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Thread: Sad Day for Maine Organic Milk Farmers

  1. #1

    Sad Day for Maine Organic Milk Farmers

    I kind of suspected that the economic disaster was going to kill the organic market and unfortunately it seems like this is coming true. The highly regulated, and creamery dependent organic milk market was poised to go first I suppose, but I wonder what the farmer's markets and organic veggie markets are going to do this summer.

    http://bangornews.com/detail/100620.html
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    I seriously doubt it will kill the market, it will put a dent in it as the fence sitters won't have the disposable income to buy the higher priced product. Those that are died in the wool (good pun for you Travis!!) will find and spend the money. If this is your family, they need to go door to door with some of the better restaraunts and create a working partnership. It will open some new doors for some, it will shut the doors permanently for others. It is another one of those opportunities to get out of your comfort zone and bang on some doors. I will state I hate this as much as the next person, to much like being in high school and asking a girl for a date, hate having my fate in someone else's hands so to speak. Hope things work out Travis.
    Jon

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Interestingly enough, the local news has been reporting that the opposite situation is occurring in Washington State. It's the "regular" dairy farmers who are sending their cows to be slaughtered because they claim they're losing $100 per head per month due low prices. Reportedly, the organic farmers are still doing just fine.

    Go figure.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    bethel springs TN, but was born and raised in north east PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Johnson View Post
    I kind of suspected that the economic disaster was going to kill the organic market and unfortunately it seems like this is coming true. The highly regulated, and creamery dependent organic milk market was poised to go first I suppose, but I wonder what the farmer's markets and organic veggie markets are going to do this summer.

    http://bangornews.com/detail/100620.html
    Travis it seems like there always trying to take the family out of farming.My grandfather was a small dairy farmer all his life in up state NY,and i can still remember riding with him to the crowleys creamery.He would take his milk cans load them in his old Brockway truck,stop at all the other farmers farms,hall them to Nichols Ny and we would help him unload.Some of the best memories i can remember as a kid.Ofcorse then the goverment steped in and said you had to up grade to vats and tanker trucks or get out,no more milk cans and no more 30 or40 head of cows.What a sad day. Sorry for the rant but thanks for the great memories.
    Steve

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New Springfield OH
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    Them guys better start chasing some markets. I find it hard to believe they can't get Organic Valley to pick them up, considering they just picked up one of my brothers neighbors 130 head operation.

    “Me, personally, I'll stay organic as long as I can, even if I have to sell conventionally,”
    I see some one is after my game plan IF the market goes away here. Which I don't see happening this year.

    Theres a program here called Grow Youngstown which they started last year. They only had one grower and he took on 15 CSA members. They had 30 people on the waiting list last year and theres 70 on it so far this year.

    I'm working with one of my neighbors who grows organic and together we are going to do 20 members. Best part is they pay up front. $375 for 18 weeks of produce. They get whatever is coming off that week be it beans tomatoes or Brussels sprouts It's right in the contract what we grow and deliver right along with if mother nature does something in then they won't be getting it. In other words they get to assume part of my risk

    I realize $3750 isn't a lot of cash for the year, but thats money in my pocket now which is a lean time, couple that with sales from the extra produce and it should be a good year.

    Our grain sales are still up, My brother just shipped 10,000 pounds of buckwheat and 3500 pounds of spelts to the mill last week. The mill cleaned him out theres nothing left to sell.
    Throw Apples out the Windows, but make sure not to hit the Penguin.

    If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Bellinger View Post
    no more milk cans and no more 30 or40 head of cows.What a sad day. Sorry for the rant but thanks for the great memories.
    Steve
    Actually Steve, according to the 2007 USDA census there has been an increase in small farms. Farms that do $10,000 or lees make up 60% of the farms. $10,000 to $99,999 make up about 24% The rest of them

    250,000 to $499,999
    500,000 to $999,999
    000,000 to $2,499,999
    500,000 to $4,999,999
    5,000,000 or more
    Make up less than 10 percent in each group

    On the plus side farm numbers where up this census for the first time since the end of WW2

    http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/

    And Travis,, Maine had an increase farms this census also
    Throw Apples out the Windows, but make sure not to hit the Penguin.

    If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Mickley View Post
    And Travis,, Maine had an increase farms this census also
    That is good, it has been steady here at 7100 farms for awhile. The dairy farms are what is dwindling. Milk typically beats out potatoes, but last year that won out. A mega-potato farmer in Maine has been chasing former potato ground and hounding the owners putting even more pressure on the dairy farmers who have farmed this type of land for the past 20 years. To give you an idea of how big this particular farmer is, they provide 2% of the USA with potatoes. That is a big market share considering how much potatoes are part of the American diet.

    But I do have good news...and with fingers crossed, and toes and legs I might add...

    A new program here in Maine is looking to add a new employee to their roster. Its a private organization that matches vacant farms with new farmers. It also promotes easements for current farmland to remain protected from development. Obviously it would be the ideal job for this unemployed guy only because I know why older farmers are hesitant about programs like these and yet know we have to accept new methods or we will no longer be farming. With 75% of the farmland here in older peoples hands, our food is literally about ready to be handed over to the next generation. This relates to the nation...not just Maine...scary!!

    Next-Generational transfers are critical if farms will stay as family farms. With the downturn in the economy, land values plummeting there is a very narrow window of opportunity to stem development in Maine and retain farmland. I want to be a part of that transformation and I think I can do such a hard task. It is one of those rare jobs where you have to be willing to step in poo up to your knees to gain farmer buy-in today, and yet tomorrow put on a clean shirt and do a professional luncheon with a benevolent benefactor. Do you know what I mean?

    Even if I do not get the job, I hope whoever gets the job is able to permanently protect farmland in Maine for the foreseeable future.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Shively View Post
    I seriously doubt it will kill the market, it will put a dent in it as the fence sitters won't have the disposable income to buy the higher priced product. Those that are died in the wool (good pun for you Travis!!) will find and spend the money. If this is your family, they need to go door to door with some of the better restaraunts and create a working partnership. It will open some new doors for some, it will shut the doors permanently for others. It is another one of those opportunities to get out of your comfort zone and bang on some doors. I will state I hate this as much as the next person, to much like being in high school and asking a girl for a date, hate having my fate in someone else's hands so to speak. Hope things work out Travis.
    Just to clarify Jonathan, no this does not effect me or my family as we are in Dairy Farm Country here in Maine. There are plenty of farms here so milk will flow from this area for a very long time. Granted the price of milk has plummeted to $9 cwt as compared to $22 cwt a year ago. Still the demand is there. Last week the creamery called when we delayed the milk truck by ½ and hour. They were literally screaming for milk so they could get product out for the weekend. I guess from now on we cannot sleep in until 12:30 AM but get up at Midnight instead. Yes you read that right. In order to get the job done, we have to start milking at at 1AM to get done by 9:30 AM. Of course the second shift starts at 1PM and gets done by 9:30 PM, not leaving many hours in between.

    The only way to make it at this price is to add more cows. That means we will get bigger (one of the top 21 farms in Maine) while a smaller farm will probably have to go under since they may not have the workers, equipment or acreage to make it with more cows. Ideally we would just take over the smaller farm and thus nothing really changes, but that is unlikely. The mega potato farmer could grab these freed up acres, or the farm could just go vacant like so many others...who knows?
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    GTA Ontario Canada
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    12,258
    The mega potato farmer could grab these freed up acres, or the farm could just go vacant like so many others...who knows?[/quote]

    Why does this happen? Are the owners reluctant to sell or is there some other reason. Fascinates me this farming stuff but if there is demand for the land why does it go vacant.
    cheers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    11,833
    "spelts"???

    I was going to ask you what a spelt was but, fearing Vaughn would chastise me for not using Google first, I Googled and Dictionary.com'ed it.
    Still learned nothing. Most frequent reference was to genealogy name tracking and a few other, non-farming, references.
    Found one site that sells organic grains and, from that, it appears that 'spelt' can be generically applied to any of a number of different grain products that are either organically grown or come from this particular company.

    All of which was no help. So....wattsa spelt???

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