ALBANY — The company that announced this summer that it would stop buying milk from 89 organic dairy farms in the Northeast next August is extending those contracts another six months.
Danone, parent company of Horizon Organic, notified officials in Vermont, Maine and New York this week. The 28 farms in Vermont and a total of 61 in Maine, New Hampshire and New York have already been told.
Those farms were expected to lose their contracts at the end of August next year when Danone would stop buying milk in the region. Danone is now giving the producers the option to extend the contracts to the end of February of 2023, the company said in a letter to officials in each state on Monday.
Danone is also providing a transition payment to affected farmers.
“The good news is that our organic dairy farmers – who have done so much to bolster Danone and its reputation — will have their contracts extended for an additional six months and will receive a transition payment added onto the milk purchased,” said U.S. Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont in written statement. “The bad news is that many of our farmers will still be left in the dark after the additional six months,” adding that he thinks Danone should do more.
Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said in August that the company told Vermont officials that it did not want to transport milk from the region to its plant in New York and will focus their business on larger farms in Midwest and West.
Danone said it is offering to work with state and federal officials to explore co-investment solutions to address the “infrastructure, hauling and processing issues in the Northeast.” It said it’s also providing producers with free financial consultation.