The risk of transition comes from the fact that during this three-year period, the farmer is not yet eligible to sell his milk as organic. With organic production comes higher expenses for such things as organic grain and feed, more crop losses from the inability to use conventional pest-control methods and usually lower milk production per cow.
With increased costs and lower income, the transition period can be a make or break process. With the conventional milk market as variable as it has been for the past few years, going organic has been even more risky. Due to the increasing demand, some organic-milk cooperatives will pay the farmer a $2 per hundredweight premium on their production in their third year of transition as an incentive to complete the process.
Of the organic dairies in Northern New York, one of the common threads seems to be that many are already managing their farms and cows on pasture and close to organic methods. A desire to be more sustainable and to produce a product that is high in quality leads many of these farmers to seek a viable farming style that is attractive to consumers and gentler on the environment.
For more information on organic dairy farming in New York, visit Cornell University's Organic Dairy Initiative website at http://cuaes.cornell.edu/cals/cuaes/organic/projects/dairy/dairy-initiative/index.cfm, call the Clinton County Cooperative Extension office at 561-7450 or email email@example.com.
Peter Hagar, agriculture program educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension Clinton County, 6064 Rt. 22, Plattsburgh, 12901, call 561-7450.