TRAVELERS WAITING FOR flights at the major metro-NY airports can now cream their coffee with Hudson Valley Fresh milk. The dairy farm cooperative that raised the bar on milk quality and aimed to return a profit to dairy farmers marks 10 years this year. The brand has expanded well beyond the Hudson Valley into northern New Jersey, western Connecticut and major metro-NY airports, including JFK, LaGuardia and Newark.
Founded in 2005 by Sam Simon, a Dutchess County dairy farmer and (retired) orthopedic surgeon, the cooperative has grown from four dairy farms producing about 500,000 pounds of milk per month to nine equal-partner farms, with more than 2,000 cows producing 3.4 million pounds monthly. The co-op guarantees an additional six-cent return to the farmer per gallon. “When you’re talking about 20 million pounds of milk per month,” Simon points out, “that’s a lot of money.”
While the rest of the country’s milk consumption has decreased by more than 35 percent over the last 40 years, the demand for Hudson Valley Fresh milk has only increased. Thanks to a partnership with the FarmOn Foundation, Hudson Valley Fresh milk (and its ever-popular chocolate milk) also is available to public schools throughout the Hudson Valley, where Simon says student milk consumption has increased by at least 30 percent.
“Not all milk is created equal,” he says, citing Hudson Valley Fresh’s farm standards (cows are raised on a carefully calculated hay-grain feed blend), the absence of artificial hormones, a minimal somatic cell count (a positive indicator of health), and a 36-hour cow-to-fridge guarantee.