As previously noted, the CROPP Cooperative — with products sold under the names Organic Valley and Organic Prairie — has voted to prohibit any of their members from selling raw milk as a side business. This policy is set to take effect January 1, 2011.
The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAP) has been working behind the scenes to change this policy, and has issued an information update. As it stands, the new policy will force producers to choose between remaining a CROPP member or selling raw milk exclusively. In addition to limiting consumer access to raw milk, many feel this choice puts already beleaguered dairy farmers in even greater financial peril.
WAP reports that at the latest CROPP board meeting, board members voted 7–0:
…that raw milk sales by their producers must not exceed 1 percent of their volume, and must be limited to family, friends and neighbors. While some board members have insisted that this anti-raw milk policy will not be enforced, we hear from others in the organization that OV [Organic Valley] is planning to strenuously enforce the policy.
In any event, for the average OV farmer, 1 percent is probably about three to six gallons per day, so the updated policy merely puts a gloss on the original anti-raw milk stance. The new policy will mean that thousands of consumers who need raw milk for their own and their children’s health will no longer be able to obtain it.
Ironically, the $12 billion dairy industry giant, Dean Foods, which owns the Horizon Organic label, the largest conventional and organic dairy producer in the United States, has specifically stated that its farmers are free to sell or provide raw milk on the side. Dean Foods/Horizon the good guys and Organic Valley hurting family farmers—this picture seems upside down.
The information update continues:
Just as in the case of buying from factory farms, we hope CROPP farmer leadership will come to their senses and rescind their destructive anti-raw milk policy.
The unfortunate decision by the CROPP board should galvanize all of us to renew our efforts to purchase as much of our food as possible directly from local farmers…
If the farm family you get your raw milk from faces the dilemma of choosing between CROPP and direct raw milk sales, please express your support for them and do everything you can to help them choose the latter. You can help them build their customer base, reduce their expenses by offering help on the farm, and even provide the funding and financial advice they may desperately need to make the transition. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund can help assist with advice and model cow-share and herd-share agreements.
If you feel betrayed by a cooperative that you had always considered to be an ally, you can also visit their website, www.organicvalley.coop, and let them know how you feel. Maybe if they hear from enough of us, they will realize the damage they are doing to their brands reputation. Please consider forwarding this message to your friends and family members who might also want to convey their feelings to Organic Valley management.
Above all, let’s all make the pledge to vote with our pocketbooks in support of small farmers and artisan producers instead of large commercial dairy interests that put their profits before the interests of the hard-working farmers who produce their milk and other commodities.