For four years, The Milkhouse Dairy Farm and Creamery in Monmouth, Maine, supplied grass-fed organic milk to Horizon.
That was until Horizon told the farm’s owners, Caitlin Frame and Andy Smith, their contract would end in six months. Horizon said it was because Milkhouse was selling some of its milk direct to consumers and retail stores, and also using some of it to make and sell yogurt.
Horizon (owned by international food conglomerate, Danone) said it didn’t like that the farm was “diverting” some of its supply, instead of selling exclusively to Horizon.
In a video about Milkhouse Farm, produced by the Real Organic Project, Caitlin said that all-or-nothing policies like the one Horizon insists on takes the “independent” out of independently owned farms. Farmers lose their sense of ownership over their own farm and what they produce. For instance, a farmer can’t decide to sell 50 - 100 gallons of their milk to a local cheesemaker without fear of losing a big contract.
Caitlin and Andy were fortunate, in that they have their own on-farm milk processing. But the other five or six small Maine dairy farms dumped around the same time by Horizon didn’t. Andy told us that he suspects the real reason Horizon dropped their farm, and the others, is that Horizon just didn’t want to deal with smaller milk suppliers.