Dear, Mich-Organic Listserv readers: The information offered in the Michigan Organic Listserv is for your information and not necessarily endorsed by Michigan State University.

Michigan Organic
February 4, 2011

 Upcoming Events of Interest

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! The 4th Annual Organic Food & Farming Reporting Session and Poster Contest

When: March 4, 2011, from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m

Where: The Kellogg Conference Center, East Lansing, Michigan

Why: Farmers, researchers and educators are invited to attend to hear researchers report on their organic production, marketing and management. Visit with graduate students to discuss their posters. Enjoy experienced organic farmers discussions on their soil management systems.

Topics Include:  season extension, soil building, vegetable and fruit production systems, innovative pest management, and building community food systems.

The afternoon will give all who attend an opportunity to exchange information about organic agriculture. The presentations will be 12 minutes each plus 2 minutes for questions, followed by a panel of 3-4 farmers from different farm types to discuss their approaches to building soil quality. A reception with light refreshments will follow, where graduate students will present their research posters. Judges will determine the winning posters, choosing first, second and third pla

How: Registration Deadline is February 25, 2011.  Cost: $10.00/per person, with a special rate of $5.00 for students and farmers. Submit registrations on-line at under the Organic Reporting Session tab or print the application form and send it completed along with a check payable to Michigan State University. Send checks and registration to: V. Morrone, 303 Natural Resources, East Lansing, MI 48824. For questions call Vicki at (517)353-3542 or (517)282-355

Note: Walk in or after the deadline registration (February 25, 2011) fee is $15/per person or $10 for students and farmers.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! Applications Now Available for Researchers and Graduate Students to Present at the 2011 Organic Reporting Session
Researchers: Your research reports can be on past or on-going research regarding organic agriculture production, marketing systems, or outreach programs. Please indicate how your work applies to farmers in your presentation. The presentations will be 12 minutes each plus 2 minutes for questions. Research topic may include but are not limited to: season extension, soil building, vegetable and fruit production systems, innovative pest management, and building community food systems.

Graduate Student Poster Contest:
Posters will be limited to 46” length x 46” width. These posters can be on past or on-going research or outreach that includes organic agriculture production and marketing systems.

To view past Organic Reporting Session abstracts and posters visit,

Asparagus Day, Hart MI

Note: Not all subjects may relate to organic.

When: March 10, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Where: St. Joseph Parish Hall, Hart, Michigan

Why:  Oceana Asparagus Day is North America’s largest educational program for

Possible Topics of Interest:
How:  COST: $34 per person. Registration can be made through the Oceana Michigan State University Extension Office.  A tentative agenda can be found at under the event tab. Call 231-873-2129 for more information.

Insurance Webinars Offered by the Farmers Market Coalition

February 14, 2011, at 1 p.m.: Producer Liability: Understanding & Communicating Vendor’s Risks and Insurance Needs”  addresses how the farmer can protect themselves from these types of risks through Producer General and Product Liability insurance. The webinar will take place on February 14, at 1 p.m.

March 8, 2011 at 1 p.m.: “Making the Most of Your Market Insurance Policy and Minimizing Market Liability Risk”
will give market managers the tools they need to make informed decisions about buying an insurance policy and the questions to consider when making such a purchase.

April 5, 2011 at 1 p.m.: “Protecting Board The Members and Learning the Nitty Gritty of Statewide Insurance Programs.” will cover what types of claims are covered by a Directors’ and Officers’ policy, which includes price-fixing, vendor discrimination, and negligent management of a market.

How: Registration for the February 14th Webinar is available at The other webinars are not open yet for registration, but  registration will be open at least two weeks prior to the live webinar dates.

Upcoming Conferences of Interest

Youth Gardening Summit & Sampler 2011

When: February 26, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Where: Foster Community, Lansing, MI

Why: Come enjoy hands-on sessions for adults and children to learn about youth gardening activities.  Adults (16yrs and up) will have the opportunity to learn about garden design and layout, and evidence based garden resources. Youth (age 8 and up) will have the opportunity to learn about:

How: Cost: Free of charge, lunch is optional for $5. Register 3 ways. Download registration for at Mail- by Feb 21, 2011- Lunch reserved for $5, please mail with registration form.  Online- by Feb. 25th- Lunch reserved for $5, please mail in or pay day of at registration. At Door- Lunches may be purchased the day of for $7, but availability cannot be guaranteed.  For questions about registration and the conference contact Stephanie Reuter at MSU Extension (517) 676-7300 or [log in to unmask].

2nd Annual Growing Our Food Systems Conference

When: February 17, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Where: S. Washington Office Complex (Old National Guard Armory), 2500 S. Washington, Lansing, MI
Why: The Greater Lansing Food Band, and varies area partners have come together to provide a one day conference for people who grow, produce, process, market, distribute, prepare or eat food. Whether you are just beginning or have been involved with food you whole life, come join the conversation.

How: COST: $10 Sliding Scale (Includes Lunch). For more information or to register, visit or call 517-853-7800. 


8th Annual Great Lakes Indigenous Farming Conference

NOTE: Not all subjects are related to organic.

When: March 3 - 7, 2011

Where: Maplelag Reason, White Earth Reservation, MN


How: Full Rate: $50, Day Rate: $25, Youth $10. Lodging $240/ 3 nights (meals are included, plus Full Conference Registration Fee) Lodging is in communal cabin (bring sleeping bag and towels) ski rental available.  Find registration form online at under the Events tab.

For more information contact: White Earth Land Recovery Project, Karla Bellanger (218) 375-2600 or [log in to unmask].


REGISTRATION OPEN! The 2011 Michigan Organic Conference "Keeping the Local in Organic", presented by the Michigan Organic Food and Farming Alliance (MOFFA)

When: March 4 - 5, 2011
Where: Kellogg Convention Center, East Lansing, MI

Why: New for this year MOFFA will host a special event and mixer “Taste of Michigan” featuring live music on Friday. This event will take place at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center. On Saturday, The Michigan Organic Conference will include: a keynote speaker, education sessions, and organic luncheon. This year’s keynote speaker is Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute ( Updates on the conference are coming soon. Check the MOFFA website for more information,

Interested in a full page ad, being and exhibitor or sponsor? Sign up at

How: Register online, Cost: $70/Full Conference Advance Registration, $8/Friday Only Advance Registration, $65/Saturday Only Advance Registration, $50/ Student Advance Registration (Friday + Saturday).


Forage Technology Conference

Note: Not all subject matter is related to organic

When: March 10, 2011, from 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Where: Lincoln Room, Kellogg Center on the Campus of Michigan State University

Why: (Note that NOT ALL sessions contain material relevant to organic)

Possible Sessions of Interest:

How: Contact Person and Reservations: Jodie Schonfelder (517) 355‐0271 Ext. 1114 or e‐mail, [log in to unmask].  Reservations by March 1, 2011. COST: $35.00 per person (non Michigan Forage Council Members) or $30.00 (Michigan Forage Council Members) -- covers program registration, lunch, and snacks.

Upcoming Workshops of Interest


Good Agricultural and Good Handling Practices Workshops (GAP)


Why: Good Agricultural and Good Handling Practices (GAP and GHP) are soaking up the spotlight as more wholesale and retail buyers are requiring certification from their growers. MIFFS and partners are hosting workshops this winter and spring to help growers learn steps and strategies to safely getting fresh local product to regional grocery stores and the wholesale distributors that service them.

How: These workshops are free to attend, but registration is required. For more information about these workshops or to register, please contact MIFFS at (517) 432-0712 or [log in to unmask]. Space is limited, so register early.

These workshops are funded by a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant. Other sponsors include MIFFS, the MSU Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources, MSU Extension and the Michigan Department of Agriculture.


USDA GAP Educational Classes for Asparagus, Peach, Cherry and Apple Growers
How: Contact Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS) for more information at 517-432-0712 or [log in to unmask], or visit


Small Fruit Good Agricultural Practices Workshop

When: March 24 - 25, 2011

Where: Southwest Michigan Research & Extension Center (SWMREC), Benton Harbor, MI

Why: This two day workshop will introduce growers to general food safety in agriculture, then walk them through 2011 USDA GAP requirements. In addition, the training will include a farm tour to show how the requirements could be implemented on their farm. Participants will receive a digital resource with a GAP Manual Template that they may use in crafting their GAP Manuals. For more information, call MSU Extension in Van Buren County 269-657-8213 or Jackson County 517-788-4292.

How: For more information, call MSU Extension in Van Buren County (269)-657-8213 or Jackson County (517)-788-4292.


MSU Extension Offers Lambing Clinic for Sheep Producers

When: February 12 or 19, 2011

Ehrhardt’s Sheep Farm, located at 6280 Kinneville Road, Eaton Rapids, from noon to 4:30 p.m.

Why:  Sheep producers who are interested in learning how to optimize the birthing process with the added challenge of wintery weather are invited to attend a clinic presented by Michigan State University (MSU) small ruminant specialist Dr. Richard Ehrhardt.

The discussion-based and hands-on program is designed for new or less experienced sheep producers, but anyone interested in improving decision making and sheep husbandry skills is invited to participate.

Program topics include assisting with the birth, caring for newborns, treating lambs for hypothermia and diagnosing mortality. The clinic will also cover feeding the ewe flock to optimize performance and well-being, ultrasound scanning to diagnose pregnancy and count fetuses, scoring body condition and pre-lambing shearing, as well as grafting procedures and vaccination protocols.

How: Registration Deadline is February 7, 2011. Enrollment is limited to 20 persons per session date so preregistration is required. The $30 registration fee includes proceedings and light refreshments and is due by Feb. 7. To register or obtain additional information, call Carla McLachlan at 517-432-5402, or send an e-mail to [log in to unmask].

Source:  ANR Communications, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources


Farmer Loan and Grant Opportunities


This is a LOAN not grant as it is with NRCS. But allows farmers to build a 3 or 4 season hoophouse or a mobile one, much more flexible but must pay it back.



What is a Passive Solar System?

A passive solar system is a structure, which can extend the growing season to ten to twelve months without additional supplemental heat or light. A recent on-farm research project by 12 private farms and Michigan State University has shown that passive solar systems can generate gross and net sales at a rate which would make a loan repayable in 1 – 4 years.

Are You Eligible?

The program is limited to the funding of passive solar systems. Systems already installed are ineligible.

When Can You Start Your Project?

Applicants can start work once the loan agreement is signed by DELEG. Only project-related costs that are incurred and paid for after DELEG’s loan execution may be included in the loan request.

Applicants assume all financial risk should the DELEG not approve the application or if all loan documents are not executed.

If the loan is not approved or executed, the DELEG is not responsible for reimbursement of any costs.

How Much is Available?

Please call for latest funding availability. Loan amounts will be between $5,000 and $15,000 and are limited to materials, supplies and equipment costs only.

When Should You Submit Your Application?

This solicitation is open until February 1, 2011. A second round of applications, however, will be accepted between June 1 and July 31, 2011. Applications for funding will be reviewed by an advisory committee, and awarded based on project merit and applicant creditworthiness. The DELEG reserves the right to close the solicitation period at any time.

Criteria for Loan Approval

Applicants must meet minimum credit standards determined by the Advisory Committee. Credit standards are not solely based upon FICO scores and may consist of a face-to-face interview to determine knowledge and interest in passive solar systems. Loan recipients will also be required to attend a passive solar system workshop if they have not done so in the past and will be required to submit quarterly reports related to production including crops grown, yields, and other horticultural and economic information.

Interest Rate

Interest on approved loans is fixed at 4% for a maximum of 6 years.

Repayment Terms

Only interest payments will be collected on disbursed loan funds for the first six (6) months starting from the agreement date. After the first six months, loan repayments are made in equal semi-annual installments of principal and interest concluding not later than 6 years after the agreement date.

There is no penalty for early repayment.

Loan Security Requirements

A promissory note, loan agreement and security agreement are required to secure the loan. The security interest is limited to the materials, supplies and equipment purchased with loan funds.

How Are Funds Disbursed?

The funds are available on a reimbursement basis. Loan disbursements will be made upon the submission of the vendor’s invoice as well as the other required loan deliverables. Loan disbursement will be with 50% at the time of order and the remaining balance upon receipt of the equipment, supplies and materials. Proof of payment is required within 30 days of each loan disbursement.

How to Apply

An electronic loan application form is available for downloading as an Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). Please review additional Application Package Items located on the electronic loan application form. Only complete applications will be reviewed; please take the time to ensure application completeness.

Please submit a signed loan application and additional documents via email, fax, or ground mail, to:

Terri Novak, DELEG

611 W. Ottawa Ave
P.O. Box 30221
Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: 517-241-8526
Fax: 517-241-6229

Michigan Department of Agriculture Announces Specialty Crop Grant Opportunity

Proposals due to MDA by April 1, 2011

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) Director Keith Creagh and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry today announced new opportunities for Michigan businesses thanks to the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Ag Marketing Services.  The program is designed to enhance the competitiveness of Michigan’s specialty crops.  Grant proposals must be received by MDA no later than April 1, 2011. 

“This grant program provides a unique opportunity for our state’s specialty crop producers to enhance their profitability by expanding their domestic and international markets,” said Creagh. “We appreciate Senator Stabenow’s continued support of Michigan’s agriculture industry and look forward to continued partnerships in the future.”

Because of Senator Stabenow’s work, the 2008 Farm Bill (Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008) was the first one in history to recognize the importance of specialty crops – fruits, vegetables, nursery products, and floriculture.

“I authored this grant program during the most recent Farm Bill so our growers can continue to make significant investments in Michigan’s specialty crop sector,” said Senator Stabenow. “These grants support the men and women who grow fruits and vegetables – and create thousands of jobs throughout Michigan.”

The grants, ranging from $10,000 to $75,000, enhance the competitiveness of the state’s specialty crops, including, but not limited to: research, promotion, marketing, nutrition, trade enhancement, food safety, food security, plant health programs, education, increased knowledge and consumption, increased innovation, improved efficiency and reduced costs of distribution systems, environmental concerns and conservation, product development, good agricultural practices, good handling practices, and good manufacturing practices. 

Eligible applicants include non-profit organizations, local, state, and federal government entities, for-profit organizations, and universities. The organizations must be legal entities recognized by the IRS, and applicants must reside and/or conduct their business or organization in Michigan. Applications should demonstrate how the project will potentially produce measurable impacts for the specialty crop industry as a whole and not-for-profit to a specific product, single organization, institution, or individual.

For program information, application form, or submission criteria, please visit or contact Mike DiBernardo at [log in to unmask] or 517-373-9144. 

Proposal must be RECEIVED (not postmarked) by 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, 2011. 

Source: The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA)


USDA Offers Conservation Funding to Organic Producers

EAST LANSING, Dec. 22, 2010 – Agricultural producers who are organically certified or are transitioning to organic production are eligible for conservation financial assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Initiative. In Michigan, just over $1 million in financial assistance is available in for producers who apply by March 4, 2011.

“The Organic Initiative allows organic producers to address their conservation concerns without having to compete with non-organic producers for financial assistance. Producers interested in utilizing this program should contact their local office as soon as possible to start the application process,” said Garry Lee, state conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Fiscal year (FY) 2011 marks the third year of the USDA’s Organic Initiative that reserves conservation financial assistance for producers to plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns in ways that are consistent with organic production. For example, organic producers may use the funding to plant cover crops, establish integrated pest management plans, or implement nutrient management systems consistent with organic certification standards.

Eligible producers include those certified through USDA’s National Organic Program, those transitioning to certified organic production, and those who meet organic standards but are exempt from certification because their gross annual organic sales are less than $5,000. In FY 2010, NRCS obligated nearly $24 million through the Organic Initiative to help producers implement conservation practices.

Under Organic Initiative contracts, producers are paid 75 percent of the cost for the organic conservation measures they implement. Beginning, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged producers are paid 90 percent. The program provides up to $20,000 per year per person or legal entity, with a maximum total of $80,000 over six years.

Producers interested in applying for Organic Initiative funding must submit applications through their local NRCS Service Center. For more information about the USDA Organic Initiative including contact information for local offices, visit the NRCS-Michigan Web site at


NRCS is celebrating 75 years helping people help the land. Since 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.

 Source: Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS),


Financial Aid is Now Available to Cover MSU Organic Farmer Training Program Fees and Cost of Living!


Note: AmeriCorps Education Awards may now be used to pay for program fees

Only a couple of open spaces remain in the 2011 Cohort! Apply Today!

The Organic Farmer Training Program offers nine months of intensive instruction in year-round organic farming. The program focuses on diversified production of vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs for local markets. Students manage all aspects of a 10-acre certified organic farm, including passive solar greenhouses used for year-round production in cold climates. Students also manage the SOF field production. Produce is grown for the farm’s primary markets, including a 48-week CSA, six-month on-campus farm stand, and sales to campus dining services. Students develop competencies in farm skills through trainings and engagement in the daily operation of the farm. Hands-on training is combined with workshops, lectures, readings and assignments that build participants’ knowledge and understanding of organic farming principles and practices. The program is designed to give participants a strong background in production skills as well as the knowledge, management, and decision-making skills necessary to operate a diversified small farm.

Program participants include new and beginning farmers, urban and community farmers and gardeners, educators, and those interested in local or organic agriculture.


Program Start Date is March 1st 2011


Visit our website for full program description and application or contact us at [log in to unmask], 517-449-3290.


 Farmers Market Opportunities

Request for Letters of Interest for Organic Farmers for Park Ridge Farmers Market, IL

The City of Park Ridge’s Farmers Market in Illinois is soliciting letters of interest from farmers that use organic and sustainable practices. Our markets are every Saturday opens at 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m and runs from Memorial Day weekend and until Halloween. The fees are $250 for a space that is about the size of 2 1/2 parking spaces. Most farmers rent two spaces. Park Ridge is a fairly affluent community and has had a successful farmers market for over 20 years. We are located on the north side about 5 miles from O'Hare. Please provide background information about your farm including:

1. Any organic certifications held by your farm.

2. Any specialized training you have had in sustainable agriculture.

3. The size of your farm and how long you have been in business.

4. The crops that you grow.

Please submit your letters to:
Barb Beil by February 14, 2011. There is no guarantee that new farmers will be added in 2011, but a Letter of Interest will help us in growing the market, if not in 2011 then at some point in the future. If you have any questions please call Barb Beil at 847-318-5217.

Michigan Cheese Maker Cooperative

Check out the official site of the Michigan Cheese Making Cooperative,   They are committed to producing all natural, hand made Artisan and Farmstead cheeses. Not only are they supporting the local agriculture economics in the state, but they are adding value to farm crops and keeping a bigger share of profits in local communities.

On this site you can meet the cheese makers who have great local acclaim and several are nationally-recognized award winning Artisan or Farmstead cheese makers.  You can see where they are from and get their contact information. Also enjoy online receipts the Michigan Cheese Makers Cooperative has partnered with Chef Eric Villegas to create.

Production News

Does Your Farmers Market Have Curb Appeal? by Steve Bogash, Pennsylvania State University

Does your business have that “drive-by” appearance that draws new customers in and makes old customers want to keep coming back?

In an increasingly noisy marketing world, there is no substitute for having a front lot appearance that sets the tone for profitable business transactions. It is so easy as owner/manager to overlook faded signs, parking lot potholes, peeling paint and similar tragedies as we go about getting through long, often stressful work days. Every piece of trash that is left lying on the ground eventually becomes many, and our businesses slowly degrade into so much compost. Customers notice new landscaping, upgraded signs and well-maintained parking lots by coming back and bringing friends. Word of mouth advertising only works if there is something worth talking about.

Curb appeal today is more than the look of your store from the road or parking lot. With approximately 85 percent of all purchases made by female shoppers, knowing where they begin to make shopping decisions is critical in determining where to spend your marketing dollars. Up to 93 percent of mothers regularly or occasionally seek the advice of others before making a purchase. More than half of adults use Facebook, cruise the web, read blogs and share shopping successes and failures. These web-based communication tools are an increasingly important aspect in developing curb appeal. Your curb is no longer only your front door.

Here are some things to consider:

Road signage: Are your signs part of the image you want to create for your business? Can they be easily read at the speed of the traffic that goes past? How much information belongs on a highway sign? Is your primary road sign an asset to your marketing scheme? Are fancy fonts an image builder or just hard to read?

Parking lot appearance: Parking lots are one of those areas that always stir the emotions in business owners. After marketing presentations that include the importance of a well-maintained, paved parking area, I’ve been accosted in buffet lines by owners who are trying to avoid paving with arcane discussions on the price of blacktop. Yes, I know the price of blacktop and have even rented a paving box and roller to lay my own parking lot and pathways. A great looking and well-designed parking lot doesn’t so much add to your curb appeal as avoid bringing it down.

Nothing makes a business seem more like it is on the way out than deep potholes, parking bumpers that are rotting and scattered and poorly maintained plantings adjacent to parking. Since most shopping experiences today are at malls, big box stores, grocery stores and the like, good parking is simply an expectation.

Main entrance: There is no chance for a second first impression. Your main entrance should be inviting, tone setting, easy to navigate and adaptable to seasonal shifts in merchandise. It also should be easy to find your hours and any seasonal variations in those hours. Shopping carts and baskets need to be in easy reach, well maintained and clean.

Landscape: There are some universal rules for making your landscape work for you. One of the greatest mistakes owners make is in factoring in time (or the omission of time) for the maintenance of plantings. I’d rather see nothing but blacktop, stripes and a building than poorly maintained plantings. Landscape areas only work to sell your marketing plan if they always look like the gardener just left. If you are selling plants, this is the place to sell them first.

With today’s major emphasis on locally grown foods and plants, this is the opportunity to sell the idea that your stuff comes from your store. Have your own vegetable patch where it can be seen, keep it neat and be sure to sign it appropriately and let it do the selling for you.

Website/blog: While websites were once optional, they have become the starting point for many shoppers. With the near collapse of newspapers and expense of mail, they are the optimal method to alert customers to new products, sales and coupons. For many of your customers, your website is your front door.

While a website is necessary, a blog is just a little less so. Blogs give you the opportunity to print up-to-date information on anything on your mind, and do so quickly and easily. Most blog support services come with feedback mechanisms that are much easier to use than web-based systems.

Building appearance: I love talking to farm market owners about how they developed their building. There seems to be two distinct schools of thought: 1) This is what I have to work from, so I’m always limited but doing my best. 2) I got really tired of being limited, so went back to the drawing board to create a building that solved all of the problems of my old structure that could be solved on this lot and within my budget.

The wide variety of great-looking farm markets out there is a testament to the creativity of our industry.

Lasting impressions: What is the last thing your customers see, feel and believe about your business as they drive off? I had the opportunity to speak at a meeting several years ago, where there was this tremendous effort by the business owners to create an impressive agritainment atmosphere. The place looked great, the help was polite, the parking lot was easy to negotiate, but the exit road took you out past the back of the greenhouses. The last thing I remember about this operation was a huge pile of spent and decaying plastic nursery pots and trays.

We must learn to think and observe like our customers. Their last thought should always be about who they want to drag to your place next.

Source: The Fruit Growers, February 2011,

Weather Monitoring System Improves Crop Insurance by David Stauth, Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An innovative climate and weather monitoring system developed at Oregon State University will soon be used to help underwrite and verify claims of crop losses, both to improve services to farmers across the nation and prevent abuse in the $79 billion crop insurance program.

The project, a collaboration of OSU and the Risk Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, began last month.  It includes a $1 million, one-year grant from the agency to OSU’s PRISM Climate Group.

Systems will be developed to help adjust farmers’ crop losses and improve the agency’s ability to underwrite a sound crop insurance program. This will produce more accurate and reliable loss adjustment, better policy service, and significantly lower costs to taxpayers.

“The vast majority of American farmers follow the rules and we want to help them by keeping their costs for crop insurance as low as possible,” said Kirk Bryant, deputy director of strategic data acquisition and analysis at the Risk Management Agency.

“Moral hazard is an issue in all lines of insurance,” Bryant said. “But since crop insurance is taxpayer funded, and with more than one million crop insurance policies in force and billions of dollars in crops insured, the Risk Management Agency is particularly sensitive to taking strong measures to assure that everyone plays by the rules.”

“Moral hazard,” officials say, occurs when an insurance policyholder does something that significantly increases their chance of having a crop loss, or exaggerates the size of the loss.  This does not always imply illegal actions; for example, after purchasing insurance, a producer may not follow generally accepted production practices. But, in extreme instances, it may involve fraud. 

OSU has developed one of the nation’s most sophisticated and innovative weather and climate analysis systems, which considers multiple factors such as weather, location, elevation and other issues. It can monitor weather and climate far more precisely than most systems, and the new support from this initiative will allow further improvements.

“With this new funding, we will move from monthly averages to a daily analysis of weather and climate over the entire nation,” said Chris Daly, an OSU professor of geosciences and director of the PRISM program. “This will produce about 30 times the data and maps we now have, improve long-term climate monitoring, incorporate radar data, factor in individual weather events and make other improvements.”

Crop insurance is a major industry in the U.S., sold and delivered by private insurance companies in collaboration with the USDA Risk Management Agency. These programs help farmers insure primarily against natural disasters and weather events, such as hail, wind storms or floods, which can partially or totally destroy their crops. Some of these events can be extremely local – a passing thunderstorm may drop hail that destroys one farmer’s crop while leaving others untouched a mile away.

Using PRISM, the agency believes that it will be able to more quickly substantiate weather events and producer claims, which can expedite the process and save money. It’s far more precise than data the agency has used in the past.

The improved weather and climate data, Daly said, will also help insurance companies determine risk levels more accurately. Instead of assuming that everyone in one county, for instance, faces exactly the same weather risks, the system might suggest that some lands at slightly higher elevation are more subject to frost damage and others less likely, allowing insurance rates to be set fairly and appropriately.

Daly said many people don’t appreciate how much weather and climate can vary in short distances based on terrain and other factors. The PRISM system – which stands for Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model – is a sophisticated approach that takes these topographic variations into account and determines their impact on local weather and climate.

It has attracted interest from researchers all over the world.

“In the long run, we hope for this collaboration with OSU to grow in future years and offer even more service to farmers,” Bryant said. “We want a strong educational component that will help farmers better understand their local climate, the optimal time to plant crops, what might grow best based on the climate, how things are changing based on global warming, and provide other support systems.

“Modern farmers are actually pretty savvy at using these tools,” Bryant said. “And their interest will only increase as more farmers get into specialty crops and operations, such as local produce markets and organic farming.”

Daly said he hopes to make PRISM more user-friendly, so that novice computer users can easily make a few clicks and go directly to the local weather or climate information they are looking for. Assisting in that will be OSU’s Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering, led by Cherri Pancake, a pioneer in the design of web sites that simplify the delivery of large amounts of information to users with varied backgrounds.

This type of precise weather and climate data may also soon be used more broadly by other insurance companies as they see its value, officials said. The data obtained by his agency will be shared across the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bryant said, and should form the basis for other applications and cost savings.

OSU officials met recently with USDA administrators to discuss a range of opportunities to expand services of this type of American farmers, through programs in the OSU College of Science, College of Engineering, College of Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Experiment Station and the university’s Sun Grant initiative.

Source: Oregon State University,

Classifieds and Advertisements

Seeking Organic Certified Kitchen

Does anyone know of a certified organic kitchen in the Novi MI area? A women doing BBQ sauce (Magoo Gourmet BBQ sauce) wants to make an organic sauce and needs a kitchen to do this.  Please contact Magoo by email at : [log in to unmask].

Farm Land for Lease

A man in Gladwin County would like to lease his 220 acres out to an organic farmer. He would like to do it on shares and be involved. 

If interested and for more information contact Vicki, [log in to unmask].


Job Opportunities

Edible Flint Garden Starters Program Coordinator Wanted

Edible Flint is a collaboration formed in July 2009 consisting of individual residents, public and private organizations, and institutions. Its mission is: To support Flint residents in growing and accessing healthy food in order to reconnect with the land and each other.

Seasonal full time position lasting from March 1 through November 1. Hourly wage. Coordinator is responsible for scheduling garden site visits and tracking services and materials provided through the Edible Flint Garden Starter Program.

This position reports to Food Systems Coordinator at Michigan State University Extension for daily supervisory tasks and Outreach Coordinator at Ruth Mott Foundation for human resource needs.

How to Apply: Submit resume by mail or email only to edible flint Garden Starters

Program c/o Applewood, 1400 E. Kearsley St. Flint Mi, 48503 or

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Peckham Farm Leader Position
Position Description:  The Peckham Farm Leader position will be coordinating the day to day responsibilities of the Peckham Farm project. Peckham Farms is committed to providing local access to healthy foods through the use of organic farming practices, and to being an incubator of sustainable ideas and methods for the Greater Lansing community.

Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsibilities: Supervise 2-5 Team Members working in the farm with assistance of the Farm Committee and the Peckham Vocational Services Specialists.  Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with the organization's policies and maintains all applicable safety regulations regarding public health standards and laws. Responsibilities include training, planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems.

Note: This position requires passing and maintaining a security background check.  Must have access to reliable transportation. Must maintain an unrestricted Michigan driver’s license and possess a clear driving record (in accordance with company insurance policy) to drive the company vehicle.

Qualifications: To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.  The physical demands of this position may be reasonably accommodated for individuals with disabilities on a case by case basis.

Education/Experience: Bachelors degree in related field is desired and a minimum of three years farming experience, or an equivalent combination of relevant education and experience.

Language Skills:
Ability to read and interpret documents such as safety rules, operating and maintenance instructions, and procedure manuals.  Ability to write routine reports, case notes and correspondence.
Mathematical Skills: Ability to calculate figures and amounts such as discounts, interest, commissions, proportions, percentages, area, circumference, and volume.  Ability to apply concepts of basic algebra and geometry.

Reasoning Ability: Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of concrete variables in situations where only limited standardization exists. Ability to interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form.

Certificates, Licenses, Registrations: CPR/First Aid, Chauffeurs License, Licensed commercial pesticide applicator or willing to obtain after hire.

Physical Demands: The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.  The physical demands of this position may be reasonably accommodated for individuals with disabilities on a case by case basis.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to stand; walk; use hands to finger, handle, or feel; reach with hands and arms; talk or hear; and taste or smell.  The employee frequently is required to climb or balance and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.  The employee is occasionally required to sit.  The employee must regularly lift and/or move up to 25 pounds, frequently lift and/or move up to 50 pounds, and occasionally lift and/or move up to 70 pounds.  Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, distance vision, color vision, peripheral vision, depth perception, and ability to adjust focus.

Work Environment: The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.  The physical demands of this position may be reasonably accommodated for individuals with disabilities on a case by case basis.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is frequently exposed to moving mechanical parts.  The employee is occasionally exposed to wet and/or humid conditions; high, precarious places; fumes or airborne particles; toxic or caustic chemicals; all outside weather conditions; and vibration.  The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.

The above job description is meant to describe the general nature and level of work being performed; it is not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required for the position.

This job description in no way states or implies that these are the only duties to be performed by the employee occupying this position.  Employees will be required to follow any other job-related instructions and to perform other job-related duties requested by their supervisor in compliance with Federal and State Laws.

Peckham, Inc. is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and is operated in accordance with a policy which does not permit discrimination because of race, color, sex, age, handicap, national origin, or any other artificial characteristic.

How to Apply: Please visit to apply for Peckham job opportunities.  Please include wage expectations when applying.  Please respond to this posting no later than
Sunday, February 6, 2011.
Peckham, Inc
3510 Capital City Blvd.
Lansing, MI.  48906
EMAIL: [log in to unmask]
Job Posting #1275.

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