Organic standards and rodent control

by Tamara Scully

A petition to allow exhaust gas to be used underground for rodent control in certified organic production has been submitted to the National Organic Standards Board. The NOSB will need to consider whether or not the gas is potentially toxic to humans, to soil microbes, non-borrowing animals, or natural rodent predators, as well as the availability and efficacy of alternative control methods. In October, 2014, the NOSB released its technical data report on exhaust gas.

Several prominent New York state farmers have been among those contributing to the discussion, via posts on the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) ODairy list serve forum. The ODairy forum is a very active public forum, where many prominent members of the organic community across the nation comment on and discuss a variety of agriculturally relevant topics. [Read more…]

Avoiding the unexpected with the Affordable Care Act

by Bill and Mary Weaver

Adam Kantrovich, Farm Management Educator for MSU Extension, has heard “just about every notion known to mankind” on the topic of how to avoid having problems with the ACA. He has also studied the law carefully enough to be able to point out what sorts of things might get an employer in trouble.

For example, Kantrovich advises, don’t decide to divide your larger business into multiple smaller entities, solely for the purpose of getting around the ACA.

“If you develop a series of separate business entities, even with limited differences in ownership, they may still be considered a single ‘control group’ by the IRS. This would mean an owner is required to count all employees from all entities in determining their status as either a ‘Small’ or ‘Large’ employer under the ACA guidelines. [Read more…]

Let’s not educate the consumer

C4-MR-1-Educate Consumer1by Sally Colby

Farmers hear it all the time: “We have to educate the consumer.”

But what if the consumer doesn’t want to be educated? What if the consumer is simply looking for clear answers to honest questions?

The generation currently making the most noise about food production is millennials. They’re the children of baby boomers, ranging in age from 18 to 34. [Read more…]

Growing winter storage crops at Skinny Dip Farm

??????????????????????by Sanne Kure-Jensen

Ben and Hannah Wolbach of Skinny Dip Farm in Westport, MA shared their experience growing and selling winter storage crops at a Twilight Event for the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP). In a recent workshop, Hannah and Ben Wolbach explained their fertility practices. Farm soils receive mineral supplements as recommended by soil tests. Hannah and Ben plant winter rye and vetch cover crops after harvest for winter cover to improve soil fertility and organic matter. Fields that will be planted in summer for fall harvest will have spring planted cover crop blends of either oats or barley with peas, clover and vetch. Oats and peas will cover fields destined for early spring plantings because oats are generally winterkilled in Westport making spring bed preparation easy. [Read more…]

Succeeding with grass fed beef production

CN-GL-1-Grass Fed_beeferby George Looby

The farm of Heifer International in Rutland, MA was the site for a presentation by Ridgway Shinn on establishing a grass fed beef operation under New England conditions. The Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) sponsored the seminar. The speaker of the day, Ridgway F. Shinn III, has a long and varied career encompassing a wide variety of areas, all related in some way to animal agriculture. He was a founding director of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy recently renamed The Livestock Conservancy. [Read more…]