Maine’s Own Organic Milk (MOO Milk) was recently featured in “Maine Magazine.” Or more specifically Tide Mill Organic Farm in Washington County featured in a lovely article in that publication. The piece extols the virtues of a 250-year-old farm that has been in the same family since 1765. Later in the article one of the current farmers, Aaron Bell, talks about what it will take for this farm to survive. Fortunately one of those things came along in 2009 when MOO Milk organized. He also talks about the need for caution when buying “local organic products”. Just how local is it?
From the article: “Most people’s shopping habits revolve around familiarity. Many organic consumers are loyal to brands like the Organic Cow of Vermont, which was started in 1990 by an independent family farm in the Green Mountain State. The packaging has a wholesome message similar to MOO Milk, but ownership and practices have changed behind the scenes. The brand is now owned by Horizon (based in Colorado), which is owned by Dean Foods (based in Texas).
In 2010, Dean Foods was number 208 on the Fortune 500 list, which is ranked by revenue. The company continues to fight a 2010 U.S. Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit that alleges a Dean Foods merger eliminated “substantial competition” in the milk markets of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This is big agribusiness, and it is MOO Milk’s competition, unless consumers start to see Maine-made organic, slow-and-low-pasteurized milk as a distinct and more desirable product than UHT milk that has been trucked into New England.” Caveat emptor!
More good news from the MOO Milk website itself. The Company has managed once again to cobble together the funding it needs to keep going until their cash flow improves:
“(Company CEO William) Eldridge praised the teamwork of everyone involved in the financing. Beyond the work done by the staff at FAME, CEI and SCEC, he said Russell Libby of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, and Maine Senate President Kevin Raye, who represents Washington County and parts of Hancock and Penobscot Counties, worked hard to keep the discussions moving throughout the process.
Raye, who lives down the road from one of the MOOMilk dairy farms, said, “I am delighted that long months of hard work, determination and attention to detail by MOOMilk and its supporters have been rewarded. All involved are to be congratulated for recognizing MOOMilk’s potential and stepping up to the plate in a significant way to help strengthen the venture and, in doing so, help preserve these dairy farms and a way of life.”
Mr. Ray, a Republican, demonstrates the spirit of cooperation and assistance that should characterize government intervention in the marketplace. Helping small businesses succeed because they are the bedrock of our economy. Human scale businesses providing excellent products and creating living wages for the people involved.