Dairy farms play a keystone role in Maine’s agricultural economy and Danone/Horizon Organic’s recent decision to end contracts with 89 farms across the Northeast, including 14 farms in Maine, leaves these farm families, the land they steward, and the future of our regional dairy industry vulnerable.
In response to Danone’s withdrawal, MFT is partnering with organizations across the state including Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Organic Milk Producers (MOMP), MOFGA, and Maine Dairy Industry Association (MDIA) to assess the situation and support farmers. This task force will provide support to the 14 farms through three working groups focused on retirement and farm succession, finding alternative markets, and financial planning. MFT’s Nina Young and Sarah Simon are participating in the working groups to help to direct impacted farmers to MFT’s resources.
Dairy farms have long been a consistent agricultural and economic force in Maine. In many rural communities, dairy farms act as engines for the local economy and provide the necessary threshold of business for local veterinarians, feed stores, machinery suppliers, and other services all farms rely upon. In short, our communities need dairy farms, and our dairy farms need us!
Dig deeper: Read MFT’s 2020 Dairy Sector Report for a deep dive into the many challenges Maine dairy farmers are facing daunting challenges that threaten the stability of the sector. This report provides a historical perspective and contemporary analysis of these challenges. It also presents some opportunities for policy and market interventions that could help to stabilize the Maine dairy sector and enhance its future viability.
You can support Maine dairy farmers by choosing to buy locally produced milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream. And your support of our work at MFT means that we can respond quickly to the emerging needs of farmers in times like these.