Organic milk

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tmiles
Filet Mignon
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2006/01/04 15:35:10 (permalink)

Organic milk

I saw a disturbing bit of news over the weekend. Organic dairy farms in Vermont had an average return of -2.7% last year. That means it cost them almost $1.03 for each dollar of sales.

Some of you know that I have looked for ways to get back into full time farming, and that I have considered the organic option.

There are several problems with organic farms in VT. First they are smaller and don't have economy of scale, and when they sell milk, they have to compete with milk from organic factory farms. Today the biggest seller of organic milk in the country is also the biggest the seller of milk.....period. It is very expensive for an existing farmer to change over to an organic dairy. On day one you are saddled with organic costs, but you can't sell your product as organic for up to several years. For farmers looking to make the change, they are saying, "Why make the investment?" when they see that their organic brothers are not making a living either.

We as the consuming public are faced with several issues. When we buy, do we just want to support the organic concept in general?? If so, it is a good thing that most supermarket organic food comes from big companies. When we buy we encourage big change in traditional factory farming. If we really just want to support small family farms, though, "organic" as sold by today's supermarkets may not be the way to go.

What do you think?
#1

3 Replies Related Threads

    matt@wh
    Junior Burger
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    RE: Organic milk 2006/01/04 15:49:41 (permalink)
    Organic Valley last year established a transition fund to help small farmers go from conventional to organic dairy production. Since they're a small farms co-operative, I believe they set a standard price per hundredweight for their members.

    You should check those guys out if you're interested in going back to farming. I believe the deal is, during the USDA mandated transition period, farmers are paid a premium of $1 per hundredweight above the going non-organic milk pay price during first nine months. For the last 3 months, they get $2 per hundredweight above non-organic pay prices, and for the first three months within their regional organic milk "pool," they receive $1 per hundredweight above the organic payment price.
    #2
    Jimeats
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    RE: Organic milk 2006/01/04 16:01:37 (permalink)
    Tmiles-have you noticed the code dates on organic milk? I live by myself so I usually by organic just for that reason, more expensive but at least I'm not throwing any away. The question is how come the shelf life is so much greater? Chow Jim
    #3
    tmiles
    Filet Mignon
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    RE: Organic milk 2006/01/04 16:33:29 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by matt@wh

    Organic Valley last year established a transition fund to help small farmers go from conventional to organic dairy production. Since they're a small farms co-operative, I believe they set a standard price per hundredweight for their members.

    You should check those guys out if you're interested in going back to farming. I believe the deal is, during the USDA mandated transition period, farmers are paid a premium of $1 per hundredweight above the going non-organic milk pay price during first nine months. For the last 3 months, they get $2 per hundredweight above non-organic pay prices, and for the first three months within their regional organic milk "pool," they receive $1 per hundredweight above the organic payment price.


    Organic Valley is a true member owned co-op that is doing good work, but their members, at least in Vermont, are not making enough money. In my life, I have been a member of, and invested in 4 farmer co-ops. Two folded, costing me my investment. One refunded my money when I sold my cows, and I remain a member of the 4th. I am aware of their program to recruit farmers, and of their need to expand volume to fill more shelf space, and believe me, I would rather see their product on the shelf than some of the competition. I understand that they process in the northeast for the northeast market giving us a product that is 2 or 3 days fresher (at initial shelf stocking) than the competition. As far as the longer shelf life of organic milk goes, I don't know, and have wondered myself. The stuff sold here is not a UHT product, but maybe it is pasturized more than "regular" milk???
    #4
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