MIAMI COUNTY — A Miami East-MVCTC FFA student has been invited to speak at a national conference that has supported his organic farming efforts.
Michael Bair, 17, a junior at Miami East High School, was selected to share his story with the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) organization at its eastern expo and annual luncheon in Baltimore, Md. on Sept. 12.
“It’s critical for us to have a student there who has received our grant and has continued to grow in the organic space, like Michael,” said Shawna Rodgers, a CCOF development associate.
Bair is a two-time recipient of the CCOF Foundation’s Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund. Bair received two grants of $1,000 each to support his organic raised chicken operation on his family’s farm in Elizabeth Township. Bair shared how he spent the funds on freezers and materials for the chicken pens for the certified organic chicken operation.
Bair said he’ll share his background growing up on a farm and what he’s learned through his FFA Supervised Agriculture Experience project as well as the challenges and his future plans for his organic farming experience.
“I didn’t always grow up on a certified organic farm, but I always grew up on grass-fed dairy cows and that’s all I’ve known,” said Bair, the son of David and Annette Bair of Troy.
Bair said his family’s farm, Bair Trax, started the certified organic process in 2007 and he added his FFA SAE project with the organic chicken production under their certification.
Bair sells his organic chicken meat through the Miami County Locally Grown virtual marketplace. Currently, Bair has 250 organically fed chickens in his operation. He estimated to have sold approximately $2,000 worth of the organic chicken product in two years.
Bair said the biggest challenge in raising organic meat is the price of feed.
“It’s so expensive and it has to be certified organic feed. Corn is $10 a bushel, if not more, and along with the other certified grain is much higher than conventional grains,” Bair said.
Bair said he is thankful for the support of the CCOF and the opportunity to participate in their program and the financial assistance they’ve provided to his operation.
“I’m looking forward to going out there and sharing my story and the challenges and opportunities I’ve experienced through this project,” said Bair, who will share his story with the CCOF’s guests and long-standing supporters of the fund including Organic Valley, Lundberg Family Farm and members of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association.
Bair, along with a family member, will have his accommodations, food, travel and costs paid for by the CCOF organization. Bair serves as his FFA chapter’s secretary and has earned his state FFA degree.