The Callahan family, Founders of Bellwether Farms, believe in using only full-fat milk for making their yogurt. Bellwether Farms Sheep Yogurt has for 10 years claimed front-row status in dairy cases across the US. Next month, Bellwether Farms will introduce its first Organic Cow Yogurt made with milk from Jersey cows pastured on a farm down the road from their Sonoma County, California, sheep ranch and creamery. The new Organic Cow Yogurt will arrive in freshly designed four-packs of 3.75-ounce transparent cups. Bellwether Farms sources fruit from Oregon’s Columbia River region to blend into Strawberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, and Spiced Apple yogurts “We know our customers appreciate the high quality of the fruit we source, and this cup reveals the fresh fruit ready to blend into the creamy yogurt,” says Liam Callahan, co-Founder, Cheese- and Yogurt Maker. “We source the best fruit and add the minimum amount of sugar necessary.”
Plain and Madagascar Vanilla flavors are also available. In addition to the single-serve cups, a 5.3-ounce cup is planned along with a 32-ounce foodservice size, in all six flavors. Northern California distribution is slated to begin in April.
Pastured Jersey cows give milk that is naturally high in heart healthy fats and nutritious A2 protein, and packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Bellwether Farms blends 12 live, active bacteria strains that work together to deliver the probiotic benefits expected from yogurt. Bellwether Farms doesn’t strain, drain or add stabilizers to make thicker yogurt. The creamy smooth texture comes naturally, coaxed by careful handling of the freshest milk delivered daily to the creamery.
Twelve of the world’s leading cocoa and chocolate companies agreed to a statement of collective intent committing them to work together, in partnership with others, to end deforestation and forest degradation in the global cocoa supply chain, with an initial focus on Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. The agreement, concluded during a meeting hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales, commits the participating companies to develop and present a joint public-private framework of action to address deforestation at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) meeting in Bonn in November of this year.
This meeting, organized by World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), IDH-the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and The Prince’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU), is the first of its kind covering the global cocoa supply chain. Senior executives from the 12 companies stated their commitment to develop an actionable suite of measures to end deforestation and forest degradation, including greater investments in more sustainable forms of landscape management; more active efforts in partnership with others to protect and restore forests in the cocoa landscape; and significant investments in programs to improve cocoa productivity for smallholder farmers working in the cocoa supply chain. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the world’s leading producers of cocoa, and many observers point to cocoa farming as a driving force behind rapid rates of deforestation in both countries.
Speaking at the event, HRH The Prince of Wales said, “Tropical rainforests play an absolutely crucial role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people and in conserving biodiversity. The most powerful direct reason for action is that deforestation threatens to undermine the very resilience of the cocoa sector itself, and with it the livelihoods of the millions of smallholders who depend on it. I am heartened that companies are undertaking to work up, in full collaboration with host governments and civil society, a Joint Framework of Action to make good on the commitments announced today, in time for COP 23 in November.”
According to WCF Chairman Barry Parkin, “Today marks a crucial step forward because 12 leading World Cocoa Foundation member companies have agreed to work together, and in partnership with others, to tackle the challenge of deforestation in cocoa. We look forward to more companies joining the effort and are grateful for the leadership provided by The Prince of Wales in convening today’s landmark event.”
The meeting brought together a cross-section of the world’s largest chocolate makers and cocoa buyers, producers and traders, including Barry Callebaut; Blommer Chocolate Company; Cargill; CEMOI; ECOM; Ferrero; The Hershey Company; Mars, Incorporated; Mondelēz International; Nestlé; Olam and Touton. Also present were ministers and senior government representatives of the two-leading cocoa producing countries – Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana – as well as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.
“Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s leading producer of cocoa, in 2014 signed the New York Declaration on Forests, the objective of which is the elimination of deforestation caused by agriculture. In respecting this commitment as it concerns the production of cocoa, we intend, with the support of the private sector, to undertake efforts to preserve our forests by improving productivity on existing cocoa lands and developing agroforestry approaches to sustainable cocoa production without deforestation. It is with great pride that we join with The Prince of Wales, World Cocoa Foundation, IDH and their partners in demonstrating this willingness to conserve, restore and manage forests for the benefit of all Ivorians”, said Marcel Yao, from Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Coordinator of the National Climate Change Program and National Executive Secretary for CN-REDD+.
Ghana’s Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Hon. John Peter Amewu said, “As the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, we are excited to be part of this noble step by The Prince of Wales, World Cocoa Foundation, IDH and private sector companies to work towards reducing the rate of deforestation emanating from cocoa production. On our part, we are poised to enhance the environmental governance regime in the cocoa sector and implement actions that will enable cocoa producers to adopt cocoa agroforestry systems and practices that are climate smart.”
The 12 companies will now engage in a planning and consultation process with governments, farmer organizations NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to build the joint framework to be unveiled at COP 23.
As farmers in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America seek new areas of land to grow crops including cocoa amid increasing global demand, WCF, IDH and ISU organized an industry commitment to end deforestation and forest degradation recognizing that deforestation is likely to increase in the future unless concerted action is taken. This commitment builds on the cocoa industry’s existing initiatives in partnership with producer country governments and other stakeholders to design sustainable cocoa development programs aimed at improving the livelihoods of the millions of smallholder farmers who grow cocoa.
Senior representatives of the Agence Française de Développement, Greenpeace, International Finance Corporation, Oxfam, Tropical Forests Alliance 2020, World Bank, World Resources Institute, and UN Environment, as well as other organizations, were also present at the event.
Joost Oorthuizen, Executive Director of IDH, said, “We feel very privileged and honored to be leading the process in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana that will develop detailed Frameworks of Action as we look toward Bonn. In recent history, the cocoa sector has proven to not be afraid to address difficult issues like child labor, malnutrition, and poverty reduction, all in a non-competitive manner. This meeting provides a great starting point to expedite action on the deforestation issue in concert with other relevant stakeholders.”
To create a vehicle for organic farmers to weigh in on national policy issues and raise the profile of U.S. certified organic farmers, Rodale Institute’s Organic Farmers Association has unified with a parallel grassroots national organic effort, the Organic Farmers Alliance.
Going forward as the Organic Farmers Association (OFA), sponsored by Rodale Institute, a farmer-majority interim steering committee has been appointed to ensure this effort is farmer-led and controlled. Elections for the first farmer-majority Governing Council will take place in early 2018.
“It’s time that organic farmers have a clear voice shaping the future of the organic movement they helped build,” said Jim Riddle, organic farmer, Blue Fruit Farm, Winona, Minnesota, and newly appointed chair of the Organic Farmers Association steering committee.
OFA’s mission is to provide a strong and unified national voice for domestic certified organic producers. Its purpose is to build and support a farmer-led national organic farmer movement and national policy platform by: developing and advocating policies that benefit organic farmers; strengthening and supporting the capacity of organic farmers and farm organizations; and supporting collaboration and leadership among state, regional and national organic farmer organizations. “A lot of people say they speak for organic farmers,” said Jeff Moyer, Executive Director, Rodale Institute. “It’s time we had a clear, unified farmer voice on policy issues that affect our industry and businesses.”
The steering committee includes 12 voting seats for certified organic farmers and seven non-voting seats for organic farm organizations (including fiscal sponsor Rodale Institute):
Dave Colson, New Leaf Farm (Maine)
Jack Erisman, Goldmine Farms (Illinois)
Phil LaRocca, LaRocca Vineyards (California)
Nick Maravell, Nick’s Organic Farm (Maryland)
Theresa Podoll, Prairie Road Organic Farm (North Dakota) (Officer: Vice Chair)
Bob Quinn, Quinn Farm and Ranch (Montana) (Officer: Member)
Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm (California) (Officer: Treasurer)
Jim Riddle, Blue Fruit Farm (Minnesota) (Officer: Chair)
Will Stevens, Golden Russet Farm (Vermont)
Isaura Andaluz, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) (New Mexico)
John Bobbe, Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) (Wisconsin)
Renee Hunt, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) (Ohio)
Maddie Monty, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) (Vermont) (Officer: Secretary)
Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute, Skyhollow Farm (Pennsylvania)
Michael Sligh, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA) (North Carolina)
(Four additional steering committee seats will be filled in the coming months (3 farm and 1 organization seats))
The United States has more than 16,000 certified organic farms. With American consumers spending more than $43 billion annually on organic food and products, US organic farmers need a place at the table to advocate for policies that will enable them to meet growing demand.
“We are calling on all organic farmers to join in this farmer-led, farmer-controlled association,” said Theresa Podoll, organic farmer, Prairie Road Organic Farm, Fullerton, North Dakota and newly appointed Vice Chair of Organic Farmers Association steering committee.
As demand for organic production continues to increase, it is imperative organic farmers inform policy that impacts our food and agriculture system. “By coming together, we will create a groundswell of organic farmers to inform our decision makers and the public how current and future policies allow us to produce food that is healthy for people and the planet,” said Podoll.
Organic farmers, organic farm organizations, and supporters of organic farmers can join the association by going to OrganicFarmersAssociation.org.