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“Got (Organic) Milk?” NH Dairies Being Recruited

October 15, 2008

Concord, NH - Go organic and make more money. That's the pitch to New Hampshire dairies, which are being offered zero-interest loans to help them through the certification process. Tara Bishop, with MicroCredit-New Hampshire, says her firm is partnering with Stonyfield Farm to help dairies make the switch. Because organic management commands better prices, dairy farmers whose traditional products have been undervalued for a long time are interested, she says, and Stonyfield Farm wants more organic producers on line to help meet growing consumer demand.

"This is really the time to get everyone on board with making the conversion to organic and changing the way they've been farming for the past 70 years."

Bishop says switching from a traditional dairy operation to an organic one takes two to three years. She estimates about 150 dairy farms in the state are eligible for the money to switch to organic. In addition to loans, technical help will be provided.

Bishop says going organic usually requires new equipment, new animals and new facilities, which means high up-front costs.

"This is a program that will help dairy farmers get over the financial hump they would have experienced had they not had a loan."

More information on MicroCredit-New Hampshire is available at www.microcreditnh.org.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NH