cows in field

Recent ODairy Discussions – January, 2020

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board Co-President

It was a quiet time on ODairy over the last few weeks. There were a few posts advertising equipment and animals for sale, and a few lamenting the loss of small farms and the consolidation of ever-larger farms. Questions arose last month about NPE’s, those nasty chemicals that have been banned from the products in our milkhouses. Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) are industrial grade surfactants, primarily used in iodine teat dip formulations, to help suspend the iodine in the dip. But they have issues, primarily biodegradation and aquatic toxicity. So they have been banned across the industry, both organic and conventional, through our milk coops and processors for several years.

Because it was such a quiet time, I have searched through my file of old posts too good to delete (in my humble opinion). So I offer one farmer’s suggestions to us as an industry. Perhaps this may generate some discussion for the next issue! This farmer offered this list of recommendations to distance ourselves from large mega-farms:

1.) Organic dairy farmers should commit to establishing A2A2 genetics in five years.

2.) During conversion to A2A2, farmers should make every effort to develop naturally polled dairy cattle.

3.) Focus on thermization as the principal method of pasteurization. This method heats the milk to between 57°C to 68°C for 15 minutes, targets pathogenic bacteria while leaving the good bacteria, and does not alter the structure and taste of milk.

4.) Provide unhomogenized milk whenever and wherever possible. It is well known that homogenization essentially negates any healthy properties of pasteurized milk.

5.) HTST and UHT should be the exception rather than the typical method of pasteurization for yogurt and cultured milk products.

6.) Reduce the use of plastic throughout, from the farm to the table. Use less plastic wrapped bales, package milk in glass bottles.

7.) Immediately stop the arrogance of calling people who purchase food "consumers" and referring to farmers as "producers". We are all consumers. Stop brow-beating people who are vegan or vegetarian; we are all free to eat what we like and spend our money on things that we value. Blaming the lack of dairy product acceptance on vegetarians is an example of total cluelessness.

8.) Pasturing is not a panacea. Let’s all do a better job.

9.) If organic dairy wants to turn things around, it is time to walk the walk that potential organic dairy clients expect. Organic food advocates are not stupid. Otherwise, organic dairy should accept their inevitable transition to a being just another commodity product.