A University of New Hampshire survey of organic dairy farmers shows that while the consumer will pay a higher price for their milk, the farmers aren't getting back much of a profit.
Working with the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, UNH researchers surveyed 183 northeastern organic dairy farms. They found that 85 percent ranked a steady, fair milk price as their top challenge and highest priority. Integrated pest management was identified as the top animal health priority.
The USDA says even though the market price for organic milk has been stable in recent years, the costs of organic mixed grain feed for the cows have increased substantially, from $380 a ton in 2006 to $720 a ton in 2012.
UNH researchers believe this decline in profit margins for organic dairy farmers is most likely the reason why they perceive the price they receive for their milk as not fair.
"The profit margin is still pretty small whether you are an organic or conventional dairy farmer," said David Townson, professor of reproductive physiology. "Consumers may not realize this because they may think that if they are paying more for organic milk, surely 75 percent of that is going directly back to the farmer. That is not the case."