Here in New England, where dairy farms are as much a part of the landscape as whitewashed churches and rocky beaches, organic dairy farmers are bearing the brunt of the nationwide slowdown, in part because of the cost of transporting feed from the Midwest. The contracts of 10 of Maine’s 65 organic dairies will not be renewed by HP Hood, one of the region’s three large processors. In Vermont, 32 dairy farms have closed since Dec. 1, significantly altering the face of New England’s dairy industry.
At the annual meeting of the Maine Organic Milk Producers last month in Waterville, farmers debated whether they could tap into the locavore movement, marketing their milk as local food. Russell Libby, the organization’s executive director, wondered, “Is it possible to produce a product with a Maine label on it?”