Organic Milk’s David Outsmarting Industry’s Goliath
Milk is big business. Once a hyperlocal food source that came from a family or neighbor’s cow, the modern milk industry collects the output of many farms, pools it together for processing and distribution on a regional or national scale and is bound by myriad government regulations and fixed pricing schedules.
Now that more people are recognizing the value of all kinds of organic food, including milk, some dairymen are seeking a return to those earlier days. Don Seale, of County Line Farms, an independent organic milk producer in Earth, Texas, near the New Mexico border, says, “Our dairy products are the freshest, grass-fed and pasture-raised dairy products in Texas. We want consumers to understand the advantages of drinking milk from our organic family farm.”
Seale is positive about the growth potential for independent dairy farmers, especially organic dairies.Although their herd of 2,000 cows on 3,000 acres is diminutive compared to some of their neighbors, the milk is sold at Green Grocer, Natural Grocers and Central Market, among others.
The cows that produce County Line Farms’ milkare happy, healthy and humanely cared for, and graze naturally over many acres, enjoying the fresh, clean, West Texas air,” says Searle. “The Jersey crossbred and Holstein cows that make our milk two times a day get to eat our own organically grown grasses, alfalfa and sorghum forages. These food sources are free from chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.”
The milk has naturally higher levels of vitamin E, natural and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene and other antioxidants. Often, processed food products add dried fish oil to make this claim. Our brains and spinal columns need these natural elements in food to function at optimum levels. Locally produced, grown and packaged foods are fresher, have traveled fewer miles, and so leave a much smaller carbon footprint from their production.
County Line even uses recyclable, half-gallon plastic jugs, because paperboard cartons are not recyclable in most areas of the U.S. County Line Farms milk comes from cows that have been Validus certified. That means they have been inspected and are certified on criteria of socially responsible practicesfor farm security, worker care and animal welfare. “Don’t be misled by the term ‘natural,’” says Searle. Organic products are produced under tightly controlled conditions without the use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms (GMO), ionizing radiation, antibiotics or growth hormones. Products that are merely labeled “natural” do not meet these requirements and have no official USDA or other governmental regulation.”
All of these factors do contribute to a slightly higher retail price for organic dairy products compared to conventional dairy products from standard dairy farms. The cost to certify a farm’s pastures, the higher prices to grow organic feed and the added labor for organic farm production, along with the acute monitoring of cow health, all contribute to the well-deserved prices of organic dairy products.
Our support as consumers helps the local economy and the future of local family farms. Moreover, choosing organic products such as milk will provide a better business environment for a lifelong pattern that will benefit us all.
For more information, visit Facebook.com/countylinefarms.