Reasons for Organic Valley Raw Milk Decision: Part of the Government/Corporate Partnership?

UPDATE (Sept 27, 2010) Sally Fallon, Founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation sent out a letter today about the Organic Valley decision to ban all dairies under contract from offering raw milk to consumers. They recently decided to allow their dairy members to sell only to family, friends and neighbors (I have a different definition–such that these terms mean everyone!) AND limiting this to only 1% of the volume sold to OV (as if they were a federal rulemaking agency). Sally says the OV milk products are ultrapastuerized, making their products sterile, killing the health-giving life in the organic raw milk. She suggests consumers purchase from another company. Here is an excerpt. I have posted the entire letter in the comments.– Augie

___________________

Sally Fallon of WAPF:

Many of CROPPs farmers have high levels of debt, and they have, over the past few years, faced new financial burdens with lower pay prices and quotas that CROPP had in place for the past yearin some cases amounting to a 30 percent reduction in income.  Their financial situation is recovering somewhat now, but many are challenged to make up for past losses.

Many of their farmers had active raw milk businesses established before they even joined the cooperative, many operating in states where the enterprise is unquestionably legal.  Others developed raw milk customers after their incomes droppedallowing these farms to remain solvent.  The new policy will force these farmers to choose between remaining a CROPP member or selling raw milk exclusively, either of which will likely lead to severe financial stress or even bankruptcy and possible loss of the family farm.

Despite our grave concerns, I received a response from George Siemon dated June 21, 2010, stating that the anti-raw milk policy would remain in effect.  In the letter, Siemon insisted that CROPP is not against raw milk, and that we are standing on the same side of the river in supporting organic and local food, agricultural reform and corporate reform.

Is that true?  CROPP did indeed start small, as a local cooperative of just a few dozen vegetable farmers, the Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool.  The co-ops seven dairy producers soon branched out from produce to include cheese and eventually other dairy products.  Unfortunately, in so doing, they opted for the industrial model.  Instead of producing what consumers were asking fordairy products as natural as possible, such as low-temperature, non-homogenized milkCROPP chose to market ultra-high temperature (UHT), homogenized industrial-style milk and cream.  (UHT processing takes milk to 230 degrees F, way above the boiling point, thereby killing every enzyme and immune-supporting factor in the milk.)  When they branched out into eggs, they chose the industrial organic confinement model, instead of pastured poultry, something their grass-based farmers were perfectly positioned to do.  Their raw cheese is actually heated to above 150 degrees.  They also sell an Organic Valley brand of soy milk.

We then further delayed making any announcement about the OV decision because we were working behind the scenes with representatives of the co-op, and hoping that OV would reconsider. However, at their most recent board meeting, the board 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 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 childrens health will no longer be able to obtain it.

______________________

Now, the original story:

Was a $1.0 million dollar federal grant and much bigger future guarantees linked to the Organic Valley decision to cut-off raw milk sellers ? Is the decision linked to their cooperation with federal, state and local authorities– or other business partners?

The major U.S. organic dairy corporation, Organic Valley, announced this week they will terminate its contracts with those dairies that sell raw milk. It said that they will give those dairies some time before the pickups and the nice incomes cease.

Nobody has offered any reasons—OV (their statement is below), its customers or industry insiders—although the article at the Complete Patient with its 60 comments from the movers and shakers in the raw milk industry speculated some, but nothing surfaced. The Sustainable Food Blog yesterday said it was a “dangerous move” and “threatens the independence of farmers” but settled a year long intense debate (ara fight). No one has offered a reason—or a possible reason that makes sense or stacks up.

Annie and I both thought something sour with OV in general, but we were not aware things were about to turn putrid with this news, so I spent a few minutes digging and came up with something interesting.

First, why would OV really care if the dairies they contract with deal in raw milk also? It is not the volume issue– a specific dairy not having enough milk to pick up. It is not that raw milk sales amounts to much at all so as to represent a competitive threat to the company. It cannot be a liability issue– that OV would have liability for those who may be sickened or allege to have been sickened from pathogens in milk. A risk in public relations damages is even a weak argument for the ban—should an outbreak occur—and taint the pure brand image OV has built for itself (with the ultra-pasteurized process and all).

I would imagine there are many inside the OV management and board that are tired of dealing with so many of the raw milk promoters who must point out the drawbacks of  ultra pasteurization and homogenization, as many think might be dangerous. They may be tired of hearing from their farmers they who cannot stand to drink the processed product– fed up with doing business with people who do not believe in the end-product and the gospel of health that goes with it. Many raw drinkers are vocal concerning the DIFFERENCE and COMPARISON between processed milk and raw. YES there are many in the OV organization who also believe raw is better—when properly produced. So there is a DIVISION within the camp now concerning this and the decision not to do business with the raw folks– reminds me of before civil rights era in the 50s. BUT, this is not likely the reason for the termination.

Today, May 28, 2010—the same week of the raw milk announcement—another announcement was made concerning a $1 million dollar federal award to the city of LaFarge WI, the headquarters for OV for its business partner (OV) principally.  This is to build infrastructure (roads, sewers, utilities) for a project that does not even yet exist around their headquarters in La Farge WI.  One of the primary requirements to receive this grant is to cooperate with federal, state and local governments (and Regional partners) and their corporate business partners (OV) in the economic sector (in this case, it means the organic dairy industry). Plus, there was probably more specific language in the policies or rules of the federal Economic Development Agency that the City/OV partnership certifies that its operations, including the OV farmer-owners’s compliance with specific federal statutes and regulations (there usually are)—as in the ban on interstate shipment of raw milk for human consumption. See the federal requirements for eligibility— 13 CFR 301.8(e), including a demonstration of

(3) Strong cooperation among the

business sector, relevant Regional

partners and Federal, State and local

governments.  

(The relevant Regional partners is another part of the shadow governments– regional government by committees– to further the Regional plan of what is called economic sustainability (which is unsustainable). Organic farming is targeted to fall into the UN/US sustainable program– under a different definition of sustainability than you probably have. )

After the Wisconsin Governor Doyle was handled by the powers that be to cause him to do a 180 and veto the raw milk bill against the will of the People as spoken by their Representatives, OV came right along and fell in line. They were for the WI raw milk sales bill before the veto, go figure.

Why couldn’t OV remain neutral– as they have the past 20 years– on the raw milk deal? Why do they figure it is any of their business? Do they have to be so politically-correct? What is in this for them?

There is more to the story of course. Somebody was pressuring them hard. All business decisions are economic. Follow the money.

See today’s story on 5 Winning Strategies for the Farm Food Freedom Wars

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You would think OV would be smart enough to enter the low-temp pasteurization and non-homogenized market– and perhaps set up a more localized cluster of processing plants. (Personally, I think low-temp pasteurization is not that big of deal health-wise, but homogenization is more dangerous, with the 90% decrease in fat globule size and the oxidization of the cholesterol. ) Here is the big money opportunity for the (half or so?) dairies fed up with OV– including the ones whose farms may be lost because of the ban. Together, with established private quality control standards and third-party certification, the raw and non-homo markets would soar. I am betting the smart dairies will join forces in a state system and do something like that. I understand, the next thing on the plate in Wisconsin will be to overturn the Governor’s veto.

Here is the notice to the OV farmer-owners and customers:

Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative Statement on Raw Milk Decision

The Raw Milk Debate

____
La Farge, Wis.

May 26, 2010

In March of this year, Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative’s Farmer Board endorsed a statement supporting the legalization of raw milk in the state of Wisconsin that was sent to Governor Doyle. This was in keeping with the cooperative’s long standing support of consumer choice. So why in May, did the CROPP board vote to not allow its farmer-owners to sell raw milk? Is this a reversal of the position?

The raw milk issue at CROPP is one of the most deeply debated topics tackled by the cooperative in its 22 year history. The debate has been active on the membership, board, committee and management team levels for well over a year now, with the hope for a win-win solution. During this year volumes of information—research studies, illness cases, legal precedents, nutritional information and so on were brought forth.  Each side was convinced that the information they brought to the table would sway the other side.  It is correct to say that we are deeply familiar with both sides of the issue… and we are still divided. So why did the Board finally vote to not allow its members to be in the raw milk business? The synopsis below may help explain the decision:

  • Most CROPP farmer-owners drink raw milk and many believe in its benefits. The decision is not because we are “against raw milk.”
  • An unknown minority of our 1600+ dairy farmers sell raw milk as a side business. Some simply sell small quantities to neighbors, while others market it more actively.
  • Raw milk is growing in popularity and is truly a local product. We believe consumers should have the choice to purchase it directly from the farm and consume it expediently.
  • CROPP’s mission is to serve its farmers. We do this by being in the business of selling pasteurized organic milk under our brand, Organic Valley. This is a complex endeavor. Our model is to have regional milk going to regional markets. Our board wants its farmer-owners to stay focused on our model.
  • At the request of the membership at the co-op’s most recent annual meeting, the board wanted to end this drawn out raw milk debate, and they took the more conservative route, to prohibit the farmer-owners from being in the raw milk business. This decision will require all our farmer-owners who sell raw milk to choose one business or the other. This may end up being a boon for the raw milk movement in the states where it is legal. The Cooperative cannot condone the sale of raw milk in the states where it is illegal.
  • CROPP Cooperative is not against raw milk. We have let our farmers sell raw milk on the side for two decades. We have gone through a well vetted, inclusive process. It is now time for us to stand by our board’s decision.
  • —————————————————–

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56 responses to “Reasons for Organic Valley Raw Milk Decision: Part of the Government/Corporate Partnership?

  1. Dan Schroeder

    Time to boycott Organic Valley products?

    • An effective educational program would be good enough to steer folks away from this type of product into the farm, fresh wholesome unprocessed product which tastes so much better and is useful in making your value-added yogurt and such at home.

      • Here is a comment at Food Freedom. Sounds like the one I heard today from a caller.
        Don’t believe in labels. Organic Valley calls itself a coop and they say they are ‘for’ family farms. They have this cute little symbol of a pretty little old-fashioned barn and a cute little eensy weensy silo as their logo. An utter despicable lie. They have been caught buying factory farm milk.

        Additionally, this is my story:

        The first bulk truck to pick up milk, they sent in when I became a ‘farmer member’ 10 years ago, had bald tires, absolutely a disgrace. When the truck and an inept driver could not negotiate under bad weather conditions and almost (-had I not been there to stop him, he would have-) slammed into my milking barn, as a result, and they blamed me for not ‘keeping up my driveway’. Later they started sending in HUGE semi rigs, into our small farm yard. These trucks were totally useless, DID NOT FIT INTO OUR SAMLL FARMYARD and I spent literally HOURS and HOURS helping the trucks to get in and out of our yard anytime there was even a little snowfall or freezing rain or even frostiness. They have no traction. They (semis) are designed for going down freeways with mega loads, not into people’s farmyards. In addition, I contend these HUGE trucks were responsible for compacting the earth over my waterline to the cowbarn, causing a freeze-up to it in the winter of “08 and loss of running water to the barn. Try hauling water to thirsty cows and for clean-up with PAILS IN EACH HAND STRUGGLING THROUGH THE SNOW in below zero temperature EVERY SINGLE DAY for a winter! When I demanded compensation for all this from Organic Valley, they cancelled my contract, claimed I was a ‘hothead’ and a ‘troublemaker’ and I lost the herd–they were slaughtered last fall because I could not sell them as milk cows, though I tried. No buyers. Dairy farming was going bust last year.

        Our dairy farm is gone. I have lost my income, my livelihood. My wife works at school and we are poor, in poverty, cannot pay bills, largely because of the actions, inactions, and dirty dealings of Organic Valley–Family of Farms. This is what you buy if buy their milk. This is the product they sell you.

        I cannot begin to tell you people how much I hate them.

        And the funny thing of it is: The others (milk monopolies) are even worse. Worse even, than Organic Valley. And that pains to say that because I hate Organic Valley so much.

        Ha ha. See, but I’m not laughing.

        Maybe someday, I’ll win a lawsuit over these bastards and then I’ll laugh.

        But right now, I cry. And cry.

        And cry.

        Organic Valley destroyed our small family dairy farm.

        nedlud

    • I have been involved in the milk hauling part of organic valley.. and the thing that I have seen and heard.. I agree to the boycott…Organic Valley started out being a co-op with farmers in control, now its being run by money hungry idiots that have no clue of farming and hauling aspects of it.. they have stripped the farmers of any control. I have seen farmers be stripped and dis-stroyed because the ones that are controlling, didn’t like them, {because they have tried to stand up for thier rights}, an older couple that was farming a small herd was pushed out of business, because they were out spoken. thier farm was clean and they kept everything up to par.. til there was issuses being fought for.. then all of the sudden, their milk samples scores started going out the roof.. and no matter what they did, they wouldnt come down.. {one of the big wigs, has his wife’s lab in control of the samples} that older couple had to sell their herd and all their hard work. a hauler that had been with the co-op for yrs and that had brought alot of farms to the co-op, was being dis-stroyed because of the stand he had taken with the farmers, and trying to keep things right for them. the hauler, have not recieve a pay update since 2006, and there are many that are about to go under becuz those rates dont even touch todays expenses.. for sometime i have felt the public should be told the truth behind the scenes. theres no milk shortage and no reason for the high prices in the milk products.. OV has put the farmers on a quota.. and have cut their incomes. i could go on.. YES ON BOYCOTT!!!

  2. I wonder if a boycott would even do any good? We raw milkies are such a small percentage of the population (for now); we’re just a fringe group. Most people are scared of drinking raw milk due to decades of misguided info.

    Having said that, OV should be ashamed of themselves. They’ve become an embarassment to their name.

    • You are right I think. I would just say create a new division of Organic Valley Inc.– a separate legal entity– with the new products and business development strategy. Of course, this type of information is not posted for free for competitors to see. The hourly rates for this type of private consulting is well beyond that charged by a good federal antitrust attorney but has a much greater return on investment.

  3. kitchenkungfu

    I agree, this is shameful. I won’t be buying OV anything. Whether or not a “boycott” would work, I’m not interested in supporting this type of corporate prostitution with my food dollars.

  4. They can kiss my consumer dollars goodbye, and I have told them as such. And no, in a few months after this “blows over” I will not forget. And yes, I will remind my friends and tell people I see shopping in the store. OV has made a very poor decision.

    • This news will travel quickly through the Amish churches. I really feel for all my Amish dairymen friends– especially the organic raw folk. I am half tempted to start the First Church of the Bovinites– all members get the religious exemption.

  5. You folks are seeing the trees and not the forest. Should ANY organization be able to forcet private business to to anything? This is a direct attack on liberty, as is happening at the Government level more and more. There is so much going on to get Americans “in line” and feed a global frenzy , with which we have no business being involved . Will this awaken more people to investigate further into root causes? I hope so. I am very sorry to see this “decision” by this company.

  6. Maybe someone should talk with an OV farmer and get the truth behind the decision instead of spreading false rumors and innuendo.

  7. I, too, feel for the Amish dairies. Many of them have worked long and hard to gain organic status, diversify their farms and be self-sufficient. This is a blow to the true independent farmer.
    I am not surprised at ALL that there is a possible connection between the federal gov’t and $$$ and OV. I have been mulling over in my mind that it is all about $$ and wondered where it trail would lead.
    I am more and more wary of this administration – I feel that they are going to take away basic rights in the name of the common good. Eventually, I would not be surprised if many of us who eat whole, raw, local, seasonal items will have to go ‘underground’. I am starting to see a trend where pediatricians who receive gov’t $$ and other healthcare professionals will be bound by law to report citizens who are ‘exposing’ their children to ‘dangerous’ foods.
    In years to come, I believe we will see many truths surface regarding how gov’t got involved in agriculture to direct consumers to their version of ‘healthy’.
    Scary.
    My husband and I are blessed to have access to raw milk, and in the years to come, I think that we will simply purchase our own cow.
    I’m totally frustrated with how to help my family that lives in urban areas.
    *still shaking my head*

  8. I don’t drink milk but my daughter does, and I’ll never buy an OV product again.

    If the only way these people will listen to us about our own natural rights is by shrinking their profits, than I’ll willfully do what I can to limit those profits.

    What bothers me most is how obvious it is that the Government/corporate machine really doesn’t care what people think.

    They’re actively taking steps to limit our food to what they produce, and I have no faith at all that they’ll have my interests in mind when doing so. I’m convinced their “food” will actually harm my family and I want no part of it.

    The Government has absolutely no authority to do so most of the things they’re attempting to do (and have done in the past) and I’m no longer interested in complying with many of their “laws.”

    It’s my life, my body, and my choice.

    http://www.slowmoneyalliance.org/

  9. it’ll all culminate in a creation of another farmers co-op that will sell raw milk, on top of it going to suprem court like in Ontario over the mike schmidt case. Pubilc cannot be told what they want to consume for food, raw or pasturized milk, decision is in their hands not the corp etities.

  10. I don’t drink raw milk but I will support people who do. I will boycott ov also, that is one small power as individuals we have left.

    I am in an organic food co-op and I will suggest that they not carry ov.

    Also all you raw milk lovers Ron Paul the rep. from Texas has a bill trying to make it legal. It is bill HR778. Check it out.

    Hard to believe we live in the Land of the Free.

    • Atticus refers to Dr. Paul bill to overturn the “ban on interstate transport of raw milk for human consumption” which means make it legal to carry raw milk across the highway and down the road (for many folks) to deliver it to the people that own part of the herd. It takes an Act of Congress to stop the FDA/USDA type stings against small farmers–the only ones doing it.

  11. We never did buy OV pasteurized milk but we will make a point of avoiding all of their products and encouraging others to do so as well. We get low temp pasteurized non-homogonized milk from a local dairy mostly becuase the raw milk distribution is so poor. I don’t see how this board decision makes sense for anyone except the people that got bought off.

  12. I agree with Cricket!!!! – This IS a direct attack on liberty, as is happening at the Government level more and more. The food industrialists are all about using Government to control our food supply in the name of profits, NOT heath. OV caved on this big time. I am very sorry to see this “decision” by this company.

  13. Thanks for the article. I wondered what was behind OV’s decision. There had to be something.

    • Based on a call I got today, it seems it may had more to do with corporate business partners– e.g. processors, bigger fish– and pressure from those who want to take over the organic market through market manipulation. This is precisely the basis of my article–although it was more too it than just the deal with the city. It only makes sense and is par for the course–history shows us that. If true, this means those good people at OV had no choice– or risk the livelihoods of the remaining farmers. That is just the way it is in today’s business world. Time may be short before they are forced give up their route to a bigger player. There must have been an intense feud internally–as has been reported elsewhere. Only time will tell what really went down.

  14. I don’t understand why these dairy companies are against raw milk? Is there something they aren’t telling the consumer? What is so great about their pasteurized milk business model? makes ZERO sense.

  15. It’s interesting how this thread is going, that OV is part of some government plan to restrict what people can consume. How far off-base can this discussion go?

    If any of you know OV or read their website you would know that Organic Valley is comprised of over 1600 family-run farms. The organization is wholly farmer-owned AND farmer-run including the executive management and Board of Directors.

    The Board those farmers elected have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the 1600+ farms that ARE Organic Valley from financial harm should some vulture lawyer decide to look for deeper pockets than some member who is involved in a lawsuit. Don’t think that is not already happening?

    http://www.news-leader.com/article/20100306/NEWS01/3060370/Bid-to-dismiss-raw-milk-lawsuit-rejected-by-court

    http://foodpoisoning.pritzkerlaw.com/archives/campylobacter-campylobacter-lawsuit-filed-in-raw-milk-case-that-resulted-in-paralysis.html

    http://www.nbafoodadvocate.com/two-families-file-lawsuit-against-connecticut-dairy-accused-of-selling-contaminated-raw-milk-2534

    One of these lawsuits resulted in Whole Foods stopping the sale of raw milk in all of their stores. How many millions do you suppose that will cost Whole Foods even if they do not go to court and negotiate a settlement, which is really what these lawyers want anyway? Are you also boycotting them or the several other milk coops and companies who have bans against the direct sale of raw milk by their members but do not publicize it?

    Organic Valley never stated they were against the consumption of raw milk by consumers or their farmers. They clearly stated they support consumers buying local and direct from farms and that a majority of their farmer members consume raw milk.

    So essentially what I’m hearing in this forum is because the Board made an unpopular decision to protect its 1600 farmers from losing their equity and ownership in Organic Valley due to some multi-million dollar lawsuit, you would jump on the boycott bandwagon in order to further put those farmers out of business.

    • James, you bring up a very good point. But those cases you site are for direct sales of raw milk to a person. In toxic Superfund, there is joint, several and retroactive liability, for being a party to mixing your waste with others at a site– even though legal at the time. Under that theory of law, a person that contributed one gallon of poison at a site containing 10,000 he could be liable for the entire cost–assuming the other parties are dead or lost or whatever.

      There is no “chain of custody” or a potential mixing the “poison” (raw milk sold to the consumer) with the “pure” raw milk sold to OV. Any fear on the part of OV would not be justifiable– unless they were worked over good by a class action attorney or someone like the two you refer to.

      I would agree with the Kung Fu— nice slice Fu– these have nothing to do with one another. If an attorney would use the approach that the poison sold to the farm customer was the SAME milk transported and therefore contaminated the truckload and then mixed at the plant, thereby contaminating the entire batch, then the attorney would have an idiot for a client. Because under the accepted knowledge, the toxic waste load becomes healthy to drink after heat treatment anyway.

      For some reason, OV had their tit in a wringer over something– and we are still waiting for someone to come forward to spill the cream.

      • Not too long ago on an organic listserv an article was posted about an Organic Valley member selling raw milk. In that article when asked about the quality of his raw milk he specifically states his milk is tested by Organic Valley. By using OV to bolster his reputation (although he never really states how good or poor the quality really is) opens that door to involvement in a lawsuit not to mention trying to use OV’s reputation to build credibility for a non-related direct marketing business.

        http://www.tnhonline.com/producers-raking-in-effects-of-recent-raw-milk-boom-1.1436212

        “When asked by consumers about the safety of raw milk, Mahoney said that he is happy to explain the battery of quality tests that his milk and his herd go through on a regular basis. This includes regular testing from the Organic Valley dairy cooperative…”

        The ironic thing about the situation is that the same raw milk sellers that want to cry foul are likely the reason OV had to make this decision. Those lawsuits were brought by people who probably were espousing the benefits of raw milk and saying how it is their decision whether to drink it or not, until they got sick. Now, instead of being die hard raw milk advocates they and their attorneys are going after anyone that can be dragged into the lawsuit.

        Since OV farmers discussed this issue for over a year before the decision was made, I’m sure there were many issues both pro and con brought into the fray. Outside of the state-by-state legality of direct sale of raw milk, I have a hard time believing some minor (yes, minor; under Obama’s reconstruction program $60M was spent locally for infrastructure repairs) grant to La Farge was even a consideration. OV farmers and its Board are located throughout the country.

        Organic Valley’s decision was that they are not in the direct market raw milk business and for those that are, they should make a decision if they want to sell their milk to OV or directly to consumers. I’m sure the decision was not made based on a farmer selling a couple of gallons on the side, but based on those like in the article that have a major raw milk business on the backs of the other farmers in the coop. In fact OV allowed the direct sale up until this recent decision.

        Why should all the other farmers in OV risk losing their ownership due to a lawsuit or subsidize another farmer’s side business by balancing their milk volume (day to day pickup projections would be difficult) or paying for testing the farmer uses to their own advantage?

        Of all the organic milk organizations out there Organic Valley has been by far the most farmer friendly. When Hood bailed on its farmers, the farmers and Board of Organic Valley made the decision to step in and give those producers a market so they would not have to fail or end up back in the conventional milk market. That was a huge risk for the Coop at a time when the economy is in poor shape and sales are down everywhere.

    • James,
      When fascism raises it’s ugly head there will always be people that leap to defend it. What is OV going to do next, tell them what brand of toilet paper to use? This is crony capitalism at it’s worst. OV can’t be successfully sued for what it’s members do on the sideline. This another example of how the term organic has been hijacked by corporate perpetrators that don’t care squat about an even bigger cost than a law suit-the failing health of this country. Most of this OV food isn’t fit for human consumption and is just being mass marketed to people that don’t know better that are trying to be healthier but would be better off buying their processed industrial food from a local dairy. At least then they would be supporting the local economy.

  16. While I generally support OV because of its food quality and its record of keeping family farms alive, I object to it’s support of the Valley Stewardship Network a partially government financed promoter of shadowy regional government sustainablity concepts. I still intend to purchase OG products but wish that OG would get off it’s regional planning kick.

  17. Sonja Schlesner

    Hmmm. . .public safety. . . Why are we ranking raw milk with marijuana and cocaine? It’s like that game on Seasame Street. . .which one of these things don’t belong? Now OV is in on the mix. Ughh! Why do people abandon their values in the face of political pressure?!!!

  18. kitchenkungfu

    James, I would see your point if OV was carrying a raw milk product. But how could OV possibly be held liable for something a contributing farmer is doing that has nothing to do with them? Should OV prohibit farmers who sell them milk for pasteurization from growing carrots and selling them at a farmer’s market?
    Suing OV for an unrelated milk product incident would be like my boss getting sued for me painting someone’s house the wrong color on the weekend when I do copywriting for him during the week. One has nothing to do with the other, and any judge would throw out a case like that immediately.

    • Actually, OV does sell raw milk cheeses, but of course they are all properly aged, and I’ve also heard some criticism that they are not really completely “raw”, but just heated to a “less than pasturized” temperature. OK, more reason for me to start learning to make my own cheese.

    • Maybe somewhere throughout the litigation process OV was determined to not be liable if involved in a lawsuit, but it could still cost 100’s of thousands or millions of $$$ to get to that point. Lawyers and litigants go after the deepest pockets hoping for a settlement.

  19. I really like this blog and article. Please continue the great work. Regards!!!

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  20. OV has Joined in Factory Dead Dairy Fascism!
    I suggest any dairy now selling them milk to GO RAW and tell them where to go……….

    • Did OV tell producers NOT to direct sell raw milk? No. They asked producers to make a decision – ship Grade A to Organic Valley as I’m guessing their contract specifies or, direct market their milk and open up the slot they hold for another producer that wants to ship in the organic Grade A market. With all the organic milk companies out there failing because of how poorly they managed their business, I’m sure there is a waiting line of producers.

  21. I am an OV milk producer and their recent decision to ban raw milk sales will have a devastating effect on our farm. We have a farm store and sell our farm raised chicken, beef, turkey and eggs. While raw milk is a small part of our sales it is a critical piece because customers will drive an hour to get it and keep coming back regularly for raw milk supply. Our farm is not located near a large metro area so generating store traffic will be very difficult without raw milk. Yes, we could do farmers markets, but they are a huge time commitment without guarenteed sales.
    We are doing some serious soul searching about whether we want to keep farming under this new policy. It has been our observation that our raw milk customers will not drink a pasteurized milk product so we are not competing against OV, especially their UHT product common in our part of the country.

  22. “Most of this OV food isn’t fit for human consumption”?? Organic Valley has the highest quality standards in the dairy industry. Not just for milk quality but for animal welfare and pasturing standards. They specifically say they are not against raw milk! There are far worse coops to be going after and boycotting! When you boycott Organic Valley, you aren’t hurting just the board of directors. You hurt family farms, alot of them who don’t have another organic milk market and are too rural to do raw milk sales. My experiances with organic valley were nothing but positive. They truly do everything they can to help their farmers.

    • “highest quality standards in the dairy industry”. Anybody that is contributing to the industrial food complex by producing a product that isn’t safe for people to eat must have really low standards. A business model that produces products whose deferrred costs include the sickening of the people that consume it’s products has no long term future which is how I would describe pasteurized and homogonized milk.

      I think it’s time to stop comparing yourself to some of the worst and most abusive practices ever invented to justify your existence. Your business model is badly flawed. These kinds of issues always seem to arise whenever there is a large consolidation in an industry. The corporate managers and lawyers that are only concerned with month to month and quarterly financial results have absolutely no conscience about the long term affects health wise or economically of the communities they are part of. In my opinion farmers that are more concerned about the health of their customers will have a longer term viability than people that hopped on the bandwagon to make money selling organic. Drink that poison and you forgo any sympathy I have for “family farmers”. My family made a decision to pay more for quality food and to buy directly from farmers whenever possible. Instead of subsidizing commodities like corn we should be giving people money to buy all the non-processed foods that they can eat. It would be cheaper to do that than the trillion dollars we are going to spend forcing people into our abusive medical system, another industry that is prone to failure because consolidations in that industry are driving it to profit above quality.

      To me, feeding people is about growing healthy communities, not about making money. It’s OK to make money as long as you aren’t sacrificing what should be a sacred trust to preserve and protect the health of the community you serve.

  23. Augie didnt mention the rest of the story. Yes they bought from a big organic dairy. Yes those cows were pastured. They did it to be able to keep processing milk for the rest of the dairies in texas that they would have had to drop otherwise. did the rest of the coops farmers get mad? yep. their voice was heard and that dairy doesn’t sell to ov anymore. end of story. ps: the big semis are simply more fuel efficient. its simply good business sense.

  24. I agree with every single thing James said… and he said it very well. I would also like to add a few points

    Something all of you don’t seem to understand is that largely this doesn’t affect you and quite frankly, it really isn’t any of your business. This was a decision made by farmer-owners who were elected by other farmer-owners to represent the whole 1600 farmer-owner business. It was a business decision, and a difficult one at that. If the 1600 farmer-owners don’t like the decisions the board they elected make, they can elect other farmer-owners to the board that they think will make better decisions. It’s a co-op… one member one vote.

    It is as simple as that. There’s no hidden agenda and no need to boycott. Most of you who are making comments… this really isn’t any of your business. The raw milk advocates who are commenting – you are not OV farmer-owners (accept Grazier Guy) and you don’t buy OV product… so why do you care about a decision owners of a private business made.

    I saw one comment from an Organic Valley farmer in this whole thread. To Grazier Guy and any other OV farmers affected by this decision: I pray that the decision does not cause you to loose your farm or otherwise suffer hardships. I pray that you follow your heart when you make your decision of what to do with your milk and that your decision serves you well. There are a lot of raw milk drinkers out there and more people realizing the benefits everyday… may enough of them find their way to your door. I wish you all the best.

    and one other thing – Doyle’s veto of that industry-written raw milk bill is the best thing that could have happened for the raw milk movement. There are so many people like myself that are not in a contract with OV and not in any contracts whatsoever with DATCP that can legally sell raw milk right now under the clause in the current law that allows for incidental sales on the farm. Once you sign a contract with DATCP, and all licenses are contracts, you give up all of your God-given rights in lieu of permission from DATCP. The industry-written raw milk bill that Doyle just vetoed would have removed the incidental sales clause that currently exists and forced me to acquire a DATCP license to sell raw milk. It would therefore restrict where I milk, how I milk, what I milk into, how I bottle it, where I store it, how I transport it… and on and on. I would have no rights to my private property as this “contract’ would allow agents of DATCP to come onto my property at any time to inspect my operation… and if they ever did not like what they see, they could revoke their “permission” to allow me to sell raw milk and prosecute me if I continued to do so without their permission because it would be a violation of my contract (license) with them. There is a big difference between common law and commercial law. As soon as you enter into a contract with someone, you are in business and business law applies. It is the corporations and the regulatory agencies they control that benefit in these situations.

    I don’t like the current law very much – DATCP has a stranglehold on just about all farm commerce… but the recent raw milk bill does more to increase DATCP’s power and tighten the stranglehold they have than it does to help raw milk farmers or make raw milk more available to consumers. That is the plain and simple truth.

    My advice to consumers: If you want to help, buy raw milk. It is legal for you to buy it and consume it. The transaction holds no risk to you. The farmer on the other hand is betting the farm every time they enter into a raw milk transaction with you. Have respect for that.

    My advice to raw milk farmers: If you want to be a raw milk farmer, cancel ALL of your contracts. You have an inherent right that you were born with to own property and do with it as you please… to keep whatever animals you like and to do what you wish with the fruits of your labor. Nobody can take these rights from you. You are the only one that can cause these rights to be transferred to another and the only way you can “lose” these rights is to enter into a contract that takes these rights away. Everything you sign is a contract and many things you say can be construed as a verbal contract. Sometimes not saying something can be a contract via “implied consent”… for example, you didn’t tell a person not to trespass, therefore you gave them the right to be on your property and thereby set a precedent allowing them to do it again and again, essentially giving up your right to private property by NOT saying something.

    Don’t give up your rights, or if you already have, take them back. If you want to sell raw milk, do it… and don’t let anyone stop you and don’t make up excuses why you can’t do it. It is after all your right.

  25. Folks, on the topic of government taking away our rights, and similar such thoughts — here is what I see. Our representative democracy (republic) as designed by our country’s forefathers is a pretty good system of government. Or maybe like the old joke — it’s the worst system, except for all of the others which are far worse. In other words, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good.

    Government of the people, by the people and for the people is a great idea and can be had with our government. Really, the government is not “someone else” imposing their awful ideas on “us.” It is US, ruling over US. We are the government. But we are all people with all the normal weaknesses that people have.

    And which the wealthy and corporations exploit.

    Would government be so annoying, onerous, corrupt, awful, invasive, or whatever other criticism you have if it were not for the lobbyists of special interest groups, wealthy individuals and numerous giant corporations? My argument is no, it would not. There would still be the occasional corrupt or stupid or ignorant or otherwise bad politician, but mostly they would pretty accurately reflect the will of the majority of good, decent people.

    But how do we stop this insidious, ever growing (there were no big corporations lobbying the US government in 1786, for instance) “control” of government by non-natural persons?

    The most radical idea would be to simply outlaw any kind of business organization that limits liability such as that provided by all incorporation laws. Why? Because corporations without personal liability (and hence responsibility) common to small, single-owner businesses, have no moral or ethical motivation to do the right thing. None! They are amoral (not immoral — check your dictionary if you are unsure of the difference). Paying fines and penalties are just a cost of doing business. Pushing costs of doing business onto others (governments and hence taxpayers is the most common, but often other companies) — externalizing costs — is just another way to get ahead. So is spending billions of dollars on lobbyists and even bribing politicians. Because if the cost of doing all of those immoral, unethical and harmful to our society things is LESS than the short-term cash cost of doing it the right way, a corporation will almost always choose the wrong but cheaper way. Their only real motivation is profit, not stewardship or the betterment of community and society.

    Of course, that’s an extremely radical idea and step to take. Far easier would be to simply start scaling back on all the natural person citizen rights we have been gradually giving more and more of to corporations since an erroneous judge’s clerk back in the late 1800s reversed the intent of a court decision.

    Corporations do NOT have any rights under the Constitution. They are NOT groups of people (who have those rights, and by extension, groups of people have those rights). They are PROPERTY owned by investors. My piece of land and my house (property) don’t get to vote, make free speech or lobby my Congressmen; why should any property (corporation) have that right?

    It’s not that people in corporations and government are inherently evil. It’s that people, freed of ethical and moral connectedness to their communities and from the results of their decisions, and influenced by money and power, will all too often make decisions which adversely affect others. Your perspective gets distorted and lost. And yes, some of those people in power actually are immoral and/or unethical. The system of corporate money just gives them more power to do wrong.

    So while the government may currently be interfering with things like the ability to consume healthy whole foods like raw milk, it’s not because the individuals in government are evil. It’s because the state and federal Departments of Health, etc. are far too influenced by the Con Agra, Cargill and Monsanto’s of the world.

  26. Michael I’d agree w-you except for the fact that the vetoed bill was only a temporary fix, which would have expired, and then a better bill could be crafted. It would have allowed a toe in the door for those farmers that chose to. Black-market farmers will never be affected by ANY legislation, as DATCP doesn’t know about them.

    Consider that dairy farmers are almost the only ones who have to take whatever price they’re told to take by their “slave-owners”, the dairies they sell to. Consider that many times, there is only ONE dairy that has a route on your road. If the raw milk bill was truly SO bad for farmers (and I KNOW it wasn’t that great), then why the huge industry outcry!? Why were they so scared they’d lose their slaves?

    I believe it would have allowed people to see for themselves on a larger scale, that raw milk is not poison, and that would have exposed the industry’s white liquid for what it is.

    • JamieOV-
      And this explanation makes the Board’s decision something less than totally despicable in which way? Because a committee decided to intervene in business practices that had nothing to do with the OV relationship? So when a committee does something that is totally and absolutely despicable it is now sanitized? I think I smell a very unhealthy carbon/nitrogen ratio here.

  27. PS, Michael you also surely must know that DATCP interprets “incidental” sales as ONE SALE ONLY.

  28. Hello All, thank you for this healthy dialog about our cooperative’s decision. I’m writing to share that the grant that our hometown received recently did not play a role in our farmers’ decision about off-farm milk sales. The village of La Farge, WI (population 600) applied for this funding and, because Organic Valley is commited to staying rooted in this small, rural town rather than relocate to a larger city, the village continually keeps an eye toward possible infrastructure that we will need in order to support our farmer-owners.

    As a cooperative of 1,632 farmer-owners, we are proud of our “Democratic DNA” and the fact that the family farmers who own our cooperative control their destiny and receive a stable pay price for their products. We have the small group of farmers who formed our cooperative in the midst of the 1980’s farming crisis to thank for believing a new way of doing business was possible.

    In our cooperative, decisions are not made in a top-down fashion—instead farmer committees are formed to address topics ranging from animal husbandry practices to pasturing requirements to off-farm milk sales. In the case of our farmers selling raw milk, it was very difficult for our farmer committees, dairy farmer executive committee and farmer board to choose the path they did.

    Going back to our foundation in 1988, it has always been a core principle that our farmer-owners ship all of their milk with the cooperative and work together to market their milk. Farmers are independent by nature, and we understand that some of our owners found opportunity in selling raw milk to customers who came out to their farm; and we recognize and support that this is an exciting and growing part of the local foods movement. Our cooperative’s mission is to save family farming culture through organic agriculture, and we have developed a business model and brand that today sustains 1,632 farm families—some with less 10 cows! In order to continue on this road together, we will trust in our core business model, which means that the cooperative will be the sole marketer of our dairy members’ milk. Albeit a tough decision, it is one that our farmer leaders believe will protect the long-term sustainability of our cooperative.

    For more background, please visit http://ov.coop/2g9. You can also reach us at 1-888-444-MILK.

    Thank you for reading.

    • Thank you for your well-thought out letter and that you would think so much in responding to all the concern expressed here, and I can accept that the Grant had nothing to do with the decision, But I see no reason stated in your letter. Also, there is a problem with federal/state monies use to support a private corporation–although it is all too common. It is subsidizing larger companies– putting others at disadvantage. There is some good news to all this– it has created a new division of OV– former farmers who will band together to fill the raw market and high profit margins.

      Here is a letter to OV CFO being circulated. -throughout Ohio now:
      Mike Bedessem, CFO

      Organic Valley Family of Farms
      CROPP Cooperative
      One Organic Way
      LaFarge, WI 54639

      Dear Sir,

      Your organization should reconsider and reverse your recent decision to require all your milk farmers coop members to send all their milk to your cooperative.

      I understand there is a clause in most of the Organic Valley farm contracts that all milk a farm produces be shipped to your dairy and that clause has not been enforced. As I understand it, effective by the end of this year your farmers are either to ship all or none of their milk to you.

      In the past, if I had a choice of your products or another vendor’s, I chose your products because you allowed my farmer to share his raw milk with us.

      This afternoon I went to the grocery store and I had two opportunities to choose an Organic Valley product. I have no contract with you. It cost me 20% more for your competitor’s product, but I bought your competitor’s instead. If you aren’t going to continue to support the small family farm as your company was originally designed, our family will not be supporting you.

      Even a raw milk customer understands that if the product is going to be used in cooking, it is not as important if I kill the temperature sensitive components or you do. So there had been a place in my grocery purchases for Organic Valley products. But we will exercise our option to purchase whatever product best meets our needs and expresses response to your company’s decision.

      Our country is losing more or more of our liberties. The family farmer is the suffering enough from the economy. You can either support our farms or you will no longer receive my family’s support. We will encourage our friends and raw milk consumers to do the same.

      Sincerely yours,

      Jim Roberts

  29. Here is a letter to OV CFO being circulated throughout Ohio now:
    Mike Bedessem, CFO

    Organic Valley Family of Farms
    CROPP Cooperative
    One Organic Way
    LaFarge, WI 54639

    Dear Sir,

    Your organization should reconsider and reverse your recent decision to require all your milk farmers coop members to send all their milk to your cooperative.

    I understand there is a clause in most of the Organic Valley farm contracts that all milk a farm produces be shipped to your dairy and that clause has not been enforced. As I understand it, effective by the end of this year your farmers are either to ship all or none of their milk to you.

    In the past, if I had a choice of your products or another vendor’s, I chose your products because you allowed my farmer to share his raw milk with us.

    This afternoon I went to the grocery store and I had two opportunities to choose an Organic Valley product. I have no contract with you. It cost me 20% more for your competitor’s product, but I bought your competitor’s instead. If you aren’t going to continue to support the small family farm as your company was originally designed, our family will not be supporting you.

    Even a raw milk customer understands that if the product is going to be used in cooking, it is not as important if I kill the temperature sensitive components or you do. So there had been a place in my grocery purchases for Organic Valley products. But we will exercise our option to purchase whatever product best meets our needs and expresses response to your company’s decision.

    Our country is losing more or more of our liberties. The family farmer is the suffering enough from the economy. You can either support our farms or you will no longer receive my family’s support. We will encourage our friends and raw milk consumers to do the same.

    Sincerely yours,

    Jim Roberts

  30. While I agree businesses should not be forced to deal with people they don’t desire to be associated with. I desire to let people know of companies trying to destroy our rights by forcing others to limit free exchange of commerce. Is it any wonder America is being destroyed with Corporate actions such as this? For a time it shall be my main issue to bring up to friends, neighbors, and co-workers as controlling food supplies almost is like passing the plate under the prision door.

  31. Pingback: Seacoast Eat Local » Blog Archive » Cheese Chicks: Organic Valley Bans Farmers Selling Raw Milk

  32. Here is Sally Fallons full letter of today:

    INFORMATION UPDATE
    ORGANIC VALLEYS ANTI-RAW MILK POLICY

    Dear Members,

    As many of you may have already heard, the CROPP cooperative, producer of dairy products and other foodstuffs under the Organic Valley (OV) and Organic Prairie labels, voted at their May 13 board meeting to prohibit any of the CROPP farmer members from selling raw milk as a side business. The vote was a close onefour in favor, three againstreflecting the division of opinion among the CROPP board members themselves. After the Board vote, the cooperative took the decision to their Dairy Executive Committee (DEC) for further discussion and another vote. The result was a split, 20 votes in favor and 20 against. This policy is to take effect January 1, 2011.

    We at WAPF did not immediately publicize this new policy, instead writing privately to CROPP CEO George Siemon and the members of the board, urging them to reconsider and take the issue back to the board for further discussion and another vote. In our letter, we addressed some of what we felt were misguided issues that led to the cooperatives anti-raw milk stance, such as potential liability to CROPP and marketplace competition, pointing out that these were grossly inflated and not legitimate concerns; we noted the potential downside to CROPPs reputation as a supporter of family farms; and, most importantly, we pointed out that the new policy would impose severe economic hardship on many farmers, farmers the co-op was founded to protect. (For a discussion and rebuttal of CROPPs concerns about raw milk, see below.)

    Many of CROPPs farmers have high levels of debt, and they have, over the past few years, faced new financial burdens with lower pay prices and quotas that CROPP had in place for the past yearin some cases amounting to a 30 percent reduction in income. Their financial situation is recovering somewhat now, but many are challenged to make up for past losses.

    Many of their farmers had active raw milk businesses established before they even joined the cooperative, many operating in states where the enterprise is unquestionably legal. Others developed raw milk customers after their incomes droppedallowing these farms to remain solvent. The new policy will force these farmers to choose between remaining a CROPP member or selling raw milk exclusively, either of which will likely lead to severe financial stress or even bankruptcy and possible loss of the family farm.

    Despite our grave concerns, I received a response from George Siemon dated June 21, 2010, stating that the anti-raw milk policy would remain in effect. In the letter, Siemon insisted that CROPP is not against raw milk, and that we are standing on the same side of the river in supporting organic and local food, agricultural reform and corporate reform.

    Is that true? CROPP did indeed start small, as a local cooperative of just a few dozen vegetable farmers, the Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool. The co-ops seven dairy producers soon branched out from produce to include cheese and eventually other dairy products. Unfortunately, in so doing, they opted for the industrial model. Instead of producing what consumers were asking fordairy products as natural as possible, such as low-temperature, non-homogenized milkCROPP chose to market ultra-high temperature (UHT), homogenized industrial-style milk and cream. (UHT processing takes milk to 230 degrees F, way above the boiling point, thereby killing every enzyme and immune-supporting factor in the milk.) When they branched out into eggs, they chose the industrial organic confinement model, instead of pastured poultry, something their grass-based farmers were perfectly positioned to do. Their raw cheese is actually heated to above 150 degrees. They also sell an Organic Valley brand of soy milk.

    We then further delayed making any announcement about the OV decision because we were working behind the scenes with representatives of the co-op, and hoping that OV would reconsider. However, at their most recent board meeting, the board 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 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 childrens 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 farmersthis picture seems upside down.

    This isn’t the first time CROPP seems to have lost its bearings. A couple of years ago, the management opted to buy some of their milk from a 7200-cow industrial dairy located in an arid part of Texas, until some of their farmer-members found out and put an end to the lunacyboth their farmers and consumers saw the move as a violation of trust. Organic Valley has always represented itself as being pro-family farmertheir management shouldn’t need to be reminded that a 7200-cow dairy is not a family farm!

    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 your only choice for dairy foods and eggs is the local health food store or cooperative, make a point of purchasing from the local dairy producers listed in our Shopping Guide. Farmer-friendly brands such as Natural by Nature and farmstead dairy producers such as Traders Point Creamery, among many others, are highly rated in The Cornucopia Institute’s organic dairy scorecard (ratings of all 120 organic brands http://www.cornucopia.org) and deserve our food dollars. Another good choice is to purchase raw grass-fed butter from one of our many advertisers in Wise Traditions and have it shipped to you.

    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, http://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, lets 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.

    Sincerely yours,
    Sally Fallon Morell, President
    The Weston A. Price Foundation

    ———————————————————
    COMMENTS ON OV MANAGEMENT OBJECTIONS TO RAW MILK SALES BY THEIR MEMBERS
    The following is a brief analysis of some of the rationale Organic Valley management and board members used in making their decision to ban and then severely limit the amount of raw milk their members could sell.

    LEGAL LIABILITY
    The Board articulated concerns about Organic Valley being sued if one of their farmers, selling raw milk, ran into legal trouble. This concern is dubious at best. Farmer-members of the cooperative are independent businesses. Until their truck picks up member milk, Organic Valley has no legal responsibility for it, or for unrelated sales of other milk.

    MARKETPLACE FALLOUT
    The Board expressed concern that if one of the Organic Valley members selling raw milk ran into trouble, and was the subject of widespread publicity, some of that manure flying around could stick on the Organic Valley label.
    However, most intelligent consumers are able to discern the difference between locally distributed raw milk and Organic Valley products on the store shelves.

    To mitigate this risk, without harming farmer-members who are engaged in raw milk commerce, it was suggested suggest that the co-op could:

    1. Require any member that sells raw milk to immediately take down their Organic Valley sign and not wear any clothing items embroidered with the OV logo.

    2. Prohibit any member that sells raw milk from discussing Organic Valley in any regard with their customers, the public or news media. Nothing should be done to overtly or covertly identify them as an Organic Valley member-supplier. If a problem were to occur, it is unlikely the news media would be interested in where the wholesale portion of the farms milk was being shipped to (and then pasteurized).

    COMPETITIVE FACTORS
    Raw milk sales are booming all around the country.

    Consumers are going to continue to seek out raw milk. Whatever market share raw milk achieves, as the marketplace matures, will be accomplished whether or not Organic Valley implements its raw milk ban. The ban might retard growth, temporarily, but the growth will recover as non-OV farmers fill in the gaps.

    However, in the meantime, this new co-op rule stands to economically injure many of its members. Many of these families operate in states where selling raw milk is unquestionably legal.

    Consumers who drink raw milk are not going back to drinking OVs ultrapasteurized fluid milk. From a competitive standpoint they are buying a different product than Organic Valley is selling. Depending on how the coverage of this issue escalates, it could bring heightened attention to the fact that most of Organic Valley milk is ultrapasteurized.

    DISRUPTIONS TO SUPPLY
    The co-op has been concerned that sometimes their trucks show up at a farm that also sells raw milk, and the bulk tank is empty. This is obviously a waste of time, money and diesel fuel. Furthermore, the cooperative makes production plans, let’s say to fill up a cheese vat with milk, and if the farmer has instead sold it to raw milk customers, it throws a real monkey wrench into their production plans. This is the one concern of the cooperative that seems legitimate.

    However, a workable solution could be crafted by requiring raw milk producers to make a commitment in terms of overall volume, or percentage volume of their dairy herd, to the cooperative. They would need to contractually fulfill that commitment before they could divert milk to raw milk sales.

    VIABLE ALTERNATIVE
    Implementing these suggestions, or variations thereof, would be a viable alternative to the present prohibition on raw milk sales. Everyone would win. Farmers would maintain their income, consumers could choose between pasteurized and raw milk, and the cooperatives interest would be protected.

  33. I think this would be the area to persue on what’s going on:

    “the same week of the raw milk announcement—another announcement was made concerning a $1 million dollar federal award to the city of LaFarge WI, the headquarters for OV for its business partner (OV) principally…One of the primary requirements to receive this grant is to cooperate with federal, state and local governments (and Regional partners) and their corporate business partners (OV) in the economic sector (in this case, it means the organic dairy industry). ”

    If the govt can regulate, i.e. force, their will upon the raw milk industry using our taxes as bribery, then they can force their will on any industry. Isn’t this, forcing OV to cancel contracts, somewhat along the same lines of regulation as in forcing people to enter into contracts for somebodies health care insurance? And being a grant makes no difference: it’s still our tax money.

    • Government grants and subsidies frequently create unfair competition, especially true in agriculture. I think the reason is liability and possible insurance pressures– but the raw milk folks may be the ones they want to get rid of for other reasons– maybe they were not liked much as I mentioned and do not need the extra volume because of reduced demand for their product– imo

  34. Pingback: Reasons for Organic Valley Raw Milk Decision | Farm Fresh Windermere

  35. Pingback: Tweets that mention Reasons for Organic Valley Raw Milk Decision: Part of the Government/Corporate Partnership? | Journal of Living Food and Healing -- Topsy.com

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