Jan 7, 2022
Organic Trade Association publishes recommendations on Northeast dairy situation
Organic Trade Association

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) today published the recommendations of the national Northeast Dairy Taskforce, of which OTA is a part, originally sent to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the end of 2021. The recommendations outline how the agency can better support struggling family-scale and organic dairy operations. The task force first convened in October, 2021 and the recommendations published today were developed in direct response to the cancellation of 89 Danone/Horizon Farm organic dairy contracts.

“We’re grateful to have been able to work with our 26 task force partners in developing these recommendations responding to the worsening national dairy crisis,” said OTA Farm Policy Director Johanna Mirenda. “Now is a time for action. Over the short time that this Task Force was collaborating, an additional 46 organic dairy farms in Northeast were notified of impending contract losses. Every moment we spend waiting for reform exponentially worsens the situation for our organic and family-scale producers.”

OTA signed on to 31 of the task force’s recommendations to USDA, including:

  • Launch a Northeast pilot Dairy Farmstead Modernization cost share program.

  • Issue multi-year grants via cooperative agreements to incentivize institutional procurement of regional organic dairy.

  • Ensure that all WIC recipients can use their benefits to purchase organic food, particularly organic milk and other organic dairy products

  • Immediately publish and implement the Origin of Livestock (OOL) and Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) Final Rules.

The association has been encouraged by the Biden-Harris administration’s pledge to stand against consolidation and anti-competitiveness in animal agriculture and meat-packing, and hopes this will also mean swift action for the long-delayed OOL and OLPP final rules. If finalized, these rules will clarify and strengthen the organic standards, ensure the integrity of the organic label, and create a more level playing field for organic dairy operations.

“We hope that all of these recommendations will be seriously considered and look forward to a formal response from USDA soon,” Johanna said.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA's Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.

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