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Organic Farmers Association Announces Leadership

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):

Farm Members

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)

Organization Members

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.

Vermont Creamery Wins Big at U.S. Championship Cheese Contest

Vermont Creamery was honored for achievement in artisan cheesemaking this week with three awards at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest (USCCC) held biennially in Wisconsin.

VC_MVCF_8OZ_2014Vanilla Crème Fraîche won “Best in Class” while Cultured Butter with Sea Salt and Maple and St. Albans both took third place in their respective categories.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by our peers in the cheese community, especially in the good company of other Vermont cheesemakers,” said Allison Hooper, co-Founder of Vermont Creamery. “These awards are the result of our entire team’s commitment to quality and innovation in cheesemaking.”

VC_STALBANS_FULL_ANGLE_GMO_2016This is the first USCCC award for St. Albans, the newest aged cheese to join the lineup; in 2015, Vermont Creamery products took home five USCCC awards.

This year, the contest garnered a record 2,303 entries, up 22 percent from the previous contest in 2015. Forty-eight judges from nineteen states evaluated all of the entries across 101 classes. Vermont Creamery’s Cultured Butter with Sea Salt and Maple took third in a new category—flavored butter.

Schuman Cheese Scores at U.S. Championships

A trifecta of wins, including two top-20 finalists, continued a tradition of excellence for Schuman Cheese at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, held March 7-9 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Three best of class awards, and a third place finish, made for another strong showing for this leading Italian cheese company at the biennial competition.

Among the top 20 finalists, selected as the best of 2,303 entries in the competition, was Yellow Door Creamery’s Hand Rubbed Fontina. This best of class entry in the Open Class Flavored Semi-soft (Semi-hard) Cheeses category is the result of smooth and creamy Fontina wheels that are hand-rubbed with vibrant spice blends from around the globe and naturally aged for over 60 days. The winning variety – Harissa Hand Rubbed Fontina – offers a smoky blend of chili, cumin and caraway seed paired with the rich and nutty flavor of fontina.

Schuman’s other top 20 finalist, also earning best of class honors in the Blue Veined Cheeses category, was a Montforte Bleu Wheel. Crafted in the old-world tradition of artisan cheesemakers, Montforte Bleu’s savory tangy flavor is enhanced by its characteristic blue marble veining, giving it smooth and creamy undertones that lend a decadent bite to a rich risotto and a host of other recipes.

Rounding out the first place finishes was Cello Shredded Parmesan in the Open Class Shredded Cheese, Flavored & Unflavored category. The deep, nutty, caramel character of this flavorful parmesan is the result of the 12-plus months of natural aging each wheel undergoes to reach maturity before shredding.

Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan also earned recognition at the contest with a third place award in the Parmesan category. The rich, nutty flavor of authentic Italian Grana Padano is made in traditional copper kettles and aged over 20 months. A crunchy texture and robust flavor are the result of high-quality ingredients, bringing in natural sea salt and aging in a temperature-controlled environment. Each wheel is hand-selected once its intense flavor profile has reached the peak of perfection for a true culinary delight.

This year marked the 19th biennial U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, which is hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Entries across 100 classes were evaluated by a team of skilled technical judges selected from across the country in areas such as flavor, body and texture, salt, color, finish, packaging and other appropriate attributes.

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