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Helping farmers grow organic successfully!
November 2012
Welcome to the Organic Link!

    Your link to the Nov.-Dec. Organic Broadcaster newspaper is in the column to the right. In this latest Broadcaster, you'll find Joe Pedretti's last word on the Stanford study that caused such a firestorm when it claimed organic food was not nutritionally better than conventional, and much more news.
    Details are coming together for the 24th annual MOSES Organic Farming Conference -- hope you have Feb. 21-23 reserved on your calendar! See highlights of courses in the pre-conference MOSES Organic University in the story below. Look for the MOSES Organic Farming Conference/Organic University information booklet in your mailbox later this month. 

MOSES Organic University courses unveiled

MOSES Organic University takes place Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. just prior to the MOSES Organic Farming Conference. Organic University courses provide novice and experienced farmers the chance to explore a farming topic in-depth. Presenters are experts in their fields, sharing their knowledge and experience through these courses and the companion resource books.

The 2013 courses are:
Adding Meat to Your Potatoes
  Dominic Palumbo
Small Farm Profitability: Tools & Tactics
Josh Volk
Building Healthy Soils for Healthy Crops
Joel Gruver and Lori Hoagland
Successful Long-Term High Tunnel Management
John Biernbaum and Adam Montri
Breed Your Own Low-Input, High-Profit Cattle Herd
Gearld Fry
Art and Science of Organic Seed Production
John Navazio and Nash Huber
Increase Crop Yields by 10%
Gary Zimmer and Jeff Moyer
Add Value through Organic Food Processing
  Jim Riddle and Carla Wright
Cultivating Organic Fruits and Markets
Perry-O and David Sliwa, Maury Wills, Rachel
  Henderson and Anton Ptak
Catch the Buzz: Organic Beekeeping
Ross Conrad and Aaron Brin

Afternoon courses:  (1 to 5 p.m.)
Quality Of Life: Tools for a Healthy Farm Partnership
  Atina Diffley
In Her Boots: Crafting Your Farm Education Mission for Women, by Women
Lisa Kivirist and a panel of women advocates for
  sustainable, organic agriculture

For course descriptions, visit MOSES Organic University. Registration opens Dec. 3.

New Development Director, additional staff hired

Luisa Gerasimo recently joined MOSES as the new Development Director. She lives on a sustainable farm near Menomonie, Wis., where her extended family raises Highland cattle and free-range chickens, makes maple syrup, and grows a lot of vegetables. Her work experience includes crisis center counseling, college admissions, authoring several career and education books, and co-ownership of a solar thermal manufacturing company. She and her husband, Mike, are planning a large party next summer for the soon-to-be-graduates in their family: a son from high school, a daughter from college, and Luisa, herself, from a master’s program.

Bethany Gabinski just joined the MOSES team as Luisa’s intern. She is a senior at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls in crop and soil science. Among other roles, she is president and co-founder of SALSA (Student Alliance for Local and Sustainable Agriculture) and is a research fellow with the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development. Bethany will help Luisa put on a fabulous Silent Auction at the MOSES Organic Farming Conference this February.

Carly Stephanson also just joined our staff to help with the MOSES Conference. Carly has a degree in water science from Northland College in Ashland, WIs., and one day hopes to own an organic farm with her husband where they can live their passion for organic and sustainable farming. 

Congress needs to work on farm bill now

There is a short window of time for Congress to finish its work on the farm bill after Election Day. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (which includes MOSES) has created a petition to encourage/demand just that. Please join us in this effort to get an equitable, sustainable 2012 Farm Bill! Sign onto the citizens’ petition today – and mark your calendar for a national day of action Nov.15!

Help us get a 2012 farm bill that invests in the future of healthy farms, food, and people; protects our precious air, soil, and water; and, reforms farm subsidies and levels the playing field.

Nov. 1 webinar covers TSP approval process

MOSES Organic Specialist Harriet Behar leads a webinar Nov. 1 on Becoming a Technical Service Provider for NRCS: An Introduction. The webinar is the first in a four-part series in a national Conservation Innovation Project on how to become a TSP and what it takes to write conservation plans. Harriet is approved as a TSP to write Conservation Activity Plans. The webinar covers the TSP approval process and how to receive payment for your work.

USDA releases results of 2011 organic survey

Certified organic growers in the U.S. sold more than $3.5 billion organically grown agricultural commodities in 2011, according to the results of the USDA's 2011 Certified Organic Production Survey. Corn leads organic field crops in sales and accounted for more than $101.5 million in 2011. The only other field crops to have more than $50 million in sales were alfalfa dry hay and winter wheat, accounting for $69.5 million and $54 million in sales respectively. Wisconsin leads the nation in organic field crops acreage, with more than 110,000 acres harvested in 2011.

In addition to looking at organically produced crops, the survey also gathered information on organically raised livestock, which accounted for $1.31 billion in sales in 2011. Organic milk was the top livestock commodity, accounting for $765 million in sales. The other key organic livestock commodities were chicken eggs and broiler chickens, earning $276 million and $115 million in sales respectively.

MOSES Organic Specialist Harriet Behar notes that Midwestern states had about a 75% response rate for this survey. To cover non-respondents, the USDA weighted data by a statistical percentage. "While a 75% response rate is respectable, there are still 25% of producers whose information was not gathered," Harriet said. "The better the information we have, the better this data will reflect the needs and realities of organic farmers when policies and programs are developed."

NOSB moves Rotenone to prohibited list

MOSES Organic Specialist Harriet Behar attended the recent meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in Rhode Island and provided these highlights:
  • The NOSB considered a long list of synthetic nutrients for use in organically labeled infant formula, with only L-methionine achieving approval.
  • Rotenone was voted to be put on the list of prohibited materials as of January 2016. Even though it is a natural product, it is not licensed for use on any crops that would be sold for human consumption and can only be used legally in the U.S. by home gardeners. This new prohibition on the National List affects growers outside the U.S. who did not have any restriction on use. Research has shown a correlation with Parkinson’s Disease for those who are exposed to Rotenone at the time it is applied to crops.
  • Biodegradable, biobased mulch film was approved for placement on the National List of synthetic substances for crops. There was much discussion concerning the lack of research detailing the effects on soil life as well as any chemical residues when these products decompose. It is used in Europe and by some noncertified organic farmers in the U.S. who state they have not seen any negative effects, and the product fully degrades within a year. There are restrictions on what type of mulch film would be allowed, including that the corn starch used to make it would not be GMO and that it meets the testing requirements that it fully degrades, among other items.

    Read more of Harriet's notes from the NOSB meeting.

SARE offers farmer, rancher resources

Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) has produced a free 118-page book, Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities, that lists funding opportunities from the federal government. It is only available online as a PDF download.

Note: the deadline for the SARE Farmer Rancher Grant Program is Nov. 29.

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Save the date:
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Make plans to attend the nation's largest conference and trade show about organic and sustainable farming
Feb. 21-23, 2013 in
La Crosse, Wis.

Look for the booklet with workshop and registration information
in your mailbox later this month.
Registration opens Dec. 3.

We're sending out our year-end appeal. Watch for your envelope later this month. Please give as generously as you can to support MOSES' mission to help farmers grow organic successfully.

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Want an experienced farmer to help you improve your operation?
Want to help a new farmer grow organic?

Sign up for the 2013 MOSES Farmer-to-Farmer Mentoring Program.

 Deadline to apply is
Dec. 10, 2012.

Congratulations to these
award-winning farmers:

Paul Willis, Iowa sustainable hog farmer, received the Pathfinder Award from Chefs Collaborative.

Leland and Noreen Thomas, Minnesota certified organic farmers, were named Clay County 2012 Outstanding Conservationists.


PO Box 339
Spring Valley, WI 54767

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to enable farmers to grow organic successfully.

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Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service
PO Box 339
Spring Valley, WI 54767

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