Stonyfield steps in for Northeast milk producers

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Getty Images/stu99
Pic: Getty Images/stu99

Related tags Yogurt Yoghurt Organic Dairy Milk Danone North America

Organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Organic has announced plans to help save at-risk Northeast organic family farms by inviting some farms into their direct supply program during the coming months.

The move comes after dozens of regional farmers recently received notice their contracts will be terminated by Horizon, owned by Danone North America.

“This is not something new for us. Supporting organic family farms has been at the heart of our DNA since the day Stonyfield started as an organic farming school in Wilton, New Hampshire back in 1983,” said Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield.

The company is still headquartered in New Hampshire and makes most of its yogurt at its Londonderry facility.

“From our founding, we’ve always been dedicated to improving the health of people and our planet, and particularly to ensuring that family farmers are fully honored and supported. Over the decades, it has become clear that the very best way that we and our consumers can support Northeast family dairy farms is by helping them convert to organic production,” ​Hirshberg said.

“The potential loss of 89 organic family farms would be a devastating loss for our region and our environment. When we heard about the contract terminations, we knew we had to step up and help as many farms as we possibly could, beginning with our initial commitment to take a group of these farms into our program. It’s a challenging time for the organic dairy market to absorb more farms, but we can’t just stand by and watch these farms in our own backyard go out of business.

“We will bring on the farms that we can, and we have launched an internal task force of senior company leaders to work alongside various state departments of agriculture, nonprofit organizations, retailers and institutional food customers to find ways to keep more of these farms alive and in business.”

Esteve Torrens, CEO at Stonyfield, said, “We are incredibly disheartened to see real people and families losing their livelihoods and believe responsible companies need to do everything they can to be a part of the solution right now. We invite everyone – brands, consumers, retailers and food service customers and anyone who has an interest to join the conversation with us. We won’t stop until every stone has been turned and every possibility has been explored.”

Stonyfield supports more than 200 small, organic family farms in the Northeast through its milk supplier relationship with Organic Valley, and its Direct Supply Program in the region. It also provides technical assistance funding and mentorship to farms it contracts directly from. In addition, it was a founding member of OpenTEAM, a farmer-driven, interoperable suite of tools that provide farmers around the world with the best possible knowledge to improve soil health.

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