I know you’re thinking why is he talking about milk? New Morning Farm does not sell milk of course, and never will, because health dept rules would never allow it.
But we buy milk to drink and so do you. And, as an organic farmer I probably know more about the organic milk situation than many of you. So I wanted to talk about it a little bit, (consumer education!) inspired by a telephone call I just got from an organic dairy farmer.
Family organic dairy farmers are having a very tough time these days. Many are going out of business.The price paid to the farmer for milk is disastrously low.
The reason for this is surprisingly simple. A few big corporations have developed systems for producing milk very cheaply, on a very large scale, in arid parts of the West (no pasture). These systems drive down the price of milk way below the family farmer’s cost, and this huge flow of cheap milk floods the market.
This is a bad situation for any traditional dairy farmer, organic or not, but it’s always been assumed that organic dairy farms have their cows on pasture, which is a big cost factor (AND a quality factor).
But guess what? The USDA, in its wisdom, and in light of the huge corporate campaign contributions to politicians who influence USDA policy, has decided NOT TO ENFORCE the organic pasture rules. So huge dairy corporations can call their cheap milk “organic” and get the price premium that only real traditional organic farmers should get, even though those corporate farms don’t use (expensive) pasture.
What should you and I, consumers, do about it?
Stay tuned next week.
See you Saturday,