Letter to the editor: Is it now time for ‘fair-trade milk’?

Thank you for giving James Maroney the space needed to make a very well documented argument for transitioning to organic milk production in Vermont.
It appears that milk pricing at the farm gate is the great unknown and unsolved problem even in the world James imagines. Perhaps we need to recognize that the market economy is simply not able to currently solve this problem, absent a quota system as in Canada.
Could we not then address the issue of the economic viability of Vermont dairy farms by replicating Fair Trade mechanisms used to insure the sustainability of coffee and banana producers? If the public is willing to pay a premium to support farmers in distant Central and South American countries, might it not do the same for neighbors here in Vermont? Surely we can all relate to paying a small premium to preserve our iconic farms, a lifestyle that epitomizes New England values, and our landscape and waterways.
Perhaps one of the organic milk producers could market a special sub-brand of “Vermont Organic Fair Trade Milk.” I can imagine a carton that simply notes “Good Cents for the Farmer, Good Sense for the Environment.” Such a carton might also stimulate much needed breakfast table discussions about where our food comes from and the choices we make as consumers.
James Maroney’s proposal is well thought out, but it will take several years to implement. Meanwhile farmers and Vermonters need an immediate solution before more farms vanish. And perhaps “Fair Trade Milk” is part of the long term solution as well.
Randy Kritkausky

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