SPOTLIGHT ON: Herbert McPhail, Dairyman Hero
Herb McPhail has used AlphaGenetics, Inc. products faithfully since early 2009 and has seen his share of ups and downs. He’s been a farmer for over 50 years and singlehandedly milks a small herd of Jersey cows – his “Rocky Ledge Girls” – twice a day. Herb is one of six organic producers who provide milk to Maine’s newly formed organic milk company, MOOMilk (Maine’s Own Organic Milk Co.), founded in August 2009 after he and several other small Maine family organic dairy farms had their milk supply contracts canceled by a national organic milk processor. The company began operations in October of 2009 and by February of 2010 was shipping cartons of MOOMilk to Hannaford, ShurFine and IGA grocery stores all over Maine, as well as many Maine natural food stores and Whole Foods in Portland. Since that time, MOOMilk has expanded its sales into southern New England through a variety of markets. But the path has been a rocky one – similar to his state’s North Atlantic coastline. Herb had been instrumental in helping to keep organic milk dairies alive in Maine, and was interviewed in September, 2010, by the Bangor Daily News. His “plea for help” was even heard by Maine Senator Kevin Raye – a Republican lawmaker from Herb’s hometown. One indicator of his desperation is seen as he related his struggle with selling his herd: “I’ve got no choice. I don’t want to do it. I’ve got a whole bunch of good girls here.” With big business pushing small farms out of Maine, things looked bleak. State officials, private investors, and even the USDA worked toward a financial solution for the newly formed MOOMilk Company. In December, 2010, help came from a very unanticipated source: his community. A benefit supper was organized by Perry Citizens for Responsible Growth and sponsored by MOOMilk, another local organic dairy farm (Tide Mill Farm) and more than 40 local businesses and individuals that provided prizes for a raffle. The supper was a “celebration of Maine agriculture,” and in the end, more than $3,000 was raised to help McPhail and his “girls.” Even though he didn’t know a lot of the people at the event, he could tell they wanted him to stay – and succeed. A visit to MOOMilk’s website shows that it is very much alive and well today. Herb and his fellow Maine organic dairymen are to be congratulated for their vision, courage, action, and concern for the dairy industry in this country – and for providing inspiration for the rest of us who labor, day in and day out, to provide this great country – and the world – with a quality product: fresh, delicious, natural milk. We are privileged to partner with Herb and his “girls” in their work, and consider him a true “Dairyman Hero.” Over the years, we have been privileged to help his SCC drop to 80,000 by using our Udder Program products. To see how our all-natural Udder Program can help you and your herd, contact us today at 1-800-876-2500.