There’s a lot of milk out there. And if you look carefully at the labels, you may discover that what you don’t see could be a problem. Truth is, the majority of conventional milk comes from cows that are given rBST and/or rGBH, artificial growth hormones that have been in the news a lot.
But one northern California dairy is stepping outside the norm to provide what they feel is a healthier line of milk products.
Clover Stornetta Farms, a Petaluma, California-based dairy, is betting that consumers will go for their conventional milk that isn’t organic but is healthier. They plan to replace their conventional milk with one produced without GMOs in the supply line.
“Our primary constituency group is moms buying milk for their children,” said Marcus Benedetti, president and chief executive officer of his family’s $200 million company. “The organic premium is just too much for a lot of families to sustain,” he said, “but they want something more than the generic conventional milk that’s out there.”
The new milk, which will be released early next year, will cost no more than 25 cents extra per gallon, Benedetti said. The company will absorb the extra cost to farmers who have to get new sources of feed for their cows and will have to follow strict guidelines from the Non-GMO Project, which certifies the label.
It’s not an easy task to source non-GMO feed for livestock. Approximately 90 percent of corn and 93 percent of soy grown in the United States comes from genetically modified seed. But Benedetti said his farmers already have contracts in place for primarily U.S.-grown feed sources with their West Coast suppliers, who previously sent most of their non-GMO feed to Japanese dairy farmers.
“Our hope is as we grow that base of non-GMO feed we can change the industry and ultimately the cost will go down,” said Benedetti whose dairy counts milk as 75 percent of its business, half of that organic and half conventional. The new non-GMO milk will take the place of its conventional brand, and be sold alongside its organic option.
This is an amazing step forward by a company that has a reputation for producing high quality dairy products. Let’s hope they start a groundswell within the industry which in turn creates some serious demand on farmers to produce larger amounts of non-GMO grains. That would be a win for the American consumer.