The NOFA/MASS Winter Conference

CN-MR-2-NOFAMASS1by George Looby, DVM

On Saturday morning Jan. 10, 2015 there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that winter had descended on the Campus of Worcester State University. With the temperature hovering around the zero mark, the pace of pedestrian traffic was brisk with little time elapsed as attendees moved from building to building in search of their next session. On the up side it was a perfect day to attend this meeting where everyone was anxious to share information in the warmth of the campus classrooms and other meeting venues.

This was the 28th Annual Winter Conference presented by the NOFA/MASS, this year held on the campus of the Worcester State University where over 1000 members and others with an interest in organic agriculture came together to be updated on the that which is at the cutting edge of things organic. As always there was an extensive menu of workshops available offering a wide range of subject matter ranging from tips on growing and storing onions to a legislative update and preview for Massachusetts agriculture. [Read more…]

Letter to the Editor: OK dairy farmers, it’s now up to you!

OK dairy farmers, it’s now up to you!

Do you as a dairy farmer really think the margin insurance program will help you to manage your farm in a more efficient way? Well, let’s look at it realistically! The Secretary of Agriculture announced on Jan. 12 that slightly over 23,000 dairy farmers signed up for the margin insurance program. Now however, nearly one half of those producers signed up for the minimum coverage of $4 per hundred weight (cwt). Allegedly, there are 46,000 dairy farmers in the United States. These figures mean that between 34-35,000 dairy farmers did not sign up for the program, or took only the minimum coverage. This is a long ways from being a real exciting support for the program. [Read more…]

Dr. Temple Grandin receives prestigious Farm Bureau award

C4-MR-2-Temple Grandin 3546by Sally Colby

At the American Farm Bureau’s 96th Annual Convention, Dr. Temple Grandin was presented with the Distinguished Service Award. Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, addressed some of today’s most pressing issues in animal ag. She believes that one of the most important things that ag needs to do is have farmers directly communicating with people.

Grandin finds it frustrating that a lot of young people don’t know about the good things that have been done in agriculture. She cited a Purdue study that revealed that 31 percent of young people have never been on a farm, and 50 percent of people in the UK couldn’t connect pigs with bacon. She talked about her visit to The Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farm — a modern, open-door pig farm where visitors can see every aspect of production. Grandin asked employees at Fair Oaks what kinds of strange questions they’ve gotten from visitors viewing the pigs. The question Grandin couldn’t believe people asked was “are those actually pigs?” [Read more…]

The Tucker Technique and The Equine Dentistry School Online

CNM-MS-MR-3-HorseDentist2by Laura Rodley

Veterinarian Dr. Geoff Tucker developed his school, The Equine Dentistry School Online, after floating more than 60,000 horses’ teeth over three decades. The school, started September 2014 with a worldwide practical component, already has two graduates — a veterinarian in New York and a citizen of the Dominican Republic. “I became a veterinarian because I love horses,” Tucker said. He even overcame dyslexia to graduate from Cornell University. In 2014, he released his compelling third book, Since the Days of the Romans: My Journey of Discovering a Life of Horses. He is pictured with his horse, Oliver, on the cover. [Read more…]

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…]