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The Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA) was organized in 1992 as a non-profit organization with the mission of promoting organic agriculture and the development and support of food systems that revitalize and sustain local communities.  MOFFA was one of the first organizations in Michigan and the nation to actively promote these principles. 

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18 May 2020    Tell Congress: No More COVID-19 Contaminated Factory Farm Slaughterhouses!

Tell Congress:  No More COVID-19 Contaminated Factory Farm Slaughterhouses!

From the Organic Consumers Association:  On May Day, Reps. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) introduced legislation to help small farmers during the COVID-19 crisis by, among other things, making it easier for them to get grants to process grass-fed and pasture-raised meat.  

TAKE ACTION: Ask Congress to help grass-fed and pasture-raised meat producers by supporting H.R. 6682!

As COVID-19 outbreaks shut down factory farm slaughterhouses across the U.S., producers of organic regenerative pasture-raised and grass-fed meat are trying to fill the void. 
 
For small farmers, getting their meat processed is challenging because there are so few local and regional processing facilities. 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture already provides grants to help farmers and ranchers with “value-added” activities, such as the processing and marketing of their products.
 
But under the current Value-Added Producer Grants program, farmers have to put up 50% of the project’s total cost before they can qualify for a matching grant.  Most small farmers can’t come up with that kind of cash. Under H.R. 6682, they wouldn’t have to.
TAKE ACTION: Ask Congress to help grass-fed and pasture-raised meat producers by supporting H.R. 6682!
 
29 Apr 2020    Northwest Michigan Victory Growers

Northwest Michigan Victory Growers

Calling all new and experienced gardeners! If you have land, tools, seeds, or plants to share—or are in need of land, tools, seeds, or plants—let us know! Working with a team of neighbors, Crosshatch is looking to pair those in abundance with those in need so that we can grow more food together (but, you know, apart by a little ways).
 
Click here if you want to grow food, but could use some land, tools, seeds or plants.
 
Click here if you have land, tools, seeds or plants that you can share or give away.
 
Please respond by May 8 so that we can pair growers in time for the growing season.
 
Questions? Email Daniel at daniel@crosshatch.org.
 
26 Mar 2020    American Farmland Trust – Farmer Relief Fund

American Farmland Trust – Farmer Relief Fund

American Farmland Trust is excited to announce that the application for AFT’s Farmer Relief Fund is now live!  AFT will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis.
 
Eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs. If this describes your farming operation, apply here.  The application (available in both English and Spanish) is easy to complete but will require applicants to include sufficient detail to ensure AFT is awarding producers that have the greatest needs. Applicants will be asked to estimate their financial loss.
The initial application period goes until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1. 
 
18 Mar 2020    Are You Concerned About Lost Income from COVID-19?

Are you Concerned About Lost Income from COVID-19?

OEFFA Can Help Farmers Receive Zero Interest, Zero Fee Loans from Kiva.  Social distancing strategies intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) are already closing farmers' markets, schools, restaurants, and events. As the farming season begins to pick up, continued closures and reduced market attendance could have significant, negative economic consequences for farmers who rely on sales into local markets (including direct-to-consumer and restaurant sales). This uncertainty comes just as farmers are buying supplies for the year, paying their certification fees, and hiring help for the season. If you need help bridging the gap this year, click here to learn more about how OEFFA may be able to help you receive a zero interest, zero fee loan through Kiva. You can also contact OEFFA at (614) 421-2022 or kivatrustee@oeffa.org for more information or encouragement.

 
18 Mar 2020    National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Survey

National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Survey

I you are familiar with our Organic Resources page, you may have used some of the resources from NCAT.  If you have, please take 10 minutes to fill out this survey.  NCAT is looking for your feedback on how you use ATTRA resources, how satisfied you are with those resources, and the impacts and benefits that you have seen from using these resources. The results will be used to identify the strengths and opportunities for improvement in the ATTRA program, and to provide evidence of the ongoing need for ATTRA resources and services.  All results from this survey are confidential and will remain anonymous.

Any questions about survey questions or the goals of the evaluation can be directed to Kristal Jones, External Evaluator (kristal@jgresearch.org). Questions about the ATTRA program and resources can always be submitted through the ATTRA website.

 
6 Mar 2020    Livestream of Leah Penniman: "Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty"

Livestream of Leah Penniman

Join us on MSU's campus March 10th, 6:30 - 8:00 PM, at Bessey Hall, Room 113, to watch a livestream of Leah Penniman's talk, "Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty" at U of M's Food Literacy for All Lecture Series. You will have an opportunity to ask Leah some virtual questions!  This event is free and open to community members, students, staff, and faculty. We will be providing light refreshments.
 
“Farming While Black: Uprooting Racism, Seeding Sovereignty”
Soul Fire Farm, cofounded by author, activist, and farmer Leah Penniman, is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system. Through programs such as the Black-Indigenous Farmers Immersion, a sliding-scale farmshare CSA, and Youth Food Justice leadership training, Soul Fire Farm is part of a global network of farmers working to increase farmland stewardship by people of color, restore Afro-indigenous farming practices, and end food apartheid. Join us to learn how you too can be part of the movement for food sovereignty and help build a food system based on justice, dignity, and abundance for all members of our community.
 
21 Feb 2020    National Organic Producer Survey Open

National Organic Producer Survey Open

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) have released two national surveys—one for certified organic producers and the other for producers transitioning to organic certification. This collaborative effort is part of a USDA-funded project seeking to learn more about the challenges and research priorities of organic farmers and ranchers, and those transitioning land to certified organic production. 

OFRF, OSA, and a broad coalition of organic champions were instrumental in securing an increase in federal funding for organic research from $20M to $50M in the 2018 Farm Bill. This increase provides an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to tackle the challenges that inhibit the growth of organic production—strong farmer participation in these surveys is critical to informing that investment.
 
Survey results will be published in updated versions of OFRF's National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) report and OSA’s State of Organic Seed (SOS) report, both of which have been invaluable resources for ensuring research funding is relevant and responsive to the needs of organic producers, while also identifying gaps where additional investment is necessary. By collaborating on these surveys, OFRF and OSA hope to reduce survey fatigue and increase grower participation.
 
If you are a certified organic farmer/rancher, please respond to this survey:
 
 
If you are a farmer/rancher transitioning to certified organic production (this means no land currently certified organic), please take this transitioning producer survey:
 
 
 
13 Feb 2020    Cornell's Dry Bean Growers Survey

Dry Bean Growers Survey

Do you grow dry beans? Help to guide upcoming research and variety development for organic and specialty dry bean production by completing this short survey (Est. time to complete: 7 minutes).  The purpose of this survey is to seek input from organic and specialty dry bean growers on current growing practices, agronomic challenges and needs for variety improvement. To our knowledge, this type of needs assessment has not previously been completed.  The survey is being conducted by researchers in the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section at Cornell University, but results will be shared with growers, public bean breeders and Extension specialists across the United States as well as Canada.  Follow this link to the Survey: Take the Survey
 
16 Jan 2020    Recycling Greenhouse Films

Recycling Greenhouse Films

Do you use Ag./Greenhouse and/or Marine Film Plastics or know a business/landowner that does? Wouldn't it be great to see Agricultural/Greenhouse & Marine Film Plastics Recycling available throughout the State. The Michigan Recycling Coalition has put together a survey about the developing film plastic recycling program. This is a well-needed program with an opportunity to divert a great deal of material from being burnt onsite, stack/piled long-term, or sent off to the landfill. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey if you use these plastics and spread the word to others.
You can follow this link to the survey:  https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/YDBUt3
 
20 Nov 2019    Sign Up to Form Organic Grain Raising Hubs

Sign Up to Form Organic Grain Raising Hubs

Wish you had a community of producers in your area where you could share knowledge and opportunities? MOSES and OGRAIN are setting up farmer-led groups to build supportive communities for organic grain farmers around the Midwest. Sign up here and encourage farmers in your area to join, too!

 
2 Oct 2019    Organic Intensives Announced for 2020

Organic Intensives Announced for 2020

MOFFA held its first Organic Intensives in March, 2015, and those who have attended year after year have consistently found the sessions to be of greater than expected value. On January 11th, MOFFA will offer the sixth annual Organic Intensives educational event, providing current and future farmers, as well as serious gardeners, an opportunity to focus intensely on subjects for which there is substantial interest and a desire to reach a level of deep understanding.

For 2020, MOFFA is working with individuals who are nationally recognized experts and educators in one of three topic areas:  Successful Biological Orcharding with Michael Phillips, Organic No-Till Farming with Andrew Mefferd, and Local Organic Herbs for Health with jim mcdonald.  Plan to join us!

 

 
5 May 2019    Annual Report 2018

MOFFA's Annual Report for 2018

MOFFA’s Annual Report for 2018 is now available on the website, joining other reports going back to 1992, the year of our founding.  The year 2018, marking MOFFA’s 26th anniversary, was a year of looking inward, with significant time spent discussing our collective values, priorities, and vision.  We greatly appreciated Julia Darnton from MSUE traveling to the meeting to facilitate a long discussion resulting in consensus on several key values that we all, as an organization and as individuals, hold dear: environment, community, cooperation, health, inclusiveness, and education.  We discussed these values and more, including the word “organic” and its continued shifting political economy.  The statement we settled on remains, like much in life, both imperfect and fully functional. It has been a reminder to all of us why we volunteer our time to discover, share, and promote an agricultural system we believe in. 

MOFFA's Vision:
 

A vibrant and diverse community working together for healthy food that is available for everyone and for agricultural practices that support the long-term viability of our ecosystem.

MOFFA lost one board member in 2018, when Collin Thompson moved to take up a new position in Virginia.  Unfortunately the first months of 2019 saw the loss of four more members -- Amy Newday, Emily Shettler, Julie Studier, and Emily Nicholls, all of whom needed to have more time for family and farm.  We elected one new board member, Tony Browne, at the Annual Meeting in April, and elected Jessie Smith Chair, replacing Emily Nicholls.  Once again, we encourage MOFFA members to let us know if they are interested in contributing to the spread of organic practices in Michigan by serving on the organization's board.

 
22 Apr 2019    Maynard Kaufman at Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum

Sunday Social with Maynard Kaufman

We hope those of you in Southwest Michigan will join us at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum in South Haven on Sunday, April 28, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm to hear Maynard Kaufman talk about his recently published memoir, From James Joyce to Organic Farming.  Maynard was present at the creation of both Organic Growers of Michigan (1973) and MOFFA (1992), and previously edited a book about the history of the organic movement in Michigan, with contributions from fifteen of those who were involved in the movement over the past 45 years. 

 
4 Feb 2019    It's Conference Season

It's Conference Season!

Chris Wright instructs in the mushroom sessionMOFFA completed its fifth annual Organic Intensives on January 12, 2019.  This year for the first time we offered four in-depth sessions:  Healthy Organic Livestock, Organic Mushroom Production, Technology in Organic Row Crops, and Advanced Organic Soil Management.  And once again, participants expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the material and the presenters—over 75% characterized both the content and the presenters as "excellent" and 97% and 99% called the content and the materials either "excellent" or "above average", respectively.

MOFFA also attended the Northern Michigan Small Farm Confrerence in January, and plans to have a presence at MIFFS' Family Farms conference in Kalamazoo on February 9 and the Central Michigan Seed Swap on February 24.  We'll hope to see you there!  Other major conferences coming up in the near future are the 40th Annual OEFFA Conference in Dayton, Ohio on Feb. 14-16; MOSES, Feb. 21-23 in La Crosse, Wisconsin; and the Indiana Organic Grain Farmers' Conference March 6-7 in West Lafayette, Indiana.

 
11 Jun 2018    2018 Farm Bill: Senate Edition

Draft Farm Bill Released in the Senate

On Friday, June 8, the Senate Agriculture Committee released their draft of the 2018 Farm Bill.  Chairman Roberts requested that proposed amendments be submitted on Monday and the bill is expected to move to the markup stage on Wednesday, June 13, and to be brought to a vote on the floor of the Senate before the July 4th recess.   

The Senate bill is a rare example of bipartisan cooperation, and contains several provisions that are advantageous to organic agriculture, including language to improve the integrity of the import supply chain, a substantial increase in funding for the Organic  Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), and mandatory funding for the organic cost share.

The Organic Farmers Association has made the full text of the bill (1006 pages) available online.  The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has posted articles on six aspects of the bill of greatest interest to family-scale farms and organic production: Conservation, Agricultural Research and Plant Breeding, Organic Agriculture, Local Food and Regional Development, Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers, and Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance.

The House version of the Farm Bill, in contrast, was deeply flawed from a sustainable agriculture perspective, and did not find enough votes for passage last month.  NSAC's take on what might happen next in the house is available here.

 
16 Apr 2018    2018 Farm Bill

Draft of 2018 Farm Bill Introduced in the House

On April 12, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) introduced his draft of the 2018 Farm Bill.  While the bill contains limited provisions in support of organic, there are several serious threats as well.  The bill would end funding for the Organic Certification Cost Share.  It would also legitimize the practice of naming employees of industrial organic operations to seats on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that were clearly meant to be held by small-scale farmers, handlers and retailers. The bill also threatens a number of conservation initiatives and programs that benefit small-scale farms both organic and conventional.

The National Organic Coalition has prepared a Scorecard evaluating issues of importance to organic farmers and consumers.  The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has published a series of blog posts concerning six major issues: beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, crop insurance and commodity subsidies, local/regional food systems and rural development, research and seed breeding, conservation, and organic agriculture.

All in all, this bill represents a significant threat to organic on several fronts.  It will go through an amendment process -- make sure your Representative knows where you stand as the House debates these issues.

 
15 Apr 2018    Annual Report 2017

MOFFA's Annual Report for 2017

MOFFA’s Annual Report for 2017 is now available on the website, joining other reports going back to 1992, the year of our founding.  The year 2017, marking MOFFA’s 25th anniversary, saw the addition of three new board members (pictured at left), publication of The Organic Movement in Michigan and several new fact sheets, and significant changes in the political and regulatory landscape affecting organic production, in addition to another successful year of Organic Intensives, participation in seven state-wide and regional conferences and events, and continued publication and improvement of Michigan Organic Connections, our quarterly newsletter, and our website. 

Earlier this month MOFFA held its annual meeting, at which the organization elected a new Chair, Emily Nicholls, and Vice-Chair, Jessie Smith.  We would like to express our gratitude to John Biernbaum, who served as Chair for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, and whose leadership is reflected in the accomplishments documented in the annual report as well organizational underpinnings which will give us a strong foundation as we move into our second 25 years; and to Dan Rossman, who contributed his years of experience with both organic farming and organizational management as Vice-Chair during the same period.  Both John and Dan will continue as members of the board.

 
1 Jan 2018    USDA Withdrawal of Livestock and Poultry Rule

USDA Moves To Withdraw Livestock and Poultry Rule (Updated)

We don't always agree with the Organic Trade Association, but we are with them on this:  "After over a decade of stakeholder input, unanimous NOSB recommendations, and a thorough rulemaking process that yielded overwhelming support, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has taken an egregious action and all-out assault on the integrity of the USDA organic seal by opening a 30-day comment period on its INTENTION TO WITHDRAW the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule that was released on January 19, 2017."

The Livestock and Poultry Rule was a long time coming, having been in development since the the "Final Proposed Rule" for Organic certification first went into effect in 2002.  We wrote a bit about the history of the Rule in September of 2016.  The implementation of the Livestock and Poultry Rule, initially scheduled for March 19, 2017, was postponed by the incoming Trump administration until May 19, then by another six months until November, and finally by another six months, until May, 2018.  Then on December 18, the Department published its intent to wthdraw the Rule.  This action flies in the face of public opinion, which was documented by the Department's own request for public comment earlier this year to be in favor of immediate implementation of the rule by an overwhelming majority.  

The OTA filed a lawsuit in September to attempt to force the USDA to stop delaying the implementation of the Rule, and has amended the lawsuit in response to the USDA's action in December.

The USDA public comment period is open now through January 18.  It is extremely important that every person, business, and organization with a stake in the integrity of the Organic label SUBMIT A PUBLIC COMMENT in their own words during this period. 

(Updated to provide a link to a very informative summary of the issue.)

 
16 Sep 2017    Fall NOSB Meeting

Fall NOSB Meeting (Update)

The Cornucopia Institute will live tweet from the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, beginning Tuesday morning, October 31. They will be sharing the play by play with Twitter followers under #NOSB, or simply follow the Cornucopia stream.  Periodic reports will also appear on Cornucopia's website at cornucopia.org/2017/10/follow-national-organic-standards-board-meeting-jacksonville-fl-nosb/

The National Organic Standards Board will hold its fall meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, October 31 - November 2.  The board intends to discuss organic imports, review sunsetting of accepted inputs for organic operations and new petitions, a proposal to eliminate the incentive to convert native ecosystems to organic crop production, and, for the third time, the question as to whether hydroponic/aquaponic operations should be allowed to be certified organic. We encourage everyone who has a stake in organic production to make their opinions known in advance of this meeting.  For more information, see the Policy Page.


 

 
21 Aug 2017    Organic Certification Cost Share

Organic Certification Cost Share

Organic farmers and ranchers now need to visit their local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) office in order to apply for cost share reimbursement through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP).  This represents a change from prior years.

OCCSP provides cost share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products who are obtaining or renewing their certification under the National Organic Program (NOP). Certified operations may receive up to 75 percent of their certification costs paid from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017, not to exceed $750 per certification scope.

Eligible costs include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement/arrangement requirements, travel/per diem for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage.  Ineligible costs include equipment, materials, supplies, transitional certification fees, late fees and inspections necessary to address National Organic Program regulatory violations.

To learn more about organic certification cost share, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/organic or contact a local FSA office by visiting http://offices.usda.gov.


 

 
27 May 2017    The Organic Movement in Michigan

The Organic Movement in Michigan

On May 26, 2017, MOFFA published the book The Organic Movement in Michigan, which contains a wide variety of information: historical summaries of the major organic organizations, reports on various organic activities, and essays about the past, present and future of organic farming.  Edited by Maynard Kaufman and Julia Christianson, with contributions from sixteen of those who were a part of the movement spanning the last 45 years. 

Wes Jackson says, "Perhaps the best documented history of The Organic Movement generally comes out of Michigan. The writers—practitioners beginning in the early 70s—have bothered to write a comprehensive history of the local, organic, community supported story that de facto can serve as a primer for other states less far along. Sharing of ideas has long been a way of life for the movement so the already seasoned are sure to gain from a reading of this as well."

 

 
 

 
12 Apr 2017    Producing Fresh Milk

Producing Fresh Milk — Goat Edition

The Farm to Consumer Foundation announces the publication of Producing Fresh Milk — Goat Edition which joins the previously published Cow Edition.  These books are for readers who are interested in starting a dairy to provide fresh milk to families, producers currently shipping raw milk to the dairy industry, but are interested in providing fresh milk to families, or those currently providing fresh milk who would like to improve their dairy operations.  Learn step by step starting from the dairy business, going into about the farm, the quality of fresh milk production and ending with about the milk. The can be purchased on the Farm to Consumer Foundations website at https://f2cfnd.org/shop/.  Download the poster here.

 
27 Mar 2017    Let Your Voice Be Heard

drawing of a hand, writing

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

There are a number of issues on the national stage at the moment that stand to have a profound effect on organic agriculture for many years to come.  MOFFA strongly encourages farmers, consumers, and everyone who cares about the future of organic to take advantage of public comment periods on the following issues:

Keep the Soil in Organic—The public comment period has ended on the question of whether hydroponic operations should be able to be certified organic.  The issue will (we hope) be decided at the Spring NOSB meeting in Denver on April 19-21.  For those who would like more information, MOFFA's Chair Dr. John Biernbaum served on the hydroponics task force, and reported on his experience in our September and December newsletters. 

The Organic Check-Off—The public comment period on this issue ends at midnight on April 19.  The “check-off” program would use funds collected from producers and handlers of organic products for promotion and research—it’s the program that brought us the “Got Milk?” and “Incredible Edible Egg” campaigns.  Again, the vast majority of organic farmers are opposed to this additional “tax”, feeling that promoting organic sales now will not increase organic acreage in the US but may well increase demand for lower priced organic imports.  The check-off has been strongly promoted by the Organic Trade Association, representing corporate interests, and the public comments are already full of their form letter.  There is more information on the check-off at noorganiccheckoff.com.  You can view the proposed rule and submit your comment at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=AMS-SC-16-0112-2265.

The 2018 Farm Bill—The last item we want to mention does not require an immediate response, but we want people to be aware of what’s coming.  Legislators in Washington have already begun to talk about the 2018 Farm Bill, and given the current climate, there is a real danger that we might lose a major source of support for organic agriculture when this bill becomes law.  The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has been blogging about the hearings on the Hill; the initial report is here, and subsequent posts can be viewed at http://sustainableagriculture.net/category/farm-bill/.  We encourage everyone who cares about the future of organic to join NSAC’s email list or RSS feed, and stay informed.  There are opportunities to sign up for the email newsletter and the RSS feed on the left hand side of both webpages mentioned above.
 

 


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