Tufts OpenCourseware
Search
Author: One Health Students

ONE HEALTH: INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES TO PEOPLE, ANIMALS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Fall 2008
Gretchen Kaufman, DVM
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

1. Farming Perspective – Student Work

1.1. Basic Concepts

ORGANIC

CONVENTIONAL

63 cows

67 cows

400 acres

400 acres

200 acres cropland

290 acres cropland

130 acres pasture

38 acres pasture

13,455 lbs milk/cow (annual)

19,457 lbs milk/cow (annual)

Holstein cross-breeds

Holsteins

>50% pasture May0Oct

<25% pasture fed

Supplemental feed purchased

Total mixed bran

Crop rotation

Pesticide

Manure

Manure

Conservation tillage

Tillage

Corn-soy-hay-hay-hay

Corn-corn-hay

Individual/family ownership

Individual/family ownership

Tie-stall barn

Tie-stall barn

Pipeline milking

Pipeline milking

Calf hutches

Calf hutches

Homeopathy, nutrition

Medication

This list is a combination of common practices and statistics from the references cited on my reference page. I've tried to keep the farms very well matched, so there are a few places where I may find additional research that indicates a definite difference between common practices in the two production systems.

I am planning on contacting a few experts (marketing agencies, extension agents, etc) with some questions towards the end of October, which would be great time to explore any categories where there is little or no "literature."

1.2. Disciplinary Gaps and Research Questions from the Farming Perspective

General: The main gap from the agricultural science side is very specific information on common practices in New England: information is available for both larger regions (i.e. Northeast, national) and some information is available on a state and county level. There is also a lack of information on the long-term profitability of organic versus conventional dairy farming overall.

  • What are the most common soil, crop, manure, and pasture management practices on organic and conventional dairy farms in New England? What problems do the farmers have on their farms?

    • Method: farmer surveys/interviews throughout New England

    • Method: Measuring indicators of the practices, such as density of the soil, sedimentation in surface water, presence and concentration of water pollutants, presence and frequency of crop disease, etc.

    • Hypothesis: Organic farmers are more pasture dependent than conventional farmers, with less crop production. Conventional farmers are more likely to use fertilizers and pesticides, particularly on corn crops. Erosion and soil compaction are more likely to become problems on land that is in crops, but erosion can also be an issue on marginal pasture land that is grazed. Organic producers are more likely to compost their manure before spreading on land. Due to the smaller size of organic herds, organic farmers often find it easier to manage manure without spillage and run-off.

  • How do the farmer's background and the farm's landscape affect management decisions? Is there a difference between organic and conventional farmers?

    • Method: farmer surveys/interviews throughout New England

    • Hypothesis: Organic farmers are more likely to be younger and entering farmers. Organic farms are more likely to be smaller, as well having more sloped land. Organic farmers are also more likely to mention the health and environmental impacts of their production practices as reasons that drove their management decisions.

  • What are the most significant farm and producer characteristics and concerns that drive a New England dairy farmer to become an organic producer? Does transitioning to organic production successfully address any concerns and issues?

    • Method: farmer surveys/interviews throughout New England

    • Hypothesis: Concerns that drive producers to transition include: economics (particularly for smaller herds), concern for human and animal health, and concern for the negative impacts of farm production on the land. Transitioning to organic address all of these issues, although economics remains a strong concern for organic producers.

  • What are the long-term differences in profitability of organic versus conventional dairy farms in New England, and specifically states with smaller dairy industries such as New Hampshire and Massachusetts?

    • Method: Similar to the study Dalton et al carry out for Maine and Vermont, one could use existing farm financial data and supplement that with direct collection of financial data from farms in states not typically studied. The data would have to be collected over a number of years in order to understand the overall profitability of each type of dairy production.

    • Hypothesis: Organic milk production tends to be more profitable over the long term than conventional milk production, though profitability can vary widely depending on the individual farm. Factors such as feed grain prices and amount of grain purchased or the price differential between organic and conventional milk highly influence profitability of organic dairy enterprises.

  • Do rural communities benefit more from the presence of conventional or organic dairy operations?

    • Method: Economic (and environmental/human health - see below) analysis of communities with high proportions of conventional and organic dairy farms, holding constant size and type of operation to the greatest extent possible.

    • Hypothesis: There are differences in the impacts that conventional and organic dairies have on rural community well-being. Many of these differences are related to differences in average size of the operations or particular production practices that may or may not be required on organic farms.

1.3. Terms

CAFO (confined animal feeding operation) - livestock operations are typically defined as CAFOs by EPA based primarily on the size of the herd confined for at least 45 days of the year, whether or not there is vegetation in the confinement area, and the amount of water pollution they produce. A 700 cow dairy that met these requirements would be considered a "large CAFO," and one from 200-699 cows would be considered a "medium CAFO" if it discharged pollutants into surface waters. (http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/afo/cafofinalrule.cfm )

Biological oxygen demand
a chemical measurement of water quality; indicating the amount of oxygen used by biological organisms in the water.

Chemical oxygen demand
an indirect chemical measurement of water quality; indicating the amount of oxygen needed to fully decompose organic matter in the water (i.e. soil, manure, leaves, dead organisms).

Compost
a process of aerobic decomposition which generally kills a significant portion of pathogens as a properly managed compost pile will reach temperatures up to 160 degrees F.

Crop rotation
planting different types of crops consecutively (generally on an annual basis) in the same location.

CWT
abbreviation for "hundredweight." A common measurement of bulk milk.

Eutrophication
a decrease in water quality caused by a nutrient overload (generally nitrogen or phosphorus, often via run-off) that leads to excess biological growth and death, leading to a loss of dissolved oxygen.

Intensive-grazing
a technique of putting relatively high density of cows on a section of pasture and moving them to new areas frequently (>2x/week) to ensure more uniform and maximum use of the the pasture and mimimal damage to the forage. Also known as management intensive grazing (MIG) and rotational grazing.

Labor
includes hired labor, the proprietor, and paid/unpaid family labor.

Lagoon
pits used to store liquid manure, often after sifting off the solids to use for bedding or composting. Some pits are lined or covered.

Management
a term used to encompass all the purposeful decisions and actions around use of resources as well as unintended consequences (i.e. soil, water, crops, herd)

Marketing order
an instrument used by the USDA to stabilize prices and supply of particular food commodities. Milk marketing orders typically include minimum prices and standards by which milk is classified into different price categories, among other stipulations that producers and processors agree to. Marketing orders must be approved by USDA and a majority of producers, and must be followed by all producers/processors.

Nitrogen-limited
a state of nutrient balance where the crop growth is limited by the amount of nitrogen available.

Nutrient-overload
an excess of nutrients, generally either nitrogen or phosphorus.

Organic-matter
a variety of carbon sources in the soil, such as decomposed plant matter, manure, living and dead fungi, bacteria, etc., that act to maintain soil fertility and play important roles in nutrient and water cycles.

Pasture
a blend of grasses, legumes, and other shrubs used for grazing; usually used for multiple years prior to re-seeding.

Pesticide
a chemical used to kill pests, including weeds, rodents, insects, fungi, viruses, and bacteria while hopefully not harming the desired crop/product

Phosphorus-limited
a state of nutrient balance where crop growth is limited by the amount of phosphorus available

Quality of life
degree of well-being felt by an individual or group individuals, particularly in terms of feeling physically, financially, and psychologically able to continue farming.

Run-off
the flow of water over land to a water source (i.e. stream, pond or lack); often picking up and carrying contaminants from the land such as soil, manure, fertilizers, or pesticides.

Soil-compaction
the loss of airspace between soil aggregates, generally due to heavy machinery and repeated tillage to the same depth; leading to decreased water infiltration.

Subsidy
a form of price support or payment to support producers through different mechanisms. Including but not limited to direct payments, crop insurance, conservation payments, purchase and removal, export enhancement, etc.

Tillage
mechanically turning over the soil; generally for weed control, to mix in manure, or prior to planting.

Total mixed ration
a commercial blend of roughage, grain, and minerals meant to fulfill a cow's complete nutritional needs.

1.4. Stereotypes about the "Farm Perspective"

  • Exploitative of resources

  • Profiteering

  • Not scientific, methodological

  • Valuing profits over food safety

1.5. Farming Perspective Presentation Materials

1.6. Farming Perspective Annotated Bibliography

Bellows, B. Nutrient Cycling in Pastures. Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas. Fayetteville: 2001.
http://www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/nutrientcycling.pdf
The dynamics of nutrient cycles (including nitrogen, water, carbon, phosphorus, and other minerals), nutrient availability, nutrient distribution and movement, soil quality, soil organisms, and the affects of pasture management on water quality are all covered, with an emphasis on good management practices that yield optimal pasture and animal growth, soil health, and water quality. Connections to the one health approach are seem in the impacts of soil quality on ecological health, including water quality, as well as connections to animal health and the ability of the producer to maintain a functioning and profitable farm.

Bragg, L., T. Dalton. "The Cost of Producing Milk in Maine: Results from the 2005 Diary Cost of Production Survey." Technical Bulletin 193. Maine Agricultural and Forest Experimental Station. 2006.
Maine dairy farms are characterized by size and production methods, from farmer characteristic through cropping systems and equipment. Budgets, costs, and returns are then examined, also sorted by farm size. The bulletin offers a brief look at the sector we are examining.

Cederberg, C. Berit Mattsson. "Lifecycle assessment of milk production--- a comparison of conventional and organic farming." Journal of Cleaner Production 8 (2000): 49-60.
Organic and conventional milk production in Sweden were compared, finding that organic milk production reduces pesticide use and excess nutrient (phosphorus and nitrogen) waste products. However, organic production requires more land, which is generally viewed positively in Sweden, due to its aesthetic appeal and the environmental services provided by the land. While Cederberg examines dairy farms outside New England, relevant issues are likely transferred to New England farms.

Clemmett, Marcia. "Fighting Superbugs." CQ Researcher. 17 (2007): 673-696.
Antibiotic resistance is a significant public health problem, leading to illness and death. Farm use of antibiotics can contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance in microbes that cause disease in humans. European countries such as Denmark have succeeded in reducing the prevalence of some antibiotic resistant microbes through an multi-pronged approach that includes banning the use of antibiotics in agriculture. However, banning the use of antibiotics in agriculture could potentially lead to an increase in food-borne infections due to the potential for lower levels of health among livestock. While dairy is a relatively low user of antibiotics, antibiotics are used occasionally in the herd and more commonly among calves, so antibiotic use is of concern.

Committee on Long-Range Soil and Water Conservation. "Manure and Nutrient Management." Soil and Water Quality. National Academy Press (1993): 399-415.
This chapter reviews the risks and benefits of manure as an agricultural byproduct, as well briefly discussing ways to improve manure management. Manure can easily become pollutant, through run-off, or contribute toward nutrient imbalances in the soil. Used correctly, manure can be a viable alternative to fertilizer as well as one method for improved soil structure and characteristics. Manure management characteristics that lead to environmental and health problems include: concentration (animals/acre), long storage times, site selection near streams, lack of erosion control measures, open manure storage facilities, and improper or outdated storage facilities. Challenges to using manure beneficially include: determining the nutrient content of the manure, determining appropriate application rates & timing, and handling & application costs.

Cook, N. B. "The Influence of Barn Design on Dairy Cow Hygiene, Lameness and Udder Health." Proceedings of the 35th Annual Convention of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. Madison, WI (2002): 97-103.
A brief analysis of free-stalls, tie-stalls, bedding types, and their impact on cow cleanliness, lameness, and overall health and comfort. Free-stalls with appropriate bedding yield fewer lame cows, but maintaining a high levels of barn hygiene is needed to keep cows clean. Animal health issues are directly addressed through the analysis.

Dalton, T. J., R. Parsons, R. Kersbergen, G. Rogers, D. Kauppila, L. McCrory, L. A. Bragg, Q. Wang. "A Comparative Analysis of Organic Dairy Farms in Maine and Cermont: Farm Financial Information from 2004 to 2006." Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station. The University of Maine Bulletin 851: July 2008.

http://www.nodpa.com/vermont_maine_comparison_08-09-08.pdf

Organic and conventional farms in the Northeast shared very similar expenses in 2004-2006; however, organic farms generally have smaller herds with more income generated per animal. Feed and labor costs were generally higher on

organic farms while marketing, vet & medicine, chemical, seed, and fertilizer costs were higher on conventional farms. For all three years, organic farms had higher net farm incomes in 2005 and 2006. While higher fuel and feed costs may push organic diary below profitability without increased milk prices, conventional producers are facing the same dilemma, with the added onus of higher fertilizer, soybean, and corn prices. The description of the costs incurred by both types of

production systems helps provide a sense of the volume and types of inputs needed by small farms in both systems. The bulletin also provides a basis for developing a sense of the third leg of sustainability: economics. While our question may not directly address farm income, from a public health and an ecological approach, a farm that is profitable leads to a stable income, access to health care for the producer and animals, fewer mental health problems, as well as leeway to make decisions that reflect responsible land stewardship.

de Boer, I.J.M. "Environmental impact assessment of conventional and organic milk production." Livestock Production Science. 80 (2003): 69-77.
A basic life cycle analysis using a pilot study and available literature, the study examines global warming, eutrophication, land use, pesticide use, energy use, and acidification. While the study provides some basic info, it neglects many categories One Health addresses and concludes by recommending using a much larger spectrum of practical farms for a valid life cycle analysis. However, all of the issues examined have clear ecological health connection.

Keeney, D.R., J.L. Hatfield. "The Nitrogen Cycle, Historical Perspectives, and Current and Potential Future Concerns." Nitrogen in the Environment: Sources, Problems, and Management. Elsevier Science (2001): 3- 16.
Keeney and Hatfield give a thorough overview of nitrogen as found in our agricultural systems. Nitrogen, along with carbon, is one of the most important elements for production. However, ecological problems occur when nitrogen is applied as fertilizer or otherwise separated from carbon. Health issues connected to high nitrate levels in water include methemoglobinemia, diabetes, and cancer. Environmental issues include acid rain, hypoxia, excessive tree growth, and soil acidification. Changing management practices, policies and regulation, and addressing the vital role nitrogen plays in the world food system will be necessary to preserve functional agricultural systems and the food the world depends on.

McCann, E., S. Sullivan, D. Erickson, R De Young. "Environmental Awareness, Economic orientation, and Farming Practices: A Comparison of Organic and Conventional Farmers." Environmental Management. 21 (1997): 747-758.
McCann interviewed 25 organic and conventional farmers about their management practices, economic orientation toward farming, awareness and concern about environmental problems, and farm characteristics to explore the factors that underlie farmer's choices. Organic farmers expressed greater concern for environmental problems associated with agriculture as well as slightly higher adoption of conservation methods. Organic farmers also expressed less concern with immediate finances, greater concern for long-term sustainability, and a higher level of satisfaction. Health, the environmental impact of farming, and farm viability are all briefly addressed through the survey.

Murphy, W., J. Silman, L. McCrory, S. Flack, J. WInsten, D. Hoke, A. Schmitt, B. Pillsbury. "Environmental, Economic, and Social Benefits of Feeding Livestock on a Well-Managed Pasture." W. Lockheretz (Ed.) Environmental Enhancement through Agriculture. Tufts (1995): 125-135.
Utilizing pasture feeding, particularly management intensive grazing, can contribute toward solving a range of problems, from economic concerns to soil erosion to improving the quality of life for Vermont dairy producers and their communities. Environmental benefits include reduced point-source pollution, reduced erosion, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and increased uptake of carbon from the atmosphere. However, stronger support systems are needed to ensure farmers are able to transition successfully.

Nehring, R.F., J.M. Gillespie, E.J. O'Donoghue, C.L. Sanrrett. "Dairy Resource Management: A comparison of Conventional and Pasture-Based Systems." USDA. 2007.
A review that compares conventional and pasture-based dairy systems in 1993, 2000, and 2005 in various regions, this report reviews some economic issues as well as relevant statistics, definitions and practices associated with pasture-based dairy. Their econometric models focus on inputs and outputs based on acreage. The information provided yields a base for developing an accurate model of farming practices for both systems.

Padgham, Jody Ed. Organic Diary Farming: A Resource for Farmers. Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service. Spring Valley, 2006.
A detailed handbook for dairy producers, everything from a brief history of organic dairy through certification, calves, food safety, marketing, crop management, herd health and nutrition, cow management, and soil management is covered in this thorough manual designed to be a reference for current and new organic producers. The manual helps provide relevant information on common organic practices on dairy farms.

Sato, K., P.C. Bartlett, M.A. Saeed. "Antimicrobial susceptibility of Escherichia coli isolates from dairy farms using organic versus conventional production methods." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 226 (2005): 589-594.
Fecal samples were taken from conventional and organic herds, including calves, and tested for resistant _E. coli. The prevalence of samples with resistant bacteria from conventional farms was higher for seven of the antimicrobials tests and the same for the remaining 10. Calves also harbored more resistant bacteria than adults. Resistant bacteria are a concern from a human health as well as an animal health perspective.

Scullion, J., S. Neale, L. Philipps. "Comparisons of earthworm populations and cast properties in conventional and organic arable rotations." Soil Use and Management. 18 (2002): 293-300.
Organic farms in the UK have more earthworms than conventional farms, which is likely attributable to crop rotation patterns and cover cropping. However, because conventional farms tend to have larger and more mature worms, the earthworm biomass on both types of farms is similar. Earthworms are an important indicator of soil and ecological health.

Thomassen, M.A., K.J. van Calker, M.C.J. Smits, G.L. Iepema, I.M. J. de Boer. "Life cycle assessment of conventional and organic milk production in the Netherlands." Agricultural Systems. 96 (2008): 95-107.
A detailed cradle-to-gate comparison of organic and conventional dairy producers in the Netherlands finds that each system has different weaknesses and strengths. Organic dairy required more land, had higher global warming potential; conventional dairy had higher energy use and a higher eutrophication potential. Each production system has a different environmental impact.

Wander, M., S. J. Traina, B.R. Stinner, S.E. Peters. "Organic and Conventional Management Effects on Biologically Active Soil Organic Matter Pools." Soil Science Society of America Journal. 58 (1994): 1130-1139.
The soil quality of three systems was compared over 10 years, based on biologically active soil organic matter. Organically managed animal-based systems and organically based grain cash crop systems had more active soil organic matter than the conventional cash crop system. Furthermore, the conventional cash crop system did not accumulate soil organic matter, unlike the organic systems. Healthy soil plays a vital role in minimizing the ecological impact of the farm as well as maintaining herd health.

Wood, R., M. Lenzen, C. Dey, S. Lundie. "A comparative study of some environmental impacts of conventional and organic farming in Australia." Agricultural Systems. 89 (2006): 324-348.
A comparative assessment using a hybrid input-output life cycle analysis of organic and conventional dairy in Australia, Wood shows that direct energy use, energy related emissions, and greenhouse gas emissions are higher for organic farms while direct water use and employment are lower for the organic farms. However, indirect contributions to all the factors considered are higher for the conventional farms, leading to an overall "substantially higher" impact.

FARM INCOME

Butler, LJ. The economics of organic milk production in California: A comparison with conventional costs. American J of Alternative Agriculture. 2002;17(2):83-91.
The authors compared six dairy farms in California to 27 conventional farms surveyed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CFDA) to determine relative costs and net income. Whereas previous studies had indicated that costs of production are lower for organic production, results here showed that cost of production for organic milk was about 10% higher on a per cwt basis. In particular, costs for feed, labor, herd replacement, taxes and insurance, and marketing were higher for organic dairies, and transition costs were often significant if difficult to quantify. These were somewhat offset by the fact that organic dairies purchased less feed, replaced the herd less often, and had lower veterinary and medical costs. Farm prices and net income were significantly greater for organic farmers. The authors argued that the price premiums are necessary in order to command the supply of organic milk; if the organic farmers had received the same prices as conventional farmers they would have sustained losses. It was noted that many organic dairy farmers have fixed contracts for their milk, which allow them not only higher but more stable prices.

Although this study was conducted in California, where the dairy industry differs significantly from that of New England, it is useful to begin comparing net income for organic and conventional dairy producers. It also helps bring to light some of the costs that tend to differ because of government-mandated organic standards.

Campbell, D. Cream of the CROPP: Demand outstripping supply as CROPP organic dairy products go prime time. Rural Cooperative. May/June 2005:15-18.
This short article highlights the stories of two farm families (one in Vermont and another in Minnesota) that are members of CROPP (Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools, which provide milk to Organic Valley Family of Farms. CROPP has a unique business structure, whereby producers set their selling price, allowing them to more income stability than they would otherwise have. The article also illustrates the rising gap between prices for organic versus conventional milk and highlights the growing demand for organic milk producers but notes that with large companies also getting into organic (Dean Foods with Horizon and Hood with Stonyfield), the ability of producers to set their price may be diminished. Finally, the author touches on the philosophy of Organic Valley that extends beyond maximizing profit to fostering healthy rural communities.

I find this article useful in illustrating how some organic farmers have been able to devise an economic strategy that allows them to pursue goals of allowing more farmers to stay in business (without getting bigger) and promoting healthy rural communities through the farm business structure.

Cornucopia Institute. Collateral Damage: Organic Farmers Being Squeezed Out. October 13, 2008. http://foodconsumer.org.
Anecdotal evidence of the challenges organic (and particularly smaller organic) farmers face in the market.

Parsons, R; Dalton, T; Wang, Q. Profitability of Northeast Organic Dairy Farms. Selected paper prepared for presentation at the American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Long Beach, California, July 23-26, 2006.
This study analyzed cost and returns data for 30 organic dairy producers in Maine and Vermont for 2004. Organic farms had higher costs for purchased feeds and hired labor, lower costs for fertilizer and medicines/health supplies, and similar costs to conventional for family labor, seed, veterinary visits, and other items. Though organic milk commanded higher prices, the authors found that organic farming was not profitable on average, but noted that unusually high conventional milk prices had since dropped to 1978 levels and organic prices had since risen 20%, attracting even more farmers to go organic.

This study directly relates to the issue of whether or not organic production contributes to the economic sustainability of farms in New England, and it is telling that under the market conditions observed in 2004, organic dairy farming was not typically profitable. The paper also provides some good descriptive information about the organic dairy production sector in the Northeast and the costs that are most important for farmers in the Northeast. For example, feed costs were found to be equivalent to 54% of the organic milk price differential in 2004.

Rotz CA. Kamphuis GH. Karsten HD. Weaver RD. Organic dairy production systems in Pennsylvania: a case study evaluation. Journal of Dairy Science. 2007 Aug; 90(8):3961-3979.
Rotz et al used four case studies of organic farms combined with historical data in Pennsylvania to simulate four model farms (two organic and two conventional) for comparison purposes. Each model farm was simulated over 25 years of central PA weather data. Environmental results showed that organic dairy farms (particularly those that use poultry manure as fertilizer) are more likely to have undesirable accumulation of phosphorous and potassium in the soil, and conventional farms are more likely to have problems with erosion and transport of phosphorous in runoff. [Note that excess phosphorous is often the trigger for eutrophication of fresh water bodies.] Based on the simulated whole-farm budgets, it was found that organic dairy producers have an economic advantage, primarily due to price premiums and production practices. Input and certification costs were not found to have a significant impact on organic dairy farm income. However, it was noted that high prices for organic milk would be necessary to maintaining economic advantage for organic producers.

This study supports the argument that organic production can provide an economic advantage for farmers because of the price premiums available. Additionally, the farms modeled are not unlike those in New England, with 100 cows per farm and some other similar characteristics. It would then seem plausible that switching to organic can be a survival strategy for small to medium size dairy farmers in a competitive market. The authors state that price premiums need to stay high in order for organic production to offer this advantage, begging the question of whether or not producers with continue to go organic if increased supplies push prices down in the future.

Stout, W.L., S.L. Fales, L.D. Muller, R.R. Schnabel, G.F. Elwinger, and S.R. Weaver. "Assessing the Effect of Management Intensive Grazing on Water Quality in the Northeast U.S." Journal of Soil and Water Conversation. 55 (2000): 238.
The stocking rate (animals/hectare) is a vital part of intensive grazing programs on many farms. However, while higher stocking rates can lead to better use of pasture nutrients, they can also lead to higher levels of nitrate leaching from pastures into nearby water sources, whether it is ground water, streams, or ponds and lakes, particularly when the pastures are fertilized. Individual affects will vary, depending on the cropping systems, overall land use, and watershed. Nitrates and nitrites can be harmful water pollutants, to the point of making water unfit for human and animal consumption.

SOCIETAL HEALTH / QUALITY OF LIFE

Calker, K.J. van; Berentsen, P.B.M.; Boer, I.J.M. de; Giesen, G.W.J.; Huirne, R.B.M. Modelling worker physical health and societal sustainability at farm level: An application to conventional and organic dairy farming. Agricultural Systems. May 2007;94(2):205-219.
The authors used an economic-environmental model to evaluate the social sustainability of dairy operations in the Netherlands based on their type of production ("high tech" vs organic) and management style. A number of indicators were developed to measure societal sustainability and worker physical health outcomes. The organic system was found to have better outcomes with regard to animal welfare. Both high tech and organic had similar results for societal sustainability, with improved outcomes for those where additional management measures were put into place. The authors conclude that societal sustainability is primarily dependent on management practices and farmer attitude.

This article will be helpful in thinking about the ways in which agricultural systems impact community/human health and how to measure outcomes related to these goals. Since it is also looking at conventional vs. organic production, it should also be helpful in conceptualizing what some of the broad differences are between the two types of operations, and lend insight as to where those differences actually impact health outcomes.

Hermansen, JE. Organic livestock production systems and appropriate development in relation to public expectations. Livestock Production Science. 2003;80:3-15.
This article looks at the extent to which organic livestock production systems in Europe meet the expectations of stakeholders (mainly farmers and consumers). Motivations for choosing to farm organically differ regionally; organic systems should be careful to take into account these differing goals and attempt to meet expectations without resulting in unacceptably high prices.

From a policy standpoint, this article seems to be helpful in understanding what different groups mean when they talk about "sustainability" in agriculture, and seeing how organic systems may fit into those understandings.

POLICY

7CFR205. National Organic Program, Production and Handling Regulations (USDA/AMS)http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3003494&acct=noprulemaking
These are the regulations governing agricultural practices on certified organic farms, and will be important in understanding what legal restrictions are imposed upon organic dairy farmers. The Organic Trade Association provides the definition of "organic" that the National Organic Standards Board adopted in 1995: http://www.ota.com/definition/nosb.html

Meeting minutes are here: -http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5057442

MASSACHUSETTS DAIRY PRESERVATION LAW

http://www.mass.gov/agr/dairy/docs/preservation/Chapter310Acts_2008.pdf

This law was passed in August 2008 to lend support to Massachusetts dairy farms, and includes the following measures: low-interest loans, a dairy farm income tax credit whereby farmers can claim the credit for any month in which the price of milk falls below the state-set target price extension of Farm Viability Funds to use on APR (agricultural preservation), land establishment of a MA Dairy Board funded through assessments on milk sales, an option for towns to allow farmers to exempt animals and equipment used solely for agricultural purposes from their state income tax, an increase (from 2 to 10 miles) in the distance a farm vehicle can travel on normal roads without being registered, a fluid milk couponing program run by MDAR, and establishment of a commission to tackle legal barriers to adoption of new farm technology

As we consider the question of farm viability, we must always remember that state and federal governments are highly involved in the farm sector and do a great deal to ensure the "sustainability" of farms.

MAINE ALSO HAS A DAIRY ENCOURAGEMENT LAW:

See Title 7, http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/7/title7ch0sec0.html