Organic dairy farming struggles to keep up with demand

Mark Wickenhauser stood in the doorway of his weathered 1910 barn and viewed the dark soil that will soon sprout a pasture rich with alfalfa and other grasses. He has worked all his life at the family dairy farm near Cologne in Carver County but switched from conventional to organic farming in 2005.

“It wasn’t the popular thing to do, but I guess I didn’t care,” he said. “It just made a lot of sense to me.”

Organic dairy has come a long way since then. Americans spent more than $5 billion on organic dairy products in 2014, with double-digit annual growth during much of the past decade, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Supply has not been able to keep up with demand, especially during the past year, said Meg Moynihan, organic program administrator for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

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