Dairy experts say organic market cooling

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(Host) With the price many farmers are receiving for their milk at a low point, the price for organic milk remains fairly high. 

Organic dairies are earning about thirty dollars per hundredweight – while conventional farms receive roughly twelve dollars. 

But Enid Wonnacott of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association says there are signs that the market for organic milk is beginning to level off.

(Wonnacott) "The organic market is growing slower this year than last year. Organic sales were, nationwide a 24 percent increase in 2007 and they anticipate more like a 5 percent increase in 2008.  It has to do with how are consumers choosing to spend their money; organic milk is more expensive.  And the major processors that are purchasing organic milk in Vermont are slowing the number of farms they’re allowing to transition in."

(Host) Wonnacott says the Vermont farms that could most easily transition to organic production have largely made the switch.  Today, about 20 percent of Vermont’s dairy farms are organic. 

Jackie Folsom of the Vermont Farm Bureau says there are good reasons why some conventional farmers don’t switch to organic.

Folsom says even for those who are interested, lower milk prices make it difficult to make the transition.

(Folsom) "There were a lot of people who went into that a couple of years ago, because the timing was right was for them and they got right in the middle when there were good prices at our end and better prices on the organic side. But right now the guys that are making conventional milk are just trying to survive, they’re just trying to pay their bills. They’re probably trying to manage even closer to the belt than they’ve ever done before."

(Host)  A recent study says the number of dairy farms in Vermont is dwindling – while those that remain are getting larger. 

A recent study for the Council on the Future of Vermont says there is an increasing number of smaller, non-dairy farms.

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