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.
  • Organic milk is the second-largest organic category overall.
  • Organic dairies were reported to be less impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than conventional dairies because organic milk is utilized more for retail and direct-to-consumer sales, so organic milk sales were less disrupted by pandemic shutdowns of schools and restaurants than conventional.
  • At the same time, prices for organic feed are expected to continue to increase, lowering profits for producers.

Source: Organic Trade Association’s 2021 Organic Industry Survey: Dairy & Eggs

Organic Dairy in New York State

  • According to the USDA Organic Database, New York State has over 700 certified organic milk producers, with over half certified by NOFA-NY (accessed in Oct 2021).
  • According to the 2021 organic census, 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.
  • When compared with overall fluid milk production in NY reported by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, organic milk accounted for about 13% of the state’s milk sales.

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 cows are pasture-raised with a focus on the health and natural behavior of livestock.
  • Organic dairy means more cows on pasture, which helps mitigate climate change.

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.

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