Upcoming webinar: Opportunities for Conservation in Organic Livestock Systems

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Pamzpix

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons, Pamzpix

Next Tuesday, August 4th at 3:00 p.m. Eastern the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is hosting Opportunities for Conservation in Organic Livestock Systems, a free webinar to highlight organic livestock systems and their conservation benefits.

USDA staff will begin the webinar by describing organic management practices and regulations relevant to livestock, focusing on pasture and outdoor access, feed management, and pasture management. Next they’ll highlight conservation practices that can work well with organic livestock systems, such as rotational grazing, fencing, and pasture management.

During the webinar, New Hampshire farmer Steve Normanton will talk about his grass-fed beef farm and how he put NRCS conservation practices into action.

Pre-registration for the webinar is not required. Click here for more information and instructions on how to join.

OFRF 2015 National Survey of Organic Farmers

Photo © Patty O'Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com

Photo © Patty O’Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is now conducting a national survey of organic farmers. OFRF will contact more than 13,000 certified organic farmers via email or postcard asking for their participation. (Or you can access the survey here.)

The survey is confidential and will ask organic farmers to list data such as their farm size, production methods, and — most importantly — information about organic farming opportunities and challenges. Results from the survey will identify critical issues for organic farmers, and will inform OFRF’s National Organic Research Agenda, which recommends research priorities for the USDA and other policymakers.

For more information, contact OFRF at (831) 426-6606 or visit their website.

Two Upcoming Organic Labeling Webinars

An organic spring bounty! Photo: © Patty O'Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com
An organic spring bounty! Photo: © Patty O’Brien / www.summercrowphotos.com

Navigating label claims and getting an organic certification can be both confusing and costly for producers. That’s why CCOF and Oregon Tilth have stepped in offering webinars that will cover the basics. Read below to find out about upcoming July webinars.

Details: July 07, 2015 12:00 PM PDT / 3:00 PM ET; Free; Register here.

  • CCOF’s webinar will cover how to develop labels that comply with the USDA’s National Organic Program and how to avoid costly mistakes and delays in product roll-out. Organic Education Solutions LLC — an educational company that helps processors, distributors, retailers and others with organic certification — will lead the webinar with discussion of product composition and percentage calculations, the correct use of CCOF and USDA “Organic” seals, ingredient listing, and the CCOF label approval process.

Details: July 16, 2015, 1:00pm – 3:00pm; $20; Register here.

NRCS Webinar: Transitioning to Organic

If you’re curious about making the transition to organic production, tune into the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s upcoming webinar. This webinar will cover different types of NRCS support that producers can utilize for the transition. Specifically, how producers can use a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) 138 to help identify conservation practices that are a good match for their operation.

The webinar is scheduled for Feb 18th at 3:00pm EST. For more information and to join the webinar, visit the USDA’s Science & Technology Training Library.

Enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program

Enrollment is now open for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Stewardship Program. Farmers and ranchers have until February 27th to submit applications for this year’s funding. The CSP is win for both farmers and the environment, as it gives farmers financial incentive to engage in conservation activities like cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, and the transition to organic farming. According the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, since 2009, when the program began, nearly 70 million acres of farm and ranch land have been enrolled. Learn more about the CSP at NSAC’s blog, and visit your local NRCS office to get the enrollment process started.

USDA’s Organic Farm Survey

The USDA is inventorying organic producers, certified and not, across the U.S. This information will help the agency track organic agriculture’s economic impact as well as trends and opportunities for organic products. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed substantial growth in the organic market—an increase of 83 percent since 2007.

Approximately 17,000 organic producers received the census in early January. Organic farmers are required by law to respond. Survey responses are due by mail by on February 13th or online by April 3rd.

Data collected from the survey will help boost organic producers’ needs. Results will help the government assess crop insurance programs for organic producers, determine funding and extension support for organics, and calculate disaster payments for producers.

Read more about the USDA’s organic producer survey and learn about the history and consequences of the survey from the National Sustainable Agriculture’s blog post.

PASA’s 24th Annual Farming for the Future Conference

for PASA

It’s conference season! PASA is taking part with their 24th Annual Farming for the Future Conference from February 4 – 7 in State College, PA.

The conference will feature over 100 workshops over the weekend to educate attendees with courses ranging from Vegetable Farm Irrigation to The Deeper Wisdom of the Biodynamic Preparations. The conference also presents the Future Farmers Program for children from kindergarten to eighth grade.

For more information and to register visit: http://conference.pasafarming.org/

Annual Southern SAWG Conference this week

Don’t miss Southern SAWG’s (Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) annual Sustainable Ag Conference from January 14 – 17 in Mobile, AL. The event will host over 1,000 farmers and food advocates for a weekend of education in sustainable farming practices.

The conference website lists some of the programming available:

  • Sustainable and organic crop production, in fields and in high tunnels
  • Grazing and holistic livestock management
  • Direct and cooperative marketing
  • Farm and food policy
  • Farm enterprise and business management
  • Farm to school
  • Food hubs
  • Beginning farming
  • Local food systems

The entire conference program is available on Southern SAWG’s website here. Click here for more information and to register.

IOIA Webinar on NOP Processing Standards

The International Organic Inspectors Association is hosting a webinar from January 7 and 9 to discuss National Organic Program Processing Standards. Each webinar will take three hours and begins at 8 a.m. PST. IOIA trainer Stanley Edwards will host the webinar, who has more than 16 years of organic inspection experience. Topics of the webinar will include: approved ingredients, labeling, inspection, certification requirements and more.

The webinar costs $325 for IOIA members and $350 for non-members. Click here for more information.

Organic Farmers: Be heard through the Organic Seed Survey

It’s the peak of the growing season, with farmers out on their land plucking off tomatoes and digging up carrots. But come winter, these farmers will be tucked away in their offices planning next year’s crop. Will they use organic seeds? How will they source them?

Since 2008 the top eight global seed firms have gobbled up 70-plus smaller seed companies. Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta control over half of the market—a sharp increase from the mid 1990’s when the top three seed corporations controlled 22 percent of the industry.[1] (Check out this excellent infographic for more). That consolidation over seeds – the genetic source of all the food we eat – has had dramatic impact on family farmers, and organic farmers in particular.

The Organic Seed Alliance’s national seed survey aims to understand the impact of those most affected by this consolidation: organic farmers. Every five years, OSA’s survey results highlight the needs of organic farmers and the availability of organic seeds and seed quality to inform future policy and research. The findings are published in their State of Organic Seed report.  View the 2011 report here.

OSA’s last survey gathered responses from 1,027 organic farmers in 45 states and demonstrated a lack of availability and quantity of organic seeds. Nearly 80% of respondents said they were having some degree of difficulty sourcing organic seeds. Contributing factors included: concentration in the seed industry, cutbacks in plant breeding programs, and disagreement and confusion over how to implement the National Organic Program. Concentration in the industry is particularly problematic for organic farmers, as it leads to a dearth of organic seeds and varieties.

OSA’s national seed survey is vital in determining the barriers and the opportunities in the organic seed industry and in discovering how farmers are using, or not using, organic seeds.

If you are a certified organic crop producer, please consider taking this confidential survey.

The deadline for responding is October 3, 2014. Access the survey here.

Sources:

1. Wendy, Banks (2013). “Biotech Infographic Shows Global Consolidation Of Seed Industry.” The Sleuth Journal. October 15, 2013. Available:http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/biotech-infographic-shows-global-consolidation-seed-industry/