LA CROSSE, Wis. – April 10, 2013 – Organic Valley, America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands, honored 597 of its farmer-owners with Quality Awards at the Cooperative’s Annual Meeting award banquet on April 10, in La Crosse, Wis. Producers of CROPP Cooperative (Organic Valley and Organic Prairie brands) dairy, produce, soy, eggs, juice, feed and meat were recognized for 2012 quality achievements.
“Annual meeting is an opportunity to celebrate the farmers who set the bar for quality in the organic community this past year,” said George Siemon, founding farmer and CEIEIO for Organic Valley. “Again and again, our farmer-owners demonstrate their commitment to organic and make this cooperative what it is today.”
For milk quality, Organic Valley honored its dairy farmers in “Cream of the CROPP,” Gold, Silver, Bronze and Quality Recognition categories. To achieve these honors, Gold Award recipients needed an average somatic cell count (SCC) of less than 100,000; Silver Award recipients, an average between 101,000 and 150,000; Bronze Award recipients, an average between 151,000 and 200,000; and Milk Quality Recognition recipients, an average between 201,000 and 240,000. In addition, all milk had to achieve a standard plate count average below 20,000, a preliminary incubation count averaging less than 30,000 and a laboratory pasteurized count average below 100. All Gold, Silver and Bronze winners received a plaque, and the Quality Recognition winners received certificates for their accomplishments.
“Cream of the CROPP” Awards were given to the farm with the best milk quality in each of Organic Valley’s six quality regions:
- Northeast: Meyer Family, North Hardwick Dairy, Hardwick, Vt.
- Mideast: David VanderZanden, Casnovia, Mich.
- North Central: Andy and Susie Helmuth, Fairbank, Ia.
- Wisconsin: Kenneth, Mary and Kevin Mahalko, Mahalko Dairy, Gilman, Wisc.
- West: William, Ross and LeAnna McMahan, Cowlitz Meadows Dairy, Inc. #1, Randle, Wash.
- South: Menno Beiler, Trenton, Ky.
The following farmers received Organic Valley’s top egg, produce, feed, juice and soy Quality Awards:
- Egg Pool
- Award of Eggcelence - Midwestern Region Omega-3: Kurt and Rhonda Helgeson, Lucky H Acres, Coon Valley, Wis.
- Award of Eggcelence - Midwestern Region: Ihm Family, Scenic View Organic Eggs, LLC,Lancaster, Wis.
- Award of Eggcelence - Eastern Region: John Stoltzfus, Willow Street, Pa.
- Award of Eggcelence - Kalona Region: S. Duane Miller, Brighton, Ia.
- Pickiest Produce: Daniel Yoder, Westby, Wis.
- Grower Pool Crop Quality: Paul and Karen Mugge, Sutherland, Ia.
- Sweetest in the Grove (Juice): Charlie Roper, Roper Growers Cooperative, Winter Garden, Fla.
- Best Beans in the(Soy): Wayne Wangsness, Quality Organic Producers Cooperative, Decorah, Ia.
The following farmers received Organic Prairie’s top beef, pork, turkey, and broiler Awards:
- Choicest Side O’ Beef: Fred and Jason Pedretti, F & L Pedretti Trust of 2007, Decorah, Ia.
- Best Bessie: Lutteke Family, Lutteke Organics, Inc., Wells, Minn.
- Perfect Pork: Bryan Berg and Linda Jostad-Berg, Coon Valley, Wisc.
- Terrific Turkey: Bob Jewell, Jewell Enterprises, Inc., Decorah, Ia.
- Best Broilers: Gary Welsh, Welsh Family Organic Farms, Lansing, Ia.
The Leadership in Sustainability Award honors a farmer within the cooperative who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to sustainable agriculture by stewarding the land, knowledge and resources for the next generation. This year, Organic Valley granted the award to Eric and Cathy Paris of Lyndonville, Vt. Eric and Cathy produce milk, beef, chickens, turkeys, vegetables and compost on Tamarlane Farm, a thriving 420-acre diversified farm, where an underlying respect and love for the land and animals is evident in all aspects of the farm.
Organic Valley also awarded the Ray Hass Organic Pioneer Award to George Siemon from Viroqua, Wis., for his pioneering spirit and visionary work in the organic community. George is the CEIEIO and a founding farmer of the Organic Valley cooperative.
“I have known George for the past 25 years,” said Arnie Trussoni, president of the Board of Directors of Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative. “He is very deserving of this award, which is particularly appropriate as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. George’s goal has always been to secure a sustainable pay price for the farmers and a quality product for our customers. That in no small part is why we have something to celebrate.”
One of the nation's foremost organic agriculture advocates for nearly two decades, Siemon is best known for his leadership in organizing farmers and building market support for organic agriculture. His work champions an agriculture that supports family farms, humane treatment of farm animals, soil mineralization, the environment and high-quality organic food. Most notably, he was instrumental in developing the national standards for organic certification. He also initiated Farmers Advocating for Organics, the largest (and only) organic-focused granting fund in the U.S., which is funded entirely by Organic Valley farmer-owners; advised the USDA as part of the Livestock Standards Board; and currently participates on the boards of directors for The Organic Center and Global Animal Partnership.
In 2012, Siemon was awarded the Natural Resource Defense Council’s Growing Green Award in the “Business Leader” category, and the Social Venture Network’s Hall of Fame Impact Award in the “Environmental Evangelist” category. In 2013, he was inducted into the New Hope Hall of Legends at Natural Products Expo West.
The Ray Hass Organic Pioneer Award is an annual memorial award given to an individual who is a pioneer in the organic movement and in the cooperative. The award is named after Ray Hass, a founding member of Organic Valley and one of the very first organic dairy farmers in the United States. Ray’s vision of a farmer-owned cooperative and his tireless work advocating for family farmers were critical to the success of the cooperative.
Farmers, by state, receiving Organic Valley’s Gold Dairy Quality Awards for 2012 include:
Greg and Marci Bingham, Bingham Farms, Weston
Jeff and Sheila Koester, Scales Mound
John F. Beiler, Trenton
T. Garin and Sarah Smith, Skowhegan
John Jr. and Kathryn Troyer, Holton
Casey and Kimberly O’Reilly, O’Reilly Organic Dairy, LLC, Red Wing
- New Hampshire
Josh Cline, Stonewall Farm, Keene
- New York
Bradley and Kathryn Kent, Burke
Marion and Rhoda Yutzy, Cazenovia
Nick and Erica Wood, Dundee
Siobhan Griffin, Schenevus
Michael and Mae Yoder, Apple Creek
Jerry and Mary Miller, Elm Grove Acres, Fredericksburg
Devin and Elena Johnston, Tillamook
Joe and Edwina Price, Price Dairy LLC Farm 2, Cloverdale
Peter and Kelly Mahaffy, Coos Bay
Daniel and Anna Ruth Esh, Ronks
Daniel and Ada Beiler, Spring Run
Kathryn Morse, Maplewood Farm, Adamant
Andrew and Katherine De La Bruere, Derby
Steven Brown and Leslie Miller-Brown, East Burke
Mike and Teresa Menard, Fairfield
Russell McAllister and Heather Flanders, Lady Bug Farm, Hardwick
Leonard and Joanne Hammond, Newport Center
Allan and Karen Bathalon, North Troy
Rene Fournier and Sons Farm, Swanton
John and Carol Butler, Underhill
Rosina Wallace, Waterbury
Lyle and Kitty Edwards, Westfield
Armon and Kathy Lewis, Williston
Regis and Rita Lamoureux, West Charleston
Ben Moulton and Amanda Taylor, Knox Ridge Holsteins, North Troy
David and Tina Houde, Saint Johnsbury
John Wieringen, Boise Creek Farm, Enumclaw
Joseph Andrew and Linda Styger, Chehalis
Daniel and Darlene Coehoorn, Rosendale
Ira and Sarah Nissley, Durand
Kevin and Mary Jahnke, Jahnke Family Farm Limited Partnership, Lancaster
Todd and Joani Cummings, Ogema
Paul and Judy Olson, Taylor
Richard J. and Jean A. Anhalt, New Holstein
Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,834 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $860 million in 2012 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. For further information and to learn about Organic Valley's 25 years of sustainable agriculture as it celebrates its anniversary in 2013, visit www.organicvalley.coop.