Michigan Organic Listserv

News you can Use!

December 18, 2018

Center for Regional Food Systems

Vicki Morrone ([log in to unmask])


This info is shared to assist you in your agriculture business. There is no intention to promote a product or business with this information.

Some GOOD news to share!!


The Farm Bill is

REALLY including organic production support J

Historic Permanent Funding for Organic Research Secured in Farm Bill

Organic Farming Research Foundation)https://ofrf.org/news/historic-permanent-funding-organic-research-secured-farm-bill

The Farm Bill supports NOP Cost Share, EQIP Cost Share for farm modifications that improve soil and water health, and promotes all farmers and has a focus to serve new and underserved farmers through various EQIP programs. Visit your Soil Conservation District Office in your county to learn about registering your farm and applying to these programs.


December 11, 2018—Thanks to the hard work of OFRF and a broad coalition of organic champions, we have secured historic wins for organic agricultural research in the 2018 Farm Bill, which will provide $395 million for organic agriculture research and education over the next 10 years. This milestone is the biggest win for organic farming in the Farm Bill in decades, securing permanent funding for organic research at USDA.

These funds will dramatically expand competitive grants through USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), ensuring organic farmers and ranchers have the tools and technology to meet their unique challenges and the growing demand for organic products—leading to a more resilient and sustainable agricultural system that values healthy environments and healthy people.

“Throughout our history, OFRF has worked to ensure that organic producers have the science-based information and resources necessary to support the nation’s demand for healthier food and farming systems,” noted OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “Since 2002, OREI research has supported cutting edge scientific inquiry into organic practices and production systems. With this bill, Congress has made progress toward fulfilling organic agriculture’s potential to provide broad environmental and economic benefits for all.”

As the Farm Bill heads to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for final consideration, we support the landmark wins for organic agriculture, including the significant funding increase for OREI and increased enforcement authority of the National Organic Program (NOP). In addition to these milestones, the Farm Bill includes several other programs that impact organic farmers and ranchers such as the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and funding for the Organic Data Initiative (ODI).

Details on the Organic Provisions in the Farm Bill

▪ $395 million in OREI funding over the next 10 years. $20 million/FY 2019-2020, $25 million/FY 2021, $30 million/FY 2022, $50 million/FY 2023 and ever year after.

▪ $5 million for the Organic Production and Market Data Initiative, which helps facilitate the collection of organic production and market data.

▪ $40.5 million for NOCCSP that offsets part of farmers’ organic certification costs. This program is facilitated by $24 million in new funding, plus an additional $16.5 million in funding that was not used for the program from the previous Farm Bill.

▪ $5 million for technology upgrades, increased enforcement authority, and increased funding authorization for the NOP.

▪ Payment limits for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative are increased to $140,000.

▪ Organic and sustainable agriculture practice are now part of the continuing education for Crop Insurance Agents and Loss Adjusters.

▪ Funding from the Conservation Stewardship Program will be allocated to States to support organic production and transition to organic production.

▪ Current voting and membership practices of the National Organic Standards Board are codified.

▪ Farmers that have land in the Conservation Reserve Program can being to transition the land to certified organic 3 years prior to the expiration of their Conservation Reserve contract.

▪ State Agriculture Mediation Programs shall now cover issues that impact certified organic production.

▪ The Market Access Program shall encourage export of USDA certified organic products.

“All of the organic policy components of the Farm Bill are important and have far reaching impacts,” said Michael Stein, Policy and Program Manager at OFRF. “We want to thank the Agriculture Committee leadership, our supporters in Congress, and the diverse coalition that has helped make outstanding progress for organic agriculture in this Farm Bill.”

Congressional Champions

Organic agriculture would not be where it is today without the strong support of Congress. We would like the thank the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders for their hard work, including Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Representatives Mike Conaway (R-TX), and Collin Peterson (D-MN) and the diligent staff of the Agriculture Committees, without whom we would not have been able to achieve such a historic win for organic agriculture.

We would also like to thank Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) who championed Congressional support for organic research. Thanks to their help and support, we were able to gather strong bipartisan support for organic research, securing 66 co-sponsors of the Organic Agriculture Research Act.

Other champions for organic agriculture in the Farm Bill process included Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and the Senate’s only certified organic farmer, Senator John Tester (D-MT). Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), and Darren Soto (D-FL), along with outgoing Representatives John Faso (R-NY) and Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D-NM) also supported key organic policies in the farm bill.

“It is so exciting to see this increased level of support for organic farming and organic research in the Farm Bill, said OFRF Board President and organic farmer, Jeremy Barker-Plotkin. "Organic farming is good for farmers, consumers, and the environment, and can ameliorate the impacts of climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil. Funding for research into organic farming has lagged behind organic farming's market share for years, so it's great to see a movement towards funding parity."

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.



Upcoming Educational Events

MOFFA Organic Intensives   

Registration is NOW open!

Organic Intensives on January 12th is our flagship educational event for 2019. We are offering four excellent programs this year with something for all MOFFA members, farmers and gardeners.


Healthy Organic Livestock: Matt Shane, organic sheep farmer and MSUE livestock educator will discuss organic monitoring and treatment to maintain a pastured flock of small ruminants in optimum health in an organic system. Karry Trickey, NRCS district conservationist, will cover soil, soil biology, and pasture management techniques for rotational grazing. Mike Metzger, small ruminant educator with MSUE, will discuss meat and dairy goat production. Aimee Swenson-Buckley will cover decision-making for small scale sheep producers—from breed selection to improving market access. Whether you're experienced in raising small ruminants or just thinking about adding a few sheep or goats to your operation, join us to learn more about grassland and ruminant management for health.

Organic Mushroom Cultivation: Learn how to grow gourmet mushrooms from mushroom scientist Chris Wright and long-time mushroom grower Michael Levine. Adding mushrooms to your diversified farm or backyard garden can be rewarding both financially and nutritionally. Chris and Mike will share their expertise and teach how to inexpensively grow oyster, shiitake, morel and other lucrative, high demand fungi. Presentations will include a brief overview of fungal biology and then focus on cultivating mushrooms via log, straw and mushroom bed production systems. The program will include hands-on demonstrations.

Technology in Organic Row Crops: Today’s organic field crops such as corn, soybeans, dry beans, soft wheat and other small grains bring a premium and growing the best crop possible is in the best interest of the organic farmer. This OI introduces the producers to basics in Precision Planting, Camera Guidance Cultivation, Advanced Weed Management, and more. These tools are helping organic farmers get their crop off to a better start, cultivate to closer tolerances, and do better field work.  Although these tools may have to go on the wish list for now, organic growers should make themselves aware of the newest technology.

Advanced Organic Soil Management: We all manage soil, and we all strive to improve it year by year. But often our efforts amount to a scattershot approach, addressing one aspect in one year, and switching gears the next without evaluating the effectiveness of our interventions, or continuing to monitor the state of the soil or the health of the crop. Soil health is measured multiple ways: fertility testing, mineral testing, biological assays and plant productivity. Understanding how to interpret these results and put them to use to improve soil health and plant health is critical to sustainable success. Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association will entertain attendees for the day on soil testing interpretation and strategies to improve, maintain and monitor soil health, with an underlying message of improving food quality.


This is a great opportunity to invest in your future. Please connect to the detailed descriptions linked above and select the one best for you. The registration fee includes the day-long program, printed support materials, lunch, and a great chance to network with fellow farmers and gardeners from across Michigan. The fee of $90 for MOFFA members and $105 for non-members. Note that the class size is limited, so we encourage you to register now.

Educator’s Scholarship:

A limited number of targeted scholarships are available for Agriculture Professionals and Educators—including K12 educators, Master Gardeners, Extension personnel—anyone who is involved in teaching people how to grow food. Partial scholarship support is also available for anyone else for whom cost is a barrier. To inquire about a scholarship, email us at [log in to unmask].














MSU Extension 2019 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series -live upcoming and archived from past years



 This is the 8th year of this educational event.  There are many archived webinar presentations on a wide variety of topics available for view at no cost:http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/beginning_farmer_webinar_series


To participate in the upcoming, live webinars – registration and a modest fee are required.  People should contact me if they have financial obstacles to participation and a scholarship can be arranged.


If you think this program has value for your circle of influence, please consider promoting via social media, newsletters, word-of-mouth, etc.  A detailed program flyer can be downloaded from the registration website at https://events.anr.msu.edu/begfrmr19/


1.      People passionate and interested in exploring new farm businesses will benefit from participating in the MSU Extension 2019 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series.  From January – April 2019, MSU Extension will offer 12 on-line, Wednesday evening programs that provide valuable start-up information on general and more specific farming topics.  For program details and registration, visit https://events.anr.msu.edu/begfrmr19/.


2.      Registration for the MSU Extension 2019 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series is open.  Twelve on-line, evening webinars offer aspiring farmers an opportunity to explore possibilities with MSU and other experts from your own computer.  Visit this website for details:   https://events.anr.msu.edu/begfrmr19/


3.      New beginning farmers series offered on-line by MSU Extension

People who are exploring new farm businesses will benefit from participating in the MSU Extension 2019 Beginning Farmer Webinar Series.  From January – April 2019, MSU Extension will offer 12 on-line, Wednesday evening programs that provide valuable start-up information on general and more specific farming topics, including:

“Getting started with….”

… Jan 16, The physical labor of farming

… Jan 23, Growing specialty mushrooms

… Jan 30, Pruning fruit trees

… Feb 6, Soil physical properties for field and hoop houses

… Feb 13, Seed saving

… Feb 20, Small farm business start-up

… Feb 27, Small farm meat chicken production

… March 6, Pruning small fruits

… March 13, Quality hay and pasture

… March 20, Selling to wholesale buyers

… March 27, Cover crop types and uses on your farm

… April 3, Farm financial management:  The next step


A fee of $5 per webinar is required, or you can register for the entire series for $30.00.  Webinar recordings will be provided to all registered participants.  Participate from the comfort and convenience of your own home or office.  Registration, a brochure containing details on each individual program, and on-line or mailed payment options can be found at     https://events.anr.msu.edu/begfrmr19/ after December 1.  If you experience any problems with registration, please contact us (information below).  You may register for all or some of the courses at any time, even if the session has already taken place.  In that case, you will get a link to the recorded program.


Each one-hour, Wednesday night webinar begins at 7pm eastern time.  A high-speed internet connection is required.  You will receive webinar connection information after you register.

Several archived recordings of MSU Extension Beginning Farmer Webinars on a variety of topics from previous years are available for viewing at http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/beginning_farmer_webinar_series.



Jim Isleib

Upper Peninsula Crop Production Educator

MSU Extension – Alger County

E9526 Prospect Street, Suite 1

Munising, MI  49862








16th Annual Michigan Family Farms Conference!

Register today for the 16th Annual Michigan Family Farms Conference! The theme for this year is What's in Your Shed? Tools for Agricultural Success. Our conference offers beginning, small-scale and culturally diverse farmers a chance to network, learn, and build sustainable family farms. We are excited for all the great topic this year including specialty crop production, labor laws, how to choose a market and much more! Join us on February 9, 2019 for this dynamic conference with keynote speaker Melvin Parson. 

To take advantage of early bird discounts and register before December 31 at bit.ly/mffc2019







The Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference 2019

Click on topic you are interested in learning more or to register


Farm School

9 AM TO 5 PM


Friday Evening Cocktail Hour
Live Music by 1000 Watt Prophets
Cash Bar
in the Trade Show

5:00 PM


Friday Evening Dinner
in the Trade Show

6:00 PM


Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference

9 AM TO 5 PM


Two-Day Trade Show

Three Farm School learning tracks to choose from

Friday, January 25th

 Track 1: Flower School with Gretel and Steve Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm, located outside of Columbus, Ohio. The humble beginnings of this first-generation farm transformed when they started selling designed bouquets and they cultivated a personal and professional passion for with flower artistry. This day’s track will cover crop planning, season extension, flower sales and the business of sustainable flower farming.

Session 1: Crop Planning
Session 2: Season Extension
Session 3: Selling Your Flowers
Session 4: The Business of Flower Farming

Open to the public with a trade show-only ticket after 1:30 pm on both Friday and Saturday;
included in the ticket for the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference

Track: 2 Hoophouse School with Andrew Mefferd, author of The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Growers Handbook and The Organic No-Till Farming Revolution. Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. This Farm School track will cover the beneficial techniques most professional/commercial greenhouses use that smaller growers can implement too.

Session 1: Crops for the Hoophouse
Session 2: Hoophouse Growing Practices
Session 3: Varieties for the Hoophouse
Session 4: Advanced Techniques in Hoophouse Growing

Track 3: Permaculture School with Richard Perkins, author of Making Small Farms Work, is joining us for a rare occasion teaching in the United States. Mostly working and training at Ridgedale Farm AB in Värmland, Sweden, Richard is regarded as one of Europe's leading permaculture designer-educators. He will lead Permaculture School attendees through a broad, but deeply interconnected, overview of farm-scale permaculture design, including regenerative agriculture, Keyline Design®, agroforestry, pasture-based livestock enterprises, holistic management and no-dig market gardening; plus a long-distance look at the Ridgedale on-farm poultry processing facility.

Session 1: Overview of Ridgedale Farm
Session 2: Designing Farms for the Future
Session 3: No-dig Commercial Market Gardening
Session 4: Pastured Poultry Profits

See the full schedule, session descriptions and pricing on the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference website. Questions?
Call us at 231-994-3944 or email us




MOSES Organic Farming Conference and Farm School


What is the MOSES Conference?

It’s the largest event in the U.S. about organic and sustainable farming, offering 60 workshops over 6 sessions, inspiring keynotes, engaging roundtables, and a resource-packed exhibit hall with over 170 vendors. Organic University, day 1 of the conference, provides full-day classes that dig deeper into specific farming topics.

More on what happens at the MOSES Conference. Click here!

Dates: Feb. 21-23, 2019

Location: La Crosse Center, 300 Harborview Plaza, La Crosse, Wis.


60 Workshops | 6 Sessions
Crops, Livestock, Market Farming, Soils, Business, & More

9 Organic University Full-Day Classes (Feb. 21)
Dig deeply into a farming topic!

2-Floor Exhibit Hall
Buyers, Suppliers, Ag Agencies, Tools & Services

3,500 Participants
Network with farming peers from around the country!

Register-click here!





Funding and Grant Opportunities for Farmers and Ag Businesses


Michigan Good Food Fund


The Michigan Good Food Fund is a $30M public-private loan program created to provide financing and technical assistance to good food enterprises benefiting Michigan’s underserved communities. If your business is looking for support by way of planning, expansion, processing, or financing, submit an inquiry form on their website to speak with someone directly.


For questions or explanation call Jamie. To apply visit the Michigan Good Food Fund and complete the on-line form to see if this fund is right for you and your business.


Jamie Rahrig, MPH, RDN

Michigan Good Food Fund Specialist, Innovation Counselor

MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, MSU Product Center

Direct: 517.355.6456


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Vicki Morrone

Organic Farming Specialist

Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University

480 Wilson Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-282-3557 (cell)

[log in to unmask]


sorrone11 (skype)



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