Transitioning to organic 21310

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Provides reasons to transition to organic and steps to take to transiton farm

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Transitioning to organic 21310

  1. 1. Transitioning to organic The whys and hows… Vicki Morrone (sorrone@msu.edu) Organic Vegetable and Field Crop Educator Mott Sustainable Food Systems Michigan State University
  2. 2. Just what is organic?? <ul><li>Two general things one can say about organically produced food: </li></ul><ul><li>It needs to be grown using a mixture of approaches so it’s less dependent on pesticides (like good IPM) </li></ul><ul><li>The pesticides and/or soil amendments used need to be from a natural source, not bio engineered or synthetic. Look for the OMRI seal and check with your certifier if unsure. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Organic is a way to produce food that involves the whole system <ul><li>Build the soil so it grows strong plants </li></ul><ul><li>Select hardy crops/varieties that are resistant to pests </li></ul><ul><li>Grow cover crops or ground cover that feeds the soil (such as clovers) </li></ul><ul><li>Grow plants with flowers to provide nectar and a place to hang out when its hot for beneficial insects. </li></ul><ul><li>When scouting, if a pesticide is needed it is used in conjunction with other practices. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Considerations? <ul><li>Your priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Your markets </li></ul><ul><li>Potential losses </li></ul><ul><li>Potential gains </li></ul><ul><li>Your drive to change your production method </li></ul>
  5. 5. Priorities? <ul><li>Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Family </li></ul><ul><li>Labor </li></ul><ul><li>Equipment/ infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Farm situation </li></ul>
  6. 6. What gains? <ul><li>New market opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Whole Foods, Plum Markets, Sysco (GR), Farmers Markets, CSAs </li></ul><ul><li>Chance to build your soil and see payback </li></ul><ul><li>Gain tilth 2 yrs Increase organic matter 5 yrs </li></ul><ul><li>New social and work network </li></ul><ul><li>Organic farmers and community members promoters, MOFFA, MIFFS, environmentalists, schools </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in price received for produce (20-60%) </li></ul><ul><li>Amount depends on markets; lower margin at most Farmers markets and higher at all organic wholesalers </li></ul><ul><li>A system to help you keep track </li></ul><ul><li>Farm Plan, traceability records, receipts, labels, input sources </li></ul>
  7. 7. What changes? <ul><li>Transition time </li></ul><ul><li>Reduction in yield in initial years </li></ul><ul><li>Existing markets not willing </li></ul><ul><li>Chemical fixes for weeds and plant nutrients </li></ul><ul><li>Comfort zone of knowledge of farming </li></ul>
  8. 8. Initially… <ul><li>Especially in first 2-5 years </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced harvest yield </li></ul><ul><li>Less secure markets </li></ul><ul><li>Inadequate labor force </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced available time due to learning curve </li></ul>
  9. 9. Wanna know more?? <ul><li>Consider what you know already </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different situations at your farm </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compare one field to the next </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How different types/sizes of markets operate </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consider how organic production works </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All crops have the same biology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Think of it as assisting mother nature’s talents and gifts </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Getting O-Smarter <ul><li>Visit organic farms </li></ul><ul><li>Attend field days and talk to the farmers there </li></ul><ul><li>Talk with organic farmers at markets </li></ul><ul><li>Go to organic conferences and workshops (MOFFA, MOSES) </li></ul><ul><li>Partner with an organic farmer for a market </li></ul><ul><li>Speak to a certifying agency </li></ul><ul><li>Visit web sites offering info ( www.michiganorganic.msu.edu ; ATTRA.org) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Opportunities to Consider <ul><li>Extended season production using hoop houses. </li></ul><ul><li>Community supported agriculture (CSA). </li></ul><ul><li>Growing food for schools and institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Selling at local farmers markets </li></ul>
  12. 12. A Market Assessment <ul><li>Existing markets’ interest in organic </li></ul><ul><li>Potential markets within your area </li></ul><ul><li>Ability for you to meet those markets demands </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Packaging </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Labeling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delivery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Billing </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Steps to Become Certified <ul><li>Prepare </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identify sources of inputs and markets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get your paperwork in order including farm plan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Share your plan with organic farmers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Call a certifying agency-ask them questions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Initiate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Arrange for an inspection after 3 yrs transition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pay fee and take advantage of cost-shares </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Register with state of Mi as an organic farmer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Maintain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Farm plan </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Soil quality </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Using Organic Inputs <ul><li>Select reliable products </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Compost with process notes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Certified seed potatoes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organic seed whenever possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transplants from local reliable greenhouse </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Choose organically allowed products </li></ul><ul><ul><li>OMRI approved or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approved by certifier </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Keeping Records <ul><li>Source where purchased </li></ul><ul><li>Label with ingredients </li></ul><ul><li>Receipts of payment </li></ul>
  16. 16. Who Certifies? <ul><ul><li>Each agency must be registered by the USDA. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each agency follows the NOP guidelines but has their own protocol and application process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Farmer can choose any certifier as long as they are registered with USDA </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Is certification always necessary? <ul><li>Does certification enhance market opportunities/price? </li></ul><ul><li>Is organic produce what the market is demanding? </li></ul><ul><li>Will you sell more than $5000 worth/year? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Resources to get there… <ul><li>Find out what are the current NOP rules </li></ul><ul><ul><li>National Organic Program guidelines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards.html and click on electronic code of federal regulations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Michigan Organic Ag Survey, Bingen and Reardon </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.moffa.org/f/MI_Organic_Agriculture_Report_March_2007.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Find out which products are allowed by NOP </li></ul><ul><ul><li>OMRI: www.omri.org for what products are allowed by NOP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Web page of production resources: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>www.MichiganOrganic.msu.edu </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. So many decisions… <ul><li>Now for the questions???? </li></ul>

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