Organic Valley, America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands, honored 640 of its farmer-owners with Quality Awards at the Cooperative’s Annual Meeting award banquet on April 2, in La Crosse, Wis. Producers of CROPP Cooperative (Organic Valley and Organic Prairie brands) dairy, produce, soy, eggs, feed and meat were recognized for 2013 quality achievements.
“Our Cooperative's Annual Meeting is a great example of democracy in action,” said George Siemon, founding farmer and CEIEIO for Organic Valley. “Farmer-owners from over the fence and across the country gather to have meaningful conversations concerning sustainable agriculture, cooperative decision making and market challenges. For three days we have spirited dialog and debate. That's what it means to be farmer-owned as we look to the future of our cooperative.”
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: Nevin, Laura and Ammon Martin, Memphis, Mo.
Wisconsin: Kevin and Mary Jahnke, Jahnke Family Farm, Lancaster, Wis.
West: William and Laura McMahan, Cowlitz Meadows Dairy, Inc. #1, Randle, Wash.
South: Amos Stoltzfus, Cadiz, Ky.
The following farmers received Organic Valley’s top egg, produce, feed and soy Quality Awards:
Award of Eggcelence - Midwestern Region Omega-3: Ryan Wangsness, Decorah, Ia.
Award of Eggcelence - Midwestern Region: William and Jann Muldoon, Lancaster, Wis.
Award of Eggcelence - Eastern Region: John Stoltzfus, Willow Street, Pa.
Award of Eggcelence - Kalona Region: Marcus Kauffman, Kalona, Ia.
Pickiest Produce: Eli Yoder, Hillsboro, Wis.
Grower Pool Crop Quality: Greg, Teresa and Gregory Brawner, Hanover, In.
Best Beans in the Field (Soy): Wayne Wangsness, Quality Organic Producers Cooperative, Decorah, Ia.
The following farmers received Organic Prairie’s top beef and pork Awards:
Choicest Side O’ Beef: Bruce Berg, Ridgeland, Wis.
Best Bessie: Thomas and Karen Wencl, Wencl Family Farm, LLC, Blooming Prairie, Minn.
Perfect Pork: Joseph Scholze, Holmen, Wis.
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 Christopher and Katrina Sunderland of Sunderland farms in Ellenburg Depot, NY. Christopher and Katrina operate a dairy farm spanning nearly 800 acres near the borders of Canada and Vermont, and their underlying respect and love for the land and animals is evident in all aspects of the farm.
Ray Hass Organic Pioneer Award
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.
Organic Valley awarded the Ray Hass Organic Pioneer Award to Sharon and Doug Sinko of Myrtle Point, Or. The Sinkos stewarded 360 acres of land in the foothills of Oregon’s Coastal Mountains and tended to their herd of Jersey and Holstein cows.
"Sharon and Doug Sinko were one of our early farm families in the Pacific Northwest. They're true ringleaders and what I call dedicated organic overachievers. Today, our farmer-owners and customer families who choose organics can do so in no small part due to what Sharon and Doug have accomplished," said George Siemon, founding farmer and CEIEIO for Organic Valley.
The Sinkos are tireless advocates for organic agriculture. Sharon was the secretary of the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (WODPA), the editor of WODPA’s newsletter, and the organizer of its annual conference. Doug was Organic Valley’s western regional farmer-member coordinator for six years, during which he and Sharon traveled all over the western half of the United States to visit member farms and to recruit new farmers to the cooperative.
Doug and Sharon worked together every day of their marriage and celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary in 2014. “Someone can give us a completely unfamiliar task and Sharon will migrate to one aspect of it and I’ll migrate to the other. We know who does what best and everything works out. We always shared responsibilities.”
Farmers, by state, receiving Organic Valley’s Gold Dairy Quality Awards for 2013 include:
Freeman Schrock, LaGrange
Andrew and Tami Chase, Kingfield
John Donald, Triple D Acres, Inc., New Sharon
Dale Hall Sr., Skowhegan
Garin and Sarah Smith, Skowhegan
Paul and Ruth Miller, Clare
Andrew and Barbara Kauffman, Ossineke
Jon, Lisa, Tim and Emily Zweber, Zweber Farms, LLC, Elko
Robert and Theresa Mueller, Melrose
Casey and Kimberly O’Reilly, O’Reilly Organic Dairy, LLC, Red Wing
Josh Cline, Stonewall Farm, Keene
Bradley and Kathryn Kent, Burke
Marion and Rhoda Yutzy, Cazenovia
Marcus and Maryanna Miller, Cazenovia
Nathan and Miriam Brubacher, Dundee
Noris and Erica Wood, Dundee
Adam and Rebecca Hershberger, Earlville
Christopher Sunderland, Ellenburg Depot
Douglas and Martsje Riehlman, Homer
Robert and Rachel Yoder, Morrisville
Siobhan Griffin, Schenevus
Daniel Williams and Brigitte Ullrich, Truxton
Michael and Mae Yoder, Apple Creek
Norman and Sarah Miller, Apple Creek
Ron Pohl, Coldwater
Joe and Edwina Price, Price Dairy LLC Farm 2, Cloverdale
Peter and Kelly Mahaffy, Coos Bay
Devin and Elena Johnston, Tillamook
Daniel and Anna Ruth Esh, Ronks
Gene Hiibner and Darren Wold, Mendon
Kathryn Morse, Maplewood Farm, Adamant
Joseph and Emily Donegan, Charlotte
Henry Pearl, Hill View Farms, LLC, Danville
Steven Brown and Leslie Miller-Brown & Family, East Burke
Andrew, Lisa and Josiah Sherman, East Dover
Benjamin Williams, Fairfield
Mike and Teresa Menard, Fairfield
Amanda and Chad McCormick, Newport
Leonard and Joanne Hammond, Newport Center
Allan and Karen Bathalon, North Troy
Jeremy and Jennie Russo, Pawlet
Earl, Susan, David and William Fournier, Rene Fournier & Sons Farm, Inc., Swanton
Walter Morse and Joseph Mahr, Boltonville Dairy, Wells River
Regis and Rita Lamoreux, West Charleston
Denny and Kathy Lewis, Williston
John, Mary and Maynard Mallonee, Curtis
Walter and Irene Abplanalp, Ethel
Kenneth, Mary and Kevin Mahalko, Mahalko Dairy, Gilman
Jason and Melissa Sensenig, Lancaster
Daniel and Darlene Coehoorn, Rosendale
Paul and Judy Olson, Taylor
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 1,844 farmers in 36 states. 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, and produce, 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 visit www.organicvalley.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.