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The Future of Milk

By David Goodman, "The Future of Milk," July/August 2010

As small dairy farms are vanishing, what is happening to our milk?


READER'S COMMENT:
"Skip the milk produced by the big commercial dairy farms. Better yet, go vegan or vegetarian and support dairy and cattle farmers that switch to growing vegetables and fruit which are more healthy and ecological alternatives. Too much of...

Elsewhere, farmers are starting to take the pricing of their product into their own hands. In Rhode Island, a group of dairy farmers faced a familiar dilemma as the price of milk seesawed over the last decade: “Go outta business or do something different,” one of the farmers recounted. Five of the state’s 17 dairy farms hammered out a survival strategy and in 2004 joined together under the Rhody Fresh label (rhodyfresh.com). Rhody Fresh, which has grown to include nine farms, is processed nearby, and sells at a premium in the region: as much as $1 more per gallon than its competitors’.

“When the price of milk plummeted last year we put a floor on our price, crossed our fingers and prayed,” said Jim Hines, executive director of Rhody Fresh. Retailers agreed to cut their margins on Rhody Fresh milk to lower the price to consumers. The result: sales of Rhody Fresh increased every month last year. “We sent the message to our customers that we would like you to support us, and we will give you a quality product,” said Hines.

Rhody Fresh is now a household name in southeastern New England. Several of its farmers have said flatly that they would not have survived were it not for Rhody Fresh. Their success has also inspired local sheep farmers to market a Rhody Warm blanket and local cattle farmers to sell Rhody Raised meats.



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