Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Starting a CSA Webinar - Nov 5th

Join the Missouri Beginning Farmer Program on Monday, November 5th from 7-8:30 pm for a webinar on Starting a CSA with Eric and Joanna Rueter from Chert Hollow Farm.  Catch the details of how this CSA operation does it successfully.  Join the webinar by logging in at univmissouri.adobeconnect.com/debikelly

Below is a description of Eric and Joanna's CSA operation (taken from their website).
January 2012 full share: garlic,
onions, sweet potatoes, butternut
squash, carrots, parsnips, leeks,
daikon radish, spinach, cornmeal.

The Chert Hollow Farm CSA program includes our certified organic produce, dominantly vegetables but also limited amounts of fruits and mushrooms as available. The core growing & distribution season here runs from roughly May through October/November, during which time members can reasonably expect weekly shares of farm products. However, we consider membership to cover the entire calendar year, and additional share distributions will be made whenever enough products are available for deliveries to be practical. This system allows the farm to take advantage of favorable weather or conditions outside the normal growing season, and should allow members a better return on their investment.

Distribution boxes
Members receive weekly shares on Monday or Thursday afternoons, as assigned in advance. Deliveries should be weekly from roughly May to October/November, with off-season shares when possible. Most members live in the central Columbia area and receive home deliveries. Members who will not be at home leave a cooler in a known location, with ice if necessary, to allow proper storage conditions for the share. Alternate share distribution options are also available, including workplace delivery.

We do not require or offer work-shares (working for a partial discount). While this is ideally a way to involve members more directly in the farm, we don’t feel the extra management requirements are worth it. Members will have access to the farm through many organized events, and may still be given the opportunity to help out on special occasions.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Missouri's Purple Paint Statute: Protect Your Property from Trespassers

Landowners can use "No Trespassing" signs, however the Purple Paint Statute allows landowners to mark trees or posts with purple paint as a warning to would-be trespassers. Just like a "No Trespassing" sign or actual communication to individuals that no trespassing is allowed, the purple paint marks are considered to be adequate notice to the public that no trespassing is allowed on the property.

Missouri's law is similar to one that has been used in Arkansas since 1989. These statutes were enacted to provide landowners with an economical and easy way to keep out unwanted trespassers. The law does not require that property marked with the purple paint also be fenced, thus it is an economical alternative for landowners who do not otherwise need to fence their property.
Additionally, it prevents a problem encountered when using "No Trespassing" signs -- purple paint marks can't be taken down, destroyed, or stolen! All land marked with purple paint in the manner proscribed by the statute is considered to be adequate notice to the public. It fulfills the same function as a "No Trespassing" sign, a fence, or telling someone not to come onto your property.

Under Missouri's law:

 Any owner or lessee of real property can post property with the purple paint marks.

 Purple paint marks must be placed on either trees or posts (the statute does not specifically allow the option of placing paint marks on buildings).

 Vertical paint lines must be at least 8 inches long (the statute does not mention a maximum length).

 The bottom edge of each paint mark must be between 3 feet and 5 feet off the ground.

 Paint marks must be readily visible to any person approaching the property.

 Purple paint marks cannot be more than 100 ft. apart.

 The statute provides that any person trespassing onto property marked by purple paint can be found guilty of a first-degree trespassing charge. Any unauthorized entry onto property marked with the purple paint marks is considered a trespass. First-degree trespassing is a Class B Misdemeanor, with potential punishment of a maximum $500 fine and/or a maximum of 6 months in jail.

Other violations which would subject a trespasser to first-degree trespass are: (1) entering a property posted with "No Trespassing" signs; (2) refusing to leave property once told to do so; and (3) coming onto land fenced against intruders.
Landowners can purchase the purple boundary posting paint at hardware stores across the state. Several paint companies have formulated a latex semi-paste product for the specific purpose of marking property. The paint can be applied in its semi-paste form or sprayed once thinned.

(By John Hobbs, MU Agriculture and Rural Development Specialist)

Friday, October 26, 2012

National Small Farm Today Trade Show and Conference - Nov 1-3

Probably one of the best (and cheapest) small farm conferences specificially geared to small farmers across the country is right in our backyard.  The National Small Farm Today Trade Show and Conference will be held Nov 1-3 at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Columbia, MO.  This is a long post but well worth it to see all the exciting topics and presenters.  (debi)

The National Small Farm Trade Show & Conference is one of the largest annual small farm shows in the United States. Come to the heated Exhibition Hall to see the trade show-with 150+ exhibitors- and attend 20 seminars, 8 three hour short courses, and 27 talks in NCR-SARE Farmer's Forum (that is 55 total talks!), demonstrations, exhibitions, association meetings, and more, The conference again features moneymaking farmers communicating their methods to fellow farmers. Ideas and information on income opportunities for the family farm will be presented in our seminars and short courses. Both traditional and alternative farm enterprises are covered for full- and part-time farmers, ranchers, gardeners and landowners. It is a perfect opportunity to visit one-on-one with the exhibitors and other small acreage owners. There will also be a Poultry Exhibition.  Call 800-633-2535 for more information.

When: Nov. 1-3, 2012

Hours: 9 am-5 pm Thursday, November 1
8 am-5 pm Friday, November 2
8 am-5 pm Saturday, November 3

Price: $8/1 day, $12/2 days, $15/3 days (by Oct. 15) or $10/1 day, $15/2 days, $20/3 days at the door for seminars, farmers forum, exhibits and demonstrations.

Short Courses: $25 each pre-registration by Oct. 15 - $35 each at the door

Note: Does not include admission. Special rates available

Where: Central Missouri Event Center, Columbia, Missouri. Take 1-70 exit 128A, go 3 miles north on US Hwy 63 to the Oakland Gravel Road exit, turn right and follow the signs. For more information call 800-633-2535.



9:30 a.m. Ron Macher (Publisher, Small Farm Today magazine)

9:45 a.m. Keynote address: John Ikerd

10:30 a.m. Grafting Tomatoes - Dr. Sanjun Gu

11:45 a.m. Aquaponics - Chuck Hicks

1:00 p.m. Selling What You Know, Selling What You Grow - Kelly Klober

2:15 p.m. Free Choice Enterprises: How Grass Grows and How it Effects Cattle - Mark Bader

3:30 p.m. Why We Need To Preserve The Lippitt Morgan - The Lippitt Morgan Horse Registry


8:30 a.m. Mob Grazing Offers the Greatest Opportunity in Agriculture - Robert Kinkead DVM

9:45 a.m. Equipment - Norman Kilmer, Morgan County Seeds

11:00 a.m. Ups & Downs with Raising a Heritage Breed of Cattle, Eventual Success

12:15 p.m. New Age Swine Production - Kelly Klober

1:30 p.m. Soil Amendments - Ralph Voss

2:15 p.m. Vegetable Plant Nutrition - James Quinn

4:00 p.m. Sandhill Preservation Center; Preservation of Seeds and Plants for Diversification - Glen Drowns


8:30 a.m. Small Laying Flock Breeding and Managing - Kelly Klober

9:30 a.m. Soil Blocks - Caroline Hargrog

11:00 a.m. Ration Balancing Using Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen - Mark Barber

12:15 p.m. Sustainable Cropping Systems - Rob Meyers

1:30 p.m. Demonstration on Strip Grazing - Greg Judy

2:45 p.m. Teaching Pastured Poultry Producers On-Farm Processing Best Management Practices for a Safer Product - Kevin Backes

Short Courses


10:30 p.m. Survival Raised Bed Gardening - Len Pense

1:30 p.m. Cheese from Missouri - Janet Hurst


8:30 a.m. Value Added Products You Grow - Ernie Bohner

11:30 a.m. Starting with Berries - Patrick Byers

3:30 p.m. Ethnic Vegetables - Steve Salt


8:30 a.m. Managing Your Grazing in Sync with Nature Equals Greater Profits - Greg Judy

11:30 a.m. Movable High Tunnels - Dan Kuebler

2:30 p.m. Elderberries - Terry Durham

Farmers Forum


10:30 a.m. Sustainable Beekeeping: Increasing Production and Utilization of Northern-adapted, Disease & Mite Resistant Honey Bee Queens - Stu Jacobson

11:00 a.m. Using Grazing Wedges to Match Beef Cattle Nutrient Need with Pasture Resources While Reducing Feed & Fertility Costs - Justin Sexten

11:30 a.m. A Survey of Relationships Among Rare Breeds of Pigs - Kizzi Roberts

12:00 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. Tomato Vegetable Grafting - Sanjun Gu

1:30 p.m. Good Agricultural Practices (GAPS) for Horticulture Producers - Marlin Bates

2:00 p.m. Adding Chickens to High Tunnel Production - Kay Neff

2:30 p.m. Organic Farm to School-Lunch Table: Opportunities for Youth on the Farm - Rachel Levi

3:00 p.m. To Each Her Own: Wild Bee Pollinators of Cucurbit Crops - Amy Alesch

3:30 p.m. Business Feasibility, Marketing, and On-line Direct Marketing; In-depth Training to Better Serve Sustainable Agriculture Business - Jim Crandall

4:00 p.m. Extending the Vegetable Growing Season with Low Cost Quick Hoops - Curtis Millsap

4:30 p.m. Southern Boone Learning Garden - Jennifer Grabner


9:30 a.m. Soy-Free, Corn-Free Layer Chicken Feed, Identifying a Niche Market - Jeri Villarreal

10:00 a.m. Fieldhands and Foodways: A Cultural & Historical Urban Farm Program - Venice Williams & Fatuma Emmad

11:30 a.m. Sustainability of a Short-Rotation Woody Biofuel System Compared to Grass Biofuel & Grain Cropping Systems - Hank Stelzer

12:00 p.m. Weston A. Price Foundation - Shanyna Sasken

1:00 p.m. Skip Row Corn Planting Techniques with Cover Crops for Sustainable Growing - Harry & Rose Cope

1:30 p.m. Aquaponic Farmers: Building a New Interest in Satisfying the Appetites of the Future - Robert Dillon

2:30 p.m. Elderberry: A Rapidly Growing Specialty Crop Industry in the US Midwest - Michael Gold

3:30 p.m. Wild Eating: Bringing food production back to nature - Laura Worstell

4:00 p.m. Truffle Orchard Establishment - Daniel Hellmuth


9:30 a.m. Integrated Pest Management for Small Hive Beetles - John Nenninger

10:30 a.m. Farming with Urban Youth: Developing Eco. Literacy through a Summer Ag Course - Levi Gardner

11:00 a.m. Growing a Future: Preparing Tomorrow's Sustainable Growers Today - Dan Kenney

11:30 a.m. Creating Productive and Profitable Landscapes with Native Plants - Nadia Navarrete-Tindall

12:00 p.m. Lunch - MO Organic Assn meeting

1:00 p.m. Hoeing Hens: Using Laying Hens in Mobile Chicken Coops to Reduce Tillage, Cultivation & Weed Pressure & Increase Fertility in Vegetable Production - Pieter Los

1:30 p.m. The Effect of Commercially-added Mycorrhiza and/or Compost on Early Growth of Berry bushes - Cathy, Patricia, & Sebastian Hanus

2:00 p.m. Adding Value to Missouri Family Farm by Incorporating Aquaculture into Existing Farm Operation, Expanding Prawn & Trout Into an Existing HybridBluegill Operation in a One-Year Cycle - Joe Gaylord

2:30 p.m. Maintaining Companion Planting Techniques While Mechanizing in Diverse, Small-Farm
Vegetable Operations - Rob Faux

3:00-3:55 p.m. The Cheapest Way to Produce the Best Eggs: whole grains and pasture-raised laying hens - John Arbuckle

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Specialty Block Grant Recipients for Missouri

The Missouri Department of Agriculture offers Specialty Block Grants once a year.  This year 14 proposals were awarded with the total amount of all proposals coming to $350,925.40.  These grant are not for individuals but rather for "groups" of farmers.  Here are the 14 projects that were awarded.

Partner with Cultivate Kansas City to support an outreach team for the Get Growing Kansas City project that is comprised of eight people with a comprehensive skill set relative to growing, marketing, and distributing locally produced specialty crops. Project staff will use internal controls to ensure that SCBGP-FB funds solely enhance the competitiveness of eligible specialty crops.

Partner with the Missouri River Bluffs Association to encourage more producers to grow food in the five county Missouri River Bluffs Association region and encourage more customers to buy locally grown food through the implementation of a marketing campaign for locally grown food, development of a regional local food database, and facilitation of educational events at a farmers’ market. SCBGP-FB funds will not be used to invite, register, or promote products that are not defined as specialty crops.
Partner with the Missouri Wine and Grape Board to continue to increase winery tourism and wine sales by maintaining the Missouri Passport Program for another year.
Partner with the Menorah Legacy Foundation to expand a mobile market campaign which makes fresh, locally grown food available and affordable for low-income persons living in urban “food deserts” without access to grocery stores or farmers’ markets. Matching funds will be utilized to cover expenditures for non-specialty crop commodities.
Partner with the Western Nursery and Landscape Association to facilitate an educational program for Missouri nursery crop growers to help them meet the requirements set forth by the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) for sustainable plant production.
Partner with the St. Patrick Center to conduct an urban agriculture educational program, which will increase the horticulture skills of the Center’s clients.
Partner with Saint Louis University to establish a teaching orchard with emphasis on organic growing techniques, which will be utilized to host workshops and discussions with community members, teachers, and other interested stakeholders.
Partner with In2Action to increase local production, accessibility, and awareness of honey through the development of a sustainable test-model and educate low-income families about the nutritional, health, and medicinal benefits associated with honey consumption.
Partner with the Webb City Farmers’ Market to provide a conference that includes in-depth presentations and tours that cover issues of interest to specialty crop growers (both current and prospective), marketers, and consumers.
Partner with EarthDance to increase low-income and minority individuals’ knowledge of specialty crop sustainable agriculture opportunities and benefits through the continued implementation and expansion of an organic farming apprenticeship program and facilitation of food safety workshops for area specialty crop farmers.
Partner with the University of Missouri to determine the nitrogen needed to maximize yields and enhance profitability of chestnut production while avoiding the potential for contaminating of groundwater aquifers.
Partner with Missouri State University to provide molecular genetic support to expedite a Norton grape breeding effort with the ultimate goal of improving viticultural performance and enological quality of new grape varieties well adapted to Missouri conditions.
Partner with Lincoln University to develop organic management options for Japanese Beetle, Popillia japonica, and deploy monitoring systems for the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys, and Spotted Wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii.
Perform pre-award and post-award activities to administer Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding and ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making a Farm Marketing Plan Webinar

Do you have a marketing plan for your farm? If not then you may want to join in on a webinar from the Vermont New Farmer Project with the Women's Agricultural Network at the University of Vermont on October 30th starting at 7 pm.

October 30, 2012, 7 pm: Making a Farm Marketing Plan.

Have you ever wondered what a marketing plan is and if you should have one? Are you good at growing things but not as confident selling them? Are you considering entering new markets or selling a new product? Are you trying to figure out which promotional tools are the best use of your time and money? If marketing is on your mind, join us for the next Vermont New Farmer Project webinar. Rose Wilson, consultant in marketing, business planning, and business development for farms, will lead you through the steps for creating a marketing plan for your farm. While walking through the marketing plan Rose will share tips on how to begin market research, choose your markets, develop marketing goals and prioritize marketing efforts. Bring your questions and plan for an interactive and engaged hour all about marketing!

Upcoming webinars from the Vermont New Farmer Project include:

November 27, 2012, 7 pm. Where are the Grants? Financing Strategies for New Farmers.

As a new farmer, accessing the money you need to get your farm started and to keep it operating can be a big challenge. The idea of finding a grant to help fund your farm operation is an alluring proposition. However, while opportunities for grant funding do exist, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as free money. Mary Peabody, director of the UVM Ext New Farmer Project, will talk about some common grants available to farmers, the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing grant funding for your farm, and how to think strategically about using conventional and alternative financing to support your operation through the start-up phase. Where are the Grants? Funding Strategies for the New Farm with Mary Peabody, Community Resources & Economic Development Specialist, UVM Extension.

December 18, 2012, 7 pm: Reaping the Rewards of Farm Financial Records

Record keeping on the farm is a chore that many of us put off. With the new year around the corner, make better record keeping your resolution! Join the Vermont New Farmer Project to learn strategies for farm financial record keeping that work. Mark Cannella, agricultural financial management specialist at UVM Extension, will help you prioritize your financial record keeping efforts, share tips for developing an effective record keeping system and show you how to use your records to make savvy farm management decisions. This introductory webinar will get your new fiscal year started off right.

January 29, 2013: Managing Vegetable Transplants for Success

Julie Rubaud, owner and operator of Red Wagon Plants, will share her knowledge and expertise in raising organic vegetable transplants for farms and commercial production. Red Wagon Plants is a wholesale organic plant operation with a retail outlet in Hinesburg, VT. Julie will talk about her management strategies for growing healthy, disease free transplants organically, as well as variety selection and timing of transplant production. Julie has extensive experience as a produce farm owner and operator and has operated Red Wagon Plants since 2005.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Labeling Organic Products

Organic products have strict production and labeling requirements. Unless noted below, organic products must meet the following requirements:
-    Produced without excluded methods (e.g., genetic engineering), ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.
-    Produced per the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List).
-    Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program- authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations.
Overall, if you make a product and want to claim that it or its ingredients are organic, your final product probably needs to be certified.  If you are not certified, you must not make any organic claim on the principal display panel or use the USDA organic seal anywhere on the package.* You may only, on the information panel, identify the certified organic ingredients as organic and the percentage of organic ingredients.
(*Some operations are exempt from certification, including organic farmers who sell $5,000 or less. For more information on exempt labeling click here.)

An overview of labeling the various categories of organic products is provided below.

Principal Display Panel: portion of the package most likely to be seen by customers at the time of purchase.

Information Panel: includes ingredient statement (list of ingredients contained in a product, from highest to lowest percentage of final product) and other product information.

Your certifying agent will review and approve each of your product labels to ensure compliance. To learn more about labeling requirements in the USDA organic regulations, click here.

100% Organic
Raw or processed agricultural products in the “100 percent organic” category must meet these criteria:
-  All ingredients must be certified organic.
Any processing aids must be organic.
Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.
May include USDA organic seal and/or 100 percent organic claim.
Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark.

Raw or processed agricultural products in the “organic” category must meet these criteria:
All agricultural ingredients must be certified organic, except where specified on National List.
Non-organic ingredients allowed per National List may be used, up to a combined total of five percent of non-organic content (excluding salt and water).
Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.
May include USDA organic seal and/or organic claim.
Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark.

“Made with” Organic
Multi-ingredient agricultural products in the “made with” category must meet these criteria:
-  At least 70 percent of the product must be certified organic ingredients (excluding salt and water).
-  Any remaining agricultural products are not required to be organically produced but must be produced without excluded methods (see page 1).
Non-agricultural products must be specifically allowed on the National List.
Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.
May state “made with organic (insert up to three ingredients or ingredient categories).” Must not include USDA organic seal anywhere, represent finished product as organic, or state “made with organic ingredients.”  Must identify organic ingredients (e.g., organic dill) or via asterisk or other mark.
Specific Organic Ingredients
Multi-ingredient products with less than 70 percent certified organic content (excluding salt and water) don’t need to be certified. Any non-certified product:
Must not include USDA organic seal anywhere or the word “organic” on principal display panel.
-           - May only list certified organic ingredients as organic in the ingredient list and the percentage of organic ingredients. Remaining ingredients are not required to follow the USDA organic regulations.
Based on the label, IF the product contains at least 70 percent certified organic content (excluding salt and water) AND is overseen by a certifying agent, your muffin mix would qualify for the “made with” organic labeling category. To qualify for the “organic” category and use the USDA organic seal, your blueberries and cinnamon would also need to be certified organic.
(from USDA National Organic Program)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Your Thoughts Matter

The Missouri Beginning Farmers Program is in the process of creating its annual report to USDA.  We would like your help and assistance.  If you have participated in any of the following, please fill out this survey monkey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QSXLGL5

Activities of the Missouri Beginning Farmers Program are:
* blog
* Facebook
* webinars
* workshops
* forums
* Online Learning Community

The information in the survey monkey helps us not only report back to USDA but also enables us to do future programming in the areas you need assistance with.  It also enables us to garner new grants for beginning farmers.  Thank You.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Need Detail on the Soils You Farm?

Most farmers are intimately familiar with the soils on which they raise crops or animals. For those considering using new land, or perhaps new farm occupants, a study of your primary resource can be very useful. Over recent years, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has updated many county soil surveys across Missouri and made them available to the public through an internet site called the Web Soil Survey (WSS).

If you have ever looked up a piece of land in a printed county soil survey map or seen soil maps in farm planning documents, then you are familiar with the way soils information is superimposed on a map. The irregular boundary lines are soil map unit delineations. Delineations on a soil map represent an area dominated by one major kind of soil or an area dominated by two or three kinds of soil. A map unit is identified and named according to the taxonomic classification of the dominant soil or soils. Within a taxonomic class, there are precisely defined limits for the properties of the soils. Some of these properties include soil color, soil texture, soil structure, soil pH, consistency, mineral and chemical composition, and arrangement in the soil profile. Soils with similar properties result in soils that perform similarly for land use purposes.

Soil map unit descriptions are included on the website for the area of interest (AOI) defined by the user. The website allows the user to display a variety of maps and reports that can be used to determine suitability of soils for a particular use.

What do you need to access the Web Soil Survey? A computer and internet connection, preferably higher-speed. Be patient. It may take a little time for your computer to work through each step. Here’s a little primer to help you get started.

Go to the NRCS Web Soil Survey website and look over the four basic steps. Click the green “START WSS” button. A new page will open with the “Area of Interest” (AOI) tab already selected on the horizontal banner near the top of the page. Now, determine the area for which you want soil information:
  1.  On the left side of the screen in the Quick Navigation panel, click on one of the selection methods. For example, open State/County, select your state and county, and click View.
  2. After the map image is updated, click the Zoom In tool.  Then click and drag a rectangle on the map to zoom to an area. Zoom in as close as you need to so you can see streets and landmarks you recognize.
  3. After the map image is updated, click the AOI Rectangle tool.Click and drag a rectangle around the area of the map you wish to set as your Area of Interest.
  4. The application will create the AOI you have specified.
  5. If the area you are interested in is not rectangular, you can use the AOI Polygon toolClick points on the map to define your AOI. Double-click or CTRL-click the final point to finish.
Now, click on the “Soil Map” tab next to the “Area of Interest” tab. This will overlay the soil map information on the area of interest you have selected. On the left you will see a table with the soil map unit symbols and names listed along with their acres in the area of interest. You can get details about the soils included in your area of interest map by clicking on the map unit name.

Click on “Soil Data Explorer” to find further information. It takes a little work and trial and error to find what you want. Start by clicking the “Suitabilities and Limitations for Use” tab, then click “Yields of Non-Irrigated Crops (Component)”. A table will appear below and you can select a crop of interest from a drop down menu. Click the crop you would like information about, then select and click “View Rating.”

You should now see your soil map, table of soil map units and a description of “Yields of Non-Irrigated Crops” (or whatever vegetative productivity choice you selected). Next to the soil map on this screen is a little vertical tab called “legend.” Click here and look for the color legend that matches the color of the soil type of interest on your map. You will see the potential yield for the crop selected. This is only a tiny part of the information available.

That’s enough to get started. You can generate printable reports by saving your work into the free “shopping cart” provided on WSS. When you’re done, go to the shopping cart and request your report. If you run into trouble, contact your nearest NRCS office for help.
(Adapted from Michigan State University News, October 12, 2012)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Five Steps to Organic Certification

The USDA organic label is backed by a certification system that verifies farmers or handling facilities located anywhere in the world comply with the USDA Organic Regulations. Certification entails five steps:
STEP 1: Develop an organic system plan. The organic system plan is the foundation of the organic certification process. Created by the producer or handler seeking certification, it details how an operation will comply with the regulations based on its unique characteristics.
While plans differ based on operation type and needs, they address all practices of the farming or handling systems, such as tilling, grazing, harvesting, storing and transporting. They also specify approved substances used during the growing or handling process, monitoring practices for organic systems, recordkeeping systems, and barriers that prevent commingling with nonorganic products or contact with prohibited substances.
STEP 2: Implement the organic system plan. Have it reviewed by a certifying agent.Organic operations are certified by private, foreign or State entities that have been accredited by USDA. These entities are called certifying agents and are located throughout the United States and around the world. Certifying agents are responsible for ensuring that organic products meet all organic standards.
STEP 3: Receive inspection. Every operation that applies for organic certification is first inspected on site by a certifying agent. These comprehensive top-to-bottom inspections differ in scope depending on the farm or facility. For example, for crops they include inspection of fields, soil conditions, crop health, approaches to management of weeds and other crop pests, water systems, storage areas and equipment. For livestock, they include inspection of feed production and purchase records, feed rations, animal living conditions, preventative health management practices (e.g., vaccinations), health records, and the number and condition of animals present on the farm. At a handling or processing facility, an inspector evaluates the receiving, processing, and storage areas used for organic ingredients and finished products.
STEP 4: Have a certifying agent review the inspection report. The inspector presents findings to the certifying agent following observation of practices on the farm or facility as they compare to the organic system plan. In addition to the inspection points mentioned above, the inspector also presents an assessment of the risk of contamination from prohibited materials and might even take soil, tissue or product samples as needed. The inspector also analyzes potential hazards and critical control points and makes sure procedures to prevent contamination are adequate.  From there all findings are presented the certifying agent for review.
STEP 5: Receive a decision from the certifier. If an operation complies with the rules, the certifying agent issues an organic certificate listing products that can be sold as organic from that operation. The organic farm or facility continues to update its plan as it modifies its practices, and an inspection is done at least once a year to maintain certification. (See “What is Organic Certification?”)
While the certification system is rigorous to ensure integrity of the USDA organic label, thousands of producers and handlers continue to invest in these activities to market their products as organic. Earlier this year, USDA featured how Bob and Kathy Stolzfus are extending their vegetable-growing season in Florence, Miss.; veterans are training for organic careers in San Diego, Calif.; and Sarahlee Lawrence is implementing conservation measures on her food and flower operation in central Oregon.
In light of the continued growth of organic, USDA’s new Organic Literacy Initiative helps prospective farmers, ranchers and processors learn about not only how to be certified but also how to access related USDA programs. It features a toolkit that helps farmers and businesses answer the question, “Is organic an option for me?” A look at the resource guide will also help current and prospective organic customers access various USDA programs that support organic agriculture.
(from USDA Organic blog, October 10, 2012 - photo by USDA Lance Cheung)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vegetable Equipment How-To Videos

The Seed Farm launches four new vegetable equipment how-to videos designed to help vegetable farmers choose appropriate equipment and use new equipment successfully. These videos produced in collaboration with Penn State Extension provide pros and cons; and a chance to see less familiar equipment in action for four pieces of equipment from the Seed Farm’s equipment demonstration: a spader, plastic layer, Japanese paper pot transplanter and three push seeders.

“Having the right equipment and knowing how to use it is essential to vegetable farm success,” says Penn State Sustainable Agriculture Educator Tianna DuPont. “We are excited to begin providing online media to help new farmers make good equipment choices and provide a last minute review before starting up the tractor to use new equipment for the first time.”

The ‘star’ of the videos, Seed Farm Director Sara Runkel shares hands-on knowledge and tips. Runkel has more than 13 years of organic vegetable farming experience. She shares important tips on set-up from leveling a spader, and starting before engaging with the soil; to the nitty-gritty of filling paper pot transplanter trays. “We worked hard to film the how-tos in enough detail to help you [new farmers] save time and struggle when learning to use new equipment,” says Runkel. Though not a replacement for live equipment training (or reading the manual!), the video producers think they will be a good additional resource. Importantly, these videos provide an opportunity to ‘see’ potential equipment purchases in action while farmers are considering their options. “The more information producers have on equipment pros and cons, the more likely they will be able to make the best investment for their particular farm needs,” says Runkel.

These videos are part of an ongoing equipment demonstration at the Seed Farm, Lehigh County’s Agricultural Incubator. This project has trialed seventeen weed management, soil preparation, and seeding and transplanting tools and techniques over the past three years. Farmers were able to try new tools and see tools in action before spending big money on new investments. “This (equipment workshop) was really helpful. I am glad I got to try those tools before I went out and bought them,” said a recent participant in equipment workshops.

To view videos click here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New pasture grazing topics set for Lake Ozark meeting, Nov. 5-6

New ideas for pastures will be discussed at the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council meeting, Nov. 5-6 at Lake Ozark, Mo.

Topics include updates on new nontoxic tall fescue available to replace drought-stricken pastures, supplemental feeding on pasture and multispecies grazing.

Grazing sheep and cattle together will be explained by Joe and Hoss Hopping of Hopping Brothers Livestock, Wagoner, Okla. They run 600 ewes with 150 cows or 200 to 225 stocker calves. “We made lots of mistakes,” Joe said. “We started with goats, but now sheep are our main deal. They make money.”

The cattle eat grass, but sheep eat weeds and brush. “We thought only goats would do that,” Joe added.

The MFGC program features farmers as well as University of Missouri and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service specialists.

Craig Roberts, MU Extension forage specialist, will talk about managing fescue toxicosis and follow with updates on novel-endophyte fescue.

Justin Sexten, MU Extension beef nutritionist, will tell advantages of feeding supplements on pasture versus pasture only.

Abner Womack, founder of the MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, will review “Impact of Economic Climate on Farm Prices.”

Nitty-gritty topics include flexible fencing by Ian Kurtz of Ozark, Mo., and how to grow grass with less nitrogen fertilizer by Mark Kennedy of Houston, Mo. He is NRCS grassland conservationist. Kurtz, formerly with NRCS, now consults on grassland farming.

Ann Wells, veterinarian at Prairie Grove, Ark., will tell about environmentally friendly fly control. Kathy Voth, founder of Livestock for Landscapes, Loveland, Colo., will tell how she trains cows to eat weeds.

The final product of grazing will be included. Bruce Shanks of Lincoln University, Jefferson City, describes meat processing and marketing.

MFGC is a commodity group for grass growers and graziers.  Darrell Franson, council president, Mount Vernon, Mo., will preside at an awards banquet. Outstanding graziers will be named.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. and ends by 3 p.m. the next day at the Resort at Port Arrowhead on Business Highway 54 near the south end of the Bagnell Strip.

Full advance registration is $105 plus $55 for spouse. Discounts apply for MFGC members and one-day registrations.

Joetta Roberts, executive secretary, gives details at 573-499-0886 (mornings).  Cllick here for program and registration.  Special room rates are $65 for early registrations at the resort. Call 1-800-532-3575.
(by Duane Daily, MU Senior Information Specialist)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Looking at Your Cattle a Practice for Beef Production Success

Successful beef cattle producers in southwest Missouri give varied responses when asked about their most important practices for success.

According to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, most producers will stay things like forage production, genetic selection, health programs and effective marketing.

“One couple I talked with surprised me a bit when the wife quickly replied, ‘we look at them a lot.’ Looking at your cattle is a management practice some may not take too seriously but I have admit, it is an important part of beef cattle production,” said Cole.

Other farm chores or off-the-farm job demands may be reasons this practice is not performed as frequently or as competently as it should be.

“Cattle and their environment do need to be looked at frequently and with a purpose,” said Cole. “A quick check after dark or before the sun comes up is not good enough, but may be the best you can do.”

During the “looking,” Cole suggests producers count the cattle if possible, to tell if someone might have borrowed or stolen some.

“Law enforcement folks need to know soon if you’re missing cattle. If you only do a count every two weeks, the chances of finding a thief are slim. A daily check is ideal,” said Cole.

A close herd check should be routine during calving season according to Cole.

“This is the one time during the year most cow herd owners do check to tag calves, make sure heifers or cows do not need assistance and no scour or other sickness problems have begun,” said Cole.

During the breeding season, close attention should be given to the bull to determine if he is healthy and doing his job. Close observers may even keep dates and numbers down on females that were in heat.

Grazing schools teach close observation of pasture growth too. It is especially important to look at the forage as far as quality and quantity are concerned.

“If you’re following a fairly rigid rotational grazing system, an excellent time to look and count is when you change pastures. Weed problems can be noted, some of which may be toxic,” said Cole.

In fescue country, in the late fall-early winter, special attention should be given on cold mornings to symptoms of fescue foot. It results in lameness in the rear feet. According to Cole, keen observation can pick it up before significant damage occurs to the animal.

Pasture checks may be done by walking, riding horseback, on a four-wheeler or in a truck. The important thing is to “look a lot,” make notes about what is going on with your investment.

“University of Missouri Extension budgets allocate five hours per cow per year for labor. A portion of that time is for looking and management. That time helps improve the bottom line in the beef cow enterprise,” said Cole.
(by David Burton, MU Communication Specialist)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lady Landowner Workshops

Two Lady Landowner Workshops will be held in Northeast Missouri.

The first workshop will be held October 24 in Linn County at the Browning Community Center (intersection or Hwy 5 & Route M, Browning, MO). Pre-registration is required by October 19th. Please contact 660-265-4541 or shaferg@missouri.edu.

A workshop will also be held October 23 in Schuyler County at the Livonia Community Center. For more information and to register for this workshop contact the Schuyler County Extension Center at 660-457-3469.

The agenda for that workshop is as follows:

9:30 to 10:00 a.m. Registration & Introductions

10:00 to 10:45 a.m. Update on Government Programs (FSA, NRCS, SWCD)

11:50 to 11:15 a.m. Reducing Feed Costs for Beef Cattle

11:20 to 12:00 p.m. Impact of the Drought on Row and Cover Crops

12:00 to 1:00 p.m. LUNCH (provided)

1:05 to 2:00 p.m. Impact of the Drought on Gardens, Lawns, etc.

2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Current Farm Lease Issues and Concerns

3:00 to 3:15 p.m. Final Questions and Evaluations

The workshops are free and all interested women (owneroperators, spouses, widows) are invited to attend this program.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Renovating Ponds

Some say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and this drought has certainly given us a lot of lemons. One way to turn around a negative effect of the drought is to renovate a dry older pond.

A problem with many older, small farm ponds is their low to almost no water holding capacity due to filling with silt. These old, shallow ponds are often ignored because of the cost and trouble associated with a renovation. 

Typically, pond renovation begins with the dam being opened to release the water. The use of drag lines or back hoes to renovate a “wet” or full pond is not nearly as efficient and is usually more expensive than a dry pond renovation. The drought provides an opportunity to renovate without damaging the dam and having to wait for the pond to drain. 

Minimum depth should be 8 feet. The dam and sides of the pond should be rather steep (not to exceed a 3:1 slope) to aid in reducing marginal aquatic weed establishment and growth. Typically, the water entrance end is a shallower slope. The 8 foot depth and steep sides should give sufficient water to leave some reserve capacity even during the next drought increasing the likelihood of fish survival. 

Silt cleaned from the pond should be placed where it will not wash back into the pond. If there is a clay layer spread over the bottom of the original construction to aid in sealing, this should be preserved in place or saved nearby to be reapplied. 

If the dam has trees or shrubs, they should be removed with the roots to guard against future leaking or weakening. Dams typically have been eroded and should be rebuilt. At the same time, damage from tree or shrub removal can be repaired. 

Disturbed soil around the pond above the intended water line should also be prepared for mulching and seeding. Wheat can be used hold soil until perennial grasses can be sown. 

Once the pond refills, the back side of the dam should be checked for wet spots indicating seepage or leaks. Deep cracks left from the drought, root tunnels or pond seal damage from the renovation can be sources of pond leakage. There is an MU guidesheet, G1555 on reducing pond seepage.

Additional information on ponds can be found from the Missouri Department of Conservation and from the “Pond Management Resources on the Internet” web page.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Organic Farming Apprenticeship

The EarthDance Organic Farming Apprenticeship is an opportunity to learn how to grow food on a productive farm, close to home. The program was designed to serve the needs of urban and suburban dwellers who are interested in learning to grow their own food or exploring careers in sustainable agriculture, but are not yet able to devote themselves to full-time farming. Through the apprenticeship program, aspiring farmers and garden leaders become part of a supportive community of engaged food citizens. EarthDance graduates have gone on to start their own farms, found community gardens, and to develop youth gardening programs.

Come out to our info session on what the apprenticeship is all about:

Wednesday, Nov. 14th, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm. Schalfly Bottleworks, Crown Room. "So You Want To Be A Farmer?" Info session. Presented by Molly Rockamann, April Shelhon, Rachel Levi

Read more about becoming an apprentice for the 2013 growing season...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cover Crops for Profit

Cover crops, or green manure as they are sometimes referred to, are legumes, grasses and brassicas (plants from the mustard family such as cabbage, kale or broccoli). The use of a cover crop can lead to major improvements in the soil, such as increased water infiltration, reduced compaction, and prevention of soil erosion. Long-term use of cover crops is an effective way to increase profit from your farm, and sometimes the cover crop itself can offer a farm product which you can sell.

Crimson Clover

However, the main benefit of continued use of cover crops will be realized in the cash crop that follows the cover crop. This is due to the accumulation of nutrients the cover crop has moved up from lower in the soil profile to the surface layer of soil, which is now available to your next cash crop. Other associated benefits are: suppressing weeds, nitrogen fixing, conserving energy use (less tractor work), conserving moisture, early spring flowers for pollinators, and adding organic matter to improve the soil increasing the vigor of plants.

Legumes are the nitrogen concentrators. The field peas, alfalfa, vetch and clovers will fix nitrogen from the air by the nodules on the roots. When the above ground portion of the plant is chopped down and begins to decompose, the nitrogen is released into the ground. When planting legumes, you should use an inoculant (available commercially) that will help the seedlings form lots of nodules.
Annual Rye Grass

Grasses are the biomass or organic matter builders. Winter Rye, Sudan grass, ryegrass and millet are all grasses that will produce tons of biomass as they are chopped, crimped or rolled down and begin to decompose. Long-term research has documented that fields planted in one of these grasses could show a two percent increase or more of organic matter. This can have profit benefits down the line.

Brassicas used as a cover crop are known as bio-fumigants (a method of destroying pests). Mustards are most commonly used as bio-fumigants against nematode and soil fungi problems. When bio-fumigating, the cover crop is chopped and immediately incorporated into the soil for best results. Chopping or mowing should be just prior to bloom.

Planting cover crops is a matter of purpose and need. Are you rotating in a cover crop to prevent weeds in a fallow field, scavenging nitrogen or building biomass and good bacteria? Plant in spring, mow it when it begins to flower, and plow under in the fall; plant in the late summer or early fall, over winter, then crimp or roll the cover crop to kill it in spring and plant through the thick mat of decomposing vegetation.

Oilseed Radish
Late summer is a good time to start thinking about what cover crops you will want to plant in your fields in the fall.  For example, a mix of cereal rye and Austrian winter peas (legume) planted in late October will be able to start establishing themselves and create a living cover that will protect your field through the winter, while also doing all the things mentioned in this article.  Then in the spring, the cover crop can be managed in whatever way works best for you. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a roller/crimper and a no-till drill, this is an excellent tool to manage the cover crop. Rodale nstitute has been working on perfecting this technique for many years. If you do not have access to this equipment, cutting the cover crop down and incorporating it into the soil with a tiller or other methods can also work.

With cover crops, timing is very important.  Planting too late in the fall can result in poor growth, thus a weak cover crop.  Your specific weather, climate zone, soil type, farming techniques and skills will play important roles in choosing when to plant and what cover crop to plant. Research the possibilities and find the cover crop that suits your farm and climate. The profit in the soil will pay off.

An excellent resource to learn more about cover crop is the Midwest Cover Crop Council webpage
(http://www.mccc.msu.edu/) or the #9 SARE Handbook “Managing Cover Crops Profitably.” You can download the book for free or order it for $19.00 from the website.
(by Susan Jaster, Small Farm Outreach Worker, Lincoln University)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

MU Extension’s Southern Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference in Bolivar Oct. 20

University of Missouri and Lincoln University are teaming up to host the Southern Missouri Sheep and Goat Conference from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Polk County Fairgrounds, 4560 S. 100th Road, Bolivar, Mo.

MU Extension offices in southern Missouri continue to receive calls for information about sheep and goat production according to Wesley Tucker, an agriculture business specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Polk County.

“There is simply more profit potential in sheep and goats than most other enterprises that can use our local resources. Of course you have to be willing to put in more labor as well as an investment in facilities and fences,” said Tucker.

This conference will provide producers with practical management tips they can use to focus on improving the profitability of their own sheep and goat operations.

The following topics will be presented at the conference: economics of sheep and goat production, producing quality hay, limited versus intensive management of sheep and goats, a panel discussion on how to cope with the drought, alternative feeding strategies for this winter, and live demonstrations of electric fencing, a fecal egg count workshop, and selection and showing for youth.

Topics will be presented by personnel from MU Extension and Lincoln University Cooperative Extension. 

“This conference is for beginners as well as experienced producers,” said Tucker.

Registration for the conference is $5 which includes lunch.  To arrange for the food, preregistration is needed by Oct. 15.

For more information about the conference or to register, stop by or call the Polk County Extension Center at (417) 326-4916.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Elderberry Wine Making Workshop

The Center for Agroforestry is pleased to announce that it will be hosting an elderberry wine making workshop in Columbia on Friday, October 26. The workshop will be held in the Barrel Room of Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar (811 E. Walnut St.), Columbia, MO from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dr. John Brewer, president of Wyldewood Cellars, will be the course instructor.

Dr. Brewer’s excellence as a winemaker has been widely recognized, and he serves as a judge at international wine competitions. Wyldewood Cellars produces more than 40 types of wine and has won over 450 international awards for its wines, including elderberry varieties. Wyldewood Cellars’ Spiced Elderberry Wine was featured and served at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, where it was named the Best Non-Grape Wine in North and Latin America and won many Gold Medals. In addition, Wyldewood Cellars sells value-added elderberry products coast to coast. For more information, see wyldewoodcellars.com.

The cost of the workshop is $30, which includes a lunch catered by Bleu and an elderberry wine tasting. Interested parties can register by clicking here.  Visit centerforagroforestry.com/events or contact Michael Gold to learn more about this event!