Organic farm report shows 'fairly strong' farm performance for 2011 | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

Organic farm report shows 'fairly strong' farm performance for 2011

Posted: August 10, 2012 - 8:49pm

Nisswa hosts annual Lakes

and Farm Harvest Dinner

NISSWA — The fourth annual Lakes and Farm Harvest Dinner is Aug. 18 at the Nisswa Community Center.

Participants will get a taste of local foods grown by local producers and prepared by chef John Zesbaugh, Bites Grill and Bar.

This year’s event features a farmer’s market; guest speaker Alan Bjerga, author of “Endless Appetites,”; a chance to taste wines offered by Spirits of Nisswa; and dinner.

This end-of-summer event began as a celebration of some of the unique work being done locally to educate and implement methods to improve the common watershed shared by both producers — farmers and ranchers — and lakeshore dwellers.

The unique diversity of the region, with its lakes and farm and ranch lands, shares one important resource — the watershed. Understanding and protecting the region’s watershed brought together such diverse groups as the Cass County Farm Bureau, the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association and the Pine River Watershed Alliance.

Each wanted a better understanding about what affects the water quality of their area while wanting to get to get to know each other better. Lake homeowners, farmers and ranchers all came to realize they have a role to play in protecting the shared watershed. No one entity is responsible for water quality – everyone is, organizers reported.

Water quality became the common ground for working together. Educational efforts concerning the water quality have sprouted with great enthusiasm. Out of doing the serious work of understanding each other’s needs and understanding this area’s watershed, came the idea of a Harvest Dinner — to celebrate the success of working together and to share information with the larger community about means to protect this watershed.

Bjerga grew up on a farm near Motley and currently is an adjunct instructor at Georgetown University and covers agricultural policy for Bloomberg News. He is the past president of the National Press Club and the North American Agricultural Journalists, and competed for the standup comedy title of “DC’s Funniest Journalist.”

Back by popular demand will be The Allen Family, who will provide music throughout the evening.

Sponsors of the harvest dinner include: Whitefish Area Property Owners Association, Nisswa and Leader Lions Club, Cass County Farm Bureau, Pine River Watershed Alliance, and Spirits of Nisswa.

Tickets are $20, available at the door or by calling (218) 543-6257, (218) 568-5530 or (218) 587-5531. The event starts with the farmers market at 4:30 p.m., cash bar 5 p.m. and dinner served at 6 p.m. with music and a program to follow.

The group describes the event as a chance to “get a taste for the region, learn about who grows the region’s locally produced food; learn about efforts to protect the water and ways to get involved. Enjoy a sip of wine, listen to music, stock up on produce, get informed and meet new friends.”

Organic farm report shows fairly strong farm performance last year 

A new report issued by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) shows that 2011 was generally a good year for certified organic crop producers in the state, and somewhat challenging for organic dairy farms, although there was a high degree of variability across farm types and sizes.

The 2011 Minnesota Organic Farm Performance report summarizes financial data reported by 61 certified organic farmers, for both whole farm and for individual cropping and dairy enterprises. It also includes historical data for the four previous years.

For key financial measures, such as rate of return on assets, rate of return on equity, and liquidity, organic farms performed, on average, in the acceptable to strong range. Average and median net farm income were higher for crop farms in 2011 compared to 2010, but dairy profits declined, likely due in large part to feed and forage prices that climbed throughout the year.