Subsequently Maple Hill Creamery announced the cancellation of contracts for an additional 46 farms.
In response, Gary Hirshberg, Stonyfield co-founder and former CEO, has formed the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, a partnership intended to solve the crisis of disappearing family farms.
The partnership, a collaboration of farmers, processors, activists and government agencies, is inviting consumers to sign a pledge to purchase 25% of their weekly dairy purchases from 35 brands. The brands have committed to increase their purchases of northeast organic family farmers’ milk to help the 135 at-risk farms.
The group is also inviting grocers, restaurants, cafeterias and any outlets that sell dairy products to also become licensed as partners. Licensed partners who have signed affidavits to grow their organic purchases will be entitled to display the partnership logo at the point of sale and also online.
The partnership board, in addition to Hirshberg, consists of: Peter Allison, Farm to Institution, LLC, (VT); Diane Bothfeld, Agency of Agriculture (VT); Leon and Abbie Corse, Vermont Organic Dairy Farmers; Claire Eaton, ME Dept of Agriculture; Annie Watson, Maine Organic Milk Company and Maine dairy farmer; and Eric Ziehm, New York organic dairy farmer.
Advisors include Michael Brown, CROPP Cooperative (ME); Rose Forrest, Sodexo sustainability coordinator (RI); Ed Maltby, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Assn (MA); Peter Miller, Miller Family Farm (VT); Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield Organic (NH), and Albert Straus, Straus Organic Creamery (CA).
The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership said it is encouraging all stakeholders in the food system - consumers, large and small dairy processors, retailers, restaurants, school lunch programs, college cafeterias and the region’s organic farmers - to support the region’s organic family farmers and provide a stable long-term demand.
“The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership celebrates the fact that when it comes to supporting our region’s organic family farmers, it really does take a village,” said Hirshberg.
“Everyone has a stake in the long-term financial health of these farms and farm families. The simple act of pledging to purchase one-quarter of dairy items from the brands, processors and farms who support these family farmers, can help to ensure that these farms will remain healthy, vibrant, financially viable, and environmentally and climate-positive parts of the northeast region for generations to come.”