As small dairy farms are vanishing, what is happening to our milk?
"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...
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Local and Vocal
When Woodard went organic he joined a small, local dairy co-op called The Organic Cow that was helping Vermont farmers make the switch. But in 1999, The Organic Cow was purchased by Horizon Organic, which in turn was acquired in 2004 by food giant Dean Foods. It was no longer so clear where his milk was being sold.
While The Organic Cow continues to market itself as “Goodness from just up the road” and “simple, pure organic milk from cows right here in New England,” Horizon officials declined to say whether The Organic Cow’s milk is any different from the rest of Horizon milk, some of which comes from company-owned dairy farms in Idaho and New Mexico with more than 2,000 cows.
Other large organic co-ops are championing the local dairy farmer; Organic Valley, a 1,600-member cooperative that sells about one-third of the organic milk in the country, features the regions where milk is from (New England Pastures, Rocky Mountain Pastures, for example) on its labels and its farmers on its website. “Our goal is to create sustainable farming practices and pay premium prices to our farmers,” says Tripp Hughes, marketing director for Organic Valley. Even as the pay price for conventional milk fluctuated wildly (from below $12 per hundredweight in 2006 to $18 in 2007 and then back below $12 in 2009), Organic Valley farmers earned a steadily climbing rate and an average of $28.27 per hundredweight in November 2009.