On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” CEO of Clover Sonoma Marcus Benedetti talks about maintaining a dairy connected to a network of partnerships with family-owned dairy farms. “The industry is going through—to say tumultuous times is putting it lightly[…] American consumers started drinking less milk. Yet there’s an emergence of technologies enabling production, but at the same time demand is declining: there’s such a surplus of milk that the price farmers are getting now isn’t going to allow them to pass it on to the next generation,” says Benedetti.
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On the podcast, Benedetti explains that Clover Sonoma’s family-owned dairy farm partners are unique: held to a North Coast Excellence Certification, the families took a risk in the mid-1990s to commit to rBST-free products such as milk, even while it meant leaving an opportunity to hike up milk production.
The dairy continued not only to produce these products, but to raise awareness about potential impacts of rBST on consumers, animals, and farmers. “It was like pulling out the first pebble of the dam of consumer frustration. Really at the American food system largely, but specifically dairy because thats what consumers gave to their most loved ones—or children with such volume and frequency,” says Benedetti.
Clover Sonoma continues to work toward its commitment to sustainable and ethical dairy farming by supporting farmers, especially in helping consumers understand the value of farmers and sustainably grown or raised products. “As our country evolves, the gap between the urban culture and rural culture is widening only because of a lack of understanding or appreciation for what the other does,” says Benedetti—who finds the solution is none other than to bridge the gap. “There’s nothing more powerful than consumers being able to walk onto the dairy itself. In a perfect world, we’d have them all up throughout our dairies. But when you can’t take the urbanite down to the dairy, we take the dairy down to urban centers.
Feature Photo Courtesy of Karen Pavone Photography