (NOP) now has a complete listing of organic operations certified by U.S. Department of Agriculture accredited certifying agents during the 2009 certification year. The listing can be searched by keywords, name of operation, certifying agent, certificate numbers, primary and secondary scopes of certification, country, state, and products produced. NOP plans to update the database when 2010 information is collected. http://apps.ams.usda.gov/nop/
Report Examines Impact of Grass-based Organic Dairy Farming
A report recently released by The Organic Center (TOC) says organic dairy farming systems promote cow health and longevity by placing less stress on cows and feeding them healthier forage-based diets, while also improving the nutritional quality of milk. “A Dairy Farm’s Footprint: Evaluating the Impacts of Conventional and Organic Farming Systems” compares milk and meat production and revenue earned, feed intakes, the land and agricultural chemicals needed to produce feed, and the volume of wastes generated by representative, well-managed conventional dairy farms to that of representative, well-managed organic farms. A team of dairy specialists worked with TOC to build the “Shades of Green” (SOG) dairy farm calculator that was used in the comparisons. The 92-page Critical Issue Report, the SOG calculator, and a SOG user manual are available online
Child Nutrition Act Includes Organic Pilot Program
Under a $10 million Organic Pilot Program, part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, competitive grants favoring socially disadvantaged schools will be offered to increase organic offerings in school meal programs. The bill also includes a $40 million Farm-to-School Program. This funding will provide a competitive grant and technical assistance program in the USDA to increase the use of local foods from small- and medium-sized farms in schools. http://www.organicnewsroom.com/2010/12/organic_trade_association_appl_3.html
Grassfed Feeder Auction
The first annual Grassfed Feeder Calf and Breeding Stock Auction, a partnership between Rich Kientopf and the Fennimore Livestock Auction, will be held February 19th, 2011 in Fennimore, WI. All feeder cattle offered will meet the WI Grassfed Co-op protocol, and breeding stock will have genetic merit in a grassfed program. Consignments for this sale are now being sought. Producers of certified organic cattle are encouraged to consign as well. Earlier consignment means better advertising can be done for your animals. This will be the first sale of its kind in the Midwest. For more information, contact Rich Kientopf 608-624-5220.
New or Revised ATTRA Publications of Interest
Potting Mixes for Certified Organic Production
Parasite Management for Natural and Organic Poultry: Blackhead in Turkeys
Beekeepers Call for Immediate Ban on CCD-linked Pesticide
On December 8, Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides joined beekeepers from around the country in calling on EPA to pull a neonicotinoid pesticide linked with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) off the market immediately. The call is based on a leaked EPA memo that discloses a critically flawed scientific study, suggesting there may be imminent hazards to honeybees posed by continued use of the pesticide clothianidin. CCD, which is blamed for the loss of over 1/3 on the nation’s honeybees since 2006, is likely caused by a combination of pathogens, the stresses of industrial beekeeping, loss of habitat and more. Many scientists believe that sublethal pesticide exposures are a critical co-factor potentiating this mix. In Germany, Italy and France suspect neonicotinoid pesticides were banned years ago. Bee colonies there are recovering and beekeepers here are outraged. Read more at
CSP Farmer Profiles Available Online
The signup deadline for the Conservation Stewardship Program has been extended to January 7 (http://attra.ncat.org/csp/). Several organizations are featuring profiles of successful CSP farmers and program applicants. Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute have all posted case studies of farmers who are participating in the program. Case studies (many as PDFs) are available online for these farmers:
Kevin Green-Illinois (http://bit.ly/gOrbvs)
Robert Mount-Illinois (http://bit.ly/gTYn2e)
Matt Russell and Patrick Standley-Iowa (http://bit.ly/hpEFjC)
Fred and Vicki Abels-Iowa (http://bit.ly/eQXODC)
Ron Perry-Missouri (http://bit.ly/gsSQvP)
Ben and Dave Avis-Missouri (http://bit.ly/hPvcB3)
Darvin Bentlage-Missouri (http://bit.ly/e6eBwS)
Greg Nettekoven-Wisconsin (http://bit.ly/gaCTOJ)
Robert Moeller-Wisconsin (http://bit.ly/eggivh)
Randy Schmidt-Wisconsin (http://bit.ly/aCoYUP)
Richard de Wilde-Wisconsin (http://bit.ly/ex48pK)
Karl and Robert Klessig-Wisconsin (http://bit.ly/f9P50Q)
Bill Horvath-Wisconsin (http://bit.ly/fjMI3C)
Judge Orders GM Sugar Beets Removed from Ground
A Federal District Judge ordered Nov 30 that all the Roundup Ready sugar beet stecklings planted be destroyed, citing “significant risk that the plantings pursuant to the permits will cause environmental harm.” In particular, the judge was worried about the “contamination” of other related species, including table beets and chard, with the glyphosphate tolerance gene through cross-pollination. Monsanto has already announced it will appeal the ruling. USDA is accepting comments until December 6 on an environmental assessment examining whether the GM sugar beets should be granted a “partial deregulation” pending a full environmental impact statement.
National Organic Program Amends List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
The National Organic Program (NOP) published a final rule amending the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for crops and processing, effective December 14, 2010. The rule enacts six recommendations: 1)Adds aqueous potassium silicate for use as an insecticide and for plant disease control in organic crop production. 2) Adds sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate for use as an algaecide in organic crop production. 3) Adds gellan gum as a nonsynthetic allowed for use in organic handling. 4) Adds fortified cooking wine for use in organic handling as a nonorganic agricultural ingredient only when not commercially available in organic form. 5) Adds tragacanth gum for use in organic handling as a nonorganic agricultural ingredient only when not commercially available in organic form. 6) Removes glycerine oleate as a synthetic inert ingredient allowed in organic crop production. Use of these substances is subject to restrictive annotations. http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5088166
New MN Scholarship Available for Organic Farming Education
A new scholarship program is available to Minnesota crop and dairy farmers who are in the process of transitioning to organic production or who have been recently certified organic. The scholarships will defray up to 90% of qualifying farmers’ costs to enroll in Farm Business Management (FBM) courses offered by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. With a limited number of scholarships available, interested farmers should call Meg Moynihan at 651-201-6616 to find out if they qualify.
Frontera Farmer Foundation
The Frontera Farmer Foundation will award grants for capital improvements of up to $12,000 to small and medium-size, individually owned farms that sell their food products to customers in the Chicago area at farmers markets and other venues. Farmers must have been in business for at least three years and must demonstrate how the grant will improve both their farm’s viability and the availability of locally grown food products in the Chicago area. Grant applicants will be judged on the basis of demonstrated need, long-term dedication to sustainable farming, creative and business acumen, and commitment to sustainability. Applications must be received by February 28, 2011. http://www.rickbayless.com/foundation/downloadapp.html
Wisconsin Agricultural Development and Diversification Grant Program
The Agricultural Development and Diversification (ADD) Grant Program invites proposals for projects that are likely to stimulate Wisconsin’s agricultural economy through the development and exploration of new value-added products, new markets, or new technologies in agriculture. Individuals, associations, agribusinesses and industry groups can submit proposals for an ADD grant of up to $50,000. Proposals must be received by March 15, 2011.
MFAI Seeds in Puerto Rico
The Michael Fields Agriculture Institute’s Crop in Soils Research group is planting an organic site in Puerto Rico in Decemmber. Funding by USDA-ARS and by USDA-NIFA-OREI supports this work accelerating the development of high methionine and nitrogen efficient corn. A grant from the Ceres foundation is allowing MFAI to explore Nitrogen fixation in corn with different bacteria on an organic farm. Research results from the first summer of this three year grant suggest that corn that is grown and selected under organic conditions adapts by becoming more nitrogen efficient. Find the project outline at http://www.michaelfieldsaginst.org/work/crop/corn.shtml
EQIP Organic Initiative Deadline
March 4, 2011
The NRCS has announced the ranking deadline of March 4, 2011 for organic and transitioning to organic farmers to signup for EQIP Organic Initiative. This special pool of money is offered in all 50 states with a different set of practices and payments determined state by state. However, all states are mandated to offer the Conservation Activity Plan for the Transition to Organic which provides a future activities road map for conservation cost share activities that enhance organic agriculture on their farm. Many individual practices under this organic initiative have higher payments than regular EQIP to organic producers, in recognition of the higher cost of organic seeds or mechanical weed control in an organic system. In this third year of the Organic Initiative, district NRCS staff are have the knowledge to help organic farmers access this 75% cost share program. New in Wisconsin this year, is funding for farmers to setup composting operations on their farm.
While the cost of a compost turner would not be covered, the engineering for a correctly sloped area, concrete pad, small retention ponds for runoff and in some circumstances, a roof over the compost area would be included (75% of the cost). The NRCS signup process is fairly simple, with a couple of page application requiring a basic idea of what activities you wish to have considered. Once your application is accepted, then there will be a detailed contract to sign. The farmer can decide not to sign the contract, with no penalty. While most of the activities are paid by the acre (cover crops, improving your crop rotation) there are still opportunities for small acreage specialty crop growers (such as vegetables or fruits) to obtain funding to try out an experimental cover crop or put in water diversions to prevent soil erosion. Even just a few hundred dollars per acre may be a welcome addition to the farm budget and might make the difference between planting a cover crop or not.Contact your local district conservationist soon, to understand which practices and payments could enhance your farming operation.
Those interested in digging deep into a topic on organic production should consider attending one of the day-long Organic University sessions offered on the Thursday before the MOSES Organic Farming Conference (February 24, 2011) in La Crosse, WI. These courses, intentionally limited to 60 attendees, bring attendees a concentrated discussion led by experienced farmers and university or industry experts that have deep and direct hands-on knowledge of their subject. Comprehensive customized course notebooks leave attendees with a significant set of resources for later use.
To read more and register for OU courses, visit the MOSES website at www.mosesorganic.org/conference.html or refer to pages 6 & 7 of the Conference flyer you should have recently received in the mail.
1. Successfully Growing Small Grains
Join grain producers Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens of New York, Harro Wehrmann of Ontario, and Carmen Fernholz of Minnesota for an in-depth look at the many facets of small grain production. This session will provide growers with an overview of the variety of small grains suitable for organic production; agronomic considerations such as seeding rates, soil fertility, and equipment needs; management considerations such as rotational niches and cover cropping strategies; and marketing small grains as animal feed or food for people.
2. High and Low Tunnels for Extended-Season Vegetables. Join two experienced educators and tunnel enthusiasts to learn their “field-tunnel tested” methods. John Biernbaum of Michigan State University and Ted Blomgren of Windflower Farm in upstate New York will discuss how to use unheated high tunnels as well as shorter and less-expensive low tunnels with a variety of methods to expand the growing season for warm-season vegetables both in early summer and into late fall as well as to grow cool season vegetables throughout the winter.
3. Enhancing Organic Herd Health. Jerry Brunetti of Agri-Dynamics and Guy Jodarski, Organic Valley Staff Veterinarian, know that a common-sense approach to animal husbandry using nature’s tools to promote soil, plant, animal, and human health will enhance the long-term productivity and vitality of your herd and farm. This session will provide the basics of holistic organic livestock management, as well as the practical methods you need to implement whole farm systems that support and promote a profitable and sustainable organic herd and farm.
4. Transitioning to an Organic Orchard. Join our experienced panel as they take some of the guesswork out of how to transition to organic production and achieve organic certification, as well as how to effectively manage the organic orchard. Jim Koan owns and operates a 120-acre organic orchard in Michigan; Ken Mandley certified his small Wisconsin orchard in 2010; Harriet Behar provides production and certification information as MOSES’ organic specialist; and long-time organic farmer Cissy Bowman serves as the executive director of Indiana Certified Organic.
5. Managing for Your Insect Allies. Predatory insects and pollinators are the unsung champions of the agricultural world. Join the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation’s Eric Mader for a discussion of the ecology of these often overlooked and undervalued allies, and practical approaches to enhancing their population and activity on working row crop, vegetable, and fruit farms. Specific course topics include an overview of beneficial insect and native bee biology, habitat restoration guidelines, and how to access technical and financial resources for beneficial insect conservation through the USDA.
6. Getting Started in Market Farming. Paul and Sandy Arnold have spent the past twenty-two years building their farm up from bare land to a thriving organic vegetable and fruit enterprise. Join the Arnold’s as they share how they have developed their operation over the years, and the systems they have put in place to sustain it, with highlights including season extension, soil fertility, weed management, crop production for year-round farmers’ markets, and more.
7. Grazing Systems and Ruminant Behavior. At first glance, grazing animals appear not to care what they eat; however, closer observation reveals that ruminants have definite preferences based on energy, protein, and mineral levels in their forage choices. Grazing and ruminant behavior specialist Fred Provenza and Wisconsin dairy farmer Altfrid Krusenbaum will take a fascinating big-picture look at how grazing animals interact with their environment and make nutritional choices, as well as the practical aspects of structuring, installing, and managing a rotational grazing system on your farm.
8. Growing Mushrooms for Fun and Profit
The cultivation of one or many mushroom species can provide an economically viable farm enterprise. Join Joe Krawczyk and Mary Kozak of Field and Forest Products for a fascinating journey into the fungal kingdom, where they will discuss shiitake and oyster mushroom production in detail, and cover a variety of other more exotic types as well.
9. Nutrient and Carbon Management in Organic Systems. Join the Rodale Institute’s Jeff Moyer and University of Minnesota’s Deborah Allan to learn both the science and practical techniques of soil building and carbon management by enhancing your living soils, including the discussion of strategies that can lower your input costs while continually increasing the productivity of your fields.
For Sale: Woods rotovator, model SGT88, 84” cut, excellent condition. Waverly, IA. 319-352-3735.
For Sale: JD 55 combine, cab, cornhead; JD 4 row cultivator; JD’s 494 – 4 row, 290, 999 planters; IHC 4 bottom steerable; 4 section rotary hoe. 641-751-8382.
For Sale: 2 Kovar 30 ft. tine weeders with cylinders, 2 years old. $4500/each. 2000 Model B&H 9100, 12 row cultivator, cutaways, shields. $8500. 507-765-5447.
For Sale: Custom pasture for 40 head of open or bred dairy heifers from May to November 2011. Provide management, feed, minerals, salt & water. Osakis, MN. 320-491-6855.
For Sale: MOSA certified hay, grass, clover mix, netwrapped rounds and small squares, also 4x5 baleage. No rain. Test results available. Delivery available. Wisconsin. 715-873-4111.
For Sale: Organic 900 lb, 1st & 2nd crop round bales, net wrapped. Bloomer, WI. Contact: Culver Farms. 715-568-3758.
For Sale: MOSA-certified organic hay. Wrapped big squares or round bales. Special price if paid for in 2010. Can deliver or will store for future delivery. Eau Claire,WI. Tim at Damar Farms. 715-797-3914.
For Sale: OCIA alfalfa hay. Large square bales. 218-745-5827.
For Sale: Got organic milk? Need organic hay? 1st & 2nd crop 4’x5’ rounds. Stored inside. Delivery available. 715-748-6863 or 715-965-1234. Medford, Wisconsin.
For Sale: 250 tons 1st & 2nd crop GOA certified organic hay. Four differently priced lots corresponding to RFQ testing. Tightly wrapped 750# round bales. Medow Farms Organic. NE Wisconsin. 715-473-2154.
For Sale: Organic mature grassy hay, suitable for bedding, no rain, stored inside, big square bales, dump delivery available. Arcadia, WI. 608-323-7297.
For Sale: Grass/Alfalfa Mix and Grass Hay For Sale. Analysis Available. Certified Organic. Call Randy. 612-669-6892.
For Sale: Certified organic alfalfa and alfalfa/grass hay. 3x3x8 bales. Good test results. Located in Linton, ND. Dave Silbernagel. 208-867-9939 or email@example.com.
For Sale: Organic hay, straw and oats. Dry & silage bales. Sno-Pac Farms – delivery available. 507-725-5281.
For Sale: Custom pasture for 40 head of open or bred dairy heifers from May to November 2011. Provide management, feed, minerals, salt & water. Osakis, MN. 320-491-6855.
For Sale: Certified organic oats. 39# test weight. Dave Silbernagel. Linton, ND. 208-867-9939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Sale: Certified organic corn, new crop, ear corn or shelled corn, also last year’s crop. $5.50-$6.50 depending on the market it may be more/less. Ray Borntreger. N2955 State Road 54, Melrose, WI. 54642-8133.
For Sale: OCIA certified organic oats. Corn 9.55% protein, 0% test results for AFLATOXIN and VOMITOXIN. 641-751-8382.
For Sale: Up to 450 bushels certified organic feed grade soybeans. Will arrange delivery. Contact Brian. 920-872-9903.
Opportunity: Organic Farm – 130 crop acres, two houses & other buildings, buy or lease to own. $500,000. West Central Wisconsin. 800-657-4412.
For Sale: 22 acres. Certifiable. Close to Mt. Tabor. Ranch house, attached garage, walk-in basement, insulated shed. Two story barn, insulated shop, well. $125,000. 608-489-3201.
Direct Marketing Business. We have a well established direct marketing business for lamb with a restaurant in Western Wisconsin involving the sale of 70-75 lambs per year. For a variety of reasons, we would like to pass this opportunity onto someone else. The arrangement could involve the sale of our ewe flock, production information needed to maintain and sustain the business and/or any other pertinent information. If interested, feel free to contact me. Dave Sowatzke, 3156 Pierce-St. Croix Rd., Spring Valley, WI 54767. 715-772-4501.
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