Aurora Organic Dairy Triples Organic Pasture in Texas

Dairy's Pasture Expansion Program Provides Organic-conversion Incentive for

Neighboring Farmers

Sep 27, 2006, 01:00 ET from Aurora Organic Dairy

    BOULDER, Colo., Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Aurora Organic Dairy (AOD),
 the nation's leading producer of private-label and store-brand organic milk
 and butter, is tripling its certified-organic pastureland at its Dublin,
 Texas, organic dairy farm. As a result, certified-organic pasture for the
 3,300 organic milk cows at AOD's farm in the Lone Star State will jump from
 800 to 2,800 acres. This increase helps to fulfill AOD's long-term pasture
 expansion for the Texas dairy, a plan initiated in the spring of 2004.
     Juan Velez, M.V., M.S., D.A.C.T., large-animal veterinarian and vice
 president of farm operations for AOD, explained that the organic dairy's
 Texas farm has teamed up with two neighboring family farmers who converted
 pasture and cropland to certified organic production. "Our company strongly
 supports requiring pasture for organic dairy cows. Along with our animal
 welfare program, converting conventional farmland to organic production
 here in the United States continues to be one of our company's principal
 goals," he said.
     The Texas ag. and organic communities responded favorably to the news
 of the organic conversion of the two farms' acreage. "Aurora Organic
 Dairy's pasture expansion program is a very significant conversion of
 pasturelands for organic dairy production in Texas," said Barry Lambert,
 Ph.D., assistant department head, Department of Animal Sciences, at
 Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. "Organic farming
 represents a promising future for some Texas farmers and dairy producers,"
 Dr. Lambert added. "The expansion of organic pasture at Aurora Organic
 Dairy is an excellent step in the development of organic dairy here in
     Organic Farmer Relationships Vital to Organic Industry
     Joe Smillie, member of the National Organic Standards Board and senior
 vice president, Quality Assurance International, a leading organic
 certifier, concurred that AOD's Texas organic pasture expansion is
 beneficial for the neighboring family farmers and for the organic dairy
 industry, in general. "This conversion from conventional to organic
 production helps to fulfill the basic purpose of organic agriculture -- to
 give farmers a choice that eliminates the use of toxic and persistent
 pesticides and chemicals," Mr. Smillie emphasized. "And, organic farming
 offers a practical and financially sustainable way for farmers to remain on
 the land and to stay in business for the benefit of current and future
     Animal Welfare is Key at AOD
     Dr. Velez explained that animal welfare is a cornerstone of the AOD
 organic program. In June 2006, after a lengthy audit and assessment, AOD's
 Colorado dairy farm received Animal Welfare Review certification from
 Validus Services, Urbandale, Iowa, an independent, third-party,
 animal-welfare certification agency. Aurora Organic Dairy is the first and
 only organic dairy in the nation to receive this animal welfare
 certification, which is a distinct certification process conducted
 separately from organic certification. This certification program was
 developed under the review of Temple Grandin, Ph.D, one of America's
 leading experts in animal behavior and welfare.
     Meanwhile, AOD's Texas dairy farm also is currently undergoing
 assessment procedures to qualify for the Animal Welfare Review
 certification. According to Dr. Velez, a combination of criteria
 contributes to excellent animal care. Pasture is one of several important
 measures necessary in any comprehensive animal-welfare program. He
 explained that pasture grasses, as well as a carefully balanced mix of
 additional forages, provide an optimal mixed-feed ration and the major
 portion of the organic cows' varied diet.
     A Network of Family Farmers
     Dr. Velez also said that the AOD organic farm network has developed
 beneficial supplier relationships with more than 120 family farmers whose
 production comprises more than 50,000 total acres of organic agriculture.
 And, AOD actively is recruiting more farmers and assisting them with the
 transition to sustainable organic production. Dr. Velez and his farm
 managers work to form strong relationships with other farmers in Texas and
 in other regions to benefit both large and small organic operations.
     About Aurora Organic Dairy
     Aurora Organic Dairy is America's leading producer of private-label and
 store-brand organic milk and butter. The organic production company
 includes headquarters offices in Boulder, Colo., and. an organic dairy farm
 and on-farm organic dairy processing plant near Platteville, Colo. In July
 2005, a second organic dairy farm near Dublin, Texas, completed its
 year-long transition to certified organic production. The company recently
 developed a third, state-of-the-art organic dairy farm -- High Plains
 Organic Dairy -- near Kersey, Colo., which began organic milk production in
 September 2006. For more information, visit
 Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click
 appropriate link.
 Clark F. Driftmier
 Juan S. Velez, M.V. (Medico Veterinario)

SOURCE Aurora Organic Dairy