Organic Milk Production Trickles, Not Pours
Photo via: karlfrankowski/Flickr
Just yesterday I joked seated at my neighborhood's dive-y, not-concerned-about-clean-food diner that the likely hormone-injected milk I stirred into my coffee might spur the growth of a third boob. It was a risk I was willing to take on that particular morning when my eco-friendlier alternatives were lacking.
I'm not a huge dairy consumer but I do like it in coffee--and I do like knowing there is a rising organic dairy industry which, when the prices level from demand, might likely find itself even in crappy diners one day. That is, until now...USDA Study Says Organic Dairy Production Slows
According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research, organic milk production has slowed dramatically due to "high operating costs, complicated production systems and unclear access-to-pasture rules."
Compounding this, they say, is a slow down in consumer demand. The Nutrition Business Journal's findings state that though the organic milk market grew a hefty 10 percent in 2008, adding $166 million in new sales, 2009 saw a 3 percent decline in sales, losing $45 million.
Three Cheers for Small Farmers Battling Big Agro
The good news is, existing dairy farmers who have been certified organic for the past four or five years seem to be holding steady. It's really the new farmers trying to make a transition to organic who are more likely to throw in the towel, or eek (!), opt for conventional farming methods (like, confining cows) that costs less and yields more milk.
It makes me wonder if the USDA and others have neglected to pay attention to the studies showing how going organic really does pay off in the end (both monetarily and environmentally)--even if the farming methods are more rigorous and time consuming on the farmers part.
In my opinion, it's a great reminder for us to support the smaller, lesser known organic dairy companies and farmers--and acknowledge their hard work and commitment.