cows in field

Press Release: NODPA Stands for Living Wage | June 18, 2008

NODPA stands for a living wage for organic dairy farm families and a temporary moratorium on transitioning livestock farms to organic

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ed Maltby, Executive Director, NODPA

Deerfield, MA: June 18, 2008. In November 2007 the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers (NODPA) and the Federation Of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers), representing organic dairy farmers across the country, requested a 20% increase above the farmgate price their farmers were paid in 2007 to advert losses and potential bankruptcies. Organic dairy farmers received no increase on their base price from January 2006 to December 2007. From January 2008 to June 2008 organic dairy farmers have received an average increase in their farmgate price of 9% based on their December 2007 price. That is an average of 3.8% per calendar year, approximately 8¢ per gallon per year for the period January 2006 to June 2008.

With organic farmers being hit by weather ranging from historic flooding to drought, conditions are in place for inadequate crop yields and consequently higher feed and fuel costs. NODPA appeals to all processors to listen to their farmers and work with them to increase their base farmgate pay price by a total of 60¢ a gallon to move towards family farm profitability.

If processors and cooperatives are truly committed to their farm partners and farmer-owners they need to act now.

“What I would like right now is enough of a price increase to cover my increased costs. I need a base farmgate price of $35 /hundred pounds of milk ($3 /gallon) to be able to pay our bills,” says Maine organic dairy farmer and NODPA Treasurer Henry Perkins.

The current farmgate price does not leave farmers with a net income that meets any definition of a living wage for a sustainable future for the next generation. How can this be rectified in tough economic times?

  • The retail price of organic milk varies by as much as $2.00 /half gallon depending on where it retails and which brand it is. With that large variation in retail price and an average 20% growth in consumer demand, the future can be profitable for all levels of organic dairy. If the consumer paid an extra 20¢ per half gallon, and the processing company and the retailer gave a few percentage points on their margin, and those increases were passed through to the farmer, organic dairy family farms would be able to pay their bills. (For more information: The Retail Food Dollar)

Processors and manufacturers of organic dairy products need to recognize the extreme pressure on the price and availability of purchased organic feed and join with farmers to declare a temporary moratorium on transitioning livestock farmers to organic. (For more information on feed prices: East & Midwest Grain & Hay Prices as of June 13)

“Organic dairy farmers are suffering from rapidly escalating costs and the lack of availability of organic feed,” says Darlene Coehoorn, Wisconsin farmer and Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (MODPA) President, “and we need processors to recognize the effect it is having on our families and farms. While processors are signing on new farmers with bonuses and incentives, they should act responsibly by providing a sustainable future for their existing producers.”

Organic dairy producers and their families are dedicated, hardworking and independent with a wide range of skills and a high level of knowledge of the intricacies of organic livestock and crop production. That should not be exploited.

“We want the next generation to see a future in organic dairying and we want more conventional farms to see it as a viable option.” says New York organic dairy farmer and NODPA President Kathie Arnold, “Right now, neither of those are realities.”


NODPA – website or
The mission of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance is to enable organic dairy family farmers, situated across an extensive area, to have informed discussion about matters critical to the well being of the organic dairy industry as a whole, with particular emphasis on:

  1. Establishing a fair and sustainable price for their product at the wholesale level.
  2. Promoting ethical, ecological and economically sustainable farming practices.
  3. Developing networks with producers and processors of other organic commodities to strengthen the infrastructure within the industry.
  4. Establishing open dialogue with organic dairy processors and retailers in order to better influence producer pay price and to contribute to marketing efforts.

Federation Of Organic Dairy Producers (FOOD Farmers)
The Federation Of Organic Dairy Producers is an umbrella group for the three regional organic dairy farmer organizations: Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA), Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Association (MODPA), and Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (WODPA). FOOD Farmers represents over 1,000, or two thirds of organic dairy farmers across the country.

Northeast Organic grain price 2005-2008


12% CP Grain

16% CP Grain

18% CP Grain


$ 310

$ 330

$ 349


$ 350

$ 380

$ 395


$ 360

$ 393

$ 412


$ 490

$ 565

$ 598

% increase 2005-2008




Increase in Feed cost for organic dairy compared to pay price



% Increase

Whole shell corn












Wheat mids




Soybean meal




Pay price