Organic Valley bans raw milk sellers- Time for a boycott?


Positively Ducky
11 Years
Oct 2, 2008
"Organic Valley has just joined a growing number of dairy processors and co-ops that refuse to buy milk from any dairy that also sells raw milk to consumers. With last week's narrow 4-3 vote, Organic Valley's board of directors ended a bitter year-long dispute among its members, deciding an earlier 20-to-20 vote tie by its Dairy Executive Committee. Citing farmer complaints about competition and legal concerns that even their own lawyers say are nothing to worry about, the board has struck a serious blow to farmer independence.

Organic Valley is a cooperative of more than 1,600 small family farms spread across the country. It began in 1988 with the mission of supporting local communities, environmental stewardship, and economic justice for small farmers and has done a lot over the years to achieve that end. It's quality and welfare standards are high, and at around $1.50 per gallon, Organic Valley pays its members much, much more for their milk than your average dairy processor.

The trouble is, that is still far less than the $5 to $10 per gallon that raw milk can fetch directly from consumers. At least 10 percent of Organic Valley's dairy farms currently sell raw milk for supplemental income. But those farmers likely don't have the consumer base to sell all their milk this way, leaving them with the difficult decision of whether to struggle to grow their number of customers or sell exclusively to Organic Valley, which would mean both a hit to their profits and hundreds of disappointed buyers. Unfortunately, this particular raw milk ban is not an isolated incident, but a growing trend.

For years I was a happy consumer of Organic Valley products due to their superior taste and rigorous animal welfare standards, and I am always happy to support a business owned by its workers. Now I am not so sure. It is disappointing to see farmers complaining about other farmers this way. The whole decision sounds like something we would expect from one of the mega-dairy processors who are used to pushing around the farmers who depend on them.

One of the legs of agricultural sustainability is economic sustainability. Indeed, promoting it is one of Organic Valley's stated goals. But it's hard to see how farmers can have that economic sustainability without the independence to make their own business decisions. Pasteurization equipment is very expensive, and selling raw is the only way direct marketing is feasible for many small dairies, at least getting started. Selling directly to consumers is one of the best ways a farmer can stay profitable, and bans like this effectively outlaw it. It is understandable that a farmer would be willing to give up some measure of independence for the promise of stability that a contract with a processor offers, but legislating what a farmer does independent of that contract is crossing a line.

We have seen far too many times what happens when farmers' independence is taken away. They become mere indentured servants to the likes of Tyson and Monsanto, hired labor that is used up and thrown away, assuming all of the risk and none of the profit. I'm not saying Organic Valley or all the other co-ops and processors that have placed similar restrictions are just as bad as the Big Ag behemoths, but by limiting farmer independence, they are taking a dangerous step in the wrong direction."
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Wow looks like I wont be buying from them anymore. If my raw milk stops coming (Uddermilk) then I will be really mad. look out MAD MOMMY!!!

maybe I will send a letter.

ok i did send a letter

Hi my name is Susan -------- and I have been buying your products for many years. After hearing the decision to ban your farmers from selling raw milk on the side I have decided with a very heavy heart to no longer support your company. Please reverse that decision because many of us who have supported the organic and sustainable market for many years also consume raw milk for the health benefits. My son who suffers severe asthma has greatly improved with the consumption of raw milk. There are many of us who buy both your products and raw milk and believe in supporting farmers in the decision on whether they want to supplement income by selling ra milk on the side. This rule you passed is completely opposite of the standards you claim your co-op is based on. I urge you to please consider changing it immediately.

Thank you,
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I sent a letter too...

I just learned through this article that your company has decided to stop doing business with farmers who also sell raw milk directly to consumers. Is this true?

I can't imagine why a company like yours would make such a harsh and foolish decision. By denying farmers the choice of selling some of their raw milk directly to the public you ultimately effect the choices of consumers like me. I find that very upsetting.

Food diversity and the ability to get the most nutritious food from the freshest sources available is something I believe is very important. When your coop makes a move like this you start to act and sound just like the large manipulative agri-businesses that people are moving away from in droves. I am angry enough that Colorado laws do not allow me to purchase raw milk directly as it is. I had been considering Organic Valley a close alternative.

I only recently began purchasing Organic Valley products from the Vitamin Cottage in Colorado Springs. Just yesterday I purchased an 8oz package of raw aged sharp cheddar. I am also a regular consumer of your pastured butter. But if your coop is going to take a stand that harms farmers that sell raw milk and raw milk products to cosumers, I can no longer support you and will stop purchasing anything from the Organic Valley brand.

It's a shame. That cheese is really really good.​
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I will be honest and say that I've not heard of raw milk and am wondering why it is a big deal. Dont get me wrong, I am sure that it is a big deal to you, I am just curious as to why it is.

Legitimate question.
Here is some info to get you started...

"Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Calves fed pasteurized milk do poorly and many die before maturity. Raw milk sours naturally but pasteurized milk turns putrid; processors must remove slime and pus from pasteurized milk by a process of centrifugal clarification. Inspection of dairy herds for disease is not required for pasteurized milk. Pasteurization was instituted in the 1920s to combat TB, infant diarrhea, undulant fever and other diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods. But times have changed and modern stainless steel tanks, milking machines, refrigerated trucks and inspection methods make pasteurization absolutely unnecessary for public protection. And pasteurization does not always kill the bacteria for Johne’s disease suspected of causing Crohn's disease in humans with which most confinement cows are infected. Much commercial milk is now ultra-pasteurized to get rid of heat-resistant bacteria and give it a longer shelf life. Ultra-pasteurization is a violent process that takes milk from a chilled temperature to above the boiling point in less than two seconds. Clean raw milk from certified healthy cows is available commercially in several states and may be bought directly from the farm in many more."
I'm sorry to hear this. We love our raw milk and though I only buy Organic Valley products on an occasional basis, I guess I will have to look for someone else.

ETA: I just looked in my fridge to check my favorite cheese as I couldn't remember the brand off hand... sure enough, Organic Valley. Too bad
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I have been buying a lot of my dairy at Vitamin Cottage....this brand..

As I was reading the first post, I was thinking that they're certainly doing business like Monsanto...

Bullying, attempting to limit consumer choices, making it hard for the farmers to do business....
Yup sounds VERY Monsanto-ish.

Apparently there is some US Government grant money involved in this whole mess. People are speculating that may have promoted them to enforce the "no side sales of raw milk" policy. I will see if I can dig up those links.​
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I sent a letter as well:

Hello, my name is Heather ------- and I often buy Organic Valley Products in my search for the best products to support my family's health. I am saddened to hear that you are forcing your farmers to drop their sales of raw milk if they want to continue as part of the co-op. While you say in your press release that this is not a move against raw milk, I have no choice but to see it as such. Many farmers who sell raw milk simply don't have the customer base at this time to support selling raw milk-only and still depend on sales of pasteurized milk to make ends meet through co-ops such as yours. While you say this might be a boon for the raw milk movement, I take a more grim view of your decision. As a raw milk consumer, I have to stand beside that choice and will no longer be purchasing Organic Valley products for as long as your decision on this topic remains the same.
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