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Welcome to NODPA's March 2009 E-Letter
March came in like a lion – here’s hoping it continues being a lamb!

What is happening in the Organic milk market?

Like the economy, nobody really knows. So what are the present indicators that we can judge the future by?

  • HP Hood LLC which markets fluid milk under the Stonyfield brand has unilaterally refused to resign contracts with eight producers from Maine and others in Wisconsin and Iowa. Many of these producers transitioned to organic with HP Hood promising a solid future and are now faced with a surplus of production and little hope that any other processors will sign them up.
  • Organic Valley has reduced their pay price to producers, and it’s rumored that they have a surplus of organic butter and cheese with no storage space left.
  • Horizon's producers and NODPA are thankful that the powers that be at Horizon have listen to them and chosen to keep their producer pay price at its current level rather than follow suit of the other major processors whom have slashed theirs. They are busy making lots of organic powdered milk.
  • The CEO of Humboldt Creamery Cooperative in CA has resigned under a cloud of suspicion and their producer-owners received just 45% of what they were owed for January's milk.
  • Projected growth for fluid organic milk in 2009 is between 7-10% but for manufactured dairy product it is level or dropping. The growth in fluid organic milk is in store brand milk which can retail for as little as $2.45 a ½ gallon. Store brand milk is packaged by the major brands but is undercutting their brand sales undermining their connection to family farms.
  • All the major processors are battling for retail market share – not on quality, family farms or the benefits of organic, but on price.
  • Processors have been pushing dairy farmers to produce more low cost milk based on using pasture and their own forage. They are now telling producers to cut production by 10-15% and that they can’t deal with the “spring flush” of milk from those farms that have expanded their use of pasture.

What are the common themes here? Processors blame the economy and take unilateral action that directly affects the income of those family farms who have nothing left to cut except their health insurance and living expenses. The buck apparently stops with producers who are expected to make changes in production practices overnight. After receiving a pay price for the last two years that didn’t meet their costs of production, producers have no cushion left to fund those changes.

We are way past the time when there needs to be serious discussions and action between processors and producers to change how supply and pay price are determined. Every crisis brings an opportunity.

Producers have been urging all processors to engage in productive discussions on these issues for years.

We implore processors not to waste this opportunity and engage with us now. For more details on the organic dairy market go to:

Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director
Henry Perkins, NODPA President

News, Stories & Events

Organic Dairy, Environmentalism
and Community Action ...

Meet John Kinsman (pictured above, right) a Wisconsin dairy farmer who has been stewarding his land for over 50 years. MORE >

Petitions Sent to USDA Requesting End of Producer-Handler Exemption
Added March 6, 2009. Producer-handlers, those vertically integrated businesses that produce and process milk, have been exempt in most Federal Milk Marketing Orders (FMMO) from paying pooling costs that other handlers have been required to pay. That may soon end. MORE >

Update on Pasture Rule and
Administration Changes

Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, reviews the new Obama ag appointments, and provides a quick update on the status of the pasture rule. MORE>

Grain Market Update
With spring approaching and a very soft conventional market, producers are selling their inventory at the lowest prices of the year. Learn more.

Washington State WIC Program Rejects
Organic Milk. Don't Let This Go Unchallenged.

Recently the Washington State WIC Nutrition Program came out with a decision to NOT include organic milk on their list of WIC-approved foods. Part of their reasoning is price, but much of their decision seems to be based upon the expert opinion of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The letter from Washington State WIC lists these organizations and others that declare there is ‘no benefit to children from organic food’. We, as organic producers, resource individuals, advocates and consumers of organic food know that this is not true.

“Well over 100 studies have been published comparing the nutrient content of organic and conventional food grown on similar soils in the same region. The results show that organic foods are nutritionally superior in about two-thirds of the "matched pair" cases, and moreover, the magnitude of the differences clearly favor organic production systems,” Dr. Preston Andrews, Washington State University.

The Organic Center at has plenty of scientific information and references to argue the case to your State department that makes these decisions. Make the case that, per dollar spent, WIC recipients receive more nutrients by buying organic milk and produce. To check out the original WIC press release, click here.

It's a two way street!

We'd love to hear from you. Any events you're aware of that we should be posting on our web site? Any topics you'd like us to address in articles for the newsletter? Please contact Lisa McCrory:


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Odairy transferred from Yahoo to NODPA!!

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We transferred this listserve from Yahoo to the NODPA website because we value your contact information and want to ensure that you can express your thoughts and ideas on Odairy without fear that they will be hijacked by others. We have also transferred all the archives from Yahoo and they are easily accessible once you have signed in.

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Farmer Classifieds

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Land Looking to buy a small grazing dairy farm capable of milking up to 50 cows. Employment Organic Dairy Herd Manager Position Available at Alfred State College. Herdsperson wanted for Seven Stars Farm, a 350 acre certified Biodynamic farm in Phoenixville, PA. Executive Director Sought at Merck Forest & Farmland Center, a not-forprofit corporation located in Rupert, VT. Assistant goat dairy herdsperson at Oak Knoll Dairy in Windsor, VT. Yogurt and cheese making help, and produce production help, at family dairy in Wyalusing, Pa. Looking for employment on a grass-based dairy. Pennsylvania Certified Organic is looking for a new Administrative Director. Forages & Grains Nofa-NY certified organic hay. Certified Organic Hay & Baleage for Sale in Central NY. PCO certified 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cut hay in small squares. 115 bales certified organic baleage-2nd cutting clover and grass. 1st and 2nd Cutting Grass Hay 4x4, NY. 100 roundbales of certified organic second cut dry hay available, NY. 100 roundbales of certified organic second cut dry hay available, NH. Wrapped 4x4 round bales grown with compost on mineralized soils, VT. 100 ton of triticale, 60 ton of rye, & 2 ton shell corn, NY. Animals For Sale: Registered Dexter heifer 1yr $900. Dexter/Ayrshire heifer 1.5 yr $900. WANTED: 2 certified Organic cows, prefer Dutch Belt, Jersey, Jersey cross, Lineback or Shorthorn. Normande cross or purebred heifers and/or steers to raise starting this spring. Guernsey calves, bred heifer or cow. Equipment 5 or 6 foot Howard Rotovator for pasture renovation. | email: