On The Farm

On The Farm Header

Although GNM is not actively on the farms of the clean food we sell on a regular basis we recognize this is what our efforts are all about.  Organic and sustainable farming is at the heart of our mission by helping our customers and potential clients have a better understanding of how sustaining family farms, nurturing the soil, livestock, and surrounding environment is critical in advancing the clean food movement forward.  Below please find some basic attributes as they relate to organic farming practices.

General Organic

What is organic?
  • A system of production wherein food and other agricultural commodities are produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
  • USDA Certified Organic is the most strictly regulated food system in the world
Is organic food more healthful?
  • More and more science exists to support health claims of organic food.
  • New science comes in every day. So far, many studies show that organic is higher in certain nutrients (refer consumers to The Organic Center website for science.)
  • Organic farming practices are healthier for humans, animals and the planet.
Why should I pay more for organic foods?
  • No harmful chemical shortcuts
  • Certified organic feed is more expensive
  • It is more labor-intensive for a farmer, so the higher price for foods ensures the farmer-owners are being paid fairly.
  • Organic famers are paid sustainable prices for the real cost of producing top quality, more healthful products.
  • Comes down to quality, taste and health insurance for the future


On The Farm

  • Farms are certified organic and inspected annually by a nationally accredited, 3rd party organization (e.g. Oregon Tilth, NOFA, MOSA, etc.).
  • 3rd party verification is guaranteed by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).
  • The NOP is the agency that accredits certifying agencies (e.g. Oregon Tilth or MOSA)
Do organic farmers cheat?
  • Certified organic is the most strictly regulated food system in the world.
  • Farmers undergo rigorous annual inspections by a third-party, USDA-approved, 3rd party organic certifier.
  • Violators are dealt with seriously and immediately by the cooperative.
  • Improves nutritional quality of milk—higher omega-3 and CLAs, which are good fats
  • Improves quality of life and health of cows
Livestock-to-pasture ratio
  • Varies depending on climate, size and breed of cow, pasture nutrients, soil types, plant varieties etc.
  • Cows spend a minimum of 120 days on pasture each grazing season.
Calf/cow separation
  • Varies from farm to farm. Most dairies separate within 4 days of birth.
  • After separation, bottle fed whole milk up to 6 months.
  • Socializes calves to humans and to other calves, making them easier and safer to manage as they grow.
Cow lifespan
  • Varies from farm to farm according to breed, size, etc.
  • Cows start milking after their first calf is born (typically 2 years old) and have a calf each year thereafter to continue producing milk.
  • Conventional, mostly grain-fed cows typically milk for 2 years.
  • Organically pastured cows typically milk for 6 to 12 years or more.
  • Varies from farm to farm.
  • Prevents injury to other cows and humans caring for cows.
  • Must be done within 60 days of birth, preferably before 30 days.
  • Lidocaine is an organic-approved, humane pain blocker that is commonly used during the dehorning procedure.
How much milk does a cow produce per day?
  • Varies significantly.
  • Jersey = between 4 to 5 gallons of milk per day. Jersey cows produce less milk but have higher butterfat content.
  • A larger Holstein = between 5 to 8 gallons of milk per day.
  • Pastured cows produce more milk during “spring flush,” when grass is the most plentiful and nutritious.
How much do cows eat and drink?
  • Varies significantly depending on body weight and season (more water is consumed in summer).
  • Jersey: on average, 38 pounds of food and 14 gallons of water per day.
  • Holstein: on average, 50 pounds of food and 26 to 50 gallons of water per day.
Sick cows
  • A focus on prevention results in far fewer illnesses in herds.
  • If illness occurs, veterinary treatment is organic (herbal or physical in most cases).
  • In the rare instance when organic treatment fails, farmers do resort to antibiotic use to save the animal’s life.
  • If an organic animal is treated with antibiotics, it is immediately and permanently removed from the organic herd and may not be sold as an organic animal. It may be kept on the farm separate from the organic herd, or it may be sold to a non-organic farm.
Aged cows
  • Conventional and organic cows no longer milking are typically sold to meat operations as “Market” cows.
  • Male calves (unless potential breeding stock) are castrated as early as possible, within 60 days of birth, since younger animals heal faster. These are called “steers.”
  • Methods: surgical castration or elastrator.
  • Lidocaine is an organic-approved, humane pain blocker.
Pest Control
  • Mechanical (bug traps) and natural methods are used, such as predatory beneficial insects, birdhouses, bats, as well as always keeping facilities clean.
  • Many farms have seen the return of or an increase in natural, beneficial pest predators since transitioning to organic.
Penned calves
  • When not on pasture, animals of any age must be able to stand, lie down, turn around and perform natural behaviors comfortably in the space allotted to them.
  • Stalls and pens must have enough bedding to keep the animal clean, dry and comfortable. Water must be available at all times.
  • Organic rules state that all cattle 6 months or older must be grazed.


Business Model and Products

Natural vs. Organic
  • Some food manufacturers want you to think “natural” is better than organic. Don’t be fooled.
  • Organic agriculture always starts from the ground up — building living soils as the foundation of a healthy planet, healthy animals, and healthy people.
  • Organic foods are always third-party certified to comply with strict, far-ranging USDA organic regulations. “Natural” foods are NOT.
Pasteurized milk  
  • Pasteurize milk is the industry standard and federal law requires it.
  • Most consumers expect all organic products to be pasteurized to ensure and protect the quality and safety of our products.