The basics of farm transitions

CN-MR-1-Farm-transitions3389by Emily Enger

Transitioning the farm is one of the hardest things a farmer does. The process is both intimidating and emotionally exhausting. Where do you start? Who do you contact? How do you talk about it with your family? These issues and more led the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota to create the Farm Transitions Toolkit, a comprehensive, two year endeavor that now serves as a helpful, free resource to guide farmers through this tough process.

“People go through a farm transition once in their life,” said Karen Stettler, of the Land Stewardship Project. “So it’s not like you have previous experience to draw from. We’ve found that people have a lot of really good questions.” [Read more…]

Considerations for out-wintering the organic dairy herd

CEWM-MR-1-Outwinteringby Katie Navarra

Dairy operations are expensive. Costs to build and maintain facilities, purchase feed, provide proper ventilation, purchase bedding and dispose of manure add up quickly.

“It can be somewhat discouraging to new dairy farmers,” said Dr. Brad Heins at University of Minnesota-West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, MN, “a reduced input dairy (model) can be a way for new farmers to get involved without a lot of equity.”

Out wintering can be a successful method for managing a reduced input dairy herd. “The animals tend to stay relatively clean and you reduce bedding costs in out wintering systems,” he added, “but you must be able to respond to quickly changing weather conditions.”

In the webinar, titled Considerations for Out-Wintering the Organic Dairy Herd, which was hosted by eOrganic, Heins shared his results in out wintering University of Minnesota’s certified organic dairy herd. [Read more…]

Saving Small Dairy Farms

CN-MR-1-small dairy01by Tamara Scully

Dairy farms are getting bigger. As the number of dairy farms decreases, along with the number of cows being milked nationwide, the total amount of milk being produced, increases. Not only are cows producing more milk each day, they are doing so on larger and larger farms.

According to the article “Milk Production Continues Shifting to Large-Scale Farms,” by James MacDonald and Doris Newton, published in the December 2014 issue of Amber Waves, the USDA’s Economic Research Service’s magazine focusing on ERS research, analysis and policy issues related to agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America, dairy farming consolidation has been pronounced since 1992. In an industry where the number of dairy farms has decreased by 60 percent in the past two decades, this market reduction makes the possibility of starting small and mid-sized farming operations more difficult. [Read more…]

Virginia farm to table conference continues to grow

CM-MR-3-VA farm table01by Karl H. Kazaks

WEYERS CAVE, VA — This year’s Virginia Farm to Table Conference was highlighted by the participation of renowned soil biology expert Dr. Elaine Ingham.

As part of the multi-day conference focused on the burgeoning local foods movement within agriculture, Dr. Ingham, The Rodale Institute’s chief scientist, helmed a special day-long soil biology track, a series of discussions on the practical specifics of managing soil biology. The day of learning covered topics ranging from nutrient cycling to compost teas to pest control. [Read more…]