1. Home
  2. News

Organic Valley Begins Effort to Protect Organic Family Farms in US

Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Wisconsin, announced Tuesday that it was reaching out to up to 80 farms in the Northeast that were dropped by the company, Horizon Organic, in August.

Ayushi Raina
Organic Valley announced  that it was reaching out to up to 80 farms in the Northeast that had been abandoned by Horizon Organic
Organic Valley announced that it was reaching out to up to 80 farms in the Northeast that had been abandoned by Horizon Organic

Some organic dairy farmers who found last summer that they were losing their contract with an international company may have a new way to stay in business. 

Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based farmer-owned cooperative, announced on Tuesday that it was reaching out to up to 80 farms in the Northeast that had been abandoned by Horizon Organic in August. 

When Horizon declared that it would no longer accept organic milk supplies from dairies in the Northeast, including over 30 farms in Vermont, analysts predicted a terrible blow to the state's dairy sector, which had already been reeling and losing farms every year. 

Organic Valley CEO Bob Kirchoff stated that the company has been working to find a solution for the farm since the announcement was made this summer. 

Kirchoff stated in a press release, "We are the only national brand that is still fighting for small family farms because we believe that the finest quality food is ethically derived from small family farms. With the assistance of consumers and customers around the country, we are assisting in the resolution of the dilemma of disappearing small family farms. We're building the food system that everyone wants: one that regenerates land, cares for animals, feeds people, and improves communities." 

Organic Valley currently picks up milk from 99 Vermont farms. 

Horizon Organic, which is owned by the international food corporation Danone, announced that it will be closing its contracts with the organic family farms due to “growing transportation and operational challenges in the dairy industry, particularly in the Northeast.” 

Danone said that the contracts would expire in the summer of 2022, but then extended the deadline until the end of the year. 

However, Organic Valley's statement on Tuesday means that the farms now have the option of selling their milk to a new dairy firm. 

Organic Valley stated that it had already signed new contracts with 10 New England farms. 

"My family has been cultivating this land for nearly 65 years.  I'm excited to be working with Organic Valley to maintain our family farm," said George Osgood of Corinth, Vermont, who joined the company earlier this month. "A cooperative run by small family farmers is an ideal fit for us." It allows us to continue doing what we enjoy." 

When Horizon made the unexpected statement last year, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets organized a task group to assist the 28 organic farmers who would have nowhere to send their milk if their contracts with Horizon expired. 

The task force made a series of recommendations to the USDA in December, including providing grants to incentivize more organic dairy sales, launching a pilot program to encourage schools to purchase more organic milk, and establishing a new federal grant program to support existing and new dairy processors. 

The USDA announced a $20 million increase in funding for the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center last week. 

"Today's action by Organic Valley is exactly what we hoped for when we formed the task force," Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts remarked. Now we must build on this progress and ensure that farmers continue to have a long-term market." 

Magnoliaceous Quiz: Take a Quiz on National Mango Day Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters