Michigan Organic Listserv

Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University

January 16, 2019



Farm bill and NOP

2018 Farm Bill Drilldown: Organic Agriculture

The Farm Bill was signed on December 28, 2018 by President Trump. Now to figure out how to implement the programs and farmer opportunities!

Editor’s Note: This is the third post in a multi-part blog series analyzing the final negotiated 2018 Farm Bill, which was released on December 11, 2018 by the leaders of the Farm Bill Conference Committee. Subsequent posts focus on: conservation, research and seed breeding, and crop insurance and commodity subsidies; previous posts focused on local and regional food and beginning/socially disadvantaged farmers. The bill was passed by the House and Senate this week and sent to the President for his signature.

Organics have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry over the last two decades and are one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture. For farmers across the country, strong demand for organic food translates into new and growing market opportunities. Organic agriculture benefits consumers, the environment, and the farmers’ bottom line.

Behind the organic label are organic farmers –small and large – who follow strict standards to become certified, and who have needs unique to their growing practices and markets. Considering the enormous potential organic practices have to increase farm revenue in our rural communities, preserve and enhance the environment, and provide healthy food to communities, federal policies aimed at assisting farmers’ and ranchers’ transition to organic production should be a priority.

Overall, organic programs and policies (which are spread out across multiple titles), fared well in the 2018 Farm Bill. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) particularly welcomed the inclusion of permanent mandatory funding in the bill for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), as proposed in the Organic Agriculture Research Act. NSAC thanks the many organic champions in Congress who fought to level the playing field for organic farmers, including lead bill sponsors Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA).

Below, we include a summary of the key takeaways on how the final conferenced bill approaches programs and policies that support organic agriculture:


·         Establishes permanent mandatory funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). OREI supports research projects to address the most critical challenges faced by organic farmers. The 2018 Farm Bill funding will ramp up funding for OREI to $50 million in permanent baseline funding by 2023. For 2019 and 2020, grant funding will remain at current levels of $20 million but will increase to $25 million in 2021 and $30 million in 2022. This permanent baseline funding ensures that OREI will no longer have to negotiate funding from scratch every five years when a new farm bill is revisited, and provides much needed reassurance to the organic sector that continued research funding will be available to address the ever evolving pest, disease and other challenges facing organic farmers.

·         Provides $5 million in mandatory funding for the Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives, which facilitates the collection and distribution of organic market information, including data on production, handling, distribution, retail, and consumer purchasing patterns. 

·         Directs the allocation of funds to states to support organic production and transition under the Conservation Stewardship Program. Funds will be allocated based on the number of certified and transitioning producers in the state, as well as the number of certified and transitioning acres.

·         Farmers who participate in the Transition Incentives Program (an option for farmers with expiring Conservation Reserve Program contracts) are now able to get a two year head start on transitioning that land coming out of CRP into certified organic production.  Additionally, contract-holders with expiring CRP contracts can now use the last three years of their CRP contract to begin the organic certification process.

Mixed Bag

·         Reauthorizes and continues to provide mandatory funding for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), which supports the growth of domestic organic production so that U.S. producers can take advantage of growing market opportunities. In 2019 and 2020, the bill provides NOCCSP with $2 million a year; funding ramps up to $4 million in 2021 and up to $8 million in 2022 and 2023. Unfortunately, these annual funding levels are a cut from current funding of $11.5 million per year.

o    In total, $24 million is allocated to NOCCSP over the next five years in the new farm bill. Including USDA’s carryover estimates of $16.5 million (i.e. unused funding from the last farm bill), total cost share funding would increase to $40.5 million total over the next five years. This means that any gaps in service could be filled by the carryover funds; however it’s possible that funding may fall short in the later years – leaving organic farmers without assistance to become certified.

·         Reverts matching grant requirements for USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) programs like OREI to those predating the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill instituted a 100 percent matching requirement for these programs, which exempted Land Grant Universities, USDA agencies, and certain other academic institutions – putting non-profit organizations at a disadvantage in competing for federal research, education, and extension funding. The 2018 Farm Bill reinstates NIFA’s ability to provide a waiver for OREI grant applicants who are unable to meet the 1:1 match. 

·         Increases the payment cap for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative (OI) to $140,000 over five years; less than the $160,000 that was included in the Senate-passed version.  The bill also does not provide allocation of funds within EQIP for certified organic participants and those transitioning to organic production. EQIP OI provides financial assistance to organic producers to assist in implementing and installing conservation practices tailored to organic producers. Through this program, organic and transitioning producers can apply for EQIP funds and compete in a smaller pool of applicants than general EQIP. While NSAC is pleased with the increase in funds, we are disappointed that the higher Senate-passed payment limit was not included.

A note from the organic listserv reader.

Jim Snyder

Educational Opportunities


Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant invite you to attend this FREE webinar to learn more about manure application planning with the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool. To register, visit If you cannot attend the live webinar, a recording will be sent to you. 


Manure Application Planning with the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool

Wednesday, January 23, 2018

12-12:30pm EST


The Michigan EnviroImpact Tool is a FREE decision-support tool for short-term manure and nutrient application planning that shows daily runoff risk across Michigan. Nutrient runoff from manure application is just one source of harmful algal blooms, but with proper planning, farmers can help keep applied manure nutrients on their fields and reduce nutrient runoff from entering the Great Lakes. Come learn more about this tool during this FREE webinar.

To learn more about the webinar, check out 
this MSU Extension article, and if you have any questions or accessibility needs, please contact Erica Rogers (email: [log in to unmask] or by phone: (989) 875-5233).


Please forward to other individuals, organizations, and businesses that you think would be benefit from this webinar. Thank you!




Erica Rogers


Environmental Management Educator

Michigan State University Extension

219 N State St.

Alma, MI 48801

Office: (989) 875-5233 Ext. 5296

Cell: (814) 441-1356

Email: [log in to unmask] 



2019 Michigan Market Master Certificate Webinar Program Series

MCP Webinar Series


As part of the annual Market Manager Certificate Program (MMCP), MIFMA will be hosting a series of seven individual webinars. Registration for these engaging and informative webinars is currently open and anyone interested in learning more about farmers market management is welcome to register.

Webinars will be held Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6 – 7:30 p.m. EST beginning January 21 and concluding February 11. Individual webinar registration is $20 per webinar for members of MIFMA and Taste the Local Difference. Registration for nonmembers is $50 per webinar.

Webinar topics include: 

·  Avoiding Market Downfalls & Planning for Success

·  Collecting & Sharing Farmers Market Data

·  Earning & Managing Financial Support for Your Market

·  Managing Risk at the Farmers Market

·  Michigan Specific Licensing, Regulations & Food Assistance Programs

·  Developing & Using an Annual Marketing Plan

·  Developing Plans for Events, Entertainment, & Volunteers

Registration for each webinar closes the morning of the webinar at 9:00 a.m. EST. Check-in begins 5 minutes prior to webinar sessions.
All webinars qualify for 1 Professional Development Hour toward market manager re-certification. 

For questions or additional information, please contact Josh Prusik at 
[log in to unmask] or call 517-432-3381.



Scaling up to Wholesale: Marketing & Production

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

9am to 4pm

Click here to register or learn more


Cost: $55 - $100 (see registration)

Location: MSU Extension, 705 N. Zeeb Road P.O. Box 8645 Ann Arbor, MI 48107

Speakers: Jae Gerhart, MSU Extension, Washtenaw County, 1 distributor, 6 farmer panelists

Description: Learn directly from 6 farmers who are succeeding with wholesale markets. Whether you want to get started with wholesale or take your farm's wholesale business to the next level, this is the workshop for you.



9 - 9:30am Introductions

9:30 - 10: Wholesale Basics (Jae Gerhart)

10 - 11: Production Standards: Quality, cold chain, grading, packaging, etc. (Jae + distributor)

11-12:30: Farmer Panel I - 3 large-scale growers

12:30-1:30: Lunch

1:30-3: Farmer Panel II - 3 small to mid-size farmers

3-3:50: Marketing Discussion

3:50 - 4pm Evaluations


Organic Farmer Training Program (OFTP) 2019

Mondays 9-5, Mar. 18-Nov. 11@ MSU


MSU’s OFTP teaches organic farming through hands-on activities, farm walks, classroom activities & discussions, video lectures, readings, guest speakers, visits to 20+ Michigan farms and practical assignments, like writing a Farm Business Plan. 


The OFTP is a vibrant, diverse and positive learning community where students learn from each other and can share their unique skills, experience and goals.


Strong applicants have - hands-on farming experience, plans to start/manage a farm/ educational farm project in the future, and the ability to contribute to a positive learning community. Details at OFTP Website questions to [log in to unmask]. Cost: $3,900 plus books (scholarships of $500 to $3000 available)



Seeking Feedback from Farmers about Soil Health Tools

Have you used any tools beyond a traditional lab-based soil test? 

Care to share your experiences you gained when using tools to guide you with management of your farm’s soil?



Please share your approaches and experiences to gain a better understanding of your soil and how it helped you with farm management practices.  I would like to work with you to identify possible practices that will lead to better soil, either in terms of fertility, soil biology, soil organic matter or other aspects of soil health to reduce nutrient loss, improve nutrient availability, improve crop resilience or just in general improve crop production.   You can share with all (hit reply all or you can email me and I could summarize approaches and remove farms and names to make the information private.


Some tools I am interested to hear who has used or have experience using include (but not limited). So if you have ever used these or others or care to take a look during this too cold to go outside spell I would love to hear your comments and impressions. Send me an mail to [log in to unmask].  Thanks very much! I would like to learn what tools farmers find useful and what is needed to make them more useful.   Here are 4 possible tools to check out or send me your reviews.

1. SARE-Project-Products/Estimating-Plant-Available-Nitrogen-Release-from-Cover-Crops. This free online tool compares the nutrient value and cost of cover crops, organic and synthetic fertilizers and compost. Use this Excel Calculator to develop well balanced and cost effective nutrient management programs for your farm.


2. Wisconsin Soil Health Card: The Wisconsin Soil Health Scorecard assesses a soil’s health as a function of soil, plant, animal and water properties identified by farmers. The

scorecard is a field tool to monitor and improve soil health based on field

experience and a working knowledge of a soil.


3. Soil health test kit (available through USDA at various states). A series of information sheets for physical, chemical and biological indicators is available to help conservationists and soil scientists with soil health assessment. Factors affecting, relationship to soil function, methods for improvement, and measurement options are discussed for each topic. Review the How-to Guide to get started.


4. Oregon State University organic matter calculator.  Predicts the soil organic matter in a field in response to cropping pattern, tillage, manure application, erosion, cover crops and stover removal.




Michigan Farm for Sale

074 W 634 Hwy

Hawks, MI 49743 (60 miles due east of Petoskey, MI)

5 beds 2 baths 3,362 sqft



Turn-key farm operation: organic vegetables/market garden, livestock and poultry.

80 acres with about 50 acres of woods.  Woods were harvested of the Ash trees about 10 years ago and Ash wood has been used as flooring in trim wood in the house remodels. 


Land has been farmed organically for over 20 years with records so would take only a few months to obtain organic certification.  MAEAP certified for farming and cropping systems.  Well for the home with reverse osmosis system for drinking water; and a second well for the farming operations, all frost-free lines.  90'x32' tall Rimol hoop house and additionally small greenhouse for transitioning starts.  Several farmers markets in the area and has supported a farm-to-table cafe and CSA shares in the past.  Organic marketing options in the area are expanding.


The two-story, gambrel  roofed barn was built about 10 years ago, reusing much of the 100 year old cedar logs from the old barn.  30' x 60' and additional "L" shaped 30' x 30'.  One of the 30' x 30' sections is prepped for infloor heat from the wood burning stove.  Additional steel barn has been used for vegetable processing and cold storage.


30 acres around the house include pasture, fruit trees and about 4 acres of vegetable production.  Pastures have been fenced with electric fencing for sheep but is now disused.,-83.577462,45.126351,-84.167977_rect/10_zm/


The fabulous and spacious turn of the century farm house has been lovingly restored and remodeled. The kitchen was revamped in 2017 with a gourmet chef's kitchen with expansive counter space, deep farmhouse sink, commercial kitchen faucet, pot filler over the Aga brand 5 gas burner/electric convection oven range, new tile floor, ash wood counter tops that match the ash wood trim throughout the house (ash was harvested from the farm), and a new 200 amp electric panel installed when the kitchen was rewired. Both bathrooms have been completely remodeled and one has a claw foot tub. 4 bedrooms upstairs with a large closet that could be remodeled to make an ensuite in the master bedroom.


The original maple hardwood floors in the living areas have been sanded and restored to their original sheen and the kitchen and lower bath have new tile floors. Geothermal heating and cooling system and solar panels to offset electric costs, with very low electric costs.  Wired to go off grid with batteries / generator.  Wood burning stove to augment the geothermal system which is piped to the barn.  House has all new windows and reinsulated.

Please call Dave or Michelle Glenn at 989-370-1785 with any additional questions.


Employment Opportunities


Field and lab technician

I am advertising for a technician position to assist with field, lab, and greenhouse research in vegetables through the Department of Horticulture at MSU. 


The position description is here:


More information on my program, and the type of work this person would be assisting with can be found on my website:


If you know anyone who might be interested in this position, please pass this along and encourage them to apply.




Dan Brainard

Associate Professor

Dept of Horticulture, Michigan State University

1066 Bogue St

East Lansing, MI 48824

Cell Phone: 517 648 7928


Grant & Loan Opportunities

Greenstone offers farmers support


  1. Greenstone Farm Credit offers an 18-month mentorship to new farmers – no cost and no membership at GFC required. The next round will begin in 2020.


  1. They also offer $500 (non-members) and $1,000 reimbursement grants to producers for conference registration fees.



The Michigan Good Food Fund 

This 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.


Jamie Rahrig, MPH, RDN

Michigan Good Food Fund Specialist, Innovation Counselor

MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, MSU Product Center

Direct: 517.355.6456

[log in to unmask]








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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