One Washington County dairy farm closes, two other former MOO Milk farms seek assistance with transportation

Posted Aug. 04, 2014, at 1:15 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 04, 2014, at 3:37 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Farm Bureau is seeking help for two former Maine’s Own Organic Milk dairy farms in Washington County to support the cost of hauling their milk to market while they work out details of a long-term agreement with Colorado-based Horizon Organic.

The farm bureau said Monday that Tide Mill Organic farm in Edmunds and Rocky Ledge Farm in Perry, the country’s easternmost dairy farm, stand to throw out their organic milk if they can’t find a way to transport it in the coming weeks.

Both are working out two-year deals with Horizon Organic, but it will be several weeks before the company and farms finish paperwork and logistics for the company’s milk hauling route that now ends in Winterport.

“That these farmers have created a market for organic milk and have agreements with three national brands is really a milestone for Maine agriculture, and we’re almost there,” Jon Olson, executive secretary of the Maine Farm Bureau, said.

James Pond Dairy in Charlotte, the third Washington County farm that supplied the MOO Milk brand, has since sold its herd and closed.

The other nine farms have signed deals either with Wisconsin-based Organic Valley or Stonyfield, which has a yogurt plant in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

The Farm Bureau said Monday it is hoping to raise at least $3,500 to help Tide Mill and Rocky Ledge with transportation costs until their long-term contracts with Horizon begin.

“We are working on getting a licensed raw milk hauler to temporarily make the trip to Washington County until Horizon can start its route, but that could cost up to $2,000 a week,” said David Bright, a member of the Maine Farm Bureau who is working with the farmers to transition to their new contracts.

The bureau previously started a fundraising effort to assist the group of farmers after it was announced in May that MOO Milk would be shutting down.

The Farm Bureau is collecting money for its disaster relief fund through its website.