News

The House and Senate have passed their versions of the Farm Bill, the Conference Committee is named, and work has begun behind the scenes at crafting a 2018 Farm Bill from the House and Senate versions.

While organic generally fares better in the Senate version, both have attacks on the authority of the National Organic Standards Board, and both have reasonably good Organic Fraud enforcement bills. See our side-by-side analysis of organic provisions in the House and Senate draft farm bills.

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In early July, Novo Dia Group (NDG), a company that provides mobile technology for farmers markets, announced they were ceasing operations. NDG’s service allows farmers to accept SNAP EBT benefits (commonly known as food stamps) as payment at farmers markets. The news was a huge blow to farmers markets around the country, including here in New York State.

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Two versions of the Farm Bill – one from the House and one from the Senate – have now been passed, and the slow road to a new Farm Bill (this one expires Sep. 30, 2018) moves to a Conference Committee to work out the differences.  Both bills have good, but slightly different organic fraud bills, and are fairly good on organic research, but both have different but very troubling language changing the authority of the National Organic Standards Board.  Stay tuned in the coming months for more twists and turns… 

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Remember the DARK  Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know Act) Congress passed in 2016?  The government calls it the “Safe and Affordable Food Act.” The Comment Period on Regulations implementing GE labeling on foods closed on July 3, with 14,000 comments.  USDA must produce a final GE labeling regulation by the end of July, but as opposed to a well-defined Rule, USDA proposed a range of alternatives, including changing the label from GE, GMO or Genetically Engineered to Bioengineered, putting a smiley face on a logo, or not putting the label on the package, but on an electronic code. See NOFA-NY’s comments HERE.

 

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Ontario, NY – Join NOFA-NY and the Headwater Food Hub as we explore how to build and strengthen local food economies. Learn about the relationships, networks, and opportunities that support a sustainable, regional food system in upstate New York. Food hubs do more than just selling produce; they work with producers on multiple levels to build a culture for success.

Headwater Food Hub and NOFA-NY will host several farmers in their areas of expertise through a series of PechaKucha talks, a Japanese presentation style with short, concise, fast-paced slides. Speakers include Denis Lepel from Lakestone Family Farm, Eric Houppert from Deep Root Farm, Ed Fraser of Frasers Garlic Farm, Shannon Prozeller of Cornell Food Venture Center and Daniel Eggert from Harris Seeds Organic.

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It is not news to any in the dairy farming business that milk prices are low these days. NOFA-NY’s Education Team and Eric Ziehm of High Meadows Farm will share methods to improve your bottom line with grazing management and breeding ideas, hear from experiences of a dairy farmer new to the Organic side of the equation. This newly transitioned farm (May, 2018) is seeing cows milked on the property for the first time in nearly 20 years. For those living in the area, it is a refreshing sight.


Eric Ziehm is a 1999 graduate of Cornell’s Animal Science program and grew up milking cows with family at Tiashoke Farm. Returning to the family farm after college Eric has been an integral part of the farm’s growth and development. High Meadows of Hoosick is a twist on what Eric has been doing his whole life. Eric will discuss his experience in transitioning to Certified Organic production, the business development process working with Stonyfield Organic and Farm Credit East. Enjoy a pasture walk and discussion of the Holistic Management Grazing Chart Eric and his crew use to plan and map their grazing season. Finally, we will discuss the choice of cows (mostly Jerseys and Jersey crosses) on the farm and the direction of breeding that Eric sees himself going over the coming years.

Thursday, July 19, 2018, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, “Newly Transitioned Organic Dairy Grazing” field day at Location: High Meadows Farm, 187 Burgess Road, Hoosick Falls, NY, 12090, Rensselaer County.  The cost to attend is $20.00, lunch is included. Pre-registration preferred. 

This event is co-sponsored by Country Folks, Chelsea Green Publishing, and Stonyfield Organic and supported through funding from USDA RMA.

Registration and complete details available online: www.nofany.org\fielddays or by calling the NOFA-NY office, (585) 271-1979 ext. 505 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Things are hopping with Farm Bill this week. The House of Representatives has passed a bill out of the Agriculture Committee and has been negotiating amendments in preparation for the full House vote coming soon – there are rumors that the vote could be as early as next week.


The Senate is not far behind, but does not yet have a bill before its Agriculture Committee. They are still working on many provisions including organic and conservation. There is a chance the Committee will ‘Mark Up’ their bill in mid-May. Otherwise it could be after the Memorial Day recess.


See the Action Alert to make calls to YOUR Senators and representative and tell them you want a strong bill for organic! See some high points and low points of the House bill HERE.

The current Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018. Will the new Farm Bill be passed in time? Given the mid-term elections, which will cause both houses to recess for most of August and large parts of September, October and even November, the Farm Bill needs to be moving very fast right now. If the Farm Bill stalls past the expiration date, there will probably be an extension, but that would only include programs with ‘baseline’ funding written into their authorization. That means virtually all organic programs could be left ‘stranded’ – with no funding to function. This includes Certification Cost Share and research programs. Keep up to date on the Sustainable Farm Bill. 

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NOFA-NY Training on Food Safety at Dairy & Field Crop Conference

What: The New Farm Food Safety Rule—How Does it Affect Your Farm? From 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Learn about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), how it affects your farm, what you might need to do to comply, and have all your questions answered! It will cover the fundamentals of food and produce safety and why you might want to take an official Produce Safety Alliance training, even if your farm is exempt.

Write Your Farm Food Safety Plan! 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Farm Food Safety Plans aren’t required by FSMA, but are requested by some wholesale buyers and are a good way to look at your farm and identify any problem areas to improve on-farm food safety! The session provides an overview of a farm food safety plan, discussion of how to write one for your farm, and time to create your farm’s plan with trainers on-hand to help.

Who: The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY)
When: Tuesday, March 6th; 10:00 am -12:00 pmn & 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Where: Syracuse-Liverpool Holiday Inn: 441 Electronics Parkway, Liverpool, New York

For more information and to register for these free sessions, email Maryellen Sheehan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 585-271-1979 x507.

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The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York is a member-based, non-profit educational organization of farmers, gardeners, and consumers creating a sustainable regional food system that is ecologically sound and economically viable. Through demonstration and education, we promote land stewardship, organic food production, and local marketing. NOFA-NY brings consumer and farmer closer together to make high quality food available to all people.

Read the full press release here.

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The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) is holding its seventh annual Organic Dairy & Field Crop Conference on Tuesday, March 6th at the Holiday Inn Syracuse/Liverpool, NY, 441 Electronics Parkway.

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After years of controversy, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) failed to pass the proposed recommendation prohibiting hydroponic, aquaponics and container production from being certified organic. They will continue to be allowed by some certifiers, without any consistent direction or standards from the USDA National Organic Program. [They did vote to prohibit aeroponics]. NOFA-NY will continue to not certify hydroponics operations, until there is clear guidance and standards from the USDA.

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