LONDONDERRY, NH -- Gary Hirshberg, chief executive officer and co-founder of Stonyfield, has announced the launch of the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, a first-of-its-kind partnership, created 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 one-fourth of their weekly dairy purchases from 35 brands. These brands have committed to increase their purchases of northeast organic family farmers’ milk and thus increase demand and market stability to help save the 135 at-risk farms so that all of the region’s organic family farms can be more secure. Simply put, the Partnership aims to empower consumers to help save these farms and make a lasting impact on organic family farmers’ livelihoods.
“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,” Hirshberg said. “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 that 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.”
Last fall, 89 organic family farms across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and eastern New York received the news that Horizon, owned by Danone North America, was terminating their purchase contracts, effective in early 2023. Maple Hill Creamery also announced the cancellation of contracts for an additional 46 farms
The Partnership 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 proudly display the partnership logo at the point of sale and also online to enable easy identification by consumers.
The Partnership Board includes a diverse group of leaders. They include Peter Allison, Farm to Institution, LLC; Diane Bothfeld, Agency of Agriculture; Leon and Abbie Corse, Vermont Organic Dairy Farmers; Claire Eaton, ME Dept of Agriculture; Annie Watson, Maine Organic Milk Company and Dairy Farmer; and Eric Ziehm, New York Organic Dairy Farmer. Advisors include Michael Brown, CROPP Cooperative; Rose Forrest, Sodexo Sustainability Coordinator; Ed Maltby, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Association; Peter Miller, Miller Family Farm, Britt Lundgren, Stonyfield Organic, and Albert Straus, Straus Organic Creamery.