Saturday, April 26, 2008

Crisis in Organic Dairy Prices

The Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) issued a substantial press release in March, complaining that milk prices paid by big companies such as Stonyfield Farm are too low to support organic dairy farmers at current fuel and feed costs.
“There is a very serious situation going on right now and some of our very best farmers are looking at bankruptcy,” says Darlene Coehoorn, Wisconsin farmer, Organic Valley member-owner and President of the Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (MODPA), “and we need Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farm, HP Hood, and Horizon Organic to recognize that our families are suffering. While the major brands are signing on new farmers with bonuses and incentives, they need to take care of their farmer-owners and farm partners by paying us a price for our milk that allows us to support our families and pay our farm bills.”
Shortly thereafter, Gary Hirschberg of Stonyfield published a reply at Grist, basically arguing that market pressures currently prevent Stonyfield from raising the cost of its products enough to pay farmers more profitably, and that the company has been extremely supportive of organic dairy in general. Ed Maltby of NODPA responded once again. Grist's Tom Philpott summed up his own thoughts on the matter here.

If you'd like to hear more, Boston's WBZ radio interviewed both Maltby and Hirschberg on April 22. Listen via the NODPA site.

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