GENERAL MANAGER POSITION GRAIN FARMERS CO-OP

Midwest Organic Farmers Cooperative is seeking a general manager for its operations, including marketing division, grain cleaning plant, feed mill, seed division, logistics operations, and administrative office.  To qualify, the applicant must have prior management experience and proven personnel supervisory skills commensurate with the duties of this position.  Knowledge of grain farming and organic practices is a plus.

MOFC is a fast growing cooperative that markets organic grain for members and non-members throughout the U.S. midwest to buyers all over the country.  It has developed its own organic seed lines and markets them widely.  It cleans grain for farmers and end users, and is in the process of a large expansion of the cleaning plant to service the developing business.  Its feed mill is also expanding capacity to meet increasing business.

For a complete description of the general manager duties, salary parameters, or to submit a resume with references, contact:   johnx@midwestorganic.com

USDA seeks comments on Coexistence with GMO crops

I attended a USDA sponsored workshop at North Carolina State University on "Coexistence". Organic farmers know well the problem GMO pollen drift causes to their crops.

The workshop was a total disaster for USDA and things didn't go well. The concept appears to be that organic farmers should "go along to get along" with their neighbors.

USDA is now seeking comments on "Co-existence."  The deadline has been extended to May 11,  2015  Below is a link to the Organic Seed Alliance with how to file comments. OFARM supports the Organic Seed Alliance and its good work.

Please file your individual comments as they are important. The link also provides some easy talking points and an additional link to USDA's website to file the comments.

http://blog.seedalliance.org/2015/04/06/usda-seeks-comments-on-coexistence/

Your help is appreciated.

The DARK Act

If you don't know what the "DARK Act", you should. It is a bill proposed by Representative Pompeo (R-KS) that would pre-empt states passing laws about your right to know if the food you are buying has GMO's in it.  Several states including Vermont and Connecticut have already passed bills requiring GMO labeling. The bill is a ruse supported by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) using the ploy that it will raise the cost of food for families.  In fact it will cost only pennies if that and foods already have labels for other things.  One has to ask what the GMA and its minders such as the likes of Monsanto and Syngenta have to be afraid of if GMO's are safe.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) just published a report that Roundup and glycophosphates as herbicides in growing GMO crops is of concern with regard to carcinogens. Here is a link to our friends at Food and Water Watch to take action on the Pompeo bill:

https://secure3.convio.net/fww/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1937&s_src=fb&s_subsrc=032515a

USDA's organic agriculture census

USDA is conducting its Organic Ag Census.  It is critical for all certified organic producers with sales above $5000 annually to fill out the census.  Section 10 deals with an especially important question of GMO contamination costs for organic producers.  I am told that many in the biotech industry and conventional farming community such as the American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers Association and their producers are "livid" over USDA even asking this question.

Just last week an organic producer had four loads of organic food grade corn rejected in one day at a loss of $5000  due to GMO contamination.  We in the organic community and especially farmers know this is a problem.  

Below is the link to the survey.  If you haven't responded, please do so.  

http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Online_Response/

More Organic Farmers, Please

Merle Kramer, Midwest Organic Farmers Coop general manager wrote the following press release which appeared on www.usagnet.com in the news for Indiana and Illinois  It sums up the current state of affairs in organic where reports are that as much as 50-60% of organic grain is imported.

In order for more acres to transition into organic production farmers need to keep in mind that
orderly group marketing and a strategic marketing plan for their farm will be key to keeping
organic grain prices profitable.  OFARM member organization marketers can help you do that.

 

More Organic Farmers, Please
Indiana Ag Connection - 03/06/2015

Eastern Illinois-based Midwest Organic Farmers Cooperative (MOFC) is experiencing a severe shortage of organic acres in eastern Illinois and western Indiana for the organic soybean and corn markets.

Merle Kramer, 22-year organic grain veteran and marketing director for MOFC, Sibley, Ill., says that MOFC has a good market for an extra 200,000 bushels of organic soybeans and 500,000 to 1,000,000 plus bushels of organic corn to satisfy just two customers alone. Demand for organic grain crops is growing at double digit rates nationwide.

Kramer says that since the economic downturn in 2009 and its subsequent recovery, more and more consumers are interested in knowing where their food is coming from and wanting to support farming systems that are environmentally friendly, humane to animals and fair to people.

"More people from younger generations are getting involved in organic and local agriculture, many with small scale produce and retail food businesses they can afford to buy into," he notes.

Kramer goes onto say that "the grain and meat side of organic agriculture is looking for younger farmers who have that drive and entrepreneurial spirit and are in-search of new challenges." Kramer puts it this way "Organic offers them opportunities to see how well they can do both financially and personally off fewer acres, be more in-control by having access to more options and markets that organic and sustainable agriculture provide."

The future is going to be bright for those willing to make the transition to organic agriculture, as there is a growing awareness in the value of wholesome nutritious food for long term good health. A healthy lifestyle including good food translates into less chronic illness in our society and a more prosperous America from a heathy food culture.

For more information contact Kramer at 734-429-9110 or email at merle@midwestorganic.com.

More from this state at:
Indiana Ag Connection

Tell the USDA: You Support the Organic Exemption from Federal Check-off Programs

Note: Date has been extended until February 17, 2015

Tell the USDA: You Support the Organic Exemption from Federal Check-off Programs

The 2014 Farm Bill allows all organic farmers and businesses to pull assessed monies out of conventional check-off programs. In December, the USDA issued proposed rules to set this process up. 

A strong response from organic farmers and businesses will let the USDA know this exemption is important to organic agriculture, and these rules need to be put in place as quickly as possible. The instructions below will guide you on how to submit comments.  Here are talking points:

  • These rules give the same opportunity to farms and businesses with split operations (organic and non-organic) as 100% organic operations were granted in the 2002 Farm Bill to request a refund on organic sales assessments.  This change corrects unequal treatment of organic certificate holders set by the 2002 Farm Bill.

  • This exemption will provide a level playing field. It allows organically certified farmers and handlers to use check-off monies to benefit their own operations and future, similar to the benefit that non-organic operations receive from being assessed under the Commodity Promotion Law. 

  • Organics is less than 5% of agricultural production and requires very specific research and marketing.  Farmers and handlers carry out a high percentage of direct-to-consumer and other marketing, or conduct research on their own farms.

  • The exemption process should be as efficient as possible. Information on certified organic operations is now available in real time so certificate holders should only need to apply once for an exemption from the check-off, not every year.  Commodity boards can be informed by the NOP when the operation loses its organic certification.

  • Organics should have a blanket exemption from all Research and Promotion programs.

  • For Marketing Orders, the organic exemption should be the marketing portion average of all AMS Marketing Orders.

Comments must be postmarked no later than February 17, 2015

They can be electronically submitted at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=AMS-FV-14-0032-0038  Click on "Comment Now" on the right side of the page.

Submit written comments to this address:

Docket Clerk, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program
Agricultural Marketing Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
STOP 0237
Washington, DC  20250-0237


Example of how to start your letter:

Re: Proposed Rule regarding Exemption of Organic Products From Assessment Under a Commodity Promotion Law: AMS-FV-14-0032-0001 (Dec. 16, 2014) (Federal Register Number 2014-29280) (79 Fed. Reg. 75006 et seq.)

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on USDA’s Proposed Rule regarding Exemption of Organic Products From Assessment Under a Commodity Promotion Law.

I fully support the proposed rule mandated by a bi-partisan vote by both houses of Congress.

Example of how to close your letter:

I thank USDA for the speed in developing this proposed rule and urge them to proceed to a final rule as quickly as possible, with immediate implementation.

Sincerely,

Name
Address 

Midwest Organic Farmers Cooperative Annual Meeting

I attended the Midwest Organic Farmers Coop (MOFC) annual meeting last Saturday, December 13th in Sibley, Illinois. Sibley is also the location of MOFC’s grain cleaning facility which they recently opened. MOFC is also in the process of completing a feedmill at Fairbury, IL. In addition, the coop offers a variety of seed including soybeans to its members specifically geared towards some of MOFC customer end users.

While conventional grain prices are in the tank, MOFC members had reason to celebrate their coop and members having a very good year in spite of the challenges of the weather. 

Some dedicated members drove 9 hours to attend the meeting from where they farm in Nashville, Tennessee. There were a number of new younger faces in the crowd as well.

I had the occasion to show OFARM’s “Organic the Real Natural” video series.  (Check them out at:  www.OrganicTheRealNatural.com)  MOFC member Harold Wilken and his son Ross were filmed on their farm  earlier this summer for one of the videos. As Harold noted, he likes the idea that Ross won’t have to handle a swimming pool full of chemicals because of farming organically ever.

Congratulations to MOFC and its members for a great year. MOFC is a proud member of the OFARM network of organic grain cooperatives. 

John Bobbe

The U.S. crop does not appear to be as robust as USDA was projecting

The U.S. crop does not appear to be as robust as USDA was projecting. And information reported by the OFARM member organization marketers on our twice monthly conference calls appears to bear that out for organic crops as well. A lot of conventional corn across the center of Wisconsin along the Highway 29 corridor which runs from Lake Michigan to just east of St. Paul, Minnesota is still in the fields. Test weights are running in the range of 51-52 pounds and moisture content is anywhere from 20 percent on the low end to 30+ on the high end. And a lot of corn, organic and conventional has considerable drying costs attached to it.

How this bodes for organic corn prices remains to be seen.  A recent article quotes Lynn Clarkson, of Clarkson Grain in Illinois that 50% of the U.S. organic corn supply is imported.  And there are indications that imports have the potential to impact organic corn prices in the early months of 2015.

Bottom line is, be in touch with your OFARM member organization marketer to discuss your marketing needs, what you have to sell and when you need to sell it. Strategic market planning will be a key in the coming months and they are there to help you maximize your potential dollars for what you have to sell. The contact information for the marketers is listed on this website under "Member Organizations."

Welcome to the OFARM Blog

Issues and happenings related to organic agriculture and OFARM of importance to organic farmers will be highlighted and discussed.

“Organic the Real Natural” is our newest project funded by the Ceres Trust. It is a series of 8 short videos (60-90 seconds) with organic farmers from across the Midwest telling their stories about why consumers should buy organic. Filming took place this past summer.

You can check out the videos at www.OrganicTheRealNatural.com. And be sure to send the link to all your friends and neighbors.

The demand for organic food continues to grow 15-20% per year and we want to keep it that way. It is of benefit to all of us to promote what is grown by organic farmers in order to maintain a viable profitable organic farming sector.

In subsequent posts, we will be addressing other issues of concern to organic grain and livestock farmers.

If you are a Midwest Organic Farmers Cooperative (MOFC) or Montana Organic Producers Cooperative (MOPC) member, be sure to attend your annual meetings.  MOPC’s is this week in conjunction with the Montana Organic Association conference and MOFC’s is next week in Sibley, IL on Saturday, December 13th.  Contact MOPC administrator Mark Smith at 406-667-2332 or MOFC general manager Merle Kramer at 734-429-9110 or 9109 for exact details.

And check back for our next blog installment by early next week.

Let me know what you think and any suggestions you have would be welcome.
John