Is Going Organic Key to Saving Vermont’s Struggling Dairy Industry?

Author: Kyle Midura| Published on: August 31, 2016

HINESBURG, Vt. -Dairies across the Northeast face nightmarish market forces with high feed costs and revenue spoiled by low milk prices. But in Hinesburg, Matt Baldwin is preparing to fulfill his dream of opening a dairy farm.

“I’m going into this with my eyes wide-open,” he said.

He’s banking his farm and family’s future on strong demand for organic milk.

“This is the only way we see that we can financially justify doing it,” Baldwin said.

His fields are certified or heading that way, and he’s transitioning his newly purchased cows off antibiotics and onto a strict diet. Baldwin will hedge his bet by selling other organic crops as well.

“It’s an exciting transition that we’re really excited about and readily looking forward to doing,” he said.

“Organic is more stable because they’re able to balance supply and demand,” said Roger Allbee, Vermont’s former agriculture secretary.

Allbee recently penned an opinion piece arguing that if Vermont dairy has a future, it’s in organic milk production. He says Vermont’s farmers simply can’t compete with the sheer volume of milk produced in massive farms out West and globalization is not helping, either. But organic demand is growing, and Allbee says that is Vermont’s opportunity to maintain its traditional brand, and for dairies to rise back to the top.

“Dairy is a big part of what Vermont’s all about, certainly for its economy and certainly for tourism,” Allbee said.