At Horizon Organic, we were happy to see several of the benefits of organic milk highlighted in a recent Health.com article about the different types of milk available to consumers today.
Specifically, the article noted that, compared to its non-organic counterpart, organic milk can contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and conjugated linoleic acid. The article also pointed out that organic milk comes from cows that eat feed grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
While we certainly appreciated the article sharing many of the benefits of organic milk, we noticed that it didn’t mention the environmental benefits of organic farming, which, we believe, are worth talking about and celebrating.
Organic farming has many proven environmental advantages, and is a big reason why many of us choose to purchase organic food and beverages. Some of these benefits include farming without the use of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers and other pollutants, as well as encouraging sustainable farming practices that contribute to the health of the land. At Horizon Organic these farming practices were responsible for removing 20 million pounds of synthetic pesticides from the environment in 2011 alone.
What’s more, choosing organic milk means choosing to support a better environment for the dairy cows that produce it. Organic farmers nurture their animals with attentive daily care, clean living conditions and a wholesome organic diet including pasture grazing for at least a third of the year. Just like people, cows thrive in a low-stress environment, so organic farms also allow plenty of access to the outdoors for exercise.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we produce our Horizon Organic products, we encourage you to check out our website. And, the next time you’re standing in front of the dairy case and see Happy looking back at you on your favorite carton of Horizon Organic milk, you can feel good knowing that choosing organic means happy cows, happy people, and a happy planet.
This blog post is contributed by Ashlie Hardy, 18, whose parents are Horizon Organic family farmers Henry and Teresa Hardy. Ashlie was recently chosen as one of this year’s four recipients of the HOPE (Horizon Organic Producer Education) Scholarship, which was established by Horizon to encourage young people to enter the field of organic agriculture. As a recipient, she received $2,500 to use toward her college education. The Hardy family also received the HOPE Award last year, which is given out annually to farmers who advocate for organic agriculture.
As the daughter of a Horizon Organic dairy producer, I’ve helped my family on the farm since I was very little and couldn’t imagine growing up any other way. Now that I’ve graduated from Mount Blue High School in Farmington, Maine, I’m looking forward to utilizing my HOPE Scholarship to further my education. In the fall, I’ll attend MacDonald College’s Agricultural and Environmental Sciences program at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. I plan to major in Farm Management and Technology with a dairy focus so that I can hopefully continue to do what I do best – working hands-on to raise and show organic cows and calves. As a result of my education, I also want to be able to teach people about the benefits of organic farming, especially since the public is increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from and how it’s grown or produced.
In fact, earlier this year I got to share my organic farming experiences and perspectives during the Organic Trade Association’s “Policy Hill Days” in Washington, DC, which I attended in April with my dad and other representatives from Horizon. I spoke in front of industry leaders and elected officials who work to positively influence organic legislation. It was an amazing experience, and I was privileged to represent my family farm and the next generation of organic farmers.
My interest in farming stems from my family roots. My dad Henry was born and raised on our farm, and he’s actively managed it since he was just a teenager himself. He met my mother Teresa while showing cows at 4-H fairs in Maine and after graduation, they married and started running the farm together. My sister-in-law Ashley also helps out part-time on the farm. We started shipping to Horizon in 2003 and have been proud organic producers ever since.
When I’m at college this fall, I’ll miss the farm, as well as my involvement with my high school’s FFA chapter and 4-H. FFAis an organization dedicated to helping prepare the next generation of leaders in agriculture. Focused on middle and high school students, it enables today’s youth to get to learn about the various facets of agriculture – not just how to raise and take care of cows, but also how to economically run a farm, repair equipment and tell which crops are best given your geography and weather, as well as helping out with the business aspects, by teaching communication and presentation skills.
My family and I helped start the local FFA chapter in Farmington so that we could give students and others not involved in agriculture a chance to understand and learn about what we do. This has included teaching people about the benefits of organic agriculture, helping them understand why we chose to transition our farm to organic, and why people should choose organic food.
In addition, I regularly compete at the local, state and national level of FFA, and have won a variety of awards over the years, including a gold in the dairy cattle evaluation and a gold in extemporaneous speaking, which I won last May at the state competition. And last October, I received a bronze in extemporaneous speaking at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. I also won the supreme showman at the New England level for 4-H at the Eastern States Exposition, last September, recognizing how well I trained and presented my show calf. This was a prestigious honor and one that I’m particularly proud of. And lastly, I served on the National 4-H Conference’s Operations Team, helping plan and execute a conference for over 500+ 4-Hers.
For anyone else interested in organic agriculture, my advice is simple: Pursue it. Ask questions. Start small as soon as you get curious, and as your interest grows, let your involvement grow. The organic community is made up of really nice people that want to help others, their animals and the environment.
TGM: Why did you decide to join the Horizon HOPE Scholarship review committee?
Dr. Greene: The HOPE Scholarship, granted by Horizon Organic, is one way Horizon helps encourage young people to enter the field of organic agriculture. I’ve been privileged to be a part of the review team for the past five years. During that time I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some of the applicants — if only on paper — and am impressed with their dedication to making the world a better place, starting with careers in organic dairy farming and farm-related fields.
Dr. Alan Greene
TGM: What are the most important qualities that you consider when reviewing each candidate’s application?
Dr. Greene: The students who apply for the HOPE Scholarship take time with their submissions. Clearly, they’ve given thought to the answers, but beyond that, they’ve spent years leading up to their application working in and around organic dairies. Each applicant paints a picture of him or herself that includes academic achievements, extracurricular activities, involvement in organic dairy-related activities, and what he or she wants to do after college.
When I review each candidate’s application I weigh all these factors and recommend candidates who have a proven track record, and a clear goal and personal passion for a future in organic agriculture.
TGM: What has impressed you the most about these students and their commitment to organic agriculture? (e.g., any stories, experience or background that has stood out to you)
Dr. Greene: I’ve been very impressed by the diversity of the applicants’ goals. Some are committed to using their education to follow in their parents’ footsteps and have the skills to better run their family dairy. Others want to be involved in everything from accounting to PR to veterinary medicine. To have a dynamic, growing organic farming community, we need a wide range of expertise, and I’m pleased that farm kids are coupling their career desires with organic farming.
TGM: Why do you think the HOPE Scholarship is important for building the next generation of organic leaders?
Dr. Greene: I believe the next generation has the ability to impact the spread of organic far more than my generation. They have seen both what conventional and organic farming practices can do. They are networked, articulate, and can influence their peers. They want to make a difference in the world. The HOPE Scholarship not only provides needed funding to attend college, but it also recognizes the accomplishments of these talented, hardworking students and empowers them to continue in the course they most want to take — toward a career in the organic movement. In our current economy, student debt is common for new college grads. Many of the students who apply for the HOPE Scholarship would have to take out (more) student loans if they didn’t receive this award. It can be difficult to go into farming with debt. The HOPE Scholarship makes it a little easier for these students to reach their goals of careers in the many facets of organic agriculture.
TGM: What advice would you give to other young students who are considering a career in organic agriculture?
Dr. Greene: If you want to change the world, a career in organic is a great way to do it! How our food is tended, harvested, packaged, shipped, and sold makes a profound difference to the health of people and the earth. Organic is a vital part of that healthy future.
According to this article from USA Today, more and more young people are getting into farming. An encouraging trend that’s especially relevant to our Horizon Organic brand, who today via its HOPE scholarship program, helped a few more youngsters start down the path toward a career in agriculture.
Open to children or grand children of Horizon Organic family farmers, the HOPE scholarship program was developed to help build the next generation of organic dairy leaders. Each year a prominent panel of organic and agricultural community experts review applicants and select the winners.
Since the program’s inception in 2007, Horizon has awarded 24 total scholarships.
For more details on the HOPE scholarship, click here.
Congrats to this year’s winners:
Sierra Knight (Lisbon, N.Y.), age 18, is the daughter of Horizon producer Bradley Knight of Knight’s Meadow View Farm in Lisbon, N.Y. Sierra will attend St. Lawrence University where she plans to pursue a pre-veterinary program and a minor in biology with a goal of becoming a licensed veterinarian.
Mieke DeJong (Bonanza, Ore.), age 20, is the daughter of Horizon producers, Arie and Jenneke DeJong, who run the Windy Ridge in Bonanza, Ore. This is Mieke’s second HOPE Scholarship, and she will be attending Oregon State University to pursue an Agricultural Business degree.
Callie Brodt (Ferndale, Calif.), age 18, is the granddaughter of Horizon producer, Jim Walker, who runs the Walker Dairy in Ferndale, Calif. Callie plans to pursue an Agricultural Business degree from Chico State University
Ashlie Hardy (Farmington, Maine), age 18, is the daughter of Horizon producers, Henry and Teresa Hardy, who own Hardy Farm in Farmington, Maine. She plans to attend the Agricultural and Environmental Sciences program at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she will study Animal Science with a focus on dairy.
Horizon Organic is currently accepting applications for the 2012 HOPE scholarship through next Friday, May 18. Each year, the brand offers up to four $2,500 college scholarships to Horizon producers and their children or grandchildren who are working towards a degree in agriculture or large animal veterinary science that will later be used within the organic industry.
Horizon’s HOPE program has been around since 2001 with a focus on converting more dairy farm operations and their land to organic production and sustainable farm management practices. The HOPE scholarship is a natural extension of the brand’s efforts to nurture the future of the organic community and help build the next generation of organic dairy leaders.
For more information or to obtain the HOPE scholarship application packet, email email@example.com.
Best of luck to all 2012 applicants! And stay tuned to the Grazing Mind because we’ll be updating you on the winners in a couple of months.
With increased consumer demand for organic milk and high feed costs still affecting farmers, our Horizon Organic brand announced today that it will be extending a short-term market adjustment premium (MAP) for its more than 600 family farmers. The temporary MAP extension will further help our farmers, who continue to face high costs on their organic dairy farms.
Click here to read more…
As of late, our farmers across the country have been struggling to make ends meet, due to the sharp increase in what they pay for their input costs, including grain and fuel. We’ve been carefully reviewing what we pay our farmer partners in light of these mounting cost pressures as we want to ensure that they make a fair and competitive wage and are incentivized to produce the highest quality organic milk on the market.
At the same time, Horizon, like many other organic dairy brands, has seen a sharp increase in demand for our milk, resulting in reduced availability. Because of this, you may have read or found that it’s harder to find organic milk on store shelves. This increased demand resulted, in part, from shortages from other organic milk suppliers, as well as from last year’s unprecedented heat, humidity, rain and flooding, which negatively impacted the entire organic milk industry.
In light of these conditions, today we announced a short-term pay price increase and extension to all our Horizon farmers beginning Feb.1.
We believe this action will ensure the most sustainable livelihood possible for our organic dairy farmers and the overall organic dairy industry. As always, we’ll continue to monitor this situation and take additional action, if needed.
As a Horizon producer since 2008, I was honored to attend Farm Aid on Horizon’s behalf in Kansas City, Kan., last weekend. Farm Aid is an annual benefit concert that raises funds to support the organization’s work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose food from family farms. I was particularly proud to attend the concert with my 16 year-old son, Timothy, who works on our McVeytown, Pa., farm and will hopefully take over my role one day.
More than anything, the event helped remind me, as a longtime family farmer, why it’s so important for farmers to get involved and to speak with each other and the people who buy our products about what we do and why we do it.
Timothy and I were recognized for our commitment to organic farming at a dinner hosted by Horizon the night before the concert. We received an honorable mention for the Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) Award which honors farmers who advocate on behalf of organic agriculture.
During the concert, we were invited to go onstage to help present a donation check to Farm Aid on behalf of Horizon. It was a pretty amazing to not only see Farm Aid board member and artist Willie Nelson up close, but to also see 18,000 people there to support family farmers like us.
Beyond the dinner and concert, the most impactful part of the trip was getting a chance to speak with other organic farmers and supporters of organic agriculture about the importance of educating consumers about where their food comes from and the people who produce it.
I am proud to tell people that I am organic dairy farmer, and believe that organic family farmers can and should play a role in sharing the benefits of organic agriculture. While it is hard to find the time, over the past year or so, I’ve started doing things like holding pasture walks on my 250-acre farm, conducting interviews with reporters, and getting involved with the Pennsylvania Certified Organic Board to help give voice to local organic agricultural issues and topics.
Attending Farm Aid reaffirmed my belief in what I do and why I do it, as well as the importance of organic stewardship and advocacy. A lot of people at Farm Aid who saw us in our Horizon hats and shirts thanked us for what we’re doing. I showed them my appreciation for how they’re supporting the livelihood of family farmers with the food choices they make every day. I hope to thank many more people in the future as we continue to educate consumers about the benefits of organic agriculture for the land, animals and farmers like me and Timothy.
For the past 25+ years, no organization has done more for farmers than Farm Aid. Which is why our Horizon Organic and Silk brands are once again proud to support the event as Willie and crew gear up for their 26th concert this coming weekend.
Since its first show back in 1985, the annual event has raised more than $39 million to help support farmers across the country… support that’s especially needed this summer as drought conditions and economic pressures are taking a toll on the farming industry.
If you’re in the Kansas City area this weekend, you should definitely check it out. But if you can’t attend the show, you can still help out via your cell phone. Just text FARMAID to 80888 to donate $10 to the cause*.
*A one-time donation of $10 will be billed to your mobile phone bill. Messaging and data rates may apply. Donations are collected for Farm Aid by mobilecause.com. Reply STOP to 80888 to stop. Reply HELP to 80888 for help. For terms, see www.farmaid.org/t.