Equal Exchange Neighborly Farms Cheese

Equal Exchange has decided to enter the cheese marketplace because of the compelling need to support U.S. dairy farmers. There is an ongoing crisis for family dairy farmers. Family farmers of appropriate and sustainable scale are exiting the business everyday as dairy farms centralize, prices deteriorate further, and the market continues to push farmers out of production. There is a real parallel to the crisis that coffee farmers in Central and South America faced when Equal Exchange started in the mid-eighties.

EE's program in cheese will stand on the same operating principles that it does in coffee, tea, nuts or bananas. They will work with small farmers, such as Neighborly Farms, who have the scale to produce in a sustainable manner. They will support democratic structures that bring people together and increase the possibilities of community solutions. They will work with farmers who have a culture of cooperation and innovation. They will work with farmers that have strong products and good to exceptional quality.

EE's cheese partners, Neighborly Farms, uses extremely advanced systems and invests substantially in the well being of their herd. The barn that houses the 60 cows is open and spacious. Cows are allowed to roam about as they see fit. During summer months the doors are open and the cows have access to pasture. And, a few times a day, the cows on their own wander over and line up to go through the milking robot. One cow at a time, they enter the stall, get some food, get cleaned, and are automatically milked.

Selling only fluid milk means low margin and low control. By building an on-site creamery, Neighborly has an additional outlet for their fluid milk that gives them more control and a chance to have better economics. The 60 head herd lives next door to the creamery so the milk doesn’t have to travel.

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