Want to help local organic dairy farms survive? Look for this logo

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A movement is underway to save local farms.

A new collaboration to support organic family farms in the Northeast signed its first official business partner on Friday: the Neighboring Food Cooperative Association, a federation of over 40 food co-ops across the Northeast.

Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership Founder and President Gary Hirshberg said he expects to announce many more retail partners in the coming weeks. They are currently in talks with all the major food vendors in the area, including Hannaford and Whole Foods and independent natural food chains like A Market.

This means that consumers will soon be able to see dairy products with the new NOFFP logo on store shelves. Hirshberg, the former CEO of Stonyfield Organic, said the hope is consumers will choose to buy more of these local organic brands to help keep these farms afloat.

Look for the NOFFP logo.

He said he was also looking for consumers interested in signing a pledge online stating that they will try to make one out of every four weekly dairy products they buy from a regional organic family farm.

“Honestly, the most important thing they can do is sign the pledge,” Hirshberg said. “The more numbers we can show, the more retailers we can get.”

Getting more retailers and big brands to commit to buying products from farms will be the perfect solution for farms struggling to make ends meet.

The partnership was officially launched two weeks ago with the immediate goal of rescuing approximately 135 farms that suddenly lost their dairy supply contracts with large buyers such as Horizon (a brand owned by Danone North America) and Maple Hill Creamery. Hirshberg said there were two farms in New Hampshire that had lost contracts; one in Monroe and another in Newport.


The number of small, family-owned and operated organic farms continues to decline.

So far, big organic dairy brands like Stonyfield and Organic Valley have already provided contracts to some of the farms that have lost them.

“The only real solution is to increase demand, and the only real way to increase demand is to get large numbers of consumers, retailers and restaurateurs to join us as partners in the effort,” said Hirshberg.

While the impetus for Hirshberg’s idea to create the 501c(3) organization is to come to the rescue of small farms threatened with closure, he said the long-term goal is to encompass every organic farm northeastern family, from New York to Maine, in the advocacy and support that the organization provides. He believes this includes more than 1,000 farms.

In addition to the consumer pledge to buy more local organic dairy products, the Partnership is also asking retailers to sign a similar pledge to increase the share of dairy products represented in 2022 compared to 2021.

In addition to the consumer pledge to buy more local organic dairy products, the Partnership is also asking retailers to sign a similar pledge to increase the share of dairy products represented in 2022 compared to 2021.

Hirshberg said the loss of family organic farms has been a problem for many years. When he was in high school in Manchester in the 1970s, he said there were around 4,000 farms in the state. In 1983, when he founded Stonyfield, there were over 500 farms. By the time he retired as CEO in 2011, there were 83.

Similarly, Vermont lost 390 individual dairy farms between 2012 and 2021. Much of that is due to the shift in focus from small family farms to large agribusinesses, Hirshberg said.

“So we have a real problem. It’s been going on for a long time,” Hirshberg said.

Hirshberg and his wife provided a charitable contribution to the new nonprofit, hired a campaign manager, and commissioned the logo design. Stonyfield, Organic Valley, Jesse Laflamme of Pete and Gerry’s Organics, the Kendall Foundation in Massachusetts, and some Vermont philanthropists also contributed to the effort. Since the launch, individuals have also shown their support by donating through the website.

The organization has an annual operating budget of approximately $150,000.


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