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THE REAL STORY BEHIND DANONE’S DECISION TO DUMP AUTHENTIC ORGANIC NORTHEAST FAMI…


THE REAL STORY BEHIND DANONE’S DECISION TO DUMP AUTHENTIC ORGANIC NORTHEAST FAMILY DAIRY FARMERS TO MAKE ROOM FOR FRAUDSTER CORPORATE FACTORY FARMS. Two weeks ago multinational corporatist ‘Groupe Danone’ dropped the bombshell that its subsidiary ‘Horizon Organic’ plans to drop 89 family organic dairy farms in the Northeast and replace their authentic organic milk with fake-organic-milk from law-breaking CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) factory farms. Organic family dairy farmers have been operating on a grossly unlevel playing field against the faker corporate behemoths. Mega corporate factory farms have long been operating illegally in violation of provisions of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA). While they have never produced one drop of bona fide Organic Milk, CAFOs have single-handedly created a fake-organic-milk glut that – unless they are stopped – will drown out virtually all honest organic dairy farm families
It’s an enormous and sad story about relentless ag consolidation which has invaded organic, jaw-dropping lack of integrity on the parts of both enabler USDA and scheming corporate factory farms, and stark denial of justice for hard-working organic family dairy farmers who have been playing by the rules and now face an ominous future of being forced out-of-business and off their farms.
Our friends at Beyond Pesticides have written an excellent piece which summarizes the predicament and lays out the potential urgent solutions https://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2021/09/danone-horizon-organic-threatens-the-backbone-of-organic-dairy-family-farms-and-their-consumer-supporters/
Please spend 10 minutes reading the article and learn how you can help these struggling family farmers at their darkest hour. Thanks! Jim

“Groupe Danone, multinational corporate owner of Horizon Organic, has announced that it is terminating its contracts with 89 small-to-medium-sized organic dairy producers in the Northeast as of August 2022. At that point, all of Horizon’s contracted organic dairy farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and northern New York may well have no buyers for their milk and will likely face a very uncertain future. In July 2021, Beyond Pesticides covered a major contributor to this development — the failure of the NOP (National Organic Program) to protect the integrity of organic dairy, which failure has advantaged large producers over smaller operations (see more on this below). This development in a region with historically strong demand for organic dairy products is of concern on several fronts, not the least of which is the fate of these small producers…

“‘Danone is effectively consolidating their supply base. The way they’ve done it is (what) any large conglomerate company would do. They do it impersonally. It’s not as if they are holding meetings with farmers in the area and saying these are the challenges we’re having in transporting milk and can we work together’…

“The report notes: ‘Large dairies have shifted from trying to justify their lack of grazing and pasture for their lactating dairy cows to creating the illusion of meeting the low standard set by the USDA. This illusion is made possible by a number of agreeable accredited organic certifying agents who are willing to collect large certification fees while looking the other way, facilitated by deficient oversight of these agents by the NOP’…

“The squeezing out of small organic producers who operate with integrity is a major concern for the organic dairy sector, of course, but also, for the larger issue of organic integrity and the public’s trust in the meaning of the certified organic label. Is the milk that comes from an ‘organic’ CAFO the same product as milk that comes from a small Vermont dairy whose herd is on pasture for half the year? Many believe it is not. In 2018, Beyond Pesticides wrote of ‘organic’ CAFO-produced milk: ‘The Washington Post’s 2017 report found that Aurora Organic Dairy, a major milk supplier for big box retailers like Walmart and Safeway, is producing milk that was less nutrient dense compared to small-scale organic family farms. . . . The subsequent [report] . . . found that the living conditions indicated by the photos [of CAFOs] did result in cows producing nutritionally deficient milk.’

“The NOP must clarify rules, tighten enforcement of standards, and level the playing field for small- and medium-sized producers, who are currently disadvantaged by the competitive perquisites the large conglomerate operations enjoy. Members of the public are encouraged to contact federal elected officials and the USDA itself to advocate for such changes. Meanwhile, consumers can consider their own dairy purchases and vote with their food dollars to support ethical, sustainable, and transparent organic brands that source from smaller, regional producers. For more information on why it is so important to not only protect, but strengthen the organic label, see Beyond Pesticides’ Keeping Organic Strong webpage.”




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WORKING INTO THE NIGHT. With the weather forecast calling for over 2″ of rain -…


WORKING INTO THE NIGHT. With the weather forecast calling for over 2″ of rain – beginning this morning – both Caleb and Jim worked into the dark last night in order to get work done.
Jim continued to flame kill potato tops to get the crop ready for imminent harvest.
And in this shot, Caleb is holding the ‘stick’ or Surveyor’s Rod to determine whether he had excavated deeply enough to allow proper assembly of the footing forms for our new packing shed storage. A laser-apparatus attached to the stick works in tandem with the laser surveyor’s transit set out of harm’s way. When the depth is correct the stick unit emits both ‘beeps’ and flashing red lights signaling approval. This modern laser marvel eliminates one worker from the former two-man survey work.
We’ve fallen behind schedule from waiting two weeks for Versant to come out and disconnect our electric lines so we could further demolition and finish the excavation.
When the three man Versant crew finally arrived yesterday morning, it was headed by Matt Graves who 20 years ago was one of our star potato hand-pickers. He had entered the job market at the ripe age of twelve and for years was a reliable and fast picker for us.
Matt had just come back the day before from Pennsylvania where he was part of the lineman’s relief effort in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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AROOSTOOK STATE PARK: LAST HIKE BEFORE POTATO HARVEST. Sunday, Caleb’s sister, A…


AROOSTOOK STATE PARK: LAST HIKE BEFORE POTATO HARVEST.
Sunday, Caleb’s sister, Amy, was up from college and we took a hike in nearby Aroostook State Park. This now 800-acre park was the very first State Park ever in the State of Maine, established in 1939, thanks to the generous donation of its first 100-acres by local Aroostook citizens.
Here, Amy and Megan are coming down the relatively new ‘Notch Trail’ which descends from the ‘Ridge Trail’ towards Echo Lake. The Ridge Trail mostly travels the hogback between North Peak and South Peak of Qua Qua Jo Mountain (translates to ‘twin peaked.’).
The seasonal stream in the gorge below the trail is pretty much dry revealing that despite recent rains we are running at a significant precipitation deficit this calendar year.
We need to rectify that rain shortfall sometime after potato harvest. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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FARM FAMILY HOMESTEAD. Sargent, Nebraska. Circa 1886. Sargent is located in Cu…


FARM FAMILY HOMESTEAD. Sargent, Nebraska. Circa 1886. Sargent is located in Custer County in the center of Nebraska, north of Kearney. The family appears to be sheep ranchers and had built an industrious sod house as well as a second sod building behind the water windmill. We count six children, five horses, four cows, about 40 sheep two wagons and one hay dump rake. Photo was taken by Solomon D. Butcher and is housed in the Library of Congress. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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HEADLAND JUNGLE OF BENEFICIAL FLOWERS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. This time of …


HEADLAND JUNGLE OF BENEFICIAL FLOWERS ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM. This time of year every evening that is dry has us out flame-killing potatoes when the wind has died down. Last night the clouds cleared out and that allowed the temps to drop down this morning to a cool 37oF.
This photograph was taken last evening from the flamer-tractor seat and shows the east headlands looking north. Last Spring we planted a 5-foot swath of Beneficial Flowers around the perimeter of our Organic Seed Potato field and also across two in-field alley ways to aid beneficial insect movement. Today the swaths have become jungles of diversity.
The most prominent flowers at this late season stage are cheerful Sunflowers and pink Cosmos. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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NEW ‘WOOD PRAIRIE SEED PIECE’ NOW POSTED ONLINE! This brand new edition feature…


NEW ‘WOOD PRAIRIE SEED PIECE’ NOW POSTED ONLINE! This brand new edition features Farm Photos & News including Wood Prairie Job Openings, major Packing Shed Storage Project Underway, beautiful Beneficial Flower Cosmos, Transitioning to Box Repair, Flame Killing Sunsets plus Charting Freezes and more!
Our new ‘Wood Prairie Seed Piece’ may be found here: https://www.woodprairie.com/newsletters/090321.html
Caleb, Megan & Jim Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
(207)429-9765
www.woodprairie.organic




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LAST EVENING’S BEAUTIFUL SUNSET ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN NORTHERN MAINE. …


LAST EVENING’S BEAUTIFUL SUNSET ON WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN NORTHERN MAINE. Despite the spectacular red-sky-at-night sunset yesterday, Tropical Storm Ida is veering more inland than originally anticipated. The weather office is now expecting us to get doused with an inch of rain today, located at the outer edge of impact. Much more rain than that is due the Downeast Coast.
In this shot Jim is flame-killing our crop of Organic Certified Maine Seed Potatoes in preparation for harvest which will begin later this month. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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GETTING READY FOR ANOTHER POTATO HARVEST. With lots going on, half the battle i…


GETTING READY FOR ANOTHER POTATO HARVEST. With lots going on, half the battle is clearing the decks and tying up loose ends in order to make way for full-immersion potato harvest. Harvest will begin in a couple of weeks.
After last year’s record-driest-ever growing season in Northern Maine, this year – while dry yet again – brought us precious timely rains and the potato crop is looking good.
This shot was taken during our potato harvest of 1994. Caleb’s older brother, Peter, then 4-years-old, was utilizing the appropriate technology of a one-gallon-paint-can as his picking basket. The green pint-sized work glove on his left hand denotes a farmer-can-do attitude was already in development.
Today, Peter builds houses down in the Portland area. When Covid hit hardest and made keeping up with shipping orders extremely challenging, Peter and his partner moved back home to help us. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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SOYBEAN FIELD COLLAPSES AND FALLS 25-FEET IN CLIMAX, MINNESOTA. You might say f…


SOYBEAN FIELD COLLAPSES AND FALLS 25-FEET IN CLIMAX, MINNESOTA. You might say forth-generation Climax (Pop. 248) farmers Wayne & Erllene Erickson in the Red River Valley, 28 miles southeast of Grand Forks ND, had a surprise this week.
A quarter-mile long stretch of their soybean collapsed precipitously, creating a ‘Grand Canyon’ effect with sheer cliffs 25-foot high in places. Geologists call it a “rotational slump.”
The ‘Grand Forks Herald’ reports. grandforksherald dot com/business/agriculture/7168288-Bean-field-collapses-and-falls-25-feet-in-rural-Polk-County
Contained in the GFH article is a video clip (2:20) by WDAY reporter Kevin Wallevand. It’s well worth viewing to see the mighty power of nature on full display. Caleb, Megan & Jim

“‘(It’s) kind of scary. It is sad, sad to see it,’ said Erllene Erickson as she surveyed the fallen field. ‘Mother Nature does what she wants.’

“Geologists with the University of North Dakota say the dry weather, a drop in water levels on the Red River and recent rains can form a perfect storm for things like this to occur.”




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“11,000-YEAR-OLD SOLUTION TO MODERN PROBLEM: ANCIENT POTATO COULD THRIVE IN CHA…


“11,000-YEAR-OLD SOLUTION TO MODERN PROBLEM: ANCIENT POTATO COULD THRIVE IN CHANGING CLIMATE.” ‘Yale Climate Connections’ tells us the story of the growing rescue of drought-resistant “Four Corners Potato,” a kissing-cousin of the Andean potato everybody enjoys.
Remarkably enough, it has been grown for 11,000 years by the Hopi and others. Caleb Megan & Jim yaleclimateconnections dot org/2021/08/11000-year-old-solution-to-modern-problem-ancient-potato-could-thrive-in-changing-climate/

“With drought a persistent problem in the Southwest, Hopi/Tewa seed keeper Valerie Nuvayestewa has eagerly joined the effort to bring back an Indigenous superfood that her ancestors cultivated for 11,000 years. The Four Corners Potato can grow under dry conditions and provides triple the protein and twice the calcium of red organic potatoes.

“Scientists and leaders of Indigenous communities in the region have launched a drive to reintroduce the drought-resistant tuber, known scientifically as the Solanum jamesii, as a possible food solution for people hit by impacts of climate change. University of Utah scientists and Indigenous food activists say the spud can stay dormant for years under dry conditions, still offering nutritional benefits like iron and zinc to humans.”




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