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Creative Commons License photo credit: Marcus Povey

Move to Quash Raw Dairy Increases Public Scrutiny

by Kimberly Hartke, Weston A. Price Foundation

On Monday, September 27th, the 13,000+ members of the Weston A. Price Foundation received an Action Alert about a major dairy brand taking aim at the raw milk market.

Organic Valley controls the market for organic milk, and their recent move against raw dairymen in their organization is sure to have major repercussions, for their image, for consumer choice and for the survival of many of these farms.

Organic Valley, is familiar to all Americans because of its family farm logo. People have bought into the brand because it has positioned itself as a friend to small farms. Health conscious people who gravitate toward organic purchases have eagerly plucked their milk cartoon off of store shelves, thinking they were doing something good for their families and America’s small dairy farms.

Organic Valley Throws Some Farmers Under the Tanker Truck

By a narrow margin, the Organic Valley board and executive committee recently voted to sanction farms that have other customers for their fresh milk, other than the coop.

And, they have made this decision in the midst of the worst dairy economy, ever. Many farms are deep in debt, because the cost of production is greater than the wholesale price they are paid for their milk.

Here is one of our WAPF  facebook fans description of the problem:

“…I would be VERY frustrated as an OV farmer because this is not the contract they agreed to… many of these farmers have relied on that additional raw milk income for a long time and to suddenly up and change the contracts could be detrimental to many small farmers.”

Scott Trautman is a Wisconsin farmer who was unceremoniously dropped by a large dairy concern  for suspected fresh milk sales. Now, many other farms in the Organic Valley cooperative may face a similar fate.

Farm-Friendly Consumers Don’t Approve of Organic Valley

Consumers don’t appreciate their farmers being bullied. Here is a typical response to the WAPF Action Alert posted on our facebook page:

“I’m glad to know about this issue. I had been buying OV milk for a family member that refuses to drink raw. As well as cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, etc. I have been spending a lot more dollars per month for OV products than the dollars they must feel that they are losing when I get raw milk. Well, I don’t appreciate any company trying to come between me and my raw milk, so I will no longer be purchasing any of their products.”

Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute, which publishes an Organic dairy scorecard, told me this morning that his organization has many members who are Organic Valley coop farmers.

Mark said, “We really hope that the farmer leadership of Organic Valley will reconsider this decision. We sincerely believe the downside risk to the Coop have been overblown.”

What You Can Do

Here is a link to the Weston A. Price Foundation Action Alert:

http://www.westonaprice.org/action-alerts/2010-alerts/2029–information-update-organic-valleys-anti-raw-milk-policy.html

Here is a link to My Letter of Protest to Organic Valley.

To contact Organic Valley to register your concern about their anti-competitive practices, here is their email:   organic at organicvalley.coop

Or, visit the Organic Valley contact page for their phone number or snail mail address.

Here is the link to more Weston A. Price Foundation Facebook comments on this issue.

Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for The Campaign for Real Milk, a project of the nutrition education non-profit, Weston A. Price Foundation. She drinks raw milk as part of a dietary protocol to overcome severe knee pain. Her great-grandmother was also healed of tuberculosis by a regime of raw milk and raw eggs in the 1920’s.