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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGING FORAGE AND GRAZING LANDS FOR MULTIPLE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES Title: Successful organic dairy systems

Author
item Soder, Kathy

Submitted to: Joint Meeting of the ADSA, AMSA, ASAS and PSA
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 1, 2009
Publication Date: July 12, 2009
Citation: Soder, K.J. 2009. Successful organic dairy systems [abstract}. Joint Meeting of the ADSA, AMSA, ASAS and PSA. J. Dairy Sci. 92(E-supplement 1):344-345.

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: Demand for organic dairy products has continually increased and at times outpaced supply for a number of years. This has created favorable milk pricing for certified organic dairy farmers, as the stability of organic milk prices has provided organic dairy farmers with a security not found in the conventional milk marketing system. Many organic dairy farmers transitioned to organic production to implement philosophies of the organic production system. Others transitioned in an effort to increase profitability. However, even with relatively high premiums paid for organic milk, transitioning to organic production does not guarantee profitability. There are many challenges unique to organic milk production, including accessing markets for milk pickup, sourcing organic feeds, and veterinary care. Additionally, the recently volatile input prices have significantly challenged the sustainability of organic dairies. While organic dairy systems are primarily forage-based systems, emphasizing high-quality pasture, supplementation is still an important component for many farms. Organic feed prices have increased at a greater rate than conventional feed prices, in part due to demand outpacing supply as an increasing number of dairies transitioned to organic production in recent years. Some organic farmers have opted to decrease, eliminate, or find alternative supplementation strategies to decrease feed costs. Others produce more of their feeds on-farm. This presentation will provide an overview of the organic dairy industry. Data will be presented showing recent trends in organic dairy production, including recent growth of the industry, current statistics, and economics of organic milk production. A summary of strategies used by organic dairies to adapt to current industry challenges will be discussed including those mentioned above as well as changing herd genetics, putting even more emphasis on cropping and pasture fertility, and exiting the industry. Finally, a brief review of the current pasture standard currently being proposed and revised by the National Organic Program will be presented.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014