Earning Top Honors: Dairy Awards in Oregon
Sustainability, quality, innovation … you could say the Oregon dairy community has a lot to celebrate. And you’d be right! Over the past couple of years, our producers, processors, and individuals within the community keep setting the bar higher, earning recognition regionally, nationally, and even internationally.
To acknowledge individuals for their lifelong contributions to Oregon’s Dairy Industry, the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association presents two annual awards at the state convention. Recent recipients have included:
- Community Service Award – Roger and Jessie DeJager (2020)
- Distinguished Service Award – Troy Downing (2020)
- Community Service Award – Tom Johnson (2019)
- Distinguished Service Award – Will Wise and Julie Hoffman (2019)
Oregon Dairy Industries, also known as ODI, was founded in 1910 to promote and elevate interest in dairy food products in the western United States. Each year, exceptional ODI members are recognized with the Oregon Dairy Industries Award. The 2020 Sweepstakes Award recipients included:
- Fluid Milk Sweepstakes Award – Eberhard’s Dairy Products
- Ice Cream Sweepstakes Award – Umpqua Dairy
- Cultured Division Sweepstakes Award – Umpqua Dairy
For more winners, visit oregondairy.org.
Oregon Ag Fest seeks to reward student organizations, nonprofit groups or classrooms that promote and educate Oregonians about agriculture. In 2020, Lost River FFA of Merrill, Oregon, won first place, and the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassador program won second place. The Oregon Dairy Women’s Dairy Princess Ambassador Program was created in 1959 to promote and provide outreach on behalf of the Oregon dairy industry. In 2019, they were able to reach more than 10,000 students statewide with in school presentations and county fairs. In 2020, they adjusted their programs to meet students virtually.
In 2019, at two separate awards ceremonies for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, five individuals were recognized, including some familiar names. Ida Ruby and Jessie DeJager of the Oregon Dairy Women received the 2019 OSU Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Achievement Award. Phil Ward, now a board member for ODNC, received the Distinguished Legacy Award. Greg Harris, the director of farming and agronomy for Threemile Canyon Farms, received the Distinguished Alumni Luminary Award. And our very own Executive Director for ODNC, Pete Kent, took home a College of Agricultural Sciences Hall of Fame honor.
Here are some videos from past recipients:
Threemile Canyon Farms (pictured above) was recognized in 2020 with the Cooperator of the Year Award from the Oregon State University Extension Service through it’s work with 4H programs in Morrow County. This award honors individuals and businesses who have made a significant contribution to OSU Extension in program involvement, support and community service.
The Oregon dairy community has proven they can walk the walk when talking about sustainability. As an annual award that recognizes dairy farms, businesses and collaborative partnerships that demonstrate outstanding economic, environmental and social benefits, Oregon provides powerful examples of dairy sustainability leadership.
The American Cheese Society Judging and Competition is the largest competition of its kind for American cheese. The awards are designed to shine a spotlight on American cheesemakers by showcasing their talents and work as leaders within the industry. Unfortunately, this competition has been cancelled for 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many Oregon cheesemakers were celebrated in 2019.
This contest, sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, is unique because it includes all dairy products. This competition was also cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but it gives us an opportunity to continue celebrating Oregon’s winners in 2019:
- Best Fat Free Chocolate Milk – Lochmead Dairy
- Best Regular Cottage Cheese – Umpqua Dairy
- Best Open Class Ice Cream, Butter Toffee Crunch – Umpqua Dairy
A celebration of American cheesemakers, NMPF’s yearly competition went virtual in 2020. In spite of the virtual contest, they still received nearly 190 entries of cheese and cottage cheese. Darigold claimed top honors for Best Cottage Cheese last year with their Pineapple Cottage Cheese.
Presented by the Good Food Foundation, this award is not solely focused on dairy food products, and it is judged on quality, sustainability and socially responsible production. Amongst the nearly 2,000 entries in 16 different categories, Oregon creameries have been highlighted several years running.
These awards recognize its member creameries that go above and beyond in a variety of categories, including: production, quality, marketing, and customer service, highlighting superior performance in finished product quality, plant appearance, cleanliness, efficiency, management leadership and process control. Criteria includes laboratory test scores and evaluation of a plant’s process systems. The 2020 award winners included:
World Cheese Awards (Bergamo, Italy)
In the Olympics of all cheese competitions, cheeses are sent from around the world to be judged in a single day. Judges work in teams of three to identify cheeses worthy of a gold, silver, or bronze award based on the rind, color, texture, consistency and of course, taste. All teams also nominate a “Super Gold” from their table, and those top cheeses are judged a second time by a “Super Jury” of international judges. The final cheeses are debated in front of a live consumer and trade audience before choosing the Grand Champion Cheese on live television. In 2019, the first-ever American cheese was selected as the best in the world, and it was from Oregon.
- Grand Champion (“best in the world”) – Rogue Creamery, Rogue River Blue
- Silver Medal – TMK Creamery, Garlic Dill Cheddar Curds
- Bronze Medal – Tillamook, one-year aged White Cheddar
This string of impressive awards and accomplishments speaks volumes about the individuals and organizations integral to the Oregon dairy community. Oregon may be a smaller dairy state compared to others in the U.S., but our positive impacts, high standards and great accomplishments continue to put our state among the best in class – now and into the future.