Organic Dairy Policy

Organic Dairy in the U.S.

  • Organic milk sales increased by 11% in 2020, the second-largest increase in the past decade according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2021 Organic Industry Survey, and growth has continued with $7.9 billion in sales of organic dairy and eggs in 2022.
  • The 2021 USDA Organic Survey shows organic milk as the top commodity sold by organic producers in the U.S. for that year.
  • In 2022, organic yogurt sales increased from the prior year by 12% to $1.5 billion.
  • Despite market growth, rising prices for organic feed, inflated fuel costs, and 2022 drought conditions have all contributed to lowering profits for producers, exacerbating stress, increasing industry consolidation, and forcing smaller farms out of business.

Organic Dairy in New York State

  • According to the USDA Organic Database, New York State has over 650 certified organic milk producers, with over half certified by NOFA-NY (accessed in June 2023).
  • According to the 2021 USDA Organic Survey, New York is home to the greatest number of organic dairy farms in the country and is 3rd in terms of the quantity of organic milk produced.
  • With over 386 million pounds of organic milk produced in 2019, New York accounted for over $120 million in sales, 7.7% of nationwide sales that year.

Why Consumers Choose Organic Milk

  • Research shows that organic is an easy way to avoid antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, and pesticide residues in your milk.
  • Organic milk has higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Because antibiotics are used less in organic systems, organic is an important part of the solution to preventing antibiotic-resistant diseases.
  • Organic farmers focus on the health and natural behavior of livestock.

Source: The Organic Center’s Benefits of Organic Dairy Report

NOFA-NY’s Vision for Organic Dairy 

A paradigm shift is needed to achieve NOFA-NY’s vision for a robust local food system that both nourishes eaters and values producers while providing dignified work and protecting the planet. This need is especially evident in the organic dairy market in New York and the Northeast. We recognize that no one solution will solve the organic dairy crisis, therefore, we are taking a multifaceted approach to our advocacy that prioritizes:  

  • Building fair, competitive, local and regional organic dairy markets that offer stability to producers and increase opportunities to supply households, cafeterias, and eateries statewide with New York organic dairy products.
  • Demanding organic milk pay pricing that keeps up with increasing input, production, and transportation costs so that producers can thrive, provide dignified work for themselves and their employees, cultivate healthy and safe operations, and produce high-quality milk. 
  • Increasing the integrity of the organic label and creating a level playing field for producers of all sizes and from all parts of the country. 
  • Enabling and incentivizing public and private investments in rebuilding and revitalizing local processing and on-farm infrastructure.
  • Developing pathways for farms and processors to continually improve, and be rewarded for, positive climate outcomes and ecosystem services.
  • Cultivating a robust system of farm services including mental health and business planning that are integral parts of our farming system and not last resorts.

Updates and Featured Resources