NODPA started in February 2001, at a summit meeting of organic dairy producers in the Northeast after one processor arbitrarily lowered their farm gate price and farmers’ future pay price was threatened. These producers came together to discuss critical issues within the organic dairy industry including: maintaining a sustainable milk price; the National Organic Program; alternative milk markets; and building effective communication lines between fellow producers in the Northeast and beyond.
NODPA was originally housed within NOFA VT, which acted as a fiscal agent and assisted with administration while the organization grew. Initially, NODPA had a governing committee of state representatives made up of both organic dairy farmers and non–dairy supporters, with Lisa McCrory acting as a coordinator. In February 2004 Sarah Flack took over as coordinator and a NODPA board was set up. By laws were developed in July 2004 and planning started for an eventual separate legal entity, with discussions centering on developing some form of non-profit. Most of the funding for staff and activities in these early days came from the John Merck Fund with administration provided by NOFA VT, which worked with the board and state representatives to plan the transition to an independent organization, and ensured there was a healthy bank balance. In February 2005, Ed Maltby took over from Sarah, and NODPA set up its own administration and became a separate entity.
[Click here for a copy of the notes from the regional summit of dairy producers in 2001 at which it was recommended NODPA be formed.]