Today, nine organic organizations representing organic farmers and consumers delivered two petitions with 15,234 signatures asking Danone North America, owner of Horizon Organic, not to leave the northeast and leave 89 dairy farm families without a market (a national petition
includes 13,020 signatures and a state-focused Maine petition includes 2,214 signatures).
In August 2021, Danone North America notified 89 organic dairy farm families that they would be ending their contracts and pulling out of the Northeast U.S. market. They have transitioned all their milk procurement to farther west in favor of larger farms. Many of the affected farm families have been providing organic milk to Horizon Organic (owned by Danone N.A.) for decades and have been instrumental in building that successful brand with grass-fed family-farm organic milk.
While Danone, North America has invested in new processing facilities along the eastern U.S. for plant-based milk, they have failed to invest in a dairy processing facility that would continue to serve the large Northeast organic consumer market with local organic milk. While they claim they will be saving transportation miles by procuring milk closer to their western NY dairy processing plant, they will be spending more miles in trucking cartons of milk to the large Northeast consumer markets.
Organic groups have requested a meeting with Danone North America to ask them to stay in the Northeast and invest in the region’s organic dairy farm families who are making great contributions to the local environment and local economies by running grass-based organic dairy farms.
“We have already lost many northeast family organic dairies over the past five years due to pressure from large organic dairies taking advantage of a regulatory loophole. This exit by Horizon Organic mimics what we see happening nationwide and leaves our rural communities without a local source of organic milk. Danone North America as a B-Corp should hold a stronger commitment to the region and the communities that provide their milk,” says Ed Maltby, Executive Director of Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA). “We hope to meet with them and discuss opportunities to keep them in the Northeast region.”
“Consumers are looking for organic milk from local organic farms that feed the local economy and protect the community’s soil, air, and water,” says Melody Morrell, Executive Director of Cornucopia Institute. “B Corp companies have a social contract with their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. We believe Danone/Horizon must reconsider this mass exit from the region.”
Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Vermont, Northeast Organic Farmers Association of New York, Inc., Maine Organic Farmers, and Gardeners Association, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Organic Farmers Association, National Organic Coalition, Cornucopia Institute, Real Organic Project together ask Danone North America to meet with the northeast groups to find a better solution for the affected 89 farm families.
Founded in 1983, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) is the premier statewide organization dedicated to organic agriculture. NOFA-NY provides education and outreach to farmers, consumers, and gardeners; advocates for a fair food system at the state and federal levels; and is the largest USDA-accredited organic certifier in New York State. Learn more at www.nofany.org.