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 A Prism Business Media Publication November 21, 2006 |  
Ehay WEEKLY CONTENTS
Producing Organic Hay
Top of the News Oregon Floods Take Toll On Dairies State Cost-Share For Hay Storage AFGC Hires New Management Firm
State Reports North Dakota Texas
Events Manitoba Grazing School, Nov. 29-30 Calendar
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Producing Organic Hay
The number of organic dairy farms -- and the need for organic hay -- increases as demand for organic dairy products grows in the U.S. And that is creating a niche for U.S. hay producers who convert to organic production.

Scott Duffner, Silver Lake, OR, farm manager for Dinsdale Farms, says he's adding to the 400 acres of alfalfa certified as organic because it's in demand. Dinsdale Farms is an integrated operation that includes a cow-calf enterprise, around 5,000 acres of irrigated alfalfa and 1,000 acres of seed oat production. "We produce around 5 tons/acre of certified organic alfalfa per year for organic dairies," Duffner explains. "Our organic hay typically sells at a $30/ton premium over conventional hay."

The future for organic hay looks bright in Idaho, too; 15 new organic dairies should start production there in the next few months, says Margaret Misner, program manager, Idaho State Department of Agriculture. The size of the new dairies will vary from 100 to 500 cows or more.

Misner helps hay producers with organic program compliance requirements, coordinates inspections and issues organic certificates. For hay to be certified organic, a producer must first create an organic system plan that includes maps showing where that hay is to be grown, she says. Producers also must apply to the organic certification department within their state ag departments and have their farms inspected. Farms found in compliance are issued organic certificates.

Growers are supposed to use organic seed, but if it can't be found, they can seed conventional alfalfa, Misner says. Crops must be grown for at least three years without the use of material like synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Manure fertilizer can come from conventionally raised cattle.

Misner points out that organic certification doesn't preempt other laws, rules or quarantines. For example, organic producers must still control noxious weeds on their land. Growers are also required to use good conservation practices and must minimize soil erosion according to organic requirements. To control pests, biological control agents can be used. Dinsdale Farms manages alfalfa weevils on its organic hay by releasing natural predators, such as green lacewings, according to Duffner.

Organic hayfields must have buffer zones and well-defined boundaries. "Some producers choose to sell the hay from the buffer zones to a non-organic market," Misner explains. "When selling to both the organic and conventional markets, a producer is required to maintain a detailed record program of where both the conventional and organic products are stored, stacked, etc., to prove the two types of hay were not mixed together."

Misner and Duffner spoke at the recent Western Hay Business Conference & Expo in Spokane, WA. Contact Misner at 208-332-8620; Duffner, 541-576-2440.

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Top of the News
Oregon Floods Take Toll On Dairies
Early November flooding damaged a number of dairies in Tillamook County, according to reports in the Capital Press. Fourteen inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period on Nov. 6 and 7, causing the Trask, Kilchis and Nehalem Rivers to flood area farms. An estimated 100 cows drowned and pastures were smothered by tons of river bottom silt. Logs and other debris damaged fencing as well.

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State Cost-Share For Hay Storage
Tennessee farmers interested in building new hay storage structures can apply for cost-share assistance starting Jan. 1, according to Ken Givens, state ag commissioner.

"The quality of hay production and storage has a direct impact on the quality and health of cattle," says Givens. "If we can help farmers improve forage nutrition and handling, then we can make a difference on their bottom lines through better cattle management and marketability of their livestock."

Cattle and hay producers can apply for 35% cost-share assistance, or up to $3,500, toward the cost of a new hay storage structure or an addition to an existing structure. Building sites must be well-drained and flooring must be concrete or 4-6" of gravel on plastic. Acceptable roofing materials include metal, shingles or polymer-coated fabric.

Farmers will be limited to one application per fiscal year, and funding is on a "first-come, first-serve" basis. Once approved, farmers will have until Dec. 31 of next year to complete approved activities and reimbursement requirements.

For more information, call 615-837-5323 or visit www.picktnproducts.org.

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AFGC Hires New Management Firm
The American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC) recently named Bandy & Associates, Inc. (B&A), Elmhurst, IL, as its association management company. AFGC's membership represents the academic community, producers, private industry, institutes and foundations. Its primary objective is to promote the profitable production and sustainable utilization of quality forage and grasslands.

Bandy & Associates is an association management, project and consulting firm managed by Michael and Dee Dee Bandy. Write: AFGC, 350 Poplar Ave., Elmhurst, IL 60126; phone: 630-359-4273; or email: info@afgc.org. Visit the AFGC Web site at www.afgc.org.

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State Reports
North Dakota
North Dakota alfalfa brought less than $50/ton for a time before prices took a big jump in a one-month period, reports Dwain Meyer, North Dakota State University extension agronomist. It's now bringing around $65/ton in the state. The southwestern part of the state was relatively dry this year, while the north-central and northeastern regions produced well. Fargo's hay production was average, while southeastern North Dakota production was just a bit above average, according to Meyer. "We are somewhat short in moisture across the state right now and we are going to need to get good spring rains to get back to the production potential we had."

Contact Meyer at 701-231-8154.

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Texas
Cooler weather and rainfall have helped improve livestock conditions in Central Texas. The area has been hampered by drought for much of the year, according to Texas Cooperative Extension. Range conditions were rated mostly fair to excellent in the Texas Panhandle early this month. Cattle were in good condition and some were supplemented feed in the area. Meanwhile, in the southern plains, pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition with little to no supplemental feeding. A good portion of the Rolling Plains district reported its first mild freeze early in the month. With cooler temperatures, most warm-season grasses started to move to the dormant stage. Runoff water was still needed in stock tanks in the eastern part of the Rolling Plains district.

Winter pastures have had enough moisture to germinate and sustain seedlings in northern Texas and some sites can soon be grazed. Far western Texas growers expect one more cutting of hay. Winter weeds and grasses were doing well but need moisture, and hay supplies remained short in the west-central part of the state. Much of the grass hay has been cut and baled in southeastern Texas. Southwestern Texas has been very dry. Year-to-date cumulative rainfall for much of the region remained at about one-third of the long-term average. Not much forage is available. Stock tanks are low and some remain dry. Fall hay production yields were low in southwestern Texas.

USDA reports hay movement has slowed in the state, as have sales. Most hay left to be cut is going to be for personal use or to contracted customers. The Texas Department of Agriculture has set up a Hay and Grazing Hot Line for buyers and sellers: 877-429-1998. The ag department's Web site is www.agr.state.tx.us.

Source: Texas Cooperative Extension Service and USDA reports.

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Events
Manitoba Grazing School, Nov. 29-30
The Manitoba Grazing School will be held Nov. 29-30 at Keystone Centre, Brandon. This year's theme: "Money Grows On Grass!" Speakers will address how to produce forage-finished beef, marketing opportunities for forage-fed beef, getting the most out of your native pasture, and fertility management in forages and pasture. Additional sessions will cover keys to forage productivity, grazing alfalfa and integration of livestock into a zero-till cropping program.

Registration costs $150 and includes all conference meals and a Manitoba Forage Council associate membership. Contact the Manitoba Forage Council at 204-622-2029, or by fax at 204-638-2854. Learn more at www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca/conferencesevents1/grazingschool/default.aspx.

Source: Manitoba Forage Council.

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Calendar
**Nov. 21 -- Kentucky Grazing Conference, Fayette County Extension, Lexington. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.

**Dec. 11-13 -- Western Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Reno, NV. Contact Dan Putnam at 530-752-8982 or dhputnam@ucdavis.edu, or Glenn Shewmaker at 208-736-3608 or gshew@uidaho.edu.

**Dec. 13-14 -- Kansas Hay & Grazing Conference, Kansas State Fairgrounds, Hutchinson, KS. Call Gary Kilgore at 620-431-1530.

**Jan. 17-18 -- 2007 Washington State Hay Growers Association Annual Conference & Trade Show, Three Rivers Convention Center, Kennewick. Contact the Washington State Hay Growers Association at 509-585-5460.

**Jan. 18-19 -- Southwest Hay Conference, Ruidoso Convention Center, Ruidoso, NM. Learn more at the New Mexico Hay Association Web site at www.nmhay.com. Contact Doug Whitney at dug@plateautel.net or call Gina Sterrett at 505-626-5677.

**Jan. 24-25 -- Heart Of America Grazing Conference, Holiday Inn, Mount Vernon, IL. Contact Justin Sexten, University of Illinois, at 618-242-9310 or sexten@uiuc.edu.

**Feb. 6-7 -- The Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association's Mid-America Alfalfa Expo, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, Kearney, NE. Visit www.alfalfaexpo.com or call Barb Kinnan at 800-743-1649.

**Feb. 7-8 -- Utah Hay & Forage Symposium, Holiday Inn Resort, St. George. Details for participants and exhibitors are available at utahhay.usu.edu, or contact Thomas Griggs at 435-797-2259, or tgriggs@ext.usu.edu.

**Feb. 9 -- Ohio Forage & Grassland Council Annual Conference, Reynoldsburg. Contact Mark Sulc at 614-292-9084.

**Feb. 22 -- Kentucky Alfalfa Conference, Cave City Convention Center. Learn more at www.uky.edu/Ag/Forage.

**Feb. 26-27 -- 2007 Idaho Alfalfa & Forage Conference, Red Lion Canyon Springs Hotel, Twin Falls. More details will be available at www.idahohay.com.

**Feb. 28-March 2 -- National Grassfed Beef Conference, Grantville, PA. Contact John Comerford at 814-863-3661 or jxc555@gmail.com, or Dave Hartman at 570-784-6660, ext. 12, or dwh2@psu.edu.

**March 13-14 -- 2007 Midwest Hay Business Conference & Expo, KCI Expo Center, Kansas City, MO. Learn more at hayconference.com/conference/index.htm.

**March 14-15 -- 2007 Manitoba Forage Symposium, MacDon Product Showcase Building, Winnipeg, MB, CA. For more info, visit www.mbforagecouncil.mb.ca or contact Tanis Sirski at 204-768-2781 or tsirski@gov.mb.ca.

**March 21-22 -- 2007 Central Plains Dairy Expo, Sheraton Inn, Sioux Falls, SD. Learn more at www.centralplainsdairyexpo.com/ or call Kathy Tonneson at 218-236-8420.

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Comments from Readers
Send Questions & Comments To...

Lora Berg, Editor, eHay Weekly,

hfg@hayandforage.com

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