Beginning today AMD will become the Alternative Dairy Initiative (ADI). Information can still be found on the same Facebook page, physical address, and webpage. We welcome the change and we are excited that our mission has expanded to include Education, Research and Testing designed to encourage the local production of safe and delicious milk and dairy products all across the US. We are also assuming the operation of Bob-White Systems’ FDA certified dairy test lab with the goal of making low cost milk testing services available to farmers and consumer alike all across the US. In addition, ADI will begin offering workshops and classes, including ones on cheese making, milk safety, milk flavor, humane livestock care and small dairy basics.
So, what exactly is the Alternative Dairy Initiative (ADI)?
Since the end of WW2 and the development of the modern dairy co-op, the vast majority of dairy farmers in the US have ceded their ability to market the milk they produce and control its price to commodity marketing organizations (the majority being dairy co-ops). Thus they have lost contact with the consumers and are forced by declining prices to produce as much milk as possible as inexpensively as possible.
In short, the mission of ADI is to find and develop alternatives to the commodity milk market for dairy farmers who choose to produce and directly market safe and delicious farm fresh milk and dairy products. Since there are no flavor standards for commodity milk, the art of producing great tasting milk has been largely lost. ADI helps dairy farmers rediscover the art of producing great tasting milk and using its flavor as a primary marketing tool. We are also re-establishing the link between the dairy farmers and their customers as we encourage the local production and utilization of safe and delicious farm-fresh milk and dairy products on appropriately scaled, humane and community based dairy farms.
The tools we use to accomplish our mission are:
Education: For both farmers and consumers alike, about the universal benefits of safe and delicious farm-fresh milk produced locally on sustainable community based farms as an alternative to commodity or generic milk.
The humane and sustainable treatment of farm animals is also a major concern for ADI. The average lifespan of a cow on a commercial dairy is roughly 4.5 years. In a humane and sustainable environment cows can routinely live to 12 to 15 years old. We use the Farm Animal Care Standards of the Humane Society of the United States as our guideline but reserve the right to vary from those standards as we feel it is appropriate and pragmatic to do so.
Finding resources and information regarding the start-up, operation and maintenance of a sustainable community based dairy farm can be daunting, especially for people new to agriculture. ADI maintains a vast online library of resources and information which is available on our website. It includes a state-by-state listing of dairy technicians, a national listing of community based and sustainable dairy farms and resources, news and information regarding the operation of sustainable dairy farms.
Research: New techniques and management practices designed for the sustainable local production of, safe and delicious farm fresh milk. Animal health and milk safety are the primary focus of our research. We also consider the reduction of surface and groundwater pollution caused by livestock and land management practices to be an important focus of our research.
Testing: ADI operate an FDA certified dairy testing lab where we test milk for both farmers and consumers to determine if the milk is safe and the dairy animals that produce it are healthy. Surprisingly this is a field that requires increased research as many aspects of this subject have been largely ignored for decades. The safety of all Grade A milk and dairy products apparently is uncertain. As a result our goal is to develop the ability to offer low cost or even free milk quality and safety testing services for farmers and consumers alike.
Demonstrations: ADI demonstrates efficient, humane and sustainable dairy management programs and dairy food production techniques for the local production of safe and delicious farm fresh milk on sustainable, community-based dairy farms. We offer a series of cheese making classes during the winter months. During the summer we offer workshops on livestock management and the operation of sustainable, low impact dairy farming.
ADI’s concerns go well beyond the ambitious goal of offering sustainable and community based dairy farmers an alternative to the commodity milk production and marketing systems in the US. We also demonstrate that producing safe and delicious farm fresh milk and dairy products for your family, neighbors and community can be an exciting, enjoyable and rewarding experience. It doesn’t have to be an arduous and heroic ordeal. You don’t have to get up at 3:00 AM every morning to milk your animals. Nor do you have to spend the entire day toiling after your dairy animals, only to go to bed exhausted at the end of the day, day after day. There are viable alternatives. As the old saying goes, there are a thousand ways to manage a dairy farm. The only thing that matters is that you do it right.
ADI is constantly seeking out and researching management programs and techniques that reduce start-up costs, minimize land requirements and the time required to operate a operate a sustainable and community based dairy farm. The experience will often be challenging and it takes planning, forethought and the ability to make adjustments on the fly, but if you enjoy working with farm animals and the “rural lifestyle” dairying can be a very rewarding occupation or avocation. In the end that is the “why” behind the Alternative Dairy Initiative. Join us as we create alternatives for dairy farmers and consumers all across the US.