This year will be a ‘whole new world’

SHREVE, Ohio – How would you like to get $26.80 a hundredweight for your milk, a dairy expert asked a group of farmers in Shreve, Ohio.
According to the most recent numbers, that’s exactly what an organic Jersey-cross herd in Ohio that’s producing 3.3 percent protein, 4 percent fat and 5.65 percent other components would receive.
“This is a whole new world,” said Lowell Rheinheimer, the Mideast pool coordinator for Organic Valley, an organic dairy co-op.
Plus, these farmers aren’t constantly looking at the market, trying to anticipate the milk price. Instead, farmers are guaranteed a steady pay price, Rheinheimer said.
Consumer response. But with $26.80 milk prices, won’t that mean consumers will pay more than ever for a gallon of organic milk?
“We’re bravely marching into $4.50 for a half gallon organic milk,” he said.
The unknown is how the marketplace will react, Rheinheimer admitted. He’s not worried, though. Organic Valley has been around for 18 years and has grown more than 10 percent in each of those years, he said.
“People are knocking down our doors to get it,” he said.
Organic Valley has turned down entire groups of customers because it simply doesn’t have enough supply, he said. Last year, it even backed off Wal-Mart.
“We’re the only ones who have told Wal-Mart ‘no,’” he laughed.
All this proves, he said, that the market needs more organic milk producers.
“For the foreseeable future, you can count on a secure market for organic milk,” Rheinheimer said.

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