Organic Dairy


In 2011 nearly 2.1 billion pounds of organic milk products were sold, a 14.5 percent increase from the previous year and the second year in a row that sales increased by double digits. That amount represented nearly 4 percent of all milk products sold that year. On the other hand, the volume of total milk product sales dropped for the second year in a row.  (AMS 2012)

In the past, organic milk cost considerably more than conventional milk. (AMS 2013). In 2012, the annual average advertised price for organic milk was $3.50 per half gallon compared to $2.22 per half gallon for conventional milk. The highest average advertised price for organic milk that year was $3.81 in the Northeastern region of the country; the lowest advertised price for organic milk was $3.20 in the Northwest.  January 2013 ...  Organic Dairy




  • Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming, ERS, USDA, 2009 - Using 2005 data for U.S. dairy operations, including a targeted sample of organic milk producers, this study examines the structure, costs and challenges of organic milk production.
  • A Comparison of Conventional and Organic Milk Production Systems in the United States, ERS, USDA, 2007 - USDA's 2005 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) included a sub-sample of organic dairies and collected detailed information about the production practices and costs on dairy farms in 24 states representing over 90 percent of national milk production.
  • Dairy, ERS, USDA.
  • Dairy Resource List: Organic and Pasture-Based, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), NCAT, 2006 - This resource list offers many sources of information helpful to organic and pasture-based dairy farmers.
  • Dairy Your Way, North Central SARE, 2006 - This publication was created to provide information that will help producers explore the many choices available for today’s dairy farms.
  • Health-Care Principles and Practices for Organic Dairy Farms, University of Maine, 2008.
  • Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin: 2012 Status Report, University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Department of Ag, 2012 - Wisconsin boasts the second largest number of organic farms in the nation and ranks first among the states for the number of organic dairy and beef farms.
  • Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin: 2009 Status Report, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 2010 - Wisconsin is the top-ranked state for number of organic dairy farms. In 2007, Wisconsin’s organic dairy sales reached $57.6 million.
  • Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin--2007 Status Report, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008.
  • Organic Dairy for the Next Generation, Heather Darby, University of Vermont, 2011 - This YouTube presentation was recorded at the 2011 USDA Organic Farming Systems Conference.
  • Organic Dairy Handbook, Northeast Oganic Farming Association (NOFA)-New York, 2009 - This book outlines the practical knowledge and systematic understanding necessary for conventional farmers to make a successful transition to organic production, for new farmers to develop a successful organic dairy business and for newly transitioned organic dairy farmers to strengthen their overall farm management.
  • Organic Dairy Production, eXtension.
  • Organic Livestock Feed Suppliers, ATTRA, NCAT - This is a listing of certified organic livestock feed suppliers. Contact information is provided for each company along with a brief description of rations and specialty items.
  • Organic Milk Production Costs and Returns in 2005, ERS, USDA, 2007 - USDA's 2005 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) included a sub-sample of organic dairies and collected detailed information about the production practices and costs on dairy farms in 24 states representing over 90 percent of national milk production.
  • Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition, Washington State University, PLOS ONE, 2013 - A recent study analyzing organic milk from cows found that organic milk contains significantly higher concentrations of heart-healthy fatty acids compared to milk from cows on conventionally managed dairy farms. The study is the first large-scale, U.S.-wide comparison of organic and conventional milk, testing nearly 400 samples of organic and conventional milk over an 18-month period.

Businesses/Case Studies

  •  Farmer's All Natural Creamery, Wellman, Iowa - This creamery began with the idea of taking hard-to-market milk from local farmers with special circumstances, processing it and meeting the needs of a growing consumer demand for natural and organic products.
  • Francis and Susan Thicke, Radiance Dairy, Fairfield, Iowa - This Iowa family direct markets the organic products from their dairy farm, capturing more of the profit.
  • Hidden Valley Organic Dairy Farms: A Case Study on Organic Dairying, University of Idaho, 2008.
  • Mid-scale Food Value Chains Case Study: Organic Valley, Center for Integrated Ag Systems, University of Wisconsin, 2009 - Organic Valley is the largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative in North America. With 1,300 members in 30 states and the Canadian province of Ontario and more than $500 million in gross sales, Organic Valley member farms represent about 10 percent of the certified organic farms in the United States. 
  • Naturally Iowa LLC, Clarinda, Iowa - The products from this organic, all-natural dairy include fluid milk, drinkable yogurt, ice cream and the use of bottles made of corn, known as PLA (Ingeo) bottles.
  • Organic Dairy Producers Profit, Market to Market, Iowa Public Television, 2003 - Organic Valley of Lafarge, Wisconsin, is the nation’s largest farmer-owned organic dairy cooperative.
  • Organic Dairy Producer Profile: Bruce and Mari Drinkman, Desperation Acres, Wisconsin, eXtension.
  • Organic Valley Family of Farms, Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools, La Farge, Wisconsin - Headquartered in a rural town, CROPP is one of the most successful farmer-owned food cooperatives in the country.
  • Scholten Family Farm, Weybridge, Vermont, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, 2009 - Roger and Patty Scholten started organic production in 2007 and are already producing delicious artisanal cheeses. 
  • Straus Family Creamery, Marshall, California - This small, family-owned dairy farm is located in Marin County. The creamery offers milk, yogurt, ice cream and butter that is certified kosher. Refundable glass milk bottles are used.

Links checked January 2013.