Iroquois Valley Farms, Stonyfield in New Sustainable Partnership Establishing Local, Organic Dairy


 

With the purchase of a 200 acre Maine organic dairy farm, Iroquois Valley Farms, a socially responsible food and farmland company, jumpstarted organic yogurt leader Stonyfield’s initiative to purchase milk directly from local farmers. It started in late 2013 when Stonyfield introduced Iroquois Valley Farms to Caleb Harris, a 30-year old farmer intending to start his own dairy. Mr. Harris was in the process of acquiring the herd of a retiring Maine dairyman and had arranged to sell the milk to Stonyfield. In a terrible turn of events, the barn Caleb was using burned down. The cows were safe, fortunately, and needed to be moved to a new farm immediately.

While Caleb wasn’t financially prepared to buy a farm of his own, Stonyfield knew he had the experience, skills, drive, and dedication to run a farm, as he was already involved in their newly launched direct sourcing initiative. Stonyfield also knew that Iroquois Valley Farms, with its Young Farmer Land Access Program, might establish Caleb on a farm through a long-term tenancy arrangement. A mutually beneficial three-way organic partnership was born! Each played essential roles (Stonyfield – sourcing contract, Caleb – milk production, and Iroquois Valley Farms – land access) leading to Iroquois Valley Farms purchasing Union Fair Farm, a 200 acre organic farm in Union, ME, at the end of March. Caleb signed an indefinitely renewable lease with Iroquois Valley Farms, one which encourages multi-generational tenure. His young family and herd moved onto the farm. Open for business and already producing milk for Stonyfield, Caleb is the first farmer in Stonyfield’s new project to directly source milk from farmers.

Stonyfield’s milk sourcing project is the latest of many commitments to lead the food industry in transparency and sustainability. Yet, young agricultural entrepreneurs find it very challenging to access land and capital, especially on the scale needed to start a dairy farm. Iroquois Valley Farms, which currently owns 18 farms in six states, is an invaluable partner to local and organic agriculture. Both Stonyfield and Iroquois Valley Farms know that organic dairy farming better supports dairy farm viability and profitability because organic dairy farming provides a higher and more stable price to farmers for their milk.

This sustainable partnership is a real-life success story, where collaboration, community and environmental health are key drivers of business decision-making, leaving “profit at any and all costs” behind. Kevin Egolf, Managing Director of Business Operations further highlights the cooperative nature of the partnership, “Stonyfield, with their enduring commitment to expand organic dairy in the Northeast, was a natural partner. Their support for, and commitment to, Caleb Harris was essential for making the deal work.” Union Fair Farm exemplifies Iroquois Valley Farms unique ability to promote lasting, healthy change in our emerging local and organic food system. A Certified B Corporation, Iroquois Valley Farms has established itself as a trusted provider of local and organic farmland access.

About Iroquois Valley Farms

Iroquois Valley Farms LLC was incorporated in Illinois in 2007 to connect investors with local and organic farmland and family farmers. Contact Kevin Egolf, Managing Director of Business Operations, at kegolf@iroquoisvalleyfarms.com  or John Steven Bianucci, Director of Impact, at jsbianucci@iroquoisvalleyfarms.com  or for more information visit-  www.iroquoisvalleyfarms.com

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