Welcome to the Organic Link!
Earth Day, celebrated April 22, offers a good opportunity to encourage stewardship of our shared planet. Here at MOSES, it feels like Earth Day every day because we work with farmers who nurture the land, water, and air through organic and sustainable practices.These "Earth Stewards" build rather than deplete soil, protect waterways from toxic runoff, and, according to a recent study, reduce farming's impact on climate change. Now, that's worth celebrating all year long!
NOP hears producers' plea to lessen paperwork
At the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Portland, Ore. earlier this week, representatives from the National Organic Program (NOP) discussed the NOP's new initiative to lessen the paperwork burden on organic producers, while focusing on the protection and advancement of organic integrity. By placing more of a focus on practices rather than documentation to verify compliance to the organic regulation, the NOP is working with certifiers, inspectors, educators and producers to develop accessible and appropriate systems that allow small, midsized and large-scale producers relief from the current excessive bureaucracy in order to hold a valid organic certificate. This "Sound and Sensible" initiative involves identifying and
removing barriers to certification, streamlining the certification
process, focusing enforcement on egregious violations, and correcting
small issues before they become larger ones.
CSP sign-up now open for 2013
Recent legislation provides funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program
, which was inadvertently left out of the government spending bill last October. This program rewards farmers and ranchers for good conservation measures currently in place, plus provides cost-share funds for additional conservation activities. CSP is a continuous sign-up program with a cut-off date for applications to be considered during a particular fiscal year. That date has yet to be announced, but is expected to be in May.
CSP applications are managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The NRCS website
has a self-screening checklist to help you decide if it's worth your time to apply for CSP. The site also has a CSP fact sheet and other information about the program, a downloadable CSP application, and a map of NRCS offices
where you can submit your application.
Report urges Congress to include conservation initiatives in farm bill
Through a new report, Conservation Compliance: A 25-Year Legacy of Stewardship,
former USDA Deputy Secretary Jim Moseley encourages Congress to include conservation initiatives in the 2013 farm bill. Over the last 25 years, conservation compliance has protected millions of acres of vulnerable cropland and wetlands, keeping billions of tons of soil on farms, and ensuring that millions of acres of marginal, erosion-prone soil have remained healthy and productive.
"As Congress reauthorizes the farm bill, it is critical that the conservation gains that have been made over the last 25 years be maintained by reattaching the crop insurance premium assistance to conservation compliance," Moseley says in the report.
Call for workshop proposals for 2014 MOSES Conference, deadline May 17
Proposals for workshop presentations at the 2014 MOSES Organic Farming Conference can be submitted through the MOSES website
until May 17, 2013. Workshops run 1.5 hours, and fall within the categories of field crops, soils and systems, market farming, livestock, business, and miscellaneous. Information can be tailored to farmers who are new to organic production, experienced organic farmers or those with intermediate experience.
Organic Field Days planned
Plans are coming together for our 2013 MOSES Organic Field Days
. We hope you can join us "on the farm!" We have field days scheduled in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
The season starts June 2 with our New Organic Stewards "Farm Hack"
event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Gardens of Eagan's Organic Field School in Northfield, Minn. This collaborative event showcases farmer ingenuity and innovation in creating farm tools and machinery with an eye for efficiency.
MOSES welcomes new board members
Two new members have joined the MOSES Board of Directors
: David Abazs and Nick Olson.
David is from Finland, Minn., where he and his family own the solar- and wind-powered Round River Farm, a 50-share CSA. David also manages Wolf Ridge Organic School Farm, which supplies produce for Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, located in the Sawtooth Mountains along Minnesota's North Shore.
Nick is an organizer with Land Stewardship Project's Farm Beginnings program. Nick and his family own and operate Prairie Drifter Farm, a certified organic diversified vegetable farm in Litchfield, Minn.
MOSES Rural Women's Project earns award
The MOSES Rural Women's Project, directed by Lisa Kivirist, has received a "Top Rural Development Initiative Award"
from Wisconsin Rural Partners, a network hub for organizations, government agencies and people working to make rural Wisconsin a better place. The Project was nominated for the award by Cara Carper, UW Extension Community Resource Development Educator for Green County. "The strength of the RWP stems from facilitating connections," Carper said. The Rural Women's Project collaborates with local farmers and other organizations to provide on-farm workshops; partners with the Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN) on "Women Caring for the Land" trainings, and joins with Green County UW Extension and SARE to promote the Soil Sisters farm tours.
MOSES, WFAN hold Women's Leadership series
MOSES Rural Women's Project and the Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN) are hosting a six-part webinar series, "Plate to Politics,"
designed to energize and equip women leaders within the healthy food and farming movement. The next session is April 18 on Alliances, followed by a May 21 session on Campaigns for Policy Change and Elective Office. Sessions will continue monthly leading up to the National Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference (see story below). The webinars are free, but require advance registration. Transcripts and Power Points from past webinars also are posted on the website.
4th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Ag seeks workshop proposals
The 4th National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture
will take place Nov. 6-8, 2013 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) has put out a call for workshop proposals on a variety of topics relevant to women in sustainable agriculture. Presenters will receive a discount on conference registration. Deadline for submissions is Tuesday, April 30.
Website explains proposed food safety rules
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is accepting public comment through May 16, 2013 on its proposed food safety regulations — one affects produce growers, and the other impacts facilities that manufacture and process food for human consumption. These new food safety rules have been mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act President Obama signed into law more than two years ago.
To help producers and consumers understand the proposed rules and comment process, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has launched a new food safety website
. The site gives background on the food safety act, information about the two proposed rules, and instructions on how to comment.
Graduate student research grants available
Two grant opportunities
are available for graduate students to fund research projects in organic and sustainable agriculture. NCR-SARE is offering grants up to $10,000 for students at colleges in the North Central region. Proposals must be submitted online by May 9, 2013. The Ceres Trust also offers up to $10,000 grants with applications due by May 1, 2013.
New on the MOSES YouTube channel:
clips of the keynote presentations from the 2013 MOSES Organic Farming Conference!
These 5-minute clips capture the essence of speeches made by Charlie Johnson, the 2013 MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year;
Jeremy and Joshua, the GMO OMG filmmakers; and organic pioneer Carmen Fernholz.
The On-Farm Food Safety Project website offers resources to help fruit and vegetable farmers ensure their produce is safe to eat. The website includes a an online tool to create a customized on-farm food safety plan.
A new study from the Organic Trade Association shows that U.S. families are increasingly embracing organic products, with 81 percent now reporting they purchase organic at least sometimes.
Is your farm listed on
Real Times Farm?
This website is a crowd-sourced food guide for consumers to trace food back to the farm.
You can help us encourage more farmers to adopt planet-protecting organic and sustainable farming practices: