Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand, announced today that Vermont farmer-owners Taylor and Nick Meyer of North Hardwick Dairy in Caledonia County received Vermont’s 2011 Highest Milk Quality Award for the eighth year in a row. The Meyers were recognized at the Dairy Farmers Banquet held during the 78th annual Vermont Farm Show on January 26, 2012.
Seventeen Vermont nominees representing six cooperatives, independent farmstead cheese makers, and independent handlers from both conventional and organic farming backgrounds are judged on five quality categories. The farmer’s records are provided by their milk handlers and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. After laboratory analysis, farm inspection, sensory evaluation, and milk samples for judging flavor, the winners are chosen. The Meyers became Organic Valley farmer-owners in 2003 and have taken home the title every year since 2004.
“Vermont has long been a strong organic dairy farming state and is home to 132 of Organic Valley’s farmer-owners, including the Meyer family,” said George Siemon, C-E-I-E-I-O of Organic Valley and one of its founding farmers. “We congratulate them on their consistently high quality milk. They set the bar high not only for Vermont but also for the rest of the country."
Brothers Taylor, Nick, and Andrew Meyer took over their family’s hillside farm in 2001, transitioning from conventional to organic farming soon after. With a strong focus on nutritional content, they practice rotational grazing on their 350 acres, switching the cows to fresh pasture every 12 hours after milking. The brothers continuously work to improve the self-sustainability of their land, including building a wind turbine in 2008 and growing their own hay and feed crops.
"When we first started, conventional dairymen told us we wouldn’t be able to make good quality milk if we went organic,” says Taylor Meyer. "We went ahead and transitioned anyway. Then in our very first year of production, the state of Vermont awarded us the Highest Quality Dairy Award. Our hard work and sound practices paid off. Eight years and eight quality awards later, we are proud to be organic dairy producers and farmer-owners of Organic Valley."
Organic Valley currently has 132 farmer-owners in Vermont, including seven new farmer-owners that joined the cooperative in 2011. These Vermont farms—many multigenerational—contribute to the production of Organic Valley Vermont Cheddar Cheeses, available in Medium, Sharp, and Extra Sharp one-pound blocks at select organic and natural food grocers. Organic Valley’s regional model ensures fewer miles from farm to table.
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 1,687 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $715 million in 2011 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. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop, www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative’s farmer website, www.farmers.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.