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"About 180 members of the National Farmers Organization, mainly in New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania, are at risk of having no place to sell their milk on Dec. 1 unless they can find a buyer other than Dairy Farmers of America. The NFO members had their contracts terminated due to the overabundance of milk and decreased processing facilities in the region, said Brad Keating, senior vice president and COO of the Eastern Fluid Group at DFA. “In some cases, plants are closing because there is less demand for product. Also, business has transferred out of the Northeast,” Keating told MA. While DFA and other dairy companies like HP Hood are investing in several plants to increase processing capacity, including in western New York and northern Pennsylvania, many of those projects won’t be completed until next year. For the past 15 years, NFO has contracted with DFA’s Dairy Marketing Services in the Northeast to market its members’ milk. Another 700 independent dairy producers in the region whose milk has been handled by DFA’s Dairy Marketing Services also face the same problem as the NFO members, though they have the option to join the cooperative under certain terms. Brad Rach, NFO’s national dairy director, said his organization is doing everything it can to find a new home for the farmers’ milk, but things are looking bleak. He added that the oversupply problem is impacting dairy farmers and cooperatives in every region of the country, not just the Northeast. He is hoping the U.S. dairy industry can come together to figure out how to manage the milk supply to prevent a repeat of the nationwide glut. Otherwise, “farmers going out of business will be our supply-management program,” he said. Richard Hodge, who milks 36 Holstein cows in Fairlee, Vt., a town on the New Hampshire border, told MA there has been a lot of consolidation as DFA has purchased various co-ops, leaving few other buyers in the region."

Posted September 12th, 2017