New Organic Fire Blight Publication Released for Apple and Pear Growers Facing Sunset of Antibiotic Oxytetracycline

March 7, 2014 –

As Organic Rules Shift for Fire Blight Control, The Organic Center Releases Essential Suggestions for Apple and Pear Growers

Organic-Approved Antibiotics Sunsetting – Report Aims to Help Growers Keep Certification

WASHINGTON, DC (March 4, 2014) – With approved antibiotics for fire blight control expiring for organic apple and pear growers
this fall, The Organic Center has released an essential report featuring existing practices and emerging research to help growers control fire blight while maintaining organic certification.

“Grower Lessons and Emerging Research for Developing an Integrated Non-Antibiotic Fire Blight Control Program in Organic Fruit” –
available here – collects critical knowledge from U.S. apple and pear growers who already practice fire blight prevention without
the commonly-used antibiotic oxytetracycline that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will begin sunsetting in Oct. 2014.

Funded by The Organic Center, the 28-page report arrives as up to 70 percent of growers in a surveyed region said they may
transition from organic to conventional management in face of NOSB’s changes if proven alternative organic fire blight control methods are not available.

Organic Growers Exposed, Supply at Risk as Standards Phase Out Antibiotics

Unlike some fruit pathogens, fire blight doesn’t just damage or destroy a season’s fruit – it can kill the entire tree under
severe conditions. It is caused by the bacteria Erwinia amylovora, spreads easily among trees and orchards, and can infect at different points in the growing season.

For decades, the primary control of fire blight in U.S. organic production has been the antibiotics streptomycin and
oxytetracycline. But, NOSB has approved a proposal for phasing out their use beginning this Oct. Dr. Ken Johnson, Oregon State
University, is leading a three-state USDA-OREI project on non-antibiotic control of fire blight in organic orchards to be completed in 2015.

“The interim year between approved antibiotics sunsetting and release of the OREI project findings leaves growers with minimal
guidance and experience for non-antibiotic fire blight control,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The
Organic Center. “It’s unfortunate timing, as organic apple and pear demand are at all-time highs. If U.S. production declines,
organic apple and pear prices could spike, or imports from South America – where the disease is not present – could greatly increase.”

Organic Center Encourages Testing Alternatives Now

“Grower Lessons and Emerging Research” encourages organic apple and pear growers to begin testing alternatives now with integrated
non-antibiotic fire blight control options that have proven successful for some organic growers.

The report is based on field experiences from organic growers who have already developed various approaches to non-antibiotic fire
blight control – particularly exporters to Europe, which does not allow antibiotics – along with preliminary results from a range of research trials on new materials and strategies.

The study suggests successful non-antibiotic fire blight control combines orchard management practices with an integrated systems
approach for prevention. The report features suggestions for fungal control, insect control, bloom thinning, spray coverage, tree
training, soil and foliar nutrients, and cultivar and root stock selection. And, it provides detailed considerations for each
stage of apple and pear production. Some of the research is now validating the grower practices, such as the fire blight control from lime sulfur blossom thinning sprays.

Shade added once Oregon State’s findings are available in 2015, growers can combine the university’s recommendations with The
Organic Center’s report to give them the benefit of the latest research as well as field-proven strategies.

The study’s co-authors are Harold Ostenson, a Washington-based tree fruit consultant, and David Granatstein, Sustainable
Agriculture Specialist for the Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

About The Organic Center

Established in 2002 and based in Washington DC, The Organic Center is a nonprofit organization that is a trusted source of
information for scientific research about organic food and farming. We cover up-to-date studies on sustainable agriculture and
health, and collaborate with academic and governmental institutions to fill gaps in our knowledge.

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Webinar– How to Sell Domestic Food to the USDA

March 7, 2014 –


This might be of interest to some:

How to Sell Domestic Foods to the USDA
Thursday, March 20, 2014
2:00 – 3:00 Eastern Time

On Thursday March 20, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will present a free interactive webinar, “How to Sell Domestic Foods to the USDA.”

Each year, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) buys nearly $2 billion and 2 billion pounds of frozen, processed, and fresh
fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Otherwise known as “USDA Foods.” These healthy, American grown and processed
products help feed millions of school children and are also distributed to food banks, disaster areas, and wherever else they are needed.
AMS proudly buys “USDA Foods” from a diverse pool of companies, both large and small. For this webinar, we will be placing special
emphasis on contracting information for small, socially disadvantaged, women-owned, and service disabled veteran-owned businesses,
as well as those in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUB Zones). Note: The small business size standard for federal
contractors in “USDA Foods” procurement is 500 employees or less (except for shell eggs, which is $12.5 million in annual revenue).
Sara Hernandez and Dianna Price of the AMS Commodity Procurement Staff will: · introduce you to USDA purchasing activities and “USDA Foods,” · discuss the types of products USDA buys,
· explain the solicitation and award process
· outline the requirements for selling to USDA, and
· give you the tools and resources you’ll need to explore doing business with the USDA.
Following the formal presentation, the webinar will conclude with an interactive question and answer session. Feel free to submit questions before the webinar to
Visit the USDA’s AMS Commodity Procurement website to see what products AMS buys. Then tune in to this webinar to learn everything you need to get started selling your products to USDA.
This informative webinar is designed for growers, producers, processors and distributors of all sizes. The webinar is free and
available to anyone with Internet access. However, registration is required and space is limited. Visit ( to register today!
We will host webinars on more AMS programs and services throughout the year. To view previous webinars online, visit our Webinar Archive.
We’ll see you online! REGISTER TODAY!
have any questions about the webinars or AMS, please contact Christopher Purdy at (202) 720-3209 or

Important Meeting on Navigating Federal Laws on Farm Labor

March 6, 2014 –


Please consider attending this workshop – the US Department of Labor has been working with VT Farms and many
have been found to be not following regulations. It is important that those of us working with farms know at least a bit about what is required and how to make sure farms are in compliance.

Navigating Federal Laws on Farm Labor

Is your farm in compliance with federal payroll requirements?

Upcoming workshop will provide federal payroll training for farmers.

The workshop will be held from 8:30am to 12:30pm on April 4th at the VT State House Room 11

Federal laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act have been a hot topic in recent months, as farmers around New
England have been facing increased enforcement of labor regulations. Several local farms have faced heavy
fines for inadvertent violations to these laws, sparking debate about the details of these laws and how they
are being interpreted. Daniel Cronin and Christopher Mills of the U.S. Dept. of Labor will tease apart some of
the nuances of these laws and explain how they are being enforced by the Dept. of Labor. In particular, they
will explain where the line is currently drawn between types of farm work that are and aren’t exempt from the laws’ provisions.

Join us for this workshop.

When: April 4, 2014 8:30am-12:30 pm

Where: Vermont State House, Room 11, Montpelier

RSVP: By March 28th to Louise Waterman at 802-828-6900 or

Workshop Flyer Attached

Flyer-Navagating Federal Laws on Farm Labor-meeting April 4th.pdf