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The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

Organic Valley offers new market for Maine dairy farms losing contract with Horizon Organic

In this Thursday Aug. 15, 2019 photo, dairy cows stand in the milking chamber at Stoneridge Farm in Arundel, Maine. The farm has been forced to shut down after sludge spread on the land was linked to high levels of PFAS in the milk.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
In this Thursday Aug. 15, 2019 photo, dairy cows stand in the milking chamber at Stoneridge Farm in Arundel, Maine. The farm has been forced to shut down after sludge spread on the land was linked to high levels of PFAS in the milk.

Farmer-owned cooperative Organic Valley is offering a market for 80 Northeast dairy farms who are losing their contracts with Horizon Organic and Maple Hill Creamery.

In Maine, Organic Valley has offered contracts to 11 dairy farms, including Faithful Ventures Farm in Searsmont. Owner Glendon Mehuren says without another supplier, he likely would have had to exit the dairy business.

"I'm grateful, not only for ourselves, but for the other organic producers within the state of Maine and the dairy industry as a whole because the dairy industry cannot afford to lose any more farms from our great state," says Mehuren.

Governor Janet Mills and state Agriculture commissioner Amanda Beal issued a joint statement applauding the offer from Organic Valley. They say they'll continue to work on state efforts to support dairy farms, including in-state processing capacity.