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Conditions sour for organic dairy farms

Dairy producers’ alliance responds to Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm

This essay is the latest installment in a debate between Ed Maltby and Gary Hirshberg, CE-Yo of Stonyfield Farm. Maltby opened the debate with this post; Hirshberg responded here; Maltby's response follows below. We are airing the debate at length because we think our readers should know that our organic dairy farmers have reached a crisis point -- squeezed by production costs that are rising much faster than the price they receive in the market. ----- I want to thank Gary Hirshberg for replying so quickly to some of the points that we have been raising for the last six …


Crude oil at $130 this year? And $150 next year?

Rising cost of oil pushes value of the dollar down

Bloomberg reports: Crude oil may reach a record $130 a barrel this year because pension funds are investing more in commodities, said Pierre Andurand, the chief investment officer of BlueGold Capital Management LLP, a hedge fund ... "Next year, oil may rise even further to $150 a barrel." Okay, this is a hedge fund guy who is betting the ranch on oil and probably doing his part to drive up prices. But at the end of the day, this is an issue of fundamentals -- supply and demand: Oil companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and …


Yet another perk of energy-efficient buildings

Car plant cuts energy costs $627,000 with two-month payback — with DOE help

Economic models greatly overestimate the cost of carbon mitigation, in large part because economists simply don't believe (and hence don't model) that the economy has lots of high-return energy efficiency opportunities. In their theory, the economy is always operating near efficiency. Reality is very different than economic models. I have never visited a factory or commercial buildings that didn't have huge energy-saving opportunities, many of which also increase productivity. I wrote a book several years ago with a hundred real-world case studies: Cool Companies: How the Best Businesses Boost Profits and Productivity by Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Studies that model …


Stonyfield Farm responds

Gary Hirshberg argues that his company is doing a lot to support organic dairy farmers

The following is a response to a post by Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance. ----- Gary Hirshberg Londonderry, N.H.: These are difficult times for the organic dairy industry, and as we have demonstrated consistently for over a decade, we are deeply engaged in the effort to find solutions that balance escalating supply costs with the need to keep organic product prices within the average consumer's reach. Stonyfield has consistently fought for farmers' interests, despite the pressures of the marketplace to reduce or hold prices for our yogurts. Over the past five years, the pay …


An interview with eco-certification expert Michael Conroy

Michael Conroy. Photo: Chris Conroy Photography As a shopper, you can't turn around without running into some type of green label, from Fair Trade to FSC-certified. But what do they all mean, and where the hell did they even come from? Economist Michael Conroy digs into the history behind these increasingly common labels in his book Branded!: How the 'Certification Revolution' Is Transforming Global Corporations. He brings to life the campaigns that led to the creation of the Forest Stewardship Council, along with its ongoing challenges from the industry-funded Sustainable Forestry Initiative; the struggles faced by the Marine Stewardship Council …


Bringing a knife to a gunfight

What drives climate change denial?

David and I have apparently crossed blog streams (very dangerous; never do this), but I do want to expand a bit on this basic idea: climate change skepticism has little to do with science. Rather, it is an outgrowth of the culture war. This point seems both totally obvious and strangely unremarked. At the risk of generalizing, environmentalists tend to view climate change denialism as a top-down, money-driven phenomenon. Energy producers, auto manufacturers, oil companies, and other interested parties court politicians, buy friendly scientists, and groom armies of lawyers, lobbyists, and op-ed writers to push their agenda. Or so the …


What's wrong with the WCI?

The Western Climate Initiative’s first proposal ducks biggest climate problem

The Western Climate Initiative is a path-breaking effort. Insufficient federal progress prompted seven states and two provinces to join together to reduce climate pollution by means of an economy-wide cap-and-trade program. It's a momentous opportunity, and many folks have been working hard to ensure that it's a success. Unfortunately, there's now cause for serious concern. Yesterday evening, WCI released its draft proposal (PDF). It proposes an initial cap that would cover less than half of the region's total emissions. Most surprisingly, WCI does not recommend including emissions from transportation fuels, by far the largest source of climate pollution in the …


How now, organic cow?

As energy, healthcare, and feed costs skyrocket, organic dairy farmers get squeezed

The following is a guest post by Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance. ----- Deerfield, Mass.: What is more important to Stonyfield Farm and HP Hood, market share or the health and welfare of their organic family farmers? Photo: iStockphoto If you ask 24-year-old Mark Ouellette Jr., who supplies organic milk to HP Hood that is sold under the Stonyfield label, his answer is very clear: market share. "I'm losing up to 60 cents per gallon producing milk for the Stonyfield brand. I've used up my line of credit, I'm close to maxing out my …


Startup company makes thin-film solar cells via new process

Solar company Konarka has announced that it successfully developed a new process to manufacture solar cells that could lead to a range of new solar-powered products and applications. The solar cells are made without silicon and are manufactured into a thin, light film via an inkjet printer, which means they don't need to be born in a clean room like traditional silicon cells. One drawback to the new cells is their efficiency: while regular silicon solar cells achieve efficiencies of up to 20 percent, the new cells are only 5 percent efficient, but Konarka says they're likely to be less …


How high must oil go before we end subsidies?

Bush’s refusal to consider clean technologies could be repeated by McCain

So, who said: With $55 oil we don't need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives. Yes, that would be our president, three years ago. And yet with oil at nearly twice that price, Bush still refuses to cut subsidies and shift that money to clean technologies. And he still claims that the solution to our energy and climate problems is "technology, technology, technology, blah, blah." But, as we've seen, that is all just rhetoric or sleight of hand. Daniel J. Weiss, Director of Energy Strategy at the Center for American Progress, has an …