On the heels of welcoming 50 small organic family farms in the Northeast, cooperative Organic Valley added more farmer-members in Pennsylvania.
The USDA’s research still finds that family farms remain the cornerstone of U.S. agriculture, however, the farm crisis continues as small family farms are often told to find another market or consolidate into big agriculture, Organic Valley said in a release.
“Our mission is imperative – especially after seeing these family farms lose their market with little to no notice. What we have seen across the country is that when small family farms go out of business, they don’t come back,” says Travis Forgues, Organic Valley executive vice president of membership. “At the rate these farms are currently disappearing, there won’t be any small family farms left in America. However, if all of us do our part we can keep these small family farms viable.”
Within days of learning of these farmers’ plights, representatives from Organic Valley were in Pennsylvania meeting with the families and sitting down to discuss their options. The small family farms in rural Pennsylvania had less than a week to find a market. In the meantime, they found an interim solution to continue milk shipping. And by the end of the meeting, Organic Valley was offering membership in the cooperative to nearly a dozen new farms. Local organic milk continues to be available on shelves in Pennsylvania.
“We couldn’t believe it when we received our notice giving us five days to find another place to ship our milk,” says John Painter of Painterland Farms LLC near Westfield, Pennsylvania. “But Organic Valley stepped in and is allowing us to continue to do what we love. It’s a weight off our shoulders – that’s for sure. With their help and quickly picking up the procedural pace we turned a bad situation into a new opportunity!”
As farms face increasing pressure both financially and climatically, Organic Valley continues to fulfill its mission of saving small family farms across the rural landscape. So far this year, the Organic Valley farmer-owned cooperative has welcomed more than 60 new farms who were dropped by other companies in the dairy industry.