Organic Valley campaigns to save small, organic dairies

Wisconsin State Farmer
Organic Valley representatives visited several organic dairy farms in the Northwest whose contracts had been terminated by their current processors. To date, Organic Valley has offered membership to five farms that no longer had a place to send their milk, and says this is just the first step in saving small, organic farms.

Last year, nearly two dozen organic dairy farmers in New York state received notice from Maple Hill Creamery, that their contracts would be terminated in December 2021. A secondary group of 25 farms was put on notice that their contracts would also be terminated effective May 2022.

For five of those small, organic family farms, they've been given a chance thanks to Organic Valley. The farmer-owned cooperative based in Wisconsin recognized that these dairy farmers needed a market to continue organically caring for their animals and delivering fresh organic milk to the Northeast.

According to a news release, Organic Valley representatives visited each farm and offered membership to five farms that no longer had a place to send their milk.

This is the first step in what Organic Valley says will be a yearlong campaign to save small, organic family dairy farms of the Northeast. This is yet another step the farmer-owned cooperative is taking to uphold its decades-long mission to sustain small, organic family farms.

“We are excited to bring these five family farms into our cooperative. This is just the beginning: we are looking forward to offering a home to more farm families in the Northeast,” said Bob Kirchoff, Organic Valley CEO in a news release. “We want to help family farms in the region throughout 2022 by providing membership options. And, in turn, we’re excited to be giving consumers a real choice to support farmers and their neighbors through the products we make as Organic Valley."

Kirchoff says the company believes it can sustain small organic family farms in America for the next generation and reverse climate change through organic agriculture.

Organic Valley representatives have been visiting more than 130 Northeast farms that other companies have decided to drop in the coming year. To join the cooperative, organic farms are required to meet the elevated animal care, quality standards, and pasture expectations of Organic Valley.

Organic Valley

While not every farm is a fit, Organic Valley maintains open lines of communication and provides farm strategy consultation to those adapting to the high-quality standards of the cooperative. 

Organic Valley is joining other like-minded organizations to offer recommendations for building a bright future for small, organic family farms through a USDA convened Northeast Dairy Task Force. As discussions with family farms progress and visits continue, Organic Valley will release more information throughout 2022 on efforts to save the small, organic family dairy farms of the Northeast.