The Philanthropy Collaborative

Regional Case Studies

MOO Milk
Augusta, Maine

In 2009, when HP Hood dropped 10 organic milk producers in Maine's Washington, Aroostook, Penobscot, and Kennebec counties, the farmers were worried about their future. But instead of switching to non-organic milk products, or going out of business entirely, the farmers charted their own path. The group created Maine's Own Organic Milk Company (MOO Milk), and incorporated as an L3C. The L3C is a new kind of business structure that makes it easier for both philanthropists and commercial interests to invest jointly in for-profit ventures oriented to charitable activities.

MOO Milk is structured to maximize payments to the owners of the participating farms. The farms collectively own 45 percent of the voting units of the company and are guaranteed 90 percent of the profits. Right now, Executive Director Bill Eldridge estimates the company supports about 40 jobs up and down the supply chain, a number that he expects to increase as the company grows. The collaborative has also preserved hundreds of acres of farmland.

An analysis of the company's first year by Competition Forum found that MOO Milk is creating a "ripple effect of job creation and tax revenue [that] helps the entire state." MOO Milk had $750,000 in sales in 2010, unveiled most of their proposed product line, and is on track to do over $1.5 million in sales in 2011. The company is preparing to take on as many as four new farmers in 2011, with a 2012 goal of $3 million to $4 million in sales.92 Eldridge is bullish on the company's future. "We're not quite through the rough patches yet, but we're on our way," he said. "It [the company's success] just says that we have a product that is good tasting milk, and a social mission that people can get behind."

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