American cooperatives side with big dairy, give farmers an ultimatum, stop selling raw milk or stop selling to us

Is raw milk a threat to big business and big dairy coops? Photo of raw milk bottle label from "the internet".

From this latest update on the American raw milk scene from David E. Gumpert of the Complete Patient blog, it’s evident that even farmer cooperatives are emulating big dairy in their push to squelch the growing competition from raw milk’ market ascendancy. But will their fears turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy as they give farmers currently selling a little raw milk on the side an ultimatum to “get big or get out”. I suspect that will lead to a lot of farmers choosing to expand their raw milk operation to where it sustains the farm, rather than to kowtow to companies pushing a product that fewer and fewer consumers want to buy. And now, that excerpt from The Complete Patient:

“While attention has been riveted on the efforts of Big Dairy to push public officials to roll back or prevent availability of raw milk in states like Wisconsin and Massachusetts, a more ominous trend has been quietly taking shape among the nation’s milk cooperatives and processors. These are the organizations that buy conventional milk in bulk from dairy farmers, pasteurize it, and distribute it to retailers around the country. A growing number of these outfits are refusing to buy milk from dairies that sell or distribute raw milk.

Wisconsin dairyman Scott Trautman was one of the first to feel the sting of the emerging new policy when Midwest cooperative Foremost Farms cut him off after learning about his raw milk activities, and cost him his Grade A dairy license.

In Missouri (per Pete’s report following my previous post), Mark and Leesa Robinson report that Central Equity Milk Cooperative, a cooperative of a couple hundred dairies, notified them that their dairy would have to discontinue raw milk sales if it wanted to continue selling to the cooperative.

And now, one of the biggest names in dairy has adopted the same policy. The seven-farmer board of Organic Valley, with 1,600 dairy members in 33 states and four Canadian provinces, voted last week to require its raw-milk-selling members to exit the business if they want to continue selling milk via Organic Valley.

Organic Valley hasn’t announced the decision yet–I learned about it from a couple of sources, and yesterday the cooperative confirmed the decision. The cooperative, which was founded in 1988 with “a founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming,” put me in touch with one of its board members and its chief executive, and they painted a picture of an agonizing decision-making process that has divided the cooperative over the last year.

It seems a number of Organic Valley dairies selling conventional milk have become increasingly rattled by the success many of their counterparts are having selling raw milk directly to consumers. “Raw milk sales for some of our people became a majority of their business,” explained Travis Forgue, a Vermont dairy owner who is on the Organic Valley board, and who voted for banning raw dairy farmers from the co-op. “This did not sit well with some farmers.”…”

Read the whole report on The Complete Patient blog.

1 Comment

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One response to “American cooperatives side with big dairy, give farmers an ultimatum, stop selling raw milk or stop selling to us

  1. ned lud

    I can only say again (and again and again and again):

    Organic Valley is a fraud. How I wish I could find a lawyer that would enable me to recover compensatory damages for what they perpetrated on me and my family.

    And Organic Valley was not alone. They were aided and abetted by National Farmer’s Organization. And I have documented ‘proof’ of illegitimate milk tests, conducted on my milk, by DQCI of Mounds View, Mn. as well….and I was harassed and unfairly treated by the state milk inspector for this area of Mn.–one Vernal Olson of Hoffman, Mn. After harassing me and abusing his ‘power’, I asked that he not be permitted on our farm again, and of course, was denied. Now I am out of the milk ‘business’.

    I have asked for help, I have contacted many lawyers, I have posted my story repeatedly on the net and yet, no one (in a position to do so, though I’ve of course received many responses of sympathy–THANK YOU!) helps, no one cares.

    I hope George Siemon, pres. of Organic Valley and that famous board of directors of OV and everyone else associated with making the rules that Organic Valley and the milk industry uses to ‘prevail’ (against family farmers) goes to HELL.

    ‘Agonizing’ my ass!


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