SCIENCE: Scientists study NY dairy farmers
Cornell researchers will watch five upstate New York dairy herds to learn about the problems and challenges of converting from conventional to organic farming.
Researchers will monitor and try to understand changes in animal health, milk quality and milk safety, said Linda Garrison-Tikofsky, the veterinarian who is leading the project for Cornell’s Quality Milk Production Services. For dairy products to be certified as organic, the animals must consume organic feeds, have access to unspoiled pasture and not be treated with antibiotics, hormones or certain other conventional therapies.
“This represents a paradigm shift for previously conventional farmers and for their herds,” said Garrison-Tikofsky. “We want to make sure, at the end of this challenging transition, that the milk is still healthful, the animals are healthy and the dairy farm is still in good fiscal health, too,” she said.
The study, paid for by a $1 million grant, will be conducted over a three-year period about the time it takes for a typical farm to make the full transition, researchers said. Cornell veterinarians and food scientists will analyze milk samples from herds undergoing the transition from conventional to organic methods and consult with participating dairies on farm practices. Eventually, researchers hope to develop intervention strategies for producers looking to make the switch from conventional to organic dairy farming. ap