NOFA-NY Blog

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3 Questions in 3 Minutes

Share your message with organic milk consumers at NODPA’s Farmers’ Storytelling Booth

By late winter, when cabin fever is beginning to set in, the best thing I can do is head to a farmer meeting or organic dairy conference. It’s a terrific opportunity to network, learn from, and build relationships with other farmers. If there’s only one take-away I have from all the conversations I’ve been having this winter, it’s this: We need to tell our own story.5a2211422ea30 fullsizeoutput 31ae small

Frustration and anxiety abounds, it seems, under the burden of record-low organic milk prices, a spineless NOP, and fake organic mega-farms flooding the market with cheap commodities (and yes- I do mean actually fake), not to mention plant-based beverages marketed like real milk.

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Three-Part Guest Blog by Sarah Flack

Consultant/author Sarah Flack, who specializes in grass-based and organic livestock production, has generously supplied this three-part blog in advance of her Jan. 20 and 21 workshops at our Winter Conference:

1. Pasture Systems Guidelines:

All successful pasture systems are based on some basic and essential guidelines. These guidelines aren’t new, they’ve been known for at least 200 years, and during that time farmers and researchers have used them to develop different types of grazing methods, and given those grazing systems and methods a bunch of different names.        

Regardless of the name of the grazing system, the successful ones use relatively short periods of occupation so the dairy cows aren’t left in the same paddock for too many days. They also provide enough time to let the plants fully regrow after each grazing (variable recovery periods). By studying grazing systems currently in use, which are working well on a variety of farms, we can learn more about these grazing principals and how to apply them so that we are caring for the pasture plants, livestock, soils, farmers and our ecosystem. Along the way, we can be better informed and inspired by the many creative ways that these basic grazing guidelines are in use different farms.

Grazing adapted plants and our livestock, each have requirements, which complement each other synergistically. Plants respond best to short periods of grazing followed by long regrowth periods. Livestock do best in pastures that are managed so each paddock is grazed quickly and which are full of high-quality forage, given sufficient time to regrow. Good grazing management is a win–win system for plants and livestock.  It is also good for our soils and the larger ecosystem we all live in and share. Good management supports the development of healthier soils, sequesters carbon, and prevents erosion.

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