Farmers giving up organic milk

Organic milk dairies switching to regular production could be a major blow to Danish ecology

January 9th, 2014 6:08 pm| by admin
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Dairy company Thise can say goodbye to 15 million litres of organic milk a year after ten farmers decided to give up organic milk and switch to conventional production.

Ole Sørensen, the head of the milk committee in the organic farmers' association Økologisk Landsforening, is worried that other dairies may soon face a similar development.

He provides organic milk to national dairy co-operative Arla, which also lost nine organic suppliers in 2013.

"We fear that farmers are abandoning organic milk production," Sørensen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

READ MORE: Banks pressure organic farmers to give up

If dairies keep losing suppliers it could have long-term consequences. It takes two years to convert to an organic farm, but just one day for a farmer to give up ecology altogether. The loss would make it impossible for the government to reach its goal of doubling organic food production by 2020, according to Jyllands-Posten.

EU abolishing milk quota
The reason behind the rapid decline of the organic dairy farms is that EU will abolish the current quota system on milk in 2015, allowing farmers to produce unlimited amounts.

As organic farms have to fulfil more demands, they will stand better chances of doubling production and increasing earnings if they switch to conventional milk production.

Regulations demand that organic farmers must put their cattle out to pasture in the summer and that a large portion of the forage has to be produced on their own fields.

"An organic farmer has to purchase more land if he wants to make use of the opportunity to increase his milk production when the quota system is repealed," said Sørensen. "Conventional suppliers do not face the same limitations. That would be a major blow to ecology."

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