New Fact Sheet Available about Organic Labeling at Farmers Markets

The Organic Labeling at Farmer’s Markets fact sheet brought to you by  the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program can help farmers market vendors and community supported agriculture (CSA) operations properly market organic fruits, vegetables, or livestock products to consumers who are looking for fresh, locally sourced foods. It helps market participants understand the organic requirements, and know when organic certification is required. Finally, the fact sheet points to the Organic Literacy Initiative for additional information on organic regulations and certification.
You can find the 2 page Adobe file at this web address: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5107731

 

Also included in the fact sheet is information about the USDA’s Organic Literacy Initiative.  You can access their website at the web address www.ams.usda.gov/organicinfo AND find more details below:

Call-in to the IOGA Annual Meeting on January 9

IOGA’s annual meeting will be held on Thursday, January 9, from 4:00 to 5:00 PM at the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism, and Organic Conference. If you are at the conference, please join us! Everyone is welcome to attend–learn more about IOGA and provide your input on priorities for 2014. Only members can vote for the 2014 Governing Board.

We would love to have you attend in person, but if you cannot, you may call in to the meeting, courtesy of UI Extension’s teleconference service via phone or computer:

  • To join the conference call as a participant via telephone call 888-983-3631 and when prompted to do so, enter the conference ID 9250261, followed by the pound sign (#). Please call in 5 minutes before the meeting starts.
  • You can also join via computer. You can join a Microsoft Lync 2010 meeting or conference call from a computer that does not have Lync 2010 or Microsoft Lync 2010 Attendee communications software installed. When you open the email meeting request on a computer that does not have Lync installed, click the Join online meeting link https://meet.illinois.edu/cvnghgrn/F1N7P6G4. You will see two choices: Join the meeting and Are you a guest to this meeting? Click on Sign in here instead and type in your name (first and last and county). You must check the Install Lync Web App plug-in.
  • You will also encounter some security prompts, so please acknowledge and allow them. Also, if you are joining by computer, please plan to join at least 15 minutes ahead to make sure that you can get through the entire process before the meeting is scheduled to start.

We hope to see or hear you!

On-Farm Composting Workshop on September 10

University of Illinois Extension in conjunction with Illinois State University, the Department of Agriculture, and funded through a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service, is offering an On-Farm Composting Workshop and Field Day on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in Sycamore, Ill.

The field day will go from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., starting at DeKalb Farm Bureau at 1350 W. Prairie Drive in Sycamore and followed by a field tour at Art Bingham’s farm in Clare.

“Livestock producers and horse stable operators looking for alternative manure management ideas should attend,” said Ellen Phillips, a U of I Extension local food systems educator. “Organic and local food growers will be able to increase their composting knowledge as well.”

  • the benefits of composting
  • the basics of making compost
  • Illinois EPA regulations related to composting
  • permitting and local siting requirements
  • compost facility site development
  • uses for compost and quality control
  • marketing of compost

During the afternoon, field day participants will tour an actual composting operation and will hear practical information from experienced compost operators, including information on composting techniques.

Advance registration is $15 per person by Sept. 3. The cost to register in person at each workshop is $20. Phillips said walk-ins are welcome but that lunch will not be guaranteed. The registration form is available at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/bdo/localfoods.html.

For more information regarding the program, contact Phillips at 815-732-2191 or Bethany Macarus at 815-758-8194.

New Cover Crop Survey Shows Improved Corn and Soybean Yields Following Cover Crops During the 2012 Drought

From Sustainable Agriculture Research and Educations (SARE):

A report has just been released with detailed results from a farmer survey on cover crops. The survey was carried out by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) with funding from the USDA North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. More than 750 farmers were surveyed during the winter of 2012-13, primarily from the Upper Mississippi River watershed. Questions on cover crop adoption, benefits, challenges, and yield impacts were included in the survey. Key findings included the following:

  • During the fall of 2012, corn planted after cover crops had a 9.6% increase in yield compared to side-by-side fields with no cover crops. Likewise, soybean yields were improved 11.6% following cover crops.
  • In the hardest hit drought areas of the Corn Belt, yield differences were even larger, with an 11.0% yield increase for corn and a 14.3% increase for soybeans.
  • Surveyed farmers are rapidly increasing acreage of cover crops used, with an average of 303 acres of cover crops per farm planted in 2012 and farmers intending to plant an average of 421 acres of cover crops in 2013. Total acreage of cover crops among farmers surveyed increased 350% from 2008 to 2012.
  • Farmers identified improved soil health as a key overall benefit from cover crops. Reduction in soil compaction, improved nutrient management, and reduced soil erosion were other key benefits cited for cover crops. As one of the surveyed farmers commented, “Cover crops are just part of a systems approach that builds a healthy soil, higher yields, and cleaner water.”
  • Farmers are willing to pay an average (median) amount of $25 per acre for cover crop seed and an additional $15 per acre for establishment costs (either for their own cost of planting or to hire a contractor to do the seeding of the cover crop).

“It is especially noteworthy how significant the yield benefits for cover crops were in an extremely dry year,” Dr. Rob Myers, a University of Missouri agronomist and regional director of extension programs for North Central Region SARE, stated. “The yield improvements provided from cover crops in 2012 were likely a combination of factors, such as better rooting of the cash crop along with the residue blanket provided by the cover crop reducing soil moisture loss. Also, where cover crops have been used for several years, we know that organic matter typically increases, which improves rainfall infiltration and soil water holding capacity.”

Full results of the survey are available online at: http://www.northcentralsare.org/CoverCropsSurvey

For additional information on cover crops go to the SARE Cover Crop Topic room.

New Vision & Crop-Insurance Pricing

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently discussed his vision for U.S. organic agriculture and USDA efforts to ensure its continued success during remarks to the Organic Trade Association.  Among other items, he announced that new crop-insurance pricing options will be available to organic producers who grow crops under guaranteed contracts beginning with the 2014 crop year. Organic producers who receive a contract price for their crop will have the ability, where available and at their choice, to use their personal contract price as their price election or to choose existing crop insurance price elections.  USDA has also streamlined trade to allow U.S. organic products to be sold as organic in Canada, the European Union, Taiwan, and Japan without maintaining certification to multiple standards. Vilsack also noted that the number of certified organic farms and businesses in the United States has increased 240 percent since USDA first began collecting this data. Organic foods continue to gain market share in the food industry, climbing to 4.2 percent of U.S. retail food sales in 2011.  For more information, see http://illinoisorganicgrowers.org.

News from IL Organic Growers Association: Upcoming Summer/Fall Field Days

We are excited to share with you the 2013 Summer/Fall Field Days that are now available for registration.  Providing an array of learning opportunities, these field days will cover a wide variety of beneficial topics. See here for more detailed descriptions.

SIU STUDENT FARM AND FIELD TO FORK TOUR
Saturday, June 15, 8:00-10:00 am
SIU Center for Sustainable Farming, Carbondale, IL

Organized and operated only by volunteers, the Local Organic Gardening Initiative of Carbondale (LOGIC) has raised beds, a hoop house, and permaculture site. Visit the center for a tour of their work, followed by a visit to one of Carbondale’s two Farmers’ Markets! Cost is free. Pre-registration is requested here, but walk-ins are welcome.

GROWING YOUR SUSTAINABLE FARM BUSINESS: A PRODUCER’S PERSPECTIVE
Saturday, July 13, 3:00-7:00 pm
Living Waters Farm, Strawn, IL & South Pork Ranch, Chatsworth, IL (Livingston County)

Beginning the afternoon at Living Waters Farm in Strawn, IL, see a variety of vegetable farming methods. After your visit at Living Waters Farm, you will travel to South Pork Ranch in Chatsworth, IL to see animal production. Learn how these two farms have thrived by working together with other local producers, and then branching out to become independent, successful businesses.

You can register here.  Cost is free to CISFN members, $5 for non-members.

MANY SEAONS WEATHERED: TOURS OF TWO VETERAN ORGANIC FARMS
Sunday, July 21, 1:00-5:30 pm
Tomahnous Farm, Mahomet, IL & Blue Moon Farm, Urbana, IL

Have the opportunity to to tour the farms of two 15-year veterans, Lisa Haynes of Tomahnous Farm and Jon Cherniss of Blue Moon Farm, providing you an overview of their planning, management and marketing approaches. Cost is free. Pre-registration is requested but walk-ins are welcome.

GRASS-FED BEEF, ROW CROPS AND POULTRY
Thursday, August 27, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Sandy Ridge Farm, Tampico, IL (Whiteside County)

MOSES, in collaboration with IOGA and the University of Illinois, joins the Shrock family on a tour of more than 1,200 acres of row crops and two livestock operations. They will share how they manage their crops and improve soil quality to achieve high yields and a quality product.

You can register here.  Cost is $30 if you pre-register, $40 for onsite registration, and includes lunch served by the Shrock family. The deadline for pre-registration is August 23.

TRANSITIONING TO ORGANIC CORN AND SOYBEANS: A FIRST-HAND LOOK
Saturday, September 7, 1:00-4:30 pm
Two Roads Farm, Assumption, IL (Christian County)

Just starting with our with organic corn and soybean production, considering making the transition to organic, or just wanting to know more about what is involved? Gary McDonald, Director of Organic Resource Advisor, will provide a practical “how to” on moving from conventional to organic production of corn and soybeans. Hear from a farmer panel that will give their first-hand experiences of moving to organic production and be available for questions from the audience. Cost is free. Pre-registration is requested but walk-ins are welcome.

VEGETABLE DIVERSIFICATION
Monday, September 16, 12:30 – 4:30 pm
PrairiErth Farm, Atlanta, IL (Logan County)

Get all of the information you need to take your farm to the next step. PrairiErth Farm produces vegetables, poultry, beef, pigs, and variety of value-added products. See how farming can be a viable career opportunity, while learning to build synergy between diverse production systems, enticing customers with a wide range of products.

You can register here.  Cost is free.

TAKING YOUR FARM TO THE NEXT LEVEL: EQUIPMENT FOR SCALING UP PRODUCTION
Saturday, September 21, 1:45-4:30 pm
PrairiErth Farm, Atlanta, IL (Logan County)

Want to know what it takes to scale up production on your farm with equipment? Hans Bishop of PrairiErth Farm will showcase specialty crops equipment that he uses to reduce hand work, improve efficiency, and employee job satisfaction.

You can register here. Cost is free to CISFN members, $5 for non-members.

Spring 2013 Field Days

IOGA has the following field days scheduled for spring 2013:

Getting Started with Treatment-Free Beekeeping
May 18 at Acbees Apiaries near Waverly, IL
12:30 – 4:00 PM

The Illinois Organic Growers Association and University of Illinois Extension are co-sponsoring a hands-on field day, Getting Started with Treatment-Free Beekeeping, on May 18, 2013, near Waverly, IL, southwest of Springfield. The host and presenter will be Arvin Pierce, Acbees Apiaries, who has been a treatment-free beekeeper for 10 years.

During the first half of the afternoon, Arvin will present a general introduction and overview of life in and around the hive: basic facts and photos about the queen, workers, and drones, and their responsibilities and place in the function of the hive. He will also provide information about what it takes to begin beekeeping, including different types of hives, urban beekeeping, swarms and hive removal, hive products, apitherapy, and disappearing bees. For the second half of the afternoon, the group will move to the bee yard, where participants can see what goes on in a hive firsthand. Those willing will be given the hands-on opportunity to get into the hives.

Program details:

  • 12:30 – 1:00 Registration
  • 1:00 – 2:30 Discussion on Introduction to Beekeeping
  • 2:30 – 4:00 Hands-on demonstration at the hive
  • 4:00 – 5:00 Opportunity, for those interested, to help with or watch the removal of bees from a log.

Important: Wear closed shoes and long pants, and bring a long sleeve shirt. A few veils will be available for those who want to get into the hives.

Registration and the presentation will take place at the Lowder township building, near Waverly, 16969 Ayers Street, Waverly, Illinois 62692. The hives are around the corner on the northern edge of the village of Lowder, 16813 Lowder Road, Waverly, Illinois 62692.

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. To register click here or contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at cvnghgrn@illinois.edu, 217-782-4617.

On-Farm Composting Workshops / Field Days
May 21 at Western IL University, School of Agriculture Livestock Center & Compost Facility
May 28 at Tempel Farms Organics, Lake County
Both days, 8:30 AM – 2:00 PM

The Illinois State University, Department of Agriculture in conjunction with University of Illinois Extension and IOGA, and funded through a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Illinois Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering two Composting Workshops/Field Days this spring.

Workshop participants will tour an actual composting operation and hear practical information from experienced compost operators. Participants will receive information and materials on:

  • the benefits of composting
  • the basics of making compost
  • Illinois EPA regulations related to composting permitting and local siting requirements
  • compost facility site development
  • uses for compost and quality control
  • marketing of compost

The cost is $15, including lunch, if pre-registered by May 20. Walk-ins are welcome, at a cost of $20, but lunch is not guaranteed. You can print and mail a registration form. For phone inquiries, call Paul Walker at (309) 438-3881, Duane Friend at (217) 243-7424 or Ellen Phillips at (630) 445-9989.

News from IL Organic Growers Association: Educational Events, Growers Sought, Land Available

Dear Illinois Organic Grower:

We had a very successful conference Jan 10-11. Thanks to all who presented, attended workshops, came to our annual meeting, and/or stopped by our booth. Annual meeting notes will be sent out next week. In the meantime, here are some more upcoming events, people looking for organic producers, and other items of interest.

Webinar on the new USDA Microloans
January 31st at 3:00pm

This free webinar will help you decide if this funding option is right for your farm operation. Jeffrey E. Koch, Farm Loan Chief from the Illinois Farm Service Agency, will explain the new USDA Microloans and other funding options currently available for growers interested in selling to schools and other wholesale markets. To register, go to https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=7760

Missouri Organic Association Annual Conference
February 7-9, 2013, Springfield, MO

In addition to informative organic educational sessions and the Missouri Organic Associations vendor market, the conference will feature workshops on solar panels, making your own bio-diesel fuel and more. Visit http://www.missouriorganic.org/MOAAnnualConference.aspx for more information.

Stateline Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference
Feb 11, 2013, 8:30 to 4:00 PM, Rockford IL
$40 if preregistration required by February 7; late registration is $50

IOGA Administrative Committee member Ellen Phillips will present a session on Organic Soil Amendments. Liz Maynard, Extension Specialist with Purdue University, will be the keynote speaker. She will discuss last year’s cantaloupe contamination in Indiana – how it happened and how to prevent it from happening again. Other session topics include insect and disease control for fruits and vegetables, use of high tunnels, drought issues, crop storage, produce safety tips, social media, and more. For a full listing of conference workshops and registration brochure, see http://web.extension.illinois.edu/jsw/downloads/46381.pdf. To register online, click here.

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association annual conference
February 16-17, Granville, OH

See http://www.oeffa.org/conference2013.php for information workshops, trade show vendors, and other conference activities, and to register.

MOSES Organic Farming Conference
February 21-23, 2013, La Crosse, WI
Registration deadline: February 13

The MOSES Organic Farming Conference is the largest conference in the U.S. about organic and sustainable farming. The MOSES Conference offers more than 70 workshops taught by experts in their fields, inspiring keynote speakers, and a trade show with more than 170 exhibitors open exclusively to conference attendees. See http://www.mosesorganic.org/conference.html for registration and more information.

Publication: Crop Rotation on Organic Farms

Several people at the ISCAOC were interested in a publication we gave away as a membership prize: Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual provides an in-depth review of the applications of crop rotation-including improving soil quality and health, and managing pests, diseases, and weeds. It is published by SARE. You can download it for free or purchase a hard copy for $24: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Crop-Rotation-on-Organic-Farms

Help Wanted Listings on IOGA web site

We are launching a Help Wanted section on our web site. You can post help wanted listings via comments on this page. Help wanted can include positions that are any combination of full-time, part-time, temporary, paid, or volunteer. Comments are moderated and will be reviewed by IOGA staff before being posted. See http://illinoisorganicgrowers.org/help-wanted. As the section grows, we will publicize it to sustainable agriculture programs at universities throughout the state, in addition to our newsletter.

Seeking organic popcorn producers

We received a request for organic popcorn producers in Illinois. If you are interested, please contact:

Alan Solomon
320 Washington Ave. 5E
Brooklyn, NY 11205
eastfour@earthlink.net
(917) 862-7910

Seeking organic farmer for land in Will County

From Regina Rust, regina.rust@gmail.com: “I am part of a family farm based in Indiana who is interested in organic farming. We have 80 tillable acres in northern Illinois in Will County that we have been cash renting for conventional farming and would now like to switch to organic farming for environmental reasons. We are looking for an organic farmer to work with helping us accomplish this.” If interested, please contact Regina directly at regina.rust@gmail.com.

Lawsuit against USDA Inspector Threatens Legitimacy of System

The entire organic movement in the United States rests upon the assumption that when an “organic” label is given to a farm, the label is legitimate, and that inspectors are free to use their best judgement is determining whether the farm is worthy of that title. However, a recent lawsuit filed by a Nebraska farmer against an USDA inspector has called into question that system of certification, and just how safe an inspector should feel in making objective judgements.

Paul A. Rosberg, a farmer operating out of Wausau, Nebraska, filed a lawsuit last year against Evrett Lunquist, an organic certification inspector, and International Certification Services (ICS), which Lundquist works for. For the last 11 years, according to The Call of the Land, Lundquist has been working as a certification inspector, giving him some side income apart from his day job of running his own Nebraska farm. While inspecting Mr. Rosberg’s farm, Lundquist discovered some discrepancies in Rosberg’s farming practices, leading him to believe that the farm did not deserve the certification of “organic”.

Lundquist notified the USDA’s National Organic Board, and official inspectors were sent to Mr. Rosberg’s farm, where they agreed with Mr. Lundquist’s assessment of the inadequacies of organic procedure there. This is all routine enough. Then, however, the NOP accidentely leaked Lundquist’s name as the inspector that tipped them off, prompting a lawsuit from Rosberg.

Evrett Lundquist, on his farm in Nebraska

Evrett Lundquist, on his farm in Nebraska

From Lundquist’s perspective, he did everything right. “I reported something I was concerned about. NOP looked at it and found everything to be true. My defense is to assert what is true and factual”, Lunquist said, and all logic would tend to agree with him. (quote from The Call of the Land) Bolstering Lundquist’s case is Rosberg’s shady and very long legal past. Rosberg has been involved in literally dozens of lawsuits over the past 28 years, and he is currently a defendant in a federal grand jury case over selling misbranded meat to Ohama Public Schools in Nebraska. Clearly, Rosberg’s case against Lundquist looks like it’s going nowhere fast. However, Rosberg has offered many motions to the court, which have prolonged the proceedings (as has Rosberg’s grand jury case), with the consequence being that Lundquist has racked up over $30,000 in legal bills.

This brings up a very interesting topic for the organic industry. The USDA has up to this point refused to help Lundquist pay his legal bills, despite the fact that their own NOP was the one responsible for leaking his name to the public, which they were not supposed to do. In an industry that puts so much credence on the judgement of the inspectors, who serve as judge, jury and executioner to a farms hopes of obtaining “organic” status, you would think federal authorities would do everything they can to show inspectors that they are ready to back their decisions. If they are not, then of what use are the inspectors? If inspectors feel as though their ability to make unbiased, fair decisions has been compromised, and they begin second-guessing whether or not to report infractions because they fear future legal troubles, then what faith should we have in the organic label? Interesting questions to ponder in the future.

eOrganic webinars in January

New Webinars in January: Ancient Grains, Organic System Plans, Pecan and Peach, GMO Crops

Register now for new eOrganic webinars in January! Advance registration is required, and the webinars are free and open to the public. Topics include ancient grains, developing an organic system plan for row crops, pest and disease control in pecan and peach, and the coexistence of GMO, organic, and non-GMO crops. Find out more information and register at the links below.

  • January 7, 2013: Developing an Organic System Plan for Row Crop Production, by Beth Rota, independent consultant for the University of Missouri. This presentation details how to develop an organic system plan for crop production to comply with the USDA National Organic Standard, with special attention to organic row crop production. The presenter will cover what must be included in organic system plan and the basic steps to organic certification. Register at http://www.extension.org/pages/66582
  • January 8, 2013: The “Ancient” Grains Emmer, Einkorn and Spelt: What We Know and What We Need to Find Out, by Frank Kutka and Steve Zwinger of North Dakota State University, Julie Dawson of Cornell, and June Russell of Greenmarket, Grow NYC. A team of researchers from the NIFA OREI project Value-added grains for local and regional food systems will focus on the so-called ancient grains–einkorn , emmer and spelt–including their origins and attributes, current and potential uses and markets, and what we know so far about how to grow them. The team will also give an overview of the project’s current work on developing best management practices for these grains, dehulling options, and identifying varieties and landraces with superior yield, flavor, or nutritional content. This webinar is for those interested in specialty grains, including farmers, consumers, bakers, chefs, millers, and other grain processors. Register at http://www.extension.org/pages/66321
  • January 10, 2013. Live Broadcast from the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference: How Can Organic, Non-GMO, and GMO Crops Coexist? Lynn Clarkson, Clarkson Grain. How can organic, non-GMO, and GMO crops coexist? That is the puzzle that USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) has been asked to answer. AC21 Committee member Lynn Clarkson, President of Clarkson Grain in Cerro Gordo, IL will discuss AC21′s work and the issues at stake. Of special concern is adventitious presence, the term used for low levels of unintended material in seed, grain, or feed and food products. Clarkson will review the arguments underlying the battles between GMO and non-GMO farmers over adventitious presence and explore potential compromises to minimize adventitious presence in organic, non-GMO, and selected GMO crops. Register at http://www.extension.org/pages/66781
  • January 29, 2013: Organic Methods for Control of Insect Pests and Diseases of Pecan and Peach, by David Shapiro-Ilan and Clive Bock of the USDA-ARS Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, GA. A number of insect pests and diseases can cause severe damage in orchard crops such as pecan and peach. Drs. David Shapiro-Ilan and Clive Bock from the USDA-ARS Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron GA will provide information on organic solutions to control the key insect pests and diseases of pecan and peach. Based on their own research as well as others, Shapiro-Ilan and Bock will discuss organic approaches that are currently available as well as prospects for the future; some of their research results are applicable to other cropping systems as well. Register at http://www.extension.org/pages/66504

Find all upcoming and archived eOrganic webinars at http://www.extension.org/pages/25242