Supporting the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership
Last fall, 135 organic family farms across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and eastern New York received the sudden news that Horizon and Maple Hill Creamery were terminating their purchase contracts, effective in early 2023. This news put these farms, many of whom have been in business for generations, at serious risk of closure unless they find alternate outlets. In early January, the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, a first-of-its-kind campaign in partnership with the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association (MOFGA), was created to help solve the crisis of disappearing organic family farms in our region.
The Partnership, a collaboration of farmers, processors, retailers, activists, and government agencies, invites consumers to pledge to purchase at least one-fourth of their weekly organic dairy purchases from brands that have committed to sourcing their dairy from Northeast organic family farmers. A central goal of the effort is to increase demand for dairy produced in our region, creating market stability to help save at-risk farms and build greater food system resilience for the future.
We are proud to announce that your Co-op has joined the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership. To secure the future of organic dairy farming in the northeast, we’re committed to purchasing organic dairy products from brands that source their milk from our region. We’re also encouraging member-owners and the community to become informed about the Partnership and take the pledge to purchase ¼ of your weekly dairy products from Brand Partners. When you commit to buying one-fourth of your weekly dairy items from the brands that support our region’s organic family farms, you become a proud Consumer Partner with all of these farmers.
“The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership celebrates the fact that when it comes to supporting our region’s organic family farmers, it really does take a village,” said Gary Hirshberg, chair of the Partnership and co-founder of Stonyfield Organic. “Everyone has a stake in the long-term financial health of our region’s farms and farm families. The simple act of pledging to purchase one-quarter of dairy items from the brands, processors, and farms that support these family farmers, can help to ensure that farms remain healthy, vibrant, financially viable, and environmentally and climate-positive parts of the northeast region for generations to come.”
The decline in the number of small family farmers is unfortunately not a new story, as the United States, and especially the northeast, has seen drastic reductions in the number of both farms and acreage over the last decade. From 2012 to 2021 alone, Vermont has lost over 390 individual dairy farms as food production has largely been ceded away from small families, and into large, agri-business operations, through no fault of their own. However, organic family farmers are important contributors to a healthy environment and thriving rural life and are important players in the region’s food system. Organic farms have been shown to be more profitable than conventional farms, promote sustainability, sequester more soil carbon, decrease harmful environmental impacts, and have been shown to be more profitable and produce healthier livestock and higher milk quality.
The next time you are shopping in the dairy or cheese cases, look for the Northeast Organic Family Farm Seal to identify Partner Brands. When you see the seal, you can be confident that your purchase supports hard-working organic dairy farmers in the Northeast. We will continue to lose our region’s farms without strong consumer support for their products.
For more information on the campaign and to take the pledge, click here.