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Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree want organic milk giant to do more for Maine dairy farms

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Murray Carpenter
/
Maine Public
Cows on a Pittsfield dairy farm in 2017.

When Horizon Organic stopped buying milk from nearly 90 Northeastern dairy farmers last year, it pledged investments to help the industry. But U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree say the company has not followed through.

The representatives, along with their House colleague U.S. Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont, outlined their concerns in a letter last Friday to Danone, the corporate parent of Horizon Organic.

Sarah Alexander, executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, says Danone has made several concessions to regional dairy farmers — including contract extensions, severance payments and investments in regional dairy infrastructure.

"They are honoring the contract extensions, and they are honoring the severance payments," Alexander says, "but they have not shared any details about what investments they might make."

In their letter, the representatives noted that New England dairy farmers have had an especially challenging year, with high feed prices and drought in many areas.

Danone provided a statement saying that it remains open to co-investment opportunities that support farmers’ needs in the Northeast.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.