Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Farmer vs Farmer....Organic Valley Lays Down the Law on Raw Milk
That idealism and Americans' insatiable appetite for organic food helped propel Organic Valley onto a rapid growth path. Today it has more than 1,600 dairies and upwards of $500 million in annual sales, along with a premier brand in the organic food marketplace with its line of milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese. Unfortunately, at least some of the idealism has vanished, thanks to a bitter year long struggle among the farmers about whether the co-op should allow its dairies to sell or distribute unpasteurized, or "raw," milk on the side.
First, Organic Valley could lose a significant number of its dairy members. No one knows how many of its dairies sell raw milk, but 10% seems a conservative estimate, according to co-op insiders. That means 150 or 200 dairies, minimum, are selling raw milk. For those dairies, the business challenge is that raw milk fetches between $5 and $10 a gallon, while Organic Valley and other co-ops typically pay in the vicinity of $1.50 per gallon for bulk milk that then goes to pasteurization. But because most of the raw dairies are far from urban centers, where demand for raw milk is greatest, and are limited in most large states like Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts to selling direct from the farm, it's difficult to sell all their milk unpasteurized.....Read the entire article.
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