Organic Consumers Association

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Maine Organic Milk Producers Form Company to Save Farms

BAR HARBOR, Maine - Last February, a group of Maine organic dairy farmers thought that their businesses as they knew them had come to an end. Citing a soft organic market, a depressed economy and the great distances to serve organic milk producers in far-flung Washington and Aroostook counties, 10 farms were given their pink slips by H.P. Hood Inc.

The farmers were flabbergasted. Each had a contract, and all said they had made substantial investments in their farms to convert to organic.

But this is rural Maine, and with true Yankee ingenuity, the 10 farmers banded together to find a solution. Through a cooperative agreement among the farmers, private investors, Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook, Oakhurst Dairy in Portland, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Maine Farm Bureau and the Maine Department of Agriculture, a new company has been launched: MOOMilkCo., short for Maine's Own Organic Milk Co.

"We have created a company using all the different parts already existing in the state," MOOMilk's general manager, Bill Eldridge, said this week. "This is a real Maine story. I have been totally astounded as to the level of cooperation and partnership in this state."

Milk should start appearing in stores in early November, taking only 96 hours to get from the cow to the shelf.

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