To help organic dairy farms survive in the Northeast, a first-of-its-kind partnership is asking consumers to pledge to buy dairy products from 35 brands that agreed to expand their purchases of milk from the farms. The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership was a response to decisions by processors to pull out of the region, said Gary Hirshberg, a co-founder of Stonyfield, on Wednesday.
Groups representing organic dairy farmers in the Northeast said Danone North America, owner of Horizon Organic, needs to do more to cushion farmers against its decision to pull out of the region. Danone said it would extend contracts with 89 dairy farmers for an additional six months, provide a transition payment to the producers, and explore "co-investment solutions" with state and federal officials.
Global food company Danone has given a year's notice to 79 organic dairy farms in the Northeast that it will stop buying their milk on Aug. 31, 2022. The decision is just the latest squeeze on organic dairy producers, who face rising costs and pressures to consolidate.
Members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, a century-old dairy cooperative in Vermont, will vote later this month on whether to merge with the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America. But even as low milk prices and ongoing consolidation have threatened the region’s dairy farmers, St. Albans’ members are split on whether linking up with DFA will address their woes.
A new report from the Cornucopia Institute updates the group’s earlier research on the continuing industrialization of the organic dairy industry. The report includes a consumer scorecard that ranks commercially available dairy products on such metrics as whether the cows have access to pasture, what they’re fed, and whether they’re raised on industrial farms.