Tag Archives: dairy industry

Going Rogue: Oregon Cheese Makes a Big Statement

Type the words “American cheese” into an online search engine, and the images that pop up typically appear more utilitarian than artisanal or gourmet. Perhaps that’s one reason why it came as a shock to some around the globe that an American cheese defied convention and brought home the title of “best in the world” at the 2019 World Cheese Awards for the first time in history. It was a statement win.

Based in Southern Oregon, Rogue Creamery proved what many Oregonians and cheese aficionados already knew – Oregon creameries make some truly extraordinary cheese. At the awards held in Bergamo, Italy, Rogue River Blue beat out more than 3,800 cheeses from 42 countries. After a photo finish with an Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, Oregon officially became home to the World Champion.

According to Rogue, the winning cheese embodies their signature terroir with flavors of sweet pine, wild ripened berries, hazelnuts, morels and pears:

“Rogue River Blue is an organic, cave-aged blue cheese that is wrapped in Syrah grape leaves that are soaked in pear spirits. It is made exclusively with milk from Rogue Creamery’s certified organic dairy farm in Grants Pass, where the cows graze on pastures bordering the Rogue River. A seasonal product, Rogue River Blue is only made for a few months each year beginning on the autumnal equinox, when cooler temperatures bring renewed growth to the pastures and our cow’s milk becomes richer and higher in butterfat.”

Since the big announcement on October 18, people have been taking note. From Martha Stewart to renowned authors, international journalists, chefs, foodies and even fellow cheesemakers – all have been singing Rogue’s praises, as stores are quickly selling out. Many Oregonians are expressing pride in the recognition, including U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who had some fun with this Tweet:

In addition to Rogue’s top honors, TMK Creamery of Canby brought home a Silver Medal for their Garlic Dill Cheddar Curds, and Tillamook earned a Bronze Medal for their one-year aged White Cheddar. These award-winners and many more creameries are listed on the Oregon Cheese Guild’s Oregon Cheese and Food Trail. While nobody knows where the best cheese in the world will come from in 2020, there are plenty of worthy candidates that make a case for a repeat performance from Oregon.

Of course, great tasting cheese starts with high-quality milk, and Oregon is consistently ranked toward the top in the nation. Oregon’s 124,000 cows and 200 dairy farm families produce roughly 2.6 billion pounds of milk annually (more than 302 million gallons). Oregonians love their milk so much, it is literally the official beverage of the State of Oregon.

Oregon’s dairy industry is a vital economic engine for communities statewide, with an estimated impact of $2.7 billion. Dairy is Oregon’s fourth largest commodity by farm revenue after only cattle, greenhouse and nursery products, and hay. Further, dairy farms create a ripple effect in both the agricultural economy and the economic well-being of rural communities, supporting 12,222 jobs.


RELATED LINKS:

Rogue River Blue Wins World’s BEST cheese!
Oregon Cheese Guild, October 18

USA cheese named ‘Best in the World’
USDEC, October 21

For the first time ever, a US cheese is named best in the world
CNN Travel, November 1

The World’s Best Cheese? It’s Blue and Comes From Oregon
The New York Times, November 1

American cheese named world’s best for first time, here’s how much it costs
Fox Business, November 2

France in shock over Oregon cheese winning ‘Best in the World’ honor
Statesman Journal, November 4

Want to taste the Oregon-made, recently named ‘Best Cheese in the World’? Better hurry.
Statesman Journal, November 6 

This may be the moment American cheese, true American cheese, has been waiting for
Washington Post, November 6

How We Celebrated June Dairy Month

Since 1937, June has been designated as a special month to celebrate milk and all things dairy. National Dairy Month is an annual tradition that recognizes the contributions the dairy industry has made to health and happiness around the world.

Oregon has a lot to celebrate, and what better way to kick things off than World Milk Day? After all, milk is Oregon’s official state beverage. On every day of June, we served up some cheesy, dairy-themed jokes on social media. As an example, this was one of the crowd favorites: Why was the dairy farmer the slowest player on the baseball field? You’d be slow too if your jersey weighed 1,000 pounds!

Cloverdale dairy farmer Ron Hurliman served as Grand Marshal of the June Dairy Parade in Tillamook

June Dairy Parade Grand Marshal Ron Hurliman (right), with wife Vonnie. Courtesy of Tillamook Headlight Herald.

There were several dairy events and observances throughout the month as well. Cloverdale dairy farmer Ron Hurliman served as Grand Marshal of the June Dairy Parade in Tillamook. With more than 120 entries, the parade is a centerpiece of the June Dairy Festival alongside the Tillamook County YMCA Milk Run and the Tillamook County Rodeo. You can read all about the festivities in this special insert from the Tillamook Headlight Herald. Capital Press also had this special section for June Dairy Month with several great stories.

On Father’s Day, we shared a poetic tribute to dairy dads called “Until the Cows Come Home,” and on the first day of summer we shared a delicious recipe for Yogurt and Dill Smashed Potatoes. Our partner Food Hero made milk the featured food of the month and shared this great handout.

We sponsored the Milk Carton Boat Race in partnership with the Royal Rosarians, the Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassadors, Darigold and many others. A Rose Festival tradition since 1973, the family-friendly event features kids, adults and teams racing across a pond on boats that float atop empty milk cartons and milk jugs. KGW television’s Drew Carney highlighted the event on his Sunrise show and KATU’s Katherine Kisiel was an event announcer.

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At the national level, a running theme throughout the month involved dairy’s contributions to fighting food insecurity and child hunger. The “Real Love Convoy” brought Undeniably Dairy branded trucks to New York, Washington D.C., Detroit and Cleveland for media opportunities and public events featuring dairy. This included an appearance with spokeswoman Laila Ali and dairy farmer Katie Dotterer-Pyle on Good Morning America. Locally, we helped promote summer meals programs in Oregon with this special video featuring Oregon’s Fuel Up to Play 60 spokesperson Anthony Newman.

While National Dairy Month may be over, we’ll continue to celebrate dairy year round. Oh, and did we mention that July is National Ice Cream Month? Stay tuned for a fun announcement on National Ice Cream Day (July 21)!

Congratulations to the Oregon Dairy Women, Ag Connection Award Winners

In 2019, the Oregon Dairy Women will celebrate their 60th year of advocating for Oregon’s dairy community. Their steadfast commitment to education, volunteerism and outreach was recently celebrated at Oregon Aglink’s annual Denim and Diamonds event, where they received the Ag Connection award.

As Allison Choo writes, “… connection is something they do remarkably well. It’s no wonder, then, that they have had such a sustained impact on the dairy industry as they initiate and build connections between Oregon consumers and their local dairies.”

Read the story highlighting the Oregon Dairy Women below, courtesy of Oregon Aglink, and celebrate their anniversary as they crown their 60th Dairy Princess Ambassador on January 19 in Salem (get tickets here).

Oregon Dairy Winners

by Allison Cloo

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If you’re looking for a tasty connection between consumers and the dairy industry, there is always the ice cream served up in the landmark Red Barn at the Oregon State Fair. If you’re looking for the people who dish up education along with the treats, look no further than the organizers behind the counter: Oregon Dairy Women.

The bustling Red Barn is a popular attraction at the fair, and a central fundraising event for the Oregon Dairy Women (ODW). The funds collected from the milkshakes and ice cream sundaes help power the rest of the group’s annual advocacy efforts. Still, the promotion couldn’t happen without the formidable team of volunteers driving the ODW’s efforts to connect Oregonians with their local dairy industry.

In recognition of their long-term and tireless work, Oregon Aglink honored the women of ODW with the Ag Connection award for 2018 at the annual Denim and Diamonds dinner and auction presented by Wilco on November 16.

Vintage-Dairy-Princess-Crowning-ResizedThe first Oregon Dairy Princess was crowned in 1959, and the first president of ODW served in 1962. Whether the Oregon Dairy Women—or Oregon Dairy Wives, as it was originally known—started a few years earlier is a little unclear. What is abundantly obvious, however, is how the program itself has grown in spite of the number of dairies shrinking over the decades. As the industry has changed, ODW has expanded its reach and honed its strategies to support Oregon dairies through connecting tens of thousands of consumers per year with people in the Oregon dairy industry.

“We have so many skilled ladies that take charge and are involved on so many different levels,” says Tami Kerr, a past president of Oregon Dairy Women.

Kerr has practice listing off the activities of ODW, but it still takes a minute to recite them all. The Oregon Dairy Princess Ambassadors at county and state levels are crowned in January then tour the state. They educate students and consumers about milk and dairy production, reaching 14,000 in 2017. Their impact in schools extends to work with Adopt a Farmer, Oregon Ag in the Classroom, and the Summer Ag Institute, which reaches teachers as well.

You also can find ODW at Oregon Ag Fest and the State Capital for Dairy Day, or helping with dairy tours, 4-H, and the Oregon FFA convention, or fundraising for their scholarship program at the Dairy Women’s Auction. It is a full schedule that requires commitment and cooperation.

The dairy princesses are instantly recognizable in their tiaras and sashes, whether matched with a gown at a banquet or a polo shirt at Oregon Aglink’s golf tournament. The other women who drive the organization, often behind the scenes, are well-known among Oregon’s dairy and agricultural industry groups.

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Along with the programs listed above, ODW and its volunteers work in conjunction with the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, and Oregon Women for Agriculture. It stands to reason that hard-working women supporting agriculture recognize the power in standing together with other organizations where there is often crossover in participation among the groups.

In some cases, women involved with ODW have started out as Dairy Princess Ambassadors and translated their training in public speaking and outreach to their own careers.

Jessica Jansen, executive director of Oregon Ag in the Classroom, served as a princess- ambassador in 2011. During her year of service, she spoke to over 17,000 students all across the state.

“This experience confirmed my desire to work in education,” says Jansen, “specifically agricultural education.” The scholarships through ODW helped pave the way for her degree in Agricultural Sciences and Communication. According to Jansen, her experiences in ODW and the network it established are still serving her in her current position, and she gives back as well: she’s still a member of the Clackamas Dairy Women chapter.

The ties between organizations, or between county and state, families and career, are echoed again and again in ODW as you realize that connection is something they do remarkably well. It’s no wonder, then, that they have had such a sustained impact on the dairy industry as they initiate and build connections between Oregon consumers and their local dairies.

Oregon Aglink isn’t the only one to notice, either.

“The dairy women are outstanding advocates for our industry,” says Derrick Josi, a Tillamook dairy farmer. Josi does his own share of outreach, with nearly twenty-five thousand followers spread across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His digital reach extends beyond that of many local farmers with blogs or social media accounts, and yet he knows all about the in-person education that ODW accomplishes each year with schools, other organizations, and events for all-ages.

AgFest2012-82-of-84-676x451For those days when Derrick Josi or other dairy farmers don’t have a free hand to update their social media, the Oregon Dairy Women have their backs. Chances are you can find princess-ambassadors talking about nutrition in a classroom, or volunteers serving up creamy treats; their friendly patter is heard in the halls of the state capitol and near the stalls at county fairs.

In 2019, ODW will celebrate 60 years of advocating for an industry they love, with many members dedicating decades of service to the organization. The letter nominating ODW for the Ag Connection award cites the thousands of hours of often unrecognized work: “these women are so far from the spotlight they often get missed, but their service is truly remarkable.”

Core-ODW-676x451The nomination called out a core group of members, including Ida Ruby, Jessie DeJager, LucyAnn Volbeda, Rita Hogan, and Debbie Timm. Those women will, in turn, point to the qualities in the other women of ODW: strong, devoted, unique, and proud. Credit is frequently shared.

Since they pull together and share the load, the education and promotion efforts of Oregon Dairy Women never come down to just one voice. It is, however, unified behind one message: Oregon dairy deserves support, and these women will make sure it happens.