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Is organic dairying for me?

Dennis Johnson
Meg Moynihan, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Published in Dairy Star February 10, 2007

Experienced organic dairy farmers discussed their operations at the recent Minnesota Organic Conference in St. Cloud. To the surprise of many in attendance, they described relatively few problems with managing the herd compared to managing soils and weeds on their organic acres. One major piece of advice was to certify land gradually as rotations, weeds and soil balance come into line. Certification of land is a three-year process that starts with the development of an organic plan. Certification of the dairy herd takes one year. Before embarking on an organic adventure, ask yourself the following to help you determine, “Is organic right for me and my dairy operation?”

Many of you will say “Well, maybe”, some will say “absolutely”, and some will say “no way” to the questions above. Organic is a viable dairy management system for many farmers. We are fortunate that dairying in the upper Midwest can be accomplished with a variety of management systems and markets are not yet too limited in most locations.

There are also people to help steer you toward answers to some of your questions. They include the Minnesota Dairy Initiative (Jeremy Lanctot,; Minnesota Department of Agriculture (; U of M Southwest Research and Outreach Center (Jim Riddle,; U of M, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (Wayne Martin,; and West Central Research and Outreach Center (Dennis Johnson,

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