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Helping farmers grow organic successfully!
May 2013
Welcome to the Organic Link!

    The snow has finally melted in our neck of the woods! Manure spreaders are tentatively venturing into the fields. The delayed start to spring has pushed back planting dates in many areas, which could impact crop insurance deadlines. Read more below.
    The weather might be contributing to the flurry of registrations we've received for this season's MOSES Organic Field Days. Read on for details about these chances to learn from experienced organic farmers.

Operations Director position open at MOSES

JOIN OUR TEAM:  We're looking for an experienced, energetic person to manage MOSES' daily operations and develop systems to enhance organizational effectiveness. This is a new, full-time staff position at our office in Spring Valley, Wis., for someone who is familiar with the organic industry, has a passion for sustainability, and has experience managing a non-profit. The Operations Director will work closely with MOSES Executive Director Faye Jones.
Learn more about this exciting career opportunity. The application deadline is June 3, 2013.

Field days ripe with learning opportunities


Our 2013 MOSES Organic Field Day season kicks off with an exciting event showcasing farmer ingenuity: Farm Hack June 2 at the Organic Field School in Northfield, Minn.

On July 25, Charlie Johnson, MOSES Organic Farmer of the Year, shows us the systems used on his farm to control weeds, deter pests and produce consistently good yields. This Organic Crops Field Day includes lunch.

These are the first of many MOSES Organic Field Days coming up this summer. The complete schedule is on our website. Please note that our June 14 Permaculture Field Day on Mark Shepard's farm is full--this event reached capacity just a couple of days after registration opened! We hope to feature Mark's thoughts on this popular topic in the Organic Broadcaster this fall.

Marker bills focus on sustainable farming

Two bills currently before Congress can cultivate a healthy future for farmers:  the Local Foods, Farms and Jobs Act and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act. The first supports organic certification cost share, improved organic crop insurance, publicly available (non-GMO) seed breeding, farmers' market promotions, value-added producer grants, and more. The second supports the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and other valuable programs for sustainable farmers.

The goal now is to get as many co-sponsors as possible for these bills, which makes them more likely to be included in the larger farm bill. MOSES is working with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) to encourage senators and representatives to sign on. NSAC's website includes summaries of these bills and talking points. If you value these programs and want to see these bills passed, please contact your legislators today.

Delayed planting impacts crop insurance

The late spring in most of the upper Midwest means that many farmers might not be able to plant crops by the final planting date indicated on their crop insurance policies. To help farmers understand this issue, we've posted a fact sheet on "Prevented Planting Insurance Provisions" on our website. Final planting dates and late planting periods vary by crop and by area. While this publication from the USDA Risk Management Agency offers general guidelines, producers should refer to the provisions of their specific policy, or contact their crop insurance agent for more information.

Webinar shows how women can influence policy

Policy-When the Personal Becomes Political” is a free webinar offered at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 21. The webinar features women leaders who have run for office, discussing how to use the political arena to advance the healthy food and farming movement.

This is the third in a six-part series presented through "Plate to Politics,” a joint venture of MOSES Rural Women's Project and the Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN). The series is designed to energize and equip women leaders within the healthy food and farming movement. The first two webinars in the series are posted on the Plate to Politics website. The webinars are free, but require advance registration.

Webinar explains CRP process, benefits

Sign-up for the USDA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) begins May 20 and ends June 14, 2013. The Women, Food & Agriculture Network (WFAN) offers a free webinar about CRP for women farmers and landowners Thursday, May 23, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Presenters will include conservation professionals from the USDA's Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources. CRP is a voluntary national program that provides funding and technical support for farmers to use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits, including habitat preservation.

NOP announces items to be renewed, removed from National List of approved substances

The National Organic Program has issued a "Proposed Rule" that would continue the allowed use of certain synthetic and non-synthetic substances on the National List and would remove two substances currently on the list. Per the Organic Foods Production Act, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) must review all items on the National List every five years and recommend which should be renewed, changed, or removed. The Proposed Rule explains how to submit a comment about these updates to the list. Comments must be received by June 3, 2013.

New version of Driftwatch helps more farmers discourage pesticide drift

Purdue University has transitioned its Driftwatch™ crop registry to FieldWatch Inc., a commercial enterprise that can handle further expansion. Certified organic growers in nine states have been using the original registry -- information about those fields will automatically shift to FieldWatch.

The registry allows crop producers to identify and map the location of their sensitive crops such as tomatoes, fruit trees, grapes, vegetables and organic crops, providing a resource for applicators to consult before spraying. The more producers who register fields in the program, the more useful the map is to applicators.

Online tool helps growers select transplant system

Organic farming consultant Chris Blanchard (Flying Rutabaga Works) has created an online tool to help vegetable growers in the Upper Midwest select the best system for transplant production for their farm. The Transplant Production Decision Tool includes profiles of six vegetable farms in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as photo galleries of infrastructure, equipment and crops. A one-page matrix summarizes the costs, skill level, benefits and drawbacks of various options for transplant equipment. The online tool was a project of the Iowa Organic Association with funding from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Paper examines status of biodegradable mulch

Faculty from Washington State University, the University of Tennessee and Texas Tech answer questions about biodegradable mulch in a newly released paper, Current and Future Prospects For Biodegradable Plastic Mulch in Certified Organic Production Systems. Currently, certified organic farmers can use conventional polyethylene mulch, provided it is removed from the field at the end of the growing or harvest season. They have not been able to use available biodegradable plastic mulch products because these did not conform to standards set by the National Organic Program.

This paper explains the problems with polyethylene mulch and examines the properties of biodegradable alternatives. In October 2012, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to recommend to NOP to approve biodegradable plastic mulch in organic production. Expectations are that the NOP will follow through on this recommendation within this year.

Researchers from Oregon State University presented a poster on this topic in the Research Forum at the 2012 MOSES Organic Farming Conference. You can read more about their findings here.

Scuse appointed Acting Deputy Ag Secretary

The White House has named Michael Scuse as Acting Deputy Agriculture Secretary to replace Kathleen Merrigan, who recently resigned. Darci Vetter will fill Scuse’s former post as Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services. Vetter is from an organic farm family in Nebraska. The Vetters received the 2011 MOSES Farmers of the Year award.

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The May-June
Organic Broadcaster
is out!

Read about:
  • a new corn seed that blocks GMO contamination;

  • young farmers learning the ropes;

  • how an immigrant farmer has turned his farm dream into reality;

  • the good, bad and downright ugly sides of organic crop insurance;

  • and, much more!

Need more frequent updates on happenings in the organic community?

Connect with MOSES!

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Bhutan farmers 2

Organic & sustainable farming in the news:

Bhutan pledges to ban pesticides and herbicides, making it the first country to go all organic

Peru is first country in the Americas to ban GMOs.

Sign up deadline for the Conservation
Stewardship Program is May 31.
Apply through your local Natural Resources
Conservation Service


Iowa Grazing Conference
June 25-26, 2013
Creston, Iowa

Featured speaker:

Garry Lacefield, a grazing and forage specialist from the University of Kentucky

Organic really means

Here's a great infographic to share with consumers to help you explain what "organic" means.

PO Box 339
Spring Valley, WI 54767

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to enable farmers to grow organic successfully.

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