Press Release

Welch Unveils New Bill to Support Vermont’s Organic Dairy Farmers in Highgate Center

Oct 30, 2023

O DAIRY Act aimed at expanding federal support for organic dairy farmers and extending emergency assistance to farmers facing losses

HIGHGATE CENTER, VTSenator Peter Welch (D-VT) today hosted an event with local organic dairy farmers, and farmer and producer advocacy groups to unveil his recently introduced Organic Dairy Assistance, Investment, and Reporting Yields Act (O DAIRY) Act of 2023. He hosted the event at the Choiniere Family Farm, a 100% grass-fed certified organic dairy and diversified farm in Highgate Center. The farm is a member of both Organic Valley and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, both of whom joined the Choiniere’s and Senator Welch today on the farm.  

“It was a great morning to join the Choiniere family on their farm in Highgate Center to talk about the future of organic dairy in Vermont. Their farm is the perfect example of why Vermont’s small family farms make Vermont so special,” said Sen. Welch. “But the organic and independent dairies that are so integral to the Vermont heritage have faced persistent economic pressure over the past decades, resulting in the loss of nearly 40% of our farms. That’s a blow to our local economies, our rural communities, and our state’s culture. I’m introducing a bill to give our organic dairy producers the support they need to thrive in this volatile market. The O DAIRY Act is an important step in ensuring that family farms like the Choiniere’s have the commonsense, data-driven support they need for generations to come.” 

The O DAIRY Act is aimed at expanding federal support for organic dairy farmers and extending emergency assistance to farmers facing losses due to factors like feed shortages and increased costs. The bill also increases investments in the organic dairy industry to ensure resiliency and longevity, and works to improve data collection for organic milk production to enhance price accuracy and transparency.  

The Organic Dairy Assistance, Investment, and Reporting Yields (O DAIRY) Act would:   

  • Extend emergency assistance to organic dairy farmers who are up against losses, when a farm’s net income decreases by over 10% in any given year;  
  • Invest $25 million annually in dairy infrastructure investments, research, and innovation;   
  • Strengthen our data collection in the organic industry, so we can help farmers plan better for the future; and  
  • Direct the USDA to study the viability of an organic safety net program, which would get federal assistance to farmers faster when disasters hit in the future. Including disasters like this summer’s terrible flooding, which impacted so many farmers across Vermont. 

The O DAIRY Act is cosponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).  

The bill has the broad support of farms, dairy cooperatives, producers, and associations across the country, including the Organic Farmers Association, Organic Valley, Northeast Organic Farmers Association-Vermont, Northeast Organic Farmers Association-New York, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Straus Family Creamery, the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers’ Association, the National Organic Coalition, and the Center for Food Safety.  

More information on the O DAIRY Act can be found here.   

To read the full text of the O DAIRY Act, please click here.    

Photos from the event can be found below.