Hannaford Supermarkets has become the first supermarket to join a major effort to support organic dairy farms facing challenges in New England and New York.
The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership came together in 2021 when cancellations of major supply contracts, impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, and other economic factors created unprecedented pressure on organic dairy farms across the region. Vermont saw 62 organic dairies close between January 2020 and August 2023, with similar impact across all New England and New York.
For the coming year, Hannaford is committing to promote four brands that are part of the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership. The Hannaford “Local Matters” campaign will highlight local organic dairy and make it easier for customers to find organic dairy offerings in store. The focus of the partnership is translating consumer support for local farms into more decisions to buy local organic products.
“We know our customers value the local family farms that make organic dairy possible,” said Sue Till, healthy living and sustainability marketing manager for Hannaford. “Our goal with this partnership is to emphasize the many benefits – preserving rural agriculture, availability of unique local products, and more – that local organic dairy farms make possible. We are pleased to join the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership in helping to create a strong foundation for organic dairy in our region.”
Customers will see four organic dairy partners highlighted at Hannaford. Organic Valley receives milk from more than 250 farms in New England and New York with an average herd size of 70 cows. Stonyfield Organic receives all of its raw milk from farms in New England and the Northeast; 80 percent of its milk from Organic Valley and an additional 36 New England farms direct supply totaling 16,000 acres of organically-managed farmland.
The Milkhouse supplies yogurt made with organic milk from its 380-acre farm in Monmouth, and Butterworks, the oldest certified organic dairy in Vermont, makes 100% grass-fed yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk with milk from its 400-acre farm in Westfield.
Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and chief organic optimist at Stonyfield Organic in Londonderry, N.H., announced the founding of Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership in January 2021. According to Hirshberg, retail partnerships open the way for consumers to support local organic dairy through their decisions.
“Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York are blessed with an extraordinary group of committed, often multi-generational family farmers and processors who work tirelessly to provide organic dairy products,” Hirshberg said. “When consumers buy brands committed to sourcing organic milk from these farms, it sends a strong message that we value their role in our communities and we want them to stay in business.”
The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership is active with other initiatives to support organic farmers. In addition to ongoing efforts to promote more than 30 brands with consumers, the partnership announced a project in August that will supply bulk organic milk from a local dairy to four Vermont public schools.