Organic milk producers hit hard by economy

Someone needs to play dairy godmother: A NY Times “Most Emailed” (and heavily Tweeted) article about how organic dairy producers are in crisis makes some assumptions that could use some more explanation. The article refers several times to the “crushing debt resulting from the cost of turning organic, which can run hundreds of thousands of dollars,” but doesn’t explain what those costs entail and who falls into that camp: isn’t it large, multi-thousand cow operations who lose money from the three-year transition period? It also talks about how “the price of organic feed shot up” — but omits discussing organic dairy producers whose cows rely more on pasture than on grain. There is one fact that’s black and white: demand is softening just as supply is peaking. The U.S. cooperative Organic Valley told Maine organic dairy farmers last month that its sales growth had dropped to near zero from about 20% six months ago. (New York Times) Wouldn’t it be cool if the U.S. government stepped in and said it would buy up all the surplus organic milk for the U.S. school lunch program? Now that would be a win-win PR situation.

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