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Danone To Terminate Contracts With 14 Organic Dairy Farms In Maine

Murray Carpenter
Maine Public file
Cows on a Pittsfield dairy farm in 2017.

Danone, the France-based parent company of Horizon Organic, will stop buying organic dairy from 14 Maine farms at the end of next August.

Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts says in all, 89 organic dairy farms in the Northeast will lose their contracts with Danone. He says Danone told Vermont officials that the company will focus its business on larger farms in Midwest and West.

Maine organic dairy farmer Gloria Varney says those farms don't allow their cows to graze outdoors in pastures, a key standard for organic milk, which she says the USDA should acknowledge.

"Consumers deserve the right to know when they choose to buy organic milk those cows are grazing, not just sticking their head out the window, and that's considered access to outdoors," she says.

Varney says the measures required to make dairy organic cost more, and consumers are willing to pay more for products they believe are organic.

Maine's Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says it is working with the state's Congressional Delegation on strategies to help the affected farms.