Saturday, December 29, 2007

Drink Your Milk!

A couple posts back, I moaned and groaned about missing milk in my and coffee and until the glorious day I could find a dairy-products company that didn't support veal production, I'd continue my quest of ovo-vege lifestyle. Low and behold, I can drink milk in my coffee again!!! STONYFIELD FARMS is the best dang dairy product producer in the world. Their organic calves are NOT raised in confinement (organic standard - and that was my biggest gripe about veal production - not allowing the calves to move), and many of their calves are raised for organic beef . By asking one simple e-mail question, this company shared some satisfying insight about their animal practices that are GOOD for the environment. Here's their e-mail, and enjoy your milkshake!

Jill's Question to Stonyfield: "What happens to the calves from your milk producers?"

Hello Jill,Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We’re always happy to get comments and questions from our yogurt lovers and are grateful when someone takes the time to let us know what they think of our Company and products.To answer your question regarding to what happens to the male calves when they are born, we buy our milk from two sources. The St. Albans Cooperative Creamery is a member owned cooperative of approximately 530 family farmers based in St. Albans, Vermont. They provide the milk and cream for our non-organic (conventional) products. We purchase our organic milk from dairy farmer members of the CROPP cooperative, a 190 member dairy cooperative based in Wisconsin, with farmer pools in Maine and Vermont from whom we receive our milk. Farms in the St. Albans cooperative usually sell off a bull calf as soon aspossible. Very few small family farmers keep bulls on their farms as they pose a safety danger to the workers and families. There are very few veal operations left in Vermont as they have gone out of business. The consolidation of the industry has closed the small local business down. Because of this, generally the bull calves and culled cows (due to illness,age, lack of production) are transported via truck out of state to a veal operation. All diary farmers would rather have a heifer calf than a bull calf so that they can grow their herd or sell it for a decent sum. No farmer is pleased to have a cow birth a bull. As long as people buy veal, there will be bull calves sent to veal operations – organic and non-organic.

Farms in the CROPP cooperative, their male calves do not end up in confinement veal operations. Veal producers rely on cheap, abundant sources of calves from the conventional dairy industry. Organically raised male calves have a much higher value than their conventional counterparts. Their farmers either raise the males as steers for the organic meat market or sell them to other organic farmers that specialize in beef. It makes sense for an organic farmer to pay a higher price for organically raised calves,since they will receive a higher price for the meat at the end of the process. Organic farmers cannot raise calves in confinement conditions, so you will not find white veal producers in their cooperative.We believe that family farmers in the U.S. and around the world hold the key to implementing sustainable agriculture is defines as that which is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, and humane. Sustainable practices include rotational grazing, integrated crop management, soil conservation practices and humane husbandry. Stonyfield Farm supports agricultural innovations which enhance the viability of family farmers—not those which put them more at risk. We believe that continued investment in converting to more organic products supports more sustainable agricultural practices. This does not mean we aregiving up on our conventional farmers. Instead, we are helping to move them to these more ecological and human practices. When we began making organic dairy products in 1995 there were 6 organic dairies in Vermont. Today there are 81 in Maine and Vermont. We know we are making a difference and feel good about that. Farmers are getting a decent financial return for their work and are able to stay small. Soil is being improved. And cows are being carefully monitored under the watchful eyes of organic stewards. Does that mean all organic farmers treat their cows as well as we’d liket hem treated? No. as in all professions, there are good farmers, and not so good farmers, conventional and organic. There is also a great deal of differing opinion about acceptable animal husbandry practices.

Sincerely,The folks at Stonyfield Farm

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