cows in field

Open Letter to the Hershbergs of Stonyfield


Added August 1, 2009.

Nancy and Gary Hershberg,

The Maine Organic Milk Producers would like to at this time, let you know our feelings regarding the recent actions taken by Hood Dairy, sending termination notices to all the Washington and Aroostook county organic milk producers,and then a short time later sending termination notices to Mark McKusick and Richard Lary.

These farmers all signed contracts with Hood because they were led to believe that Hood meant to stay and expand in Maine. Many of these farmers spent much time,effort, and money to go through the transittion process that it takes to become certified organic, having been led to believe their efforts would be supported into the future.

The reason given for sending termination notices to Aroostock and Washington county producers was an unprofitable route. Hood then sent Richard Lary and Mark McKusick, two farmers that have been active in promoting an improved lot for family farmers, termination letters. The reason cited was an oversupply of milk. We suspect that this may not be correct. Requests for a meeting between Hood and it’s Maine organic milk producers have been rejected by Hood. This has led the producers to question Hood’s honesty and integrity.

We wish no malice toward you and the good name of Stonyfield Farm, but the membership roundly
condemns Hood. If there were any way to completely separate Hood/Stonyfield Farm Milk from the Stonyfield Yogurt label,we would, but it is not us who is tarnishing your good name. Are we just supposed to quietly accept what Hood /Stonyfield Milk has done to our fellow farmers? Are we not allowed to protest what we feel is an unjust ,heavyhanded treatment of two producers who’s only “crime” has been that they have been advocates for a better economic situation for the small family farmer? We believe that we have a right to protest the actions of Hood/Stonyfield Farm Milk and we
also feel that the rest of the organic community deseves the right to know how we feel.

We do appreciate the fact that you offered to facilitate a meeting between Hood/ Stonyfield Farm
Milk and the farmers from Maine who have been so unjustly treated,but Hood/Stonyfield Farm Milk has rejected every overture made to them by our members to sit down and discuss the situation. As a final note,which we feel bears repeating, the last thing we want to do is to cause any harm to the name of Stonyfield Yogurt,but we are not going to sit quietly by in silence as we watch our friends and neighbors be treated so badly.

Thank you,