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1X GREENSPACE Dairy farm turns to organic

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

"If we weren’t an organic dairy farm, we wouldn’t survive," said Craig Dahm, while sitting in the kitchen of the farmhouse where his grandparents once lived.

He and his wife Sharon have managed a small dairy herd for 30 years on a 160-acre farm near Dodge Center. Two years ago, after a three-year transition process, they were certified organic.

"Being certified organic, we get a good, stable price for our milk," Dahm said. He sells his milk to Organic Valley. The milk is delivered either to the Twin Cities for bottling or to Wisconsin for cheese.

A neighboring organic farmer convinced Dahm to go organic and mentored him through the transition.

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Organic dairy farming relies on grazing. Dahm had always grazed his cows, so that part was easy, but he was worried about weed control and how to treat a sick animal -- herbicides and antibiotics are not allowed for organic dairy cattle.

Dahm hasn’t had a sick cow yet, but says holistic treatments such as garlic are allowed. "Generally, herd health improves when a farm goes organic," he said.

The family now lives almost as organically as their cows. They garden vegetables organically, drink their own organic milk, eat their own organic beef and, of course, purchase Organic Valley cheese made from their milk.

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