In March, Organic Valley announced it would take on many of the farmers dropped by Horizon and Maple Hill, which cut off another 46 farmers in New York. Those contracts began on Wednesday.
Dairy Farmers of America is tasked with ensuring its members get the highest possible price for their milk. But at the same time, its milk processing operations benefit from lower milk prices, the lawsuit argues.
The expansion was part of an agreement that merged the St. Albans Co-op with the Dairy Farmers of America last year.
The Agency of Agriculture has concerns with a number of Michael Colby’s statements about data and processes attributed to the agency.
This week’s merger with Dairy Farmers of America will keep the doors open at the St. Albans Co-op, but observers say the industry’s struggles will continue.
A few hundred dairy farmers from across the region packed into the American Legion Post in St. Albans for a special three-hour meeting. They were mostly resigned to the merger.
The Co-op has long held a seat on DFA’s national board and it is also represented on DFA’s Northeast Council.
The number of dairy farms in Vermont is down to around 675 and another 25 are expected to close by the end of the year, according to the Agency of Agriculture.
While Dairy Farmers of America has pledged investment in Vermont, no one can guarantee the merger will play out well for the 52% of farms that would be affected by the merger.
The co-op’s leaders said the move will give it access to more capital, larger markets and economies of scale that the farmers need in order to survive.
As the result of a settlement reached in a dairy pricing lawsuit, thousands of Northeast dairy farmers received checks earlier this summer.
The deal is a signal that seven years of antitrust litigation that affected nearly 9,000 farms across the Northeast could be coming to an end.
The class-action case Allen v. Dairy Farmers of America has been trudging along since 2009. It affects roughly 8,900 farms in the Northeast.
Settlement would also allow small farms to leave the Dairy Farmers of America and join another cooperative.