In many situations, the organic dairy sector provides superior economic opportunities and generates more jobs in rural communities in comparison to conventional dairies. Over the last couple of decades, dairy farmers have been faced with a choice: either get big or get out. Dairy farmers either had to expand dramatically and develop large industrial operations or they went out of business. As Richard Ghilarducci points out, organic dairy production offer farmers with another option – one that is better for the environment, produces a healthier product, and paves way for greater levels of economic activity. Ghilarducci is the President and CEO of Humboldt Creamery and had testified before the first-ever Congressional hearing on organic agriculture and business.
Richard Ghilarducci sheds light on the advantages of organic dairy farming
The Consumer demand for organic milk has surged over the years, and is driven by ample evidence that it is far more nutritious and less damaging to the environment in comparison to milk produced in crowded, polluting CAFOs. Organic dairy farming is a type of farming that focuses on the use of sustainable and natural practices to raise cows and produce milk. The benefits of organic dairy farming are many, including:
- Environmental benefits: The environmental benefits of organic dairy farming are many. Organic farmers typically use sustainable and natural farming practices that help reduce pollution, conserve water and promote soil health. They try to avoid the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, and chemical fertilizers, which may hamper the environment and contaminate local water sources. Organic farming practices go a long way in promoting biodiversity and can help support the growth of beneficial insects.
- Animal welfare benefits: Organic dairy farming places a high level of emphasis on animal welfare. Organic farmers provide their cows with adequate access to fresh air and pasture, which may help promote healthy growth and behavior. These farmers typically do not use hormones and antibiotics, which may harm the health of cows. Organic cows tend to be raised without the use of synthetic growth hormones that may cause health problems for both the cows and humans who consume their milk.
- Health benefits: Organic dairy products are commonly considered to be a healthier alternative to conventional dairy products. Organic milk is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help improve human health. Organic dairy farming practices steer clear of the use of synthetic hormones and antibiotics, which may cause health problems in humans. Organic farmers even try to avoid the use of pesticides, which may contaminate food and pose health risks to consumers.
- Ethical benefits: Organic dairy farming maintains an ethical approach towards raising cows and producing milk. Organic farming practices typically support local communities, help in promoting fair trade, and support small-scale farmers. Organic farmers often maintain a close relationship with their cows; try to always treat them with utmost care and respect.
On the whole, as Richard Ghilarducci mentions, organic dairy farming does have many benefits. It helps promote natural and sustainable practices that are good for the environment, animal welfare, and human health. Organic dairy farming is also instrumental in promoting ethical and fair trade practices that support local communities and small-scale farmers.