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NODPA E-NEWSLETTER | January 14, 2015

Aaron and Carly Bell and family

Featured Farm:
Tide Mill Organics, Eastern Maine

Although his father and uncle sold the dairy herd in the 1970’s, eighth generation farmer Aaron Bell of Tide Mill Organics, knew that he wanted to be a dairyman.  It was the stories from family members and the community that inspired Aaron to revive the dairy in the early 2000’s when HP Hood was aggressively seeking raw milk for its entrance into the organic milk sector, having purchased the right to bottle fluid milk under the Stonyfield Farm name.  Situated in the far edge of eastern Maine in Washington County, Tide Mill Organics is a stone’s throw from the Canadian border and the ocean.   The farm is recognized as a National Bicentennial Farm, a rare claim and especially so in this circumstance since not only is the land still in the Bell family but it is still commercially farmed.  In 2000, when Aaron returned to the farm post-college with his wife Carly Delsignore, the farm was 1600 acres- 50 acres of fields, 20-30 acres of marginal but improvable land and the rest wooded. To read more of Sonja Heyck-Merlin article on this family farm, please go to:


Organic Dairy:
Forecasts for 2015 and Beyond

What does Kevin Engelbert, John Bobbe, Andrew Dykstra, Sharad Mathur, Harriet Behar, Mike Davies, Bruce Drinkman, Miles McEvoy and Andre Brito have in common? As part of our January edition of the NODPA News they shared their perspective on the future of organic dairy from their own point of view. We invited these leaders of organic dairy from different backgrounds and occupations in order to have a variety of perspectives to share with you. We had no editorial control and did not edit their submissions. To read their interesting and unique ideas please go to:


And, to read  Mary Howell and Klaas Martens’ thoughts on the New York Times’ Food for Tomorrow conference, click here:


National Organic Standards Board Update

Jean Richardson, Chair National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) gives an update on what is happening at the Board and the USDA NOP since the last meeting of the Board in Kentucky last November, 2014. Jean continues to share the work of the Board in easy to understand language and gives an insight into what the NOP is doing to strengthen the integrity of the organic seal, plus, did you know that Miles McEvoy goes bird watching in his spare time? To read her complete article, please go to:


Profitability Declines slightly in 2013

That is the headline from Bob Parsons, UVM Extension, from his ongoing study on the profitability of organic dairying in Vermont. This study on the economics of organic dairy involved 34 Vermont dairy farms for the 2013 tax year, found that Return on Assets (ROA) dropped from 1.82% to 1.60%. The study was conducted with the cooperation of the University of Vermont Extension, NOFA-Vermont, Vermont organic dairy farmers, and the generous financial support from Stonyfield Farms, Morrison Custom Feeds, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Green Mountain Feeds, and Yankee Farm Credit. Bob writes, “In conclusion, organic farms are getting by. Organic is not the road to riches for many; however it has been a key vehicle of survival for many of the smaller farms who likely would be out of business if they had not had the option to go organic. Higher milk prices are needed but can the market absorb a higher price without losing consumer demand? So while the coming years likely will not see an immediate loss of organic dairy farms, there should be concern for long run viability and sustainable and healthy supply of organic milk from Vermont farms. Without a higher price, organic dairy farms have only the same options they had available when on the conventional treadmill; add more cows and produce more milk per cow to meet rising expenses.” To read the complete article and view the data collected please go to:


Pay Price Update: Pay price moves
up slowly as sales increase and
shortages continue

It looks like 2015 will be the year when processors start to recognize the realities of organic dairy production and the steady growth of demand in the retail market based on quality and production preference. As competition for the milk supply increases, regional buyers of organic milk are becoming more aggressive, with many different incentives available for those that want to switch processors. While an increasing part of the pay price is still the MAP, which can be taken away at the discretion of the processor, the base price has increased and CROPP has made the calculation of their pay price more understandable. To find out what the processors are paying and for a history of demand and supply please go to:


-- Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director  


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