Snowville, Farmers At Odds Over Milk Production

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A local creamery is facing challenges after some farmers expressed frustration at having to sell off cows, and an “unprecedented” milk supply lowered prices.

Snowville Creamery announced on their website that they would be switching to cows with different genetic proteins, called the A2/A2 beta casein protein, for health reasons. But some farmers say the cost of switching their herds is overwhelming and unfair.

“Buying different cows is not an option that happens overnight, for it is very costly,” a statement on Boyd Allen Dairy Farm’s Facebook read. “We have been breeding as we go along in order to provide what is needed. These things take time.”

The post from the Albany farm, who said seven farms have been told they are “no longer needed,” went on to say they can no longer market their milk because of the change and “selling our cows is such a horrible way to end up.”

Snowville co-owner Victoria Taylor said the nine farms the company currently works with were told three years ago that the company would be switching to the cows, and only two have complained about the process.

“If I have to divert milk (from use in Snowville products), it’s not from the farmers who did what they needed to do,” Taylor told WOUB on Wednesday.

Taylor acknowledges that the company did not give farmers a deadline for switching out the cows, but said her company is “dealing with a problem that I did not create.”

Snowville also requires farms from which it buys milk to feed cows only non-genetically modified (GMO) feed when they aren’t being fed grass.

Cows that were previously used had A1 milk, which scientific studies have shown could cause health issues in humans and be harder to digest than the A2 variety. Those same scientific studies, however, have said further study needs to be done to conclusively define the health implications of each type of milk.

A statement on Snowville’s website said while the company has not dropped any farms, an ‘unprecedented annual ‘Spring Flush'” has caused milk plants and cheese plants to drop farms.

In the spring, Snowville attempts to sell the milk to cheesemakers in the region, but have seen an “overwhelming amount of milk being produced,” a company press release stated.

“Milk production at several of our farms doubled last month,” the release stated. “Consequently, Snowville Creamery is being paid 1/3 the price for this milk than we received just one month ago.”

Taylor said the company encourages farmers to breed cows so that the most milk would be produced in the Fall, when she said demand is highest.

Still, she said her company wants to use the A2 milk, and has had farmers move to different cows without issue.

“We find that, at this point…we’re going to use the milk that’s healthy for consumers,” Taylor said.

The company has said they are having conversations with farmers “to talk about what we are doing to find the best price for their milk,” according to a press release.

“This is an ongoing process and we cannot foresee how it will play out but we are committed to supporting our farmers in any way that we can,” the release stated.