Organic Milk: Better for You and for the Economy, Too

A new report makes the case that organic milk is not only better than conventional milk for the health of the earth, the cows and anyone who drinks it, it’s also better for the economy.

To begin with, organic dairy farming has provided an alternative to many small dairy farmers who have refused to “get big or get out.” By making the conversion to organic, they have been able to stay in business and make a reasonable living. “The organic dairy sector, virtually nonexistent just two decades ago, has become the most prominent market opportunity for smaller pasture-based dairies to remain in production,” reads the report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). While sales of organic milk have slowed significantly since the start of the recession in 2008, they are still at $750 million annually.

The UCS report draws on financial data from Vermont and Minnesota — two states in which organic dairy is big business, though not as big as in some other states. In 2008, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, Wisconsin had the greatest number of organic dairy farms (479), followed by New York (316) and Pennsylvania (225).

Economic performance of the organic dairy industry in Vermont and Minnesota was assessed by UCS based on 4 metrics: output, gross state product (output minus input), labor income and increase in employment. (See the report for a detailed explanation of each metric.)

The report found that Vermont’s 180 organic dairy farms contribute $76 million in output, 1,009 jobs, $34 million in gross state product and $26 million in labor income to the state economy. Minnesota’s 114 organic dairy farms contribute $78 million in output, 660 jobs, $32 million in gross state product and $21 million in labor income.

UCS also forecast the impact on the state’s economy that an increase in dairy sales would have, comparing the impacts of the organic and conventional dairy industries given an equivalent hypothetical increase in sales of $5 million. In Vermont, the scenario would result in a 3 percent increase in the state’s output, a 39 percent increase in labor income, a 33 percent increase in gross state product, and an 83 percent increase in employment relative to conventional dairy farms. In Minnesota, the increases would be 4 percent, 9 percent, 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

According to UCS, this “report is the first to calculate the economic value associated with organic dairy farming, and it reveals the potential for that sector to create opportunities and jobs in rural economies… [O]rganic dairies offer greater regional economic impacts than conventional dairies.” Federal policies, however, provide far more support to conventional dairy operations, and UCS believes that has to change. At the very least, revisions should be made to level the playing field, though, really, organic dairy farming should be conceded the advantage, given how much better it is for our health, the environment and now, apparently, the economy as well.


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Photo from Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Jennifer U.
Jennifer A.3 years ago

Organic milk is better than non-organic milk but so long there's casein in the milk you're drinking, it'll still be unhealthy. Soy, coconut, almond or any other type of milk without casein is much better for you.

Julie H.
Julie H.3 years ago

Colleen, apparently you prefer to conveniently ignore the cruelty involved in milk production. That is quite common among people who refuse to admit or even care that their choices cause other beings to suffer unconscionably as they are repeatedly brutalized, impregnated artificially/ raped, and their babies are torn away from their mothers so that you can rob them of the lactate secretions meant for BABIES of anther species, go on, as I am sure you have a laundry list of irrelevant diversions to keep you from focusing on the reality of the cruelty involved in your choices. Be sure to throw in the ol' standby about swatting mosquitoes and all the other ridiculous diversions over used by those in denial.

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen3 years ago

to what degree is natural. is it processed? are noodles natural, or only wheat berries? drinking milk as an adult of your wrong speciese is "unnatural". but cooking and processing another thing into a beverage is natural.

eating almonds is natrual. cooking them into a milk is natural. the process of making soy milk is natrual.
drinking from a mammal is not natural.

eating raw rice is bad, cooking rice is good. rice is natrual, boiling water to cook rice is natrual. killing and eating and cooking animals is not natrual(because we are primates with ethnics! even the chimpanzee with fashion spears to kill bush babies with, and eat them raw. but that is not natrual for a frugivore like a human)

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen Prinssen3 years ago

everyone is sure that, if they could, other animals would not? baby monkey and surrgate doggy mom puppy nursing from cow kittens and cow adult dog drinking from cow fawn drinks from dog cat and dog. i don't know adult cats

Julie H.
Julie H.3 years ago

Also, just because we have been labled as "omnivores" doesn't give us the right to cause pain, abuse, and suffering to other beings.

Julie H.
Julie H.3 years ago

Hey Brandon, it's not just 'all this talk', it's a FACT that mammals produce lactate secretions to nourish NEWBORNS of the same species. It's mind boggling how some people refuse to comprehend something that takes simple common sense to grasp.

Brandon Van Every

All this talk about cow's milk being only for calves (or goat's milk, pick your animal) flies in the face of several thousand years of recorded history, and likely another 10,000 years before that. Sure, it may not have been done in *some* parts of the world, but in other places it was. We're omnivores. We eat all kinds of stuff. Cow's milk is not special, magical, sacred (well maybe in India), or otherwise exceptional as a food source. Some people have the genetics to process it easily, others don't. It has to do with what your ancestors were eating for thousands of years. Nobody's calling out tomatoes just because they're a New World crop, related to deadly nightshade, and some people are allergic to it.

Nancy Crouse
Nancy Crouse4 years ago

I have fallen into and have become an organic milk convert as it tastes like real milk from my childhood. A stroll down memory lane with my organic milk and free range grass fed beef has returned a delight in my life. We should all support the family framing community; we will all be better off for it!

Beth M.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you.