Organic Valley Farm Visit

By: Tom Winter | VP of Grocery, Dairy & Frozen
On: August 26, 2014

On an idyllic July afternoon, the Dairy managers, several Dairy associates, Jo Ann Potts (our Director of Customer Resources), and myself headed down to Hillsboro, OH to visit an Organic Valley dairy farm. I was reminded first hand why we have had such a close, 15+ year relationship with Organic Valley. We just learned that some of their milk comes from local organic dairy farmers right here in Ohio! It allows us to offer our customers not only the best, but the best from local farmers. This is my favorite aspect of Organic Valley’s Dairy Cooperative. One of their main missions (in addition to providing the best organic dairy products) is to support the growth and culture of small family farms. They know that the quality of their milk comes from smaller herds so that every detail can be attended to by farmers who care and have a passion to farm the organic way.

I never fail to learn something new each and every time I meet one of our local partners. Mark and Doris Dobbs have farmed since 1996 and just joined the Organic Valley Cooperative in 2012. Like previous Organic Valley farmers I have met in Wisconsin, Mark and Doris have a passion for bringing you the sweetest, purest, organic milk on the planet. The planning and care they take with every aspect of running their farm is incredible. They love bringing up their two children on the farm knowing exactly where their food comes from. They feel a real pride and responsibility raising their dairy herd organically so that you know exactly what you are giving your families.

Mark’s passion came through loud and clear as he gave us the grand tour of his whole operation. He firmly knows and believes that healthy soil grows healthy grass to feed healthy cows who produce the healthiest milk. The system they use to rotate their 36 cows through over 80 acres of pure organic pasture land is well orchestrated so that their cows get the proper balance of grasses, alfalfa, clover, and other types of grass. I had no idea until this trip how much of a cow’s day is spent just eating! They eat an average of 4 pounds of grass an hour and spend 8 hours a day just eating and another 8 hours spent just chewing what they’ve eaten. Then of course there is the time spent milking...the poor things actually only sleep about 1-2 hours every day!

Mark reminded me how much healthier organically raised cows are than standard dairy cows that are pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones. Conventional cows stop giving milk after about three years of age. Whereas his cows will give milk for 8-10 years and sometimes up to 15 years of age. The vets I talked to say that they are rarely called to treat sick animals at the organic farms, especially compared to their conventional farm clients. Mark and Doris have no doubt that the organic-natural farming they have committed to is the healthiest way to produce healthy milk. They are proud be part of the co-op, bringing the best organic milk to Organic Valley customers to serve their families. Enjoy!