*Michigan Organic Listserv*

*August 10, 2010*

*Current News Articles for Vegetable Production*

Downy mildew update for August 4 **by Mary Hausbeck, Michigan State
University, Department of Plant Pathology*

*Downy mildew has been confirmed on cucumbers in 15 counties in the state!*

The most recent reports on cucumbers were in a commercial field in Oakland
County and a research plot in Berrien County. Downy mildew was also recently
detected in watermelons, cantaloupes and acorn squash within the state (see
the Michigan downy mildew map, Spore counts within
Saginaw County have remained high especially at the Frankenmuth site (see
daily spore counts, All cucurbit
growers should be on the lookout for the disease. For more information, go

Small organic farmers find certification too pricey **by Erica L. Kincannon,
JRC News Service*

*Is the cost of certification preventing you from certifying organic? *

With the organically grown, downy reddish peach close to her nose, Shelby
Township resident Nancy Rich draws in the intoxicatingly fresh scent during
her shopping trip to Whole Foods in Rochester Hills.

“I have Crohn’s disease and I’ve found when I don’t have all those chemicals
in my body (from conventionally grown foods) I feel much better. The food
tastes much better, too,” Rich said. “It’s a little more expensive to shop
organic, but your life is important.”

The organic food market continues holding a strong presence with consumers,
as 75 percent claim to use organic foods, according to a national survey
published in 2010 by The Hartman Group, a predominant consumer-culture
consultancy and market research firm.

Meanwhile, some local micro-farmers attempting to gain organic certification
through the U.S. Department of Agriculture find growing their product is the
easy part — becoming certified brings a whole different challenge.

Wally Niezguski of Wally’s Organically Grown Produce in Independence
Township has grown organically for more than 30 years and looked into USDA
certification for the past two. Although not a “big farmer,” Niezguski said
he was quoted between $1,000 to $4,000 to obtain certification for his
quarter-acre vegetable garden and farm stand, which is a yearly fee.

“I found it was totally cost prohibitive,” he said. “I bring in maybe $2,500
and that’s hardly worth the cost to get certified. I mainly do this so I can
eat those vegetables.”

According to the USDA, until a grower sells more than $5,000 in product,
they are not required to obtain organic certification to sell their product.

However, they aren’t permitted to use the USDA certified organic label,
either, which consumers recognize and affiliate with organic food.

“I want to be certified so I can put the stamp on my produce, signs and all
advertising that says ‘USDA organic certified,’” said Virginia Knowlden of
Knowlden Log Cabin Farm in Independence Township.

Tending 5.5 acres, the small local grower in her first full year also found
certification costly. Unable to locate a Michigan-based inspector to certify
her organic facility, Knowlden said to cover travel expenses for an
out-of-state inspector, in addition to the inspection and certification
fees, was simply too expensive at the quote of $4,000. Despite her
multimonth struggle to pursue organic certification, she isn’t throwing down
the shovel just yet.

“I will continue to pursue certification because I think it’s important and
would open up more markets for me,” she said.

Of the nine National Organic Program Accredited Organic Certifying Agencies
registered in Michigan and recognized by the USDA, none are actually housed
in Michigan. In order to obtain the best price for certification, a local
grower must call the various agencies to determine if there are any
Michigan-based inspectors, how much it would cost for an in or out-of-state
inspector and ask how price is based for inspection and certification.

“It’s been really tough to find local organic inspectors in Michigan,” said
Aaron Brin, inspection manager at Midwest Organic Services Association. “For
some reason, Michigan seems to be behind a lot of the other states as far as
organic certification goes.”

Despite low numbers of Michigan-based inspectors, there are nearby
certifying agencies in Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, in addition to the
farther locations of California, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oregon.

Vicki Morrone, the Michigan State University Organic Vegetable and Field
Crop Outreach Specialist and a member of the Michigan Organic Food and Farm
Alliance, said she was shocked at the prices Niezguski and Knowlden claim
they were quoted.

Although fees vary based on farm size and number of products being
certified, upon conducting her own research, Morrone found the cost for
inspecting and certifying a small operation is between $600 to $1,200.

Farmers of all sized operations could receive a break in inspection costs
through the 2008 Farm Bill, with implementation conducted by MOFFA and the
Michigan Department of Agriculture acting as overseer.

The cost share for inspection allows for a partial reimbursement up to 75
percent, with a cap of $750, and is relevant for costs incurred Oct. 1,
2009, to Sept. 1, 2010, said Morrone. MOFFA will accept applications for
reimbursement Aug. 4 to Sept. 7.

While local farmers continue to aim for organic certification, the market
for organic foods reaches a growth rate of 20 percent or more, according to
the USDA.

“I’ve been growing organically since before it’s been cool,” Knowlden said.
“So it’s interesting now that it’s come full circle, that people are
starting to recognize that their food is being shipped 1,500 miles to the
grocery store before

*This article from the Morning Sun:* *

For more information on transitioning to organic farming view this Michigan
State Extension Bulletin *Transitioning to Organic -- Where to
*Visit ** for more resources on organic

*Read the press release below for more on the cost share program. This is a
great way to cut the cost of certification.*
Michigan Organic Food & Farm Alliance to facilitate organic cost share
program in Michigan

The 2008 Farm Bill included a cost- share program for certified organic
farmers. For 2009, this program was offered to organic producers in Michigan
through the Michigan Department of Agriculture. This year, due to budget
constraints, the MDA is not able to offer this program, even though the
funds are from the USDA. They have, however, entered into an agreement that
will allow Michigan Organic Food & Farm Alliance (MOFFA) to manage the
program, allowing our state’s organic farmers to again get the cost share to
reimburse part of their organic certification costs.

Between August 4 and September 8, MOFFA will be accepting applications
Organic Producers for this Cost-share program. To qualify for this
cost-share program, organic growers must be certified by a USDA accredited
organic certification agency. The program authorizes a payment of 75 percent
of the certification costs, up to $750. Growers must provide a copy of their
organic certification dated between October 1, 2009 and September 1, 2010,
and a receipt for payment for certification. MOFFA will confirm these
documents with organic certifiers, and then send the check for a percentage
of the cost of certification to those applicants who qualify.

All known certified organic farmers will get a letter with instructions and
forms to apply for the cost-share program. The information, with
downloadable forms, will also be available on the organizations website, Because there is a very short timetable for this program,
MOFFA encourages organic producers to get their documents in order and send
in the application as soon as possible after the start date.

MOFFA <>is a Michigan non-profit dedicated to the
organic community of Michigan, including both growers and consumers. Each
year in March the organization holds the Michigan Organic
providing education and information for farmers interested in transitioning
to organic production and for consumers with interest in organic foods and
related topics.

*Press release from the New Ag Network:* *

*Michigan Regional Reports Available on Vegetable Production, August 4, 2010

The MSU Crop Advisory Team Vegetable Alerts (CAT Alerts) Regional Reports
are out for the following areas. In these reports you will find information
on weather, growth stages, small and tree fruits. To view reports visit: **

   - Grand Rapids Area
   - Macomb, Lapeer, St. Clair counties
   - SE Michigan: Monroe, Washtenaw, Wayne and Lenawee counties

*Michigan Regional Reports Available on Fruit Production, August 10, 2010*

The MSU Crop Advisory Team Fruit Alerts (CAT Alerts) Regional Reports are
out for the following areas. In these reports you will find information on
weather, insects, diseases, and the crop report. To view reports visit: **

   - Southwest, MI
   - Southeast, MI
   - Grand Rapids
   - West Central, MI
   - Northwest, MI

*Events for Michigan Organic Farmers and Enthusiasts*

There is Still Time to Register!!! Building Health, from the Ground Up –
Soil Workshop August 18-19, 2010
*When:* August 18-19, 2010, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

*Where:* Morgan Composting, 4353 E US Highway 10, Sears, MI

*Why: *Morgan Composting is teaming up with MSU to teach interested organic
farmers ways to build soil quality that provide better yields. This year’s
keynote speaker is Jerry Brunetti’s who has been building soil for over 20
years. He will present on topics including soil fertility, animals nutrition
and livestock health.  August 18th, will focus on fields.  Come learn ways
to reduce pest, certify organic, market your goods, and build soil quality.
August 19th, will focus on vegetable production. Come learn ways to build
turf, reasons to join/start a CSA, controlling pests in your garden, using
space efficiently, and benefits of having a greenhouse. Both days include a
tour of Morgan Composting.

There will also be an evening discussion on Farm-to-School, mediated by
Colleen Matts, CS Mott Group Farm to School Outreach Specialist. It will
focus on ways to integrate farm in your public school system, and educate
future generations of the importance that food has on their everyday lives.

*How:* Cost is $25 per day, both days for $40, or the family package for
$120 (which includes admission for 4 family members, with complete
childcare.) Online registration can be made through, or by
mail, payable to MSUE, 301 W. Upton, Reed City, MI 49667. You can also visit
** (under the event tab) to download registration
brochure and flier.

For travelers, reservations can be made at the Osceola Grand Hotel by
calling (231) 734-0470.

*Organic Vineyard Management Meeting*

*When:* August 19, 2010, 3:00 p.m.

*Where:* NW Michigan Horticultural Research Station, 6686 S. Center Hwy
Traverse City, MI 49684

*Why:* Learn how to manage diseases and insects in the vineyard using
organic practices. We will cover the main grape diseases and organic control
strategies, with time allowed for discussion. Veteran growers will share
their experiences. This presentation is in conjunction with the Horticulture
Station Annual Open House. For information on other presentations, wine
tasting, and dinner call Jackie at 231-946-1510.
Presenters: *Annemiek C. Schilder, associate professor in the Plant
Pathology Department at MSU. Rufus Isaacs, associate professor in the MSU
Department of Entomology.
How:* To register for these free events call the Michigan Land Use Institute
at 231-941-6584. For information contact Jim Sluyter at 231-941-6584, ext.
15, [log in to unmask]

*Cranberry Site Selection Workshop in Manistee*

*When:* August 24, 1:00 – 4:30 p.m.

*Where: *Manistee Conservation District Office, 8840 Chippewa Hwy (US 31),
South of Bear Lake, in Manistee County

*Why:* Cranberry farming can be lucrative, but requires an appropriate site,
significant investments in infrastructure, and appropriate state permits.
Learn about site requirements, permitting, and Generally Accepted
Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs). Inside presentations start at 1
p.m.; a field trip follows, near Kaleva.
Presenters:* Erik Johnson, Michigan Department of Agriculture, Mark
Longstroth, MSU Extension, Kim Fish, Michigan Department of Natural
Resources and Environment.
How: *To register for these free events call the Michigan Land Use Institute
at 231-941-6584. For information contact Jim Sluyter at 231-941-6584, ext.
15, [log in to unmask]

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