What's New in Michigan Organics? NEWS 1. Action Alert: Support Strong Rules for Organic Pasture 2. Cooperator Farmer Contracts program 3. USDA Seeks Public Comment on Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Corn JOB OPPORTUNITIES 3. Business Development Specialist EVENTS 4. Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo Thursday Dec 11, 2008 5. Mid-Atlantic Sustainable Agriculture Conference NEWS 1. Action Alert: Support Strong Rules for Organic Pasture Comment now to USDA-Comment period closes December 23, 2008 The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) released the long anticipated proposed rules tightening the pasture requirements for organic livestock on Friday October 24, 2008. This is a strong proposal that guarantees that organic milk production meets consumer expectations. The proposal needs to be improved to remove overly prescriptive language that will cause problems for the health and safety of animals, might have negative impacts on the environment, and place extensive record keeping burdens on farmers. This can be done while preserving the requirement that organic ruminants be on pasture as much as possible during the grazing season. Please submit your comments ASAP - see below for detailed instructions See the NOC website, www.nationalorganiccoalition.org or http://www.nodpa.com/rule.shtml for more detailed information and a suggested re-write of rule language. Suggested key points for comment: Support the requirement for a minimum 30% dry matter intake (DMI) from pasture, averaged over the full growing season, with the growing season ranging from 121-354 days, but substitute "grazing season" for "growing season," to take into account the reality of the grazing season in different areas. Require that ruminants are managed on pasture only during the grazing season, (not year round) to take into account different farming conditions, to protect pastures from damage, and to protect the health and safety of the livestock during adverse weather conditions. NOP must provide needed exemptions or ruminants from pasture and outdoor access during period of inclement weather and to protect soil and water quality. Revise the definition of "inclement weather" so that any condition that cause's physical harm to animals is a valid reason for limiting pasture and outdoor access. Dry lots and feed lots, where animals are confined and there is little or no vegetation, should be explicitly banned for ruminants. However, clean well-managed feeding pads (barn yards) are essential facilities needed for exercise and outdoor access during the non-grazing season, and as a supplement to pasture during the grazing season. Modify the definition of "sacrificial pasture" to indicate this can be used during the non-grazing season to provide outside access, and make use of this practice optional, as the practice may be detrimental to the environment, including to soil and water quality, and to animal health when operations do not have well drained land that is accessible for livestock or during winter weather or excessive rain conditions. Streamline the proposed record keeping requirements for livestock operations so that farmers can document their pasture feed rations in various ways that are acceptable to certifiers. NOP must drop proposed language regarding replacement dairy animals. As proposed, it will allow certain farms to buy non-organic animals, and require others to buy or raise only organic young stock. The NOP must move quickly to publish a Proposed Origin of Livestock Rule that has one criterion for dairy replacement animals for all operations: "Once an operation has been certified for organic production, all dairy animals born or brought onto the operation shall be under organic management from the last third or gestation. Permit grain finishing of beef slaughter stock, such that these animals may be exempt from the 30% pasture DMI requirement during the finishing period not to exceed 120 days, but must not be denied access to pasture during the period. Remove "bee" and "fish used for food" from the definition of "livestock" until proposed standards are issued for those production systems. Please also demand that USDA NOP enforce the current regulation in regards to pasture while the proposed rule goes through the process of becoming a Final Rule Once in effect and with implementation by 2010, we urge NOP to enforce the new regulation and work with producers and certifiers to educate them on the requirements of the new rules. With these changes, a final rule can be written that can safeguard the long-term integrity of organic farming. How to submit comments: Give your name, farm name (if appropriate), location and the reason for sending comments (consumer, producer, advocate etc.). There are three ways to submit comments: 1) Mail. Written comments must be received (not postmarked) by Dec. 23, 2008. They must be identified with, "Docket Number AMS-TM-06-0198; TM-05-14" at the heading of the document. Mail written comments to: Richard H. Mathews, Chief, Standards Development and Review Branch, National Organic Program, Transportation and Marketing Programs USDA-AMS-TMP-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW. Room 4008- So., Ag Stop 0268 Washington, DC 20250. 2) Online. Visit the Regulations web portal: www.regulations.gov. Use the search terms "organic pasture." Comments must be submitted online by Dec. 23, 2008. Do not leave it to the last moment to submit comments to the site as it tends to get overloaded at the end of comment periods. 3) Send to NOC Mail, fax or email your comments to Ed Maltby by 12/19/08 and he will forward them to the NOP. By mail: Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, 30 Keets Rd, Deerfield, MA 01342. Fax: 866-554-9483. Email: [log in to unmask] 2. Cooperator Farmer Contracts program As part of the pasture based dairy project at KBS a Cooperator Farmer Contracts program has been developed to support on-farm, farmer driven research, demonstration, and outreach activities. Please circulate this information to any dairy producers that may be interested in participating in the program and to any individuals or groups that have contact with dairy producers. Project proposals are due by January 16 and funds will be available by March. Additional information can be found on the pasture dairy web site (http://www.kbs.msu.edu/farm/dairy/pastureresearch.php) or by e-mailing ([log in to unmask]) or calling (269-671-2360) me. Thank you for your help in distributing this information and let me know if you have any questions. Mat Haan Pasture-Based Dairy Project Coordinator Michigan State University Kellogg Biological Station 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive Hickory Corners, MI 49060 [log in to unmask] 269-671-2360 (office) 269-671-2351 (Fax) 3. USDA Seeks Public Comment on Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Corn http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/content/2008/11/deregcorn.shtml The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on a petition to deregulate corn genetically engineered (GE) to produce a microbial enzyme that facilitates ethanol production. The petition for deregulation, submitted by Syngenta Seeds, Inc., is in accordance with APHISʼ regulations concerning the introduction of GE organisms and products and is available for public review and comment. Following the comment period, APHIS makes a determination of nonregulated status if it can conclude that the organism does not pose a plant pest risk. If APHIS grants the Syngenta Seeds, Inc., petition for deregulation, the GE corn and its progeny would no longer be regulated articles. The product could then be freely moved and planted without the requirement of permits or other regulatory oversight by APHIS. Comments may be submitted online or by mail until January 20, 2009. Job Opportunities 4. Business Development Specialist Posted: Nov 17, 20008 Deadline: Dec 12, 2008 Supervisor: Jennifer Fike, Executive Director, Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) and the Business Innovation and Networking Committee Location: Food System Economic Partnership, Ann Arbor, MI I. Purpose & Responsibilities In an independent contracting position reporting to the FSEP Executive Director, and working as a facilitator of the Agri-food Regional Skills Alliance (RSA) and member of the Business Innovation and Networking Team, this professional works collaboratively with the FSEP Business Innovation and Networking Committee, FSEP Leadership Team, and RSA partnering organizations to provide business planning services to maintain and grow the regional agricultural economy and make agriculture a thriving component of communities in Southeast Michigan. II. Specific Job Functions Coordinate the Agri-food RSA, where FSEP and the Business Development Specialist serve as a catalyst, convener, intermediary, and advisor in the creation of the Agri-Food RSA in Southeast Michigan. The goal of the Agri-Food System RSA is to expand business planning services for agri-business entrepreneurs and assist farmers in the conversion of agriculture commodities into consumer products or services to create and expand jobs in the region. There are four components of this position: 1) Catalyst: Help bring about: a) change in the agricultural economy of Southeast Michigan through creating connections between food system entrepreneurs and to increase job creation in the agriculture sector. 2) Convener: Assist in bringing together key stakeholders for the RSA including Michigan Works! agencies, economic development organizations, business owners, farmers, community organizations, farmers, food distributors, and all others involved in making the transition to more locally produced food purchasing and consumption. 3) Intermediary: Serve as the conduit for services related to agricultural business planning services; work with entrepreneurs interested in creating agri-food businesses and assist them in the development of business plans 4) Advisor: Advise other key stakeholders on insights knowledge gained, effective practice, policy impacts, etc. Key Stakeholders include funders, the private sector, the public sector, policy makers, nonprofits, and business owners. III. Specific Expectations: Goal 1: Provide business planning services to potential entrepreneurs and existing business owners. Tasks: 1) Identify potential food business entrepreneurs and existing businesses through outreach at MSU Extension offices, job fairs, Michigan Works! Centers, community colleges, etc. 2) Conduct survey of employers within RSA to determine business needs 3) Select entrepreneurs and existing businesses to engage in business planning 4) Perform market analysis with entrepreneurs 5) Perform feasibility studies with entrepreneurs 6) Develop business plans; set goals/objectives Goal 2: Conduct outreach to potential entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan to promote business planning services offered by Agri-Food System RSA. Tasks: 1) Create Agri-RSA council to provide linkages between employers and Michigan Works! Agencies 2) Conduct outreach at employment agencies, Eastern Market, community colleges, and chambers of commerce to promote services Goal 3: Conduct outreach to farmers/producers in Southeast Michigan to promote Agri-Food System RSA Tasks: 1) Conduct direct mail campaign to farmers/producers and issue press releases 2) Conduct outreach to farmers at farmers' markets 3) Update FSEP website to add services 4) Conduct outreach at Farm Bureau offices Goal 4: Provide seed funding through Agri-Food System RSA to potential entrepreneurs Tasks: 1) Determine methodology for awarding funds 2) Determine feasibility of business venture 3) Reach agreement with entrepreneur 4) Apply for grants to support funding Goal 5: Develop and implement marketing plan to increase consumer demand for local foods to develop markets for agri-food businesses Tasks: 1) Define targets, goals, and dates of implementation 2) Create marketing materials 3) Implement plan including mail, radio, print campaigns 4) Measure success of plan IV. Key Knowledge & Skills A. Project management/leadership and or start-up nonprofit experience. B. Strong facilitation skills with demonstrated results as an intermediary working with cross-sector collaboration. C. Knowledge of and interest in local food systems and economic development. D. Strong leader with an active leadership style E. Effective oral and written communication skills. F. Demonstrated ability to work effectively in team settings, as both a leader and team member. Strong interpersonal skills in a professional context: working collaboratively, motivating and inclusive leadership style, and excellent facilitation skills. G. Demonstrated ability to work effectively without day to day supervision. H. Excellent skills in the use of computer technology for word processing and a variety of forms of electronic communication. VI. Ideal Qualifications A. Bachelor's degree in business, agriculture, communications, community organizing or related field preferred. Master's degree preferred. B. Demonstrated ability to develop leadership in the agriculture community. Ability to manage multiple and varied tasks required. C. Experience with group facilitation. D. Business experience working with entities that have budgets, boundaries, expectations, and profit motive. E. Two years of work experience in business, community, or economic development. Position requires travel using personal vehicle to program sites in five county region of Southeast Michigan, as needed. Compensation commensurate with experience. Estimated start date is January 5, 2009. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. The Food System Economic Partnership is an equal opportunity employer. To apply, please email or fax (734-222-3990) a cover letter and resume to Jennifer Fike at [log in to unmask] You can also mail your information to FSEP, P.O. Box 8645, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8645, Attention: Jennifer Fike. EVENTS 4. Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Exop 2008 The 2008 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo December 11, 2008, DeVos Place Convention Center Grand Rapids, MI. Thursday events include Tasting of the Winning Ciders: 8:00 - 9:00 a.m., Trade Show: 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., EXPO Registration: 8:00 a.m. - noon, Education Program: 9:00 a.m. - Noon, Education Program: 1:00 - 3:30 p.m., and Fruit Irrigation Systems Workshop: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Thurday at 9 A.M. Organic Production and Certification. Vicki Morrone, Outreach Specialist for Organic Fruit and Vegetable Growers, MSU Certification: will be one of the speaker presenting the topic To Be or Not To Be - That is the Question. Visit this link to see the complete schedule http://www.glexpo.com/program.php?id=47. Special Thursday Registration Fee A special registration fee of $30 is available for admission to the EXPO's trade show and education sessions on Thursday. This is good for Thursday ONLY – if you pre-register for this reduced rate and decide to attend the EXPO on Tuesday or Wednesday, you will have to pay the full on-site registration fee. The trade show will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday. The special registration fee does not include membership in the Michigan State Horticultural Society or the Michigan Vegetable Council and the free subscription offers that are included with membership. Visit the Expo's website for more details http://www.glexpo.com/index.php 5. Mid-Atlantic Sustainable Agriculture Conference Contact: Jack Gurley, 410-472-6764, [log in to unmask] Future Harvest – CASA's 10th Annual Conference Connect Locally: Food, Farms and Communities January 16 and 17, 2009 Frederick, Md. Eldersburg, Md. — On January 16 and 17, 2009, aspiring, transitioning, and experienced farmers will come together with regional buyers, backyard gardeners, parents, students and others interested in local foods to share information and learn about sustainable agriculture at the 10th Annual Conference of Future Harvest – A Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA). The 2009 conference theme, "Connect Locally: Food, Farms and Communities," emphasizes making and sustaining connections between producers and consumers. Nina Planck, farmers' market maven and "real" food enthusiast, will present the keynote address. After growing up in Virginia selling the ecological foods from her family's farm, Ms. Planck started the successful London Farmers' Markets in the U.K. and now runs the producer-only Local Food Markets in Washington, DC. Her recent book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why, explores the nutritional and cultural significance of traditional foods. Seminars, panels and round table discussion groups on Friday will cover agri-tourism, soil fertility, farm-to-school and hospital programs, and raising healthy food. Saturday's workshops will cover the nuts and bolts of sustainable agriculture, specialty crops, cultivating new farmers through mentorships, grass based systems, profitable grain production, and market gardening. Meals will feature locally-grown food, showcasing the region's great local food options. Future Harvest-CASA is an educational non-profit organization dedicated to promoting profitable and environmentally sustainable food and farming systems in the Mid-Atlantic region, including Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware. For more information, visit www.futureharvestcasa.org.