The viability of 89 family-owned organic dairy farms in the Northeast is now in jeopardy following an announcement by Horizon Organic, the world’s largest organic dairy brand, that it will be dropping these farms as suppliers. Danone, Horizon’s parent company, cited “growing transportation and operational challenges … particularly in the northeast” as a factor in the company’s decision.
Animals raised on true organic farms fare better than those raised conventionally, as organic producers are required to provide animals with access to pasture. However, greater concentration of operations and the growth of mega-dairies within the organic dairy industry is troublesome. It not only drives small organic dairy farms out of business, but also threatens animal welfare. Factory-scale organic dairies often exploit loopholes or outright flout organic regulations. Cows may be denied the required access to pasture and other amenities afforded to them on small organic farms as these super-sized operations maximize production at the expense of the animal.