Name and By-Laws Changes
OCIA Nebraska is the new name of our chapter, and we updated our by-laws in May 2023 to reflect this significant change. The chapter in western Nebraska has ceased operations and transferred their funds to us.
This year saw a slight increase in membership numbers. Seventy organic operations are currently certified (or in the process of certification) by OCIA Nebraska. Among them, four operations are new to the community.
Board of Directors Openings
We are in the process of recruiting candidates to fill two 3-year positions on the OCIA NE Board of Directors for the 2024-2027 term. The board convenes quarterly and holds short Zoom meetings as needed, in addition to an annual in-person gathering.
Starting this year, we are offering two OCIA Nebraska Scholarships, each valued at $500, for qualified organic applicants. Unfortunately, no applications were received this year due to delays in getting the information to high school students and guidance counselors.
With new guidance and application forms now available on our website, we plan to disseminate scholarship information much earlier in 2024. We welcome any suggestions or input; feel free to email us!
Husker Harvest Days Event
Husker Harvest Days took place from September 12-14, 2023. OCIA Nebraska had a booth situated in the Diversified Industries Building West (DI). We kept track of farmers who visited the booth and expressed interest in organic farming or becoming a mentor or mentee.
Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP)
The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has launched the new Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP), a 5-year initiative starting this year. OCIA Nebraska is partnering with OCIA International, which is a regional lead sponsor for the Great Plains Region in this USDA TOPP program. Grants are in the pipeline for farmers who apply for the TOPP Mentorship program, aiming to connect established organic farming mentors with new farmers seeking to transition to organic farming. Further details will be posted on our website.
Upcoming Annual Meeting and TOPP Program
The OCIA Nebraska Annual Meeting and TOPP Program are scheduled for December 6, 2023, at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, as part of the Nebraska Ag Expo. The day will feature 6-7 speakers, with presentations commencing at 10:00 am on the Main Stage in Pavilion #3 (the organic building). Registration opens at 9:00 am. An OCIA Annual Business Meeting is slated for 3:15 pm, followed by the Board Meeting. A tentative agenda for the day is attached.
OCIA 2023 AGMM Annual Meeting Highlights
Attendance and Election
Genny Mosel attended the OCIA 2023 AGMM Annual Meeting via Zoom on January 19th due to adverse weather conditions. Congratulations are in order for Christian Evans and Scott Ausborn, who were elected to the Board of Directors.
Astha Guatam, a 2022 Scholarship Recipient from South Dakota State University, presented her research on Rancidity Development in Naked Oat Genotypes.
Key Discussions and Decisions
A vote passed to increase the acreage fee by 20%, as it had not been updated in the last 8 years. Discussions also focused on implementing online voting to better represent Central America, Latin America, Mexico, and South America. These regions face high costs to attend the meeting in person or to host the annual AGMM Meeting.
The next AGMM Meeting is contracted for February 8th, 2024, and will be hosted at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Council Bluffs, IA.
New Audio-Visual Equipment
We've made a significant upgrade to our technical setup using TOPP grant funding. The new equipment includes:
Acer laptop computer
Laser projector and screen
Bose public announcement (PA) system
Wired and wireless microphones
Assorted carrying cases
This investment is designed to enhance the quality of communications and presentations at our meetings, farm tours, and other events.
Farm Tours 2023 Update
Unfortunately, there were no OCIA Nebraska Farm Tours organized for this year. However, there is the opportunity to apply for TOPP grant funding to cover the expenses related to advertising and conducting these tours. To be eligible, our farm tours must include content on transitioning to organic farming, in addition to covering a regular program of organic farming topics.