Saving Northeast Family Farms

by Rootstock Editor

March 8, 2022

by Rootstock Editor

Organic Valley’s mission has always been to save small, organic family farms. When two companies decided not to renew the contracts of 130 farms in the Northeast this year, leaving them nowhere to market their milk, we wanted to help. Organic Valley representatives visited more than 130 of the Northeast farms and now we are offering hope!

Our farmer-owned cooperative recently offered membership to 10 of the farms and now we are inviting 80 more farms to join the cooperative through a letter of intent.

As a cooperative borne out of the farm crisis of the 1980s, the issue of saving small family farms is core to Organic Valley. The number of dairy farms in Vermont alone decreased by 69% over the past 24 years, according to a 2020 Vermont Department of Financial Regulation report. Many farms are consolidating and the number of small farms (fewer than 200 cows) in Vermont decreased by 35% from 2011-19. During that time, the number of large dairy farms (700 cows or more) increased by 83%, according to the report.

The Osgood Family.

The Osgood family in Vermont.

Cooperative is the Perfect Fit

One of the 10 farms to join the cooperative is the Osgood Family Farm in Vermont. 

"My family began farming this land over 65 years ago. I'm glad to partner with Organic Valley to continue our family farm," said George Osgood of Corinth, Vermont. "A cooperative owned by small family farms is the perfect fit for us. It gives us the chance to keep doing what we love."

To join the cooperative, organic farms are required to meet the elevated animal care, quality standards, and pasture expectations of Organic Valley. While not every farm is a fit, Organic Valley maintains open lines of communication and strategy consultation to those adapting to the high-quality standards of the cooperative.

Organic Valley has also joined other like-minded organizations to offer recommendations for building a bright future for small, organic family farms through a U.S. Department of Agriculture convened Northeast Dairy Task Force.

Cows enjoy outdoor time as the sun sets.

Cows enjoy time outdoors on a farm in Vermont.

Welcome to Organic Valley

Organic Valley’s decades-long mission is to sustain small, organic family farms and this is another way we can do so. With 100,000 small family farms being lost over the last decade due to consolidation and industrialization, the fight is not over.

"We are the only national brand still fighting for small family farms because we know that the best quality food is ethically sourced from small family farms," said Bob Kirchoff, Organic Valley CEO. "With the help of consumers and customers across the country, we are helping solve the crisis of disappearing small family farms. We are creating the food system we all want—one that regenerates soil, cares for animals, nourishes people, and strengthens communities."

Organic Valley is passionate about doing what's right for people, animals, and earth and is committed to bringing ethically made organic food to families everywhere. We welcome the Northeast dairy farms to our cooperative.