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What is the future of organic dairy in Vermont?

A photo of a black and white cow in a barnyard.
Howard Weiss-Tisman
/
VPR
A cow at Miller Farm in Vernon, which has begun bottling its organic milk as one way to stay competitive in a changing organic dairy industry.

Live call-in discussion: Dairy farming is a staple of Vermont’s agricultural and tourism economy. Milking barns and cows of all varieties dot the landscape here. But the industry is at risk, especially organic dairy.

Horizon Organic made headlines recently with its announcement that it’s ending its contracts with 28 Vermont farms next year. That spells trouble for those farmers, their families and their employees.

This hour, we dive into the world of organic dairy production. We learn what it takes to produce, bottle and ship organic milk. We also learn why some big companies like Horizon are pulling away from Vermont’s family farms. Then, we find out what farmers are doing to stay in the milk business, or pivot and get out.

Broadcast live on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 at noon.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Mikaela Lefrak joined Vermont Public in 2021 as co-host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
Connor Cyrus joined Vermont Public as host and senior producer in March 2021. He was a morning reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University), he started his reporting career as an intern at WPTZ, later working for WAGM in Presque Isle, Maine, and WCAX Channel 3, where he covered a broad range of stories from Vermont’s dairy industry to the nurses’ strikes at UVM Medical Center. He’s passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Lydia worked for Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS from 2019 until 2022.