Michigan Organic Listserv

November 25, 2015



Brought to you by Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University

Questions on organic farming? Email Vicki Morrone ([log in to unmask])

This info is for you, not promotion of any product of business

What’s on Offer?

Cost Share-Due Dec 1


GLEXPO Education program coming up Dec 9-11


MOFFA Meet and Greet during GLEXPO


Educational Programs


Grants and Funding


Employment Opportunities

USDA National Organic Cost Share up to $750 Per NOP Certification

Time to Act –Deadline is December 1, 2015

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is pleased to announce the availability of organic cost share assistance for handlers and producers who have incurred certification expenses during the period of October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015.  The program is offered on behalf of the USDA National Organic Cost Share Program which is authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill. 

You must register as a vendor with the state of Michigan and sign up to receive your payment via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).  If you do not have access to the internet you will need to complete form W-9 (see below). Failure to do so or to provide any of the required documentation will result in the rejection of your application.  Your application along with all required supporting documentation must be postmarked on or before December 1, 2015.  Below are the links to the application you will need for the cost share reimbursement.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Josh Grant at 517-284-5789 or via email at [log in to unmask].


Come and share your passion for healthy food!!

Please join us for the Organic Meet and Greet at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO !!


December 9, 2015-Wednesday 4:30-6:30 pm

Vandenberg Room of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

(concourse level)


This social event is sponsored by MOFFA highlighting organic farmers and representatives of organic businesses. We invite you as our guest-to share your farming experiences or glean farming knowledge.


Can we add your name to this list?

To name a few of our special guests…


Karnemaat Farms, Freemont MI

Justin Oomen, Hart MI

Pleasant Hill Blueberry Farm, Fennville

Shady Side Farm –

Eaters' Guild and Maynard Kaufman

West Michigan Growers Group

Growers Fare, a grant-funded CSA promotion project

Jim Koan, Almar Orchard

Anthony Cinzori, Cinzori Farms

John VanVoorhees, Pleasant Hills

Fred Monroe, Monroe Family Farm

Laurie Arboreal, Birdsong with Maynard Kaufman

Diane and Dick Dyer, Dyer Family Farm

Joe and Frank Corrado, Joe's Blueberries

Mike Bronkema, Shady Side Farm

MSU Extension - Bill Shane, SWMREC; Mark Longstroth, Van Buren

MSU - hopefully Jeremy and a couple of his graduates (haven't heard from him yet)

Rachelle Bostwick of Earthkeeper Farm


The Great Lakes Expo-From Organic Production to Markets to High Tunnels…   Something for Everyone!

Tuesday Dec 9-11. Grand Rapids.  DeVos Center. Register at WWW. GLEXPO.ORG


If you have never been to the Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable and Farmers Market Expo you should really try and attend! Whether you are a beginner farmer, farming sustainably or organic there are sessions for you.  On December 9-11 at the DeVos Center in Grand Rapids you can choose which sessions to attend- and the decision will not be easy. It offers so much information on fruit and vegetable production, business management, marketing strategies, pest management, food safety and the list goes on. The program is designed for farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs seeking new and better ways to manage their farm, farm markets, hoophouses, and even sessions on food safety!  The registration price is very reasonable too. While the price does not include food or parking it offers 3 days of incredible sessions that you do not have to choose in advance and when you are not attending an educational session you can tour the HUMONGOUS trade show. It offers display of small and large farm equipment, testing facilities, farm market goods (as well as MANY tastings), and of course non-profit organizations –Including MOFFA!- Guaranteed something for everyone! If you want to attend the full program its only $80 (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).  If you wish to attend only on Thursday, which offers information tracks on organic production, biological control of insects, and farm marketing then the cost is only $45.

You can check out the specific sessions and register online at GLEXPO.org


The organic track this year offers sharing’s from experienced farmers and descriptions of research and how it can help improve farming systems.  In the table below are the organic sessions for Thursday. But remember, there are other sessions throughout the week that have relevance to organic farming too.


Here are the organic focused sessions for Thursday. We hope to see you during this great program!


Thursday morning 9:00 am

Thursday morning 9:00 am

Getting Started in Organic Vegetable Production

This session will share “visits” of several organic vegetable farms and discuss their production and marketing practices. We will hear from farmers, a chef and a graduate student who conducted a grower survey.


Tillage Practices and Perceptions on MI Organic Farms: Results from A Grower Survey 

·   Carolyn Lowry, Horticulture Dept., MSU -- The results of farmers from Michigan will be shared and summarized to demonstrate approaches certified and non-certified farmers are using to manage their weeds.


Identifying New Markets and Meeting Their Demands - Farmer Panel: What markets (market types) do they sell their produce? Each panel member will share their unique approach to marketing and the story behind this:
-- How you secured that market?
-- What do you grow for that market
-- How did you choose the crop, variety?
-- What are the expectations for the market (product, delivery, paperwork, logistics)

·       *Chef Ryan Reynolds, Buyer of Organic Produce for Hospitals, Grand Rapids, MI

·       *Pooh Stevenson, Direct Sales (including flowers), Owosso Organics, Owosso, MI

·       *Anthony Cinzori, Wholesale Market Sales, Cinzori Farms, Ceresco, MI


Session Ends

NOTE: the Trade show closes at 1pm on Thursday!

Organic Opportunities and Markets


The Story of Building Monroe Family Organics 

·            Fred Monroe, Monroe Family Organics, Alma, MI -- The experiences, challenges, and successes of taking a wet grass field and turning it into a successful self-sustaining certified organic farm in Alma, MI. This presentation will discuss the values, business structure, and farming techniques that we have used to make our farm and our hopes for the future.



Four Season Farming at River Root Farm


·       Mike Bollinger, River Root Farm, Decorah, IA -- River Root Farm is a family-owned certified organic vegetable farm nestled in a hillside within city limits of Decorah, Iowa with a focus on small scale intensive vegetable production, seedling sales, fall/winter CSA, seed production, and our specialty - MICROGREENS! We believe that healthy soil makes healthy food, which in turn creates healthy communities.



   Session Ends

NOTE: the Trade show closes at 1pm on Thursday!

Thursday afternoon 1:00 pm

Thursday afternoon 1:00 pm

Current Issues in Organic Fruit Production



Building Fruitful Soils in the Steppes of the Rockies 

·   Steve Ela, Ela Family Farms, Hotchkill, CO


Unraveling Decay Cycles in Orchard Soils 

·   Jason Matlock, Entomology Dept., MSU

·   Matt Grieshop, Entomology Dept., MSU


An Overview of Organic Pesticide Options for SWD 

·   Alan Schreiber, Executive Director, Washington Asparagus Commission


Session Ends


Organic Vegetable Production and Management


Insect Pest Management and Organic Pest Product Evaluation for Organic Vegetables 

Alan Schreiber, Executive Director, Washington Asparagus Commission -- Researcher will share results of field studies to identify best management practices to reduce pest problems in vegetables, including an evaluation of organic insecticides. As an organic farmer and ag consultant, he will share how he successfully manages most pests in his organic wholesale and retail operation, selling to organic markets across the state (Washington).





















Evaluation of Biodegradable Mulches 

Carol Miles, Horticulture Dept., Washington State Univ. -- Learn how different biodegradable mulch films are effective to prevent weeds, their ease of use and ability to degrade after they have been tilled into the soil, as their name implies. Data will be shared from field research studies, and discussion will include the current status of NOP regarding bio- degradable mulches.


Weed Management Approaches in Organic Systems

Dave Mortensen, Weed and Applied Plant Ecology, Pennsylvania State Univ. -- Balancing the pros and cons - based on levels of management intensity and effectiveness. Practices will be discussed based on recounts of different systems from organic farmers in Pennsylvania.


Session Ends


NOP accepts hydroponic systems  

[USDA’s Organic Program Allows Soil-less Practice Over NOSB’s Objections

By Linley Dixon, Ph.D. http://www.cornucopia.org/2015/03/hydroponics-organic/

Description: http://www.cornucopia.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Dollarphotoclub_59679043.jpg

The NOSB formally recommended that hydroponic

systems, such as the lettuce farm above, be

prohibited from organic certification.

(Source: DollarPhotoClub)

Hydroponics is a technology for growing terrestrial plants with their roots in nutrient solutions (water with dissolved fertilizers) rather than soil. Hydroponic production is not mentioned in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990; however, in 2010 the National Organic Standards Board formally recommended that hydroponic systems be prohibited from obtaining organic certification.

In direct contradiction to the Board’s recommendations, the USDA’s National Organic Program has sided with industry lobbyists pronouncing that hydroponics is allowed. And, despite the objections of many organic stakeholders, some accredited certifying agents are certifying hydroponic operations.

When the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) first sought to define the term organic, in 1995, they did not consider the concept of growing organic crops without soil. The NOSB originally defined organic agriculture as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony” [emphases added].

Given this definition, can the term organic be applied to soil-less systems, such as hydroponic crop production? Strictly speaking, the 1995 definition of organic would not only prohibit hydroponics, it would prohibit organic aquaculture as well. However, the NOSB has developed recommendations for organic aquaculture for aquatic animals (fish and shellfish) and plants. In fact, later definitions of organic removed the reference to soil.

In 2002, the National Organic Program (NOP) redefined organic production in the Code of Federal Regulations as “a production system that…respond[s] to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biological diversity.”

The later definition does not require that organic systems be soil-based, but it does require that organic methods include the use of biological practices that foster the cycling of resources.

In a hydroponic system, terrestrial plants have their roots not in soil but rather in air, water, or an inert medium, such as peat, vermiculite, or coconut coir to which polystyrene beads or perlite may be added. The roots are immersed in water or periodically bathed with a nutrient solution (often containing synthetics).

In contrast, the production of aquatic plants, such as the freshwater alga Spirulina, is not considered hydroponic production. It is aquaculture.

When fish are added to the hydroponic system, it is called aquaponics—the integration of aquaculture with hydroponics. An aquaponic system fosters the cycling of nutrients because the nutrient-rich water from fish tanks is used to fertilize (or “fertigate”) the plants. Fertility is generated from biological cycles, rather than off-farm inputs. Plants act as biological filters, so that the water can be recirculated, and reused. It is considered a highly sustainable system. In hydroponics, fertility is usually generated from off-farm inputs.

History of NOSB Deliberation

In 2003, the NOSB prepared a guidance document for hydroponics and other soil-less growing systems, but did not present any firm recommendations. At the Spring 2008 meeting, the Crops Subcommittee of the NOSB again led a discussion on guidance statements relative to limiting hydroponic systems to naturally aquatic plant species, but it was never voted on by the full NOSB.

In 2009, the NOSB’s Crops Subcommittee presented a discussion item at the spring meeting  which noted: “Hydroponics …certainly cannot be classified as certified organic growing methods due to their exclusion of the soil-plant ecology intrinsic to organic farming systems …” [emphasis added].

At the September 2009 meeting, the NOSB presented a recommendation for federal rulemaking, the addition of §205.209 Greenhouse Production Systems. The recommendation again stated a prohibition of hydroponic systems.

After public comment was received, the Crops Subcommittee wrote a recommendation, Production Standards for Terrestrial Plants in Containers and Enclosures. The full NOSB approved the document, and made a formal recommendation, which was submitted to the NOP on April 29, 2010. This document is a result of years of work by the volunteers on the NOSB and public comment from organic stakeholders. The document recommended rulemaking action by the NOP.

The recommended regulations state, in part: “Growing media shall contain sufficient organic matter capable of supporting natural and diverse soil ecology. For this reason, hydroponic and aeroponic systems are prohibited [emphasis added].

Public Comments to the NOSB

Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCA) and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO) both supported the recommendation to prohibit hydroponics, citing the organic foundation of soil in organic agriculture. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) also supported the prohibition, citing that Canada prohibits hydroponic production from being certified organic.

California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) strongly disagreed with the NOSB’s recommendation, mentioning that they had, at the time, certified organic hydroponic operations. CCOF supports both hydroponic and aeroponic systems as eligible for organic certification. (Aeroponics, another soil-less practice, grows plants in an air or mist environment.)

Current NOP Status of Hydroponics

Although the full NOSB developed a recommendation to prohibit organic hydroponics in 2010, the NOP still has not adopted this formal recommendation. Because the NOP has not issued guidance or regulations, some accredited certifying agents (ACAs) have augmented their revenue stream by going ahead and certifying hydroponic systems in the meantime.

The ACAs that certify hydroponic/aquaponic systems, or have done so in the past, include CCOF, OTCO, Quality Assurance International (QAI), Indiana Certified Organic, Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA), and Organic Certifiers, Inc. There may be others, but it’s impossible to fully determine if an ACA certifies hydroponic farms because they are not required to state whether an organic farm is producing crops hydroponically.

In response to this confusing state of affairs, Dave Chapman, an organic farmer in Vermont, drafted a petition to the NOP asking them to formally accept the NOSB recommendation (see sidebar below). On February 7, 2014, the National Organic Coalition (NOC) released their Position on Hydroponic Production in support of the NOSB recommendation from 2010 that stressed “organic farmers are not just tillers of the soil, but also stewards of soil ecology on the farm.” NOC’s position paper states, “Until a clear definition has been provided by the NOP, certifiers should not be allowed to certify hydroponic systems.”

After the petition from David Chapman and the comments from the National Organic Coalition, the NOP clarified its stance. On February 21, 2014, the NOP posted information on their webpage (under “Organic Topics of Interest”) and, in May of 2014, also in their Organic Integrity Quarterly (the full text is in appendix 2). In both, the NOP stated unequivocally, “Organic hydroponic production is allowed.”

This statement on the NOP website does not constitute a regulation or even guidance, but it does provide support for certifiers who wish to certify hydroponic production systems. It indicates that crop production can be considered organic even when terrestrial plants are grown in pure nutrient solution or in an inert medium.

The NOP issued this statement in direct contradiction to the NOSB recommendation to prohibit organic hydroponic production. The NOSB recommendation was issued after much public discussion and input from the organic community, whereas the NOP statement was issued without public input and without regard for the accepted process of standards development.

Organic Certifiers’ Response

At this time, the USDA’s NOP still has not issued a proposed rule or established regulations based on the 2010 NOSB recommendation, nor has the NOP issued guidance to certifiers. This confusing situation means that certifiers must interpret the regulations on their own. This leads to a lack of uniformity, with some ACAs choosing not to certify hydroponic systems as organic because there are no hydroponic standards, while others accept organic hydroponic systems under the current regulations.

At the 2014 Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) annual meeting, members voted to pass a resolution stating “Vermont Organic Farmers demand that the NOP accept the 2010 NOSB recommendation to prohibit soil-less hydroponic vegetable production as certified organic.” VOF continues not to certify hydroponic operations and publicly supports the “Keep the Soil in Organic” petition (see text at bottom of article).

At the present time, hydroponic growers are achieving organic certification without clear regulations that are specific to their ecological system. This situation needs to be remedied. If organic hydroponic production is to be allowed, the NOSB, with input from the organic community, needs to come to agreement on what type of hydroponic systems are acceptable for organic production.

Organic Hydroponics Around the Globe

The current administration of the National Organic Program continues to allow the certification of hydroponic operations despite the recommendation from the NOSB that clearly states it is not compatible with organic production.

The United States is one of the few countries that allows hydroponics to be labeled organic. Mexico, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and 24 European countries (including Holland, England, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain) all prohibit hydroponic vegetable production to be sold as organic in their own countries. This means “organic” hydroponic producers in other countries are often growing exclusively for a U.S. market.

Presently, the vast majority of the “hydroponic organic” produce sold in this country is grown in Mexico, Canada, or Holland.

By Nicole Dehne, Certification Administrator, Vermont Organic Farmers

For more on this, read Cornucopia’s white paper The Organic Hydroponics Dichotomy: Can a Soil-less Growing System be “Organic”?]


Educational Opportunities

Family Farm Conference-Adventures in Agriculture

Embracing the Many Cultures of Innovative Farming

Marshall High School--701 N Marshall Ave--Marshall, MI 49068

Saturday--January 16, 2016--8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Register at: www.miffs.org/events/mffc


The Michigan Family Farms Conference is a forum for beginning, small-scale and

diverse farmers to network, learn and build sustainable family farms.

You are invited to the 13th Annual Michigan Family Farms Conference!

We are continuing to move toward a thriving local food system and embracing the adventures that come along with it! Learn, Share and Experience this years seven conference tracks - including a youth track!


Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference

This is the largest gathering of small farmers in Michigan. Now in its 17th year, the conference has a reputation for excellent education and warm networking. Check out the speaker line-up and register today.


Register Before December 15, 2015 and Save

The Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference is the largest gathering of small farmers in Michigan. Now in its 17th year, the conference has a reputation for excellent education and warm networking. Check out the speaker line-up and register today.


Register Online Now

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Daphne Miller


Part clinician, part ecologist, and part anthropologist, Miller approaches medicine with the idea that opportunities for health and healing are found not only in the medical system but in such unexpected places as home kitchens, school gardens, community organizations, spiritual centers, farms, and nature trails. Author of Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing.



Farm School


This year's Farm School features three tracks: honey, mushrooms and agroforestry. Speaker lineup: Mark Shepard, Ben Falk, Wendy Wieland, Annie Olds, Mary Ellen Kozak, Joe Krawczyk, Charlotte Hubbard, Ken Mudge and Meghan Milbrath. Space is limited.


Farms, Food & Health Conference


Farms, Food & Health is an all-day conference that brings together health practitioners, employers, school representatives, farmers and others interested in connecting the dots between health care, wellness, and locally grown food. Tracks include wellness benefits that offer employees easy access to local farm foods, farm to hospital, farm to school, and integrating nutrition and local food into clinical care. Find all the details for Farms, Food & Health here: www.groundworkcenter.org/ffh


Three great options for youth and children:

               Human Nature School: For youth ages 8 to 12, the youth track includes outdoor play and learning. Cost is $30 per youth and includes lunch. Space is limited.

               Daycare: Drop off the kids at the Cub House (the Grand Traverse Resort’s licensed daycare) for a drastically reduced rate of $20 per child. For children 6 months to 8 years. Advance registration required. Hours: 8am to 5pm. Cub House staff are CPR and First Aid certified. The Cub House supervisor and lead teachers have degrees in early childhood development. 

               Bring your kids! If your kids are not disruptive, please feel welcome to bring them to workshop sessions. Children 7 and under are free if they are not in daycare.


Sponsorship and Trade Show: Reach the Largest Gathering of Small Farmers in Michigan

The 2016 trade show will have over 100 exhibitors, and trade show-only tickets will be available to the general public. The conference attracts over 1,000 attendees.

Certified Local Food Event 

To become a Certified Local Food Event, requires a genuine effort by organizers to maintain a set of sustainable practices— from farm to fork to compost and back again. We believe it’s important to encourage local food sourcing and zero-waste initiatives, but this certification goes a step further by providing the validation, transparency and measurement that’s key in showcasing a truly local and socially responsible event. 

Taste the Local Difference® is excited to announce that this full weekend of activities is officially a series of Certified Local Food Events. Farms, Food, & Health, ISLAND’s Farm School, and the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference will be serving food sourced locally; at least 40% coming from within 125 miles and a total of 70% sourced from within the state of Michigan— in January!

Where to Start Beginner Farmer Series Offered in 2016

Michigan State University Extension is proud to offer a webinar series starting in January. The program will offer topics ranging from Hop production, to pest management to transitioning land to grow organic. The cost of the webinar series is $50 or $10 per session, your choice.  Details of which session when are still being worked out but keep an eye out on this listserv and at MSUE events page (http://msue.anr.msu.edu/events).


Grant Opportunities






OFRF Grants Program Currently Accepting Research Proposals

Shared by: Dr. Diana Jerkins, Research Director


The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) grants program is currently accepting research proposals from applicants residing in Canada, Mexico and the United States. In particular, OFRF encourages farmers, ranchers, graduate students, early career researchers, veterans, and Extension personnel to consider applying.


OFRF was founded over 25 years ago with the mission to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. To date, we have granted over $3 million for 326 research projects, ranging from developing GMO resistant corn to creating organic tools to fight pests and disease. All research results are freely available at ofrf.org.


“Farmers and ranchers often find that working with a professional researcher helps them design and carry out a research project, and we strongly encourage applications from such partnerships,” said Diana Jerkins, Research Program Director at OFRF. “All of the proposals will be reviewed and awarded by the OFRF Board of Directors, most of who are certified organic producers.”


OFRF recently completed a National Survey of Organic Farmers, receiving feedback from more that 1,000 farmers across the U.S. The results, which identify the issues most critical to the success of organic farmers, provide a roadmap for future research. Priorities for this year’s research include projects related to soil health, with emphasis on water management (e.g., soil health for drought and flood conditions); creating new organic farmers and ranchers and transition of producers to organic systems including education and training; livestock production, especially breeding for organic systems, diseases and pasture management; and small grain production, especially related to creating a diverse rotational system.


USDA Conservation Funds Available

EAST LANSING, Nov. 12, 2015 – Farmers and forest owners are encouraged to submit applications for U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation assistance by Dec. 18, 2015. Conservation financial assistance is available for implementing a wide variety of practices to reduce soil erosion, improve wildlife habitat, protect water quality and manage private forest land.

“USDA conservation programs help farmers and private forest owners protect the resources we all share, including our lakes and rivers, wildlife and the air we breathe,” said USDA State Conservationist Garry Lee.

Conservation financial assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Complete applications received by Dec. 18, will be ranked and considered for fiscal year 2016 funding. Financial assistance is available for implementing designated conservation practices such as windbreaks, nutrient management plans, cover crops, forest management plans, crop residue and tillage management, animal waste storage facilities and many others. Applications are ranked and selected for funding on a competitive basis.

During fiscal year 2015, Michigan farmers and forest owners received over $12 million in conservation financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. A portion of USDA conservation funding is targeted to state-level conservation priorities. These include funds for farmers seeking Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program verification, water quality practices in the Western Lake Erie Basin, high tunnel systems in Wayne County, honey bee habitat, organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production, and energy conservation.

Conservation activities receiving financial assistance must be part of an agricultural or forest operation’s conservation plan. Producers should work with their local NRCS or conservation district staff to develop a conservation plan before applying for the program. Successful applicants enter into a contract with NRCS to implement conservation activities and are reimbursed for a portion of the cost.

NRCS provides higher levels of financial assistance for beginning farmers and historically underserved producers. More information about conservation financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is available at local NRCS offices and online at www.mi.nrcs.usda.gov.


USDA Announces Wayne County Local Food Initiative

EAST LANSING, Nov. 12, 2015 –The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making $150,000 in financial assistance available to agricultural producers in Wayne County for the purchase of high tunnel systems that extend the growing season for fruit and vegetable production. Complete applications submitted by Dec. 18, are eligible for fiscal year 2016 funding.

 “High tunnel systems help vegetable and fruit growers increase the availability of locally grown, healthy food while protecting the environment. I encourage agricultural producers in Wayne County to contact their local USDA Service Center as soon as possible to learn about this opportunity to increase their food production,” NRCS State Conservationist Garry Lee said.

Financial assistance for high tunnel systems is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. In addition to high tunnels, financial assistance is also available for implementing designated conservation practices such as nutrient management, cover crops, integrated pest management, mulching, and many others. Applications are ranked and selected for funding on a competitive basis.

High tunnel systems, or hoop houses, protect the soil, extend the growing season, reduce the need for pesticides and reduce the loss of fertilizers through runoff, and improve plant and soil quality. High tunnels are made of ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting and are easy to build and maintain. High tunnels have been found to be particularly effective in urban and rural communities as a way to improve access to local healthy food and are a core element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative which coordinates the Department’s work on building stronger local and regional food systems. 

Eligible producers selected for financial assistance receive payment after the high tunnel system is installed. For more information, contact the USDA service center in Ann Arbor at (734) 761-6722 extension 3.



USDA Announces $350 Million Available to Help States, Private Partners Protect and Restore Grasslands, Wetlands and Working Lands


NRCS announced the availability of $350 million to help landowners protect and restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands across the nation. The funding is through ACEP, which was created by the 2014 Farm Bill to protect critical water resources and wildlife habitat, and encourage private owners to maintain land for farming and ranching.

Click here to Learn more.


Employment Opportunities



POSITION: Assistant / Associate Professor of Cropping Systems Agronomy

LOCATION: Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University

CLOSING DATE: January 15, 2016 or until position is filled

APPOINTMENT: 12-Month tenure track

RESPONSIBILITIES: This position will provide expertise and leadership in field crop agronomy, including the development and application of new and emerging technologies. We seek creative, innovative, and resourceful individuals to discover, develop, and apply novel management approaches to the production and sustainability of major Michigan field crops, including but not limited to corn and soybeans. The position will contribute to the Extension (50%), research (40%), and teaching (10%) missions of the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. The individual filling this position will have the opportunity to work with multidisciplinary teams of research scientists, extension specialists and educators, and stakeholders using integrative approaches to solve some of the most important questions facing agriculture today, including the development of climate-durable cropping systems. The successful applicant will be expected to develop a strong, externally funded and nationally recognized research program in field crop agronomy, publish in refereed journals, and train graduate students. Extension responsibilities include leadership and direction for on-farm demonstration and research efforts, the development of innovative educational programs for field crop producers, oversight of the Michigan corn hybrid testing program, and active participation in the Field Crops and other Extension teams relevant to this position. Teaching responsibilities include an undergraduate course in Advanced Crop Production as well as graduate training.

Background Michigan State University is the pioneer Land Grant University and is a national leader in agricultural research and extension programming. Field crops comprise a major part of Michigan agriculture, the second most diverse in the U.S., and agriculture is a major driver of the State’s economy, now one of the most robust in the upper Midwest. Michigan is well known for abundant freshwater and other natural resources that contribute to the rich environmental matrix in which agriculture is embedded. Michigan is a leading U.S. producer of seed corn, dry beans, sugar beets, and potatoes in addition to various fruits and vegetables; corn, soybean, and wheat comprise ~40% of statewide production.

The Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences is internationally recognized with over 50 faculty, the result of the recent merger of the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences and Plant Pathology. Members of the Department have strong working relationships with other faculty and Extension personnel across the University. Cross-department collaborations are a hallmark of MSU, as are positive stakeholder relations with Michigan farmers and agri-business and commodity groups.

QUALIFICATIONS: A Ph.D. in agronomy or a closely related field is required, as is demonstrated excellence in applied research and extension/outreach. Candidates should possess excellent communication skills, a history of competitive funding, and a demonstrated ability to work effectively with other researchers and clientele groups.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Submit the following electronically as a single pdf file:

1. A letter of interest including a summary of relevant experiences and accomplishments.

2. A statement of research, extension, and teaching interests.

3. A detailed curriculum vita.

4. Names of three references with contact information.


Applications will be accepted until January 15, 2016, or until a suitable candidate is identified.

Applications for this position should be submitted online at https://jobs.msu.edu (posting #2153). Inquires about the position and names of potential nominees should be addressed to: Dr. Phil Robertson, Search Committee Chair, [log in to unmask], ph. 269-671-2267, Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325.


I wanted to give everybody a heads up that Indiana NRCS will soon be advertising our vacant State Soil Health Specialist position in Indianapolis, IN.  It’ll be a full-time GS-12 Agronomist (starting salary over $70,000 plus benefits), and it'll be open to anybody who has a passion for working with farmers and other professionals on soil health management systems.


If you or someone you know is interested, the announcement will be posted to USA Jobs (https://www.usajobs.gov/) hopefully within the next couple of weeks.  If you haven't applied for a federal job recently, now is the time to get on USA Jobs and set up an account and get all the needed documents in order – our jobs are only open for 5 days, so it’s best to be well prepared!


I'm happy to answer any questions about the job, application process, etc., so please send folks my way as needed.




Shannon Zezula

Indiana State Resource Conservationist

Natural Resources Conservation Service

United States Department of Agriculture

6013 Lakeside Boulevard Indianapolis, Indiana 46278-2933

office:(317) 295-5888

cell: (317) 902-1102 fax: (317) 290-3399

























































Vicki Morrone
Organic farming specialist
Center For Regional Food Systems at MSU
480 Wilson Rd Rm 303
East Lansing, MI 48824
517-353-3542/517-282-3557 (cell)

If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field http://list.msu.edu/archives/mich-organic.html