2015 National Meeting Of Grass Agriculture Awards Top Producers
Grassfed organization rewards producers for stewardship, food quality and servant leadership.
September 18, 2015, Mt. Pleasant, MI-- Livestock producers and processors from Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota received national awards at the seventh annual Grassfed Exchange meeting this year in Mt. Pleasant, MI.
The theme of the conference and of the awards was land stewardship, providing consumers healthy food products and helping others.
Producers from 35 states and two Canadian provinces applauded award winners at this annual conference producers of grass-finished livestock products, which has been a small but rapidly growing segment of agricultural production.
Mike and Rob Lorentz, owners of Lorentz Meats in Cannon Falls, MN, were awarded the Innovative Grassfed Beef Marketer/Processor/Distributor Award at the 2015 Grass Fed Exchange. Mike and Rob purchased their parent’s custom-exempt meat processor in the early 1990’s and subsequently built a state of the art 10,000 sf USDA inspected specialty meat processing plant in 2000. Their relentless focus on extremely high processing standards and support for specialty and niche meat programs, including grassfed beef, bison, organic beef, specialty sausage, cooked meats has been a crucial foundation for the ever growing grassfed beef industry.
They have “carved out” a vital place in niche meat production by providing efficient, safe, and top notch quality co-packing services all under one roof. Lorentz Meats is one of a very few processors to offer producers kill, fab to primals, retail/case-ready packaging, sausage, and ready-to-eat cooked production in one location.
According to Todd Churchill, Board Member and Founder of Thousand Hills Cattle Company, one of the pioneering grass fed beef brands, Mike Lorentz and Lorentz Meats have been in integral partner from the very beginning, a tremendous resource for Thousand Hills, and a highly valuable part of the grass fed beef value/supply chain, and are well deserving of this award.
This year’s Producer Award was presented to Seven Sons Farm in Roanoke, IN. Seven Sons began producing and direct marketing grassfed products in 2000. Blake, Blaine and Brooks were on hand to receive the award on behalf of their family. In accepting the award, Blaine said “Yes, there really are seven sons”. They have 10 family members (and staff) involved in a farming operation that produces and markets 400 beef, 350 hogs, and 80,000 dozen eggs.
They also are aggregators and marketers of products for several other families as well. “Collaboration with other family farms has been one of the keys to our success” says Blaine. They work with both poultry and dairy producers in their area to enable them to offer a wider variety of products to customers who are located in a 200 mile area around Roanoke. Seven Sons has developed several unique marketing techniques that sets them apart from other producers. They use “buying clubs” as a way to improve sales and reduce labor needed to deliver their products to their customers.
The 2015 Terry Gompert Pioneer Award recipient was Rod Ofte from Coon Valley, WI. Rod is a grass fed beef producer and marketing manager of the Wisconsin Grass Fed Beef Cooperative. Rod raises 100% grass fed cattle on the farm his family has owned since 1848. During his childhood, the family farm was a typical Wisconsin dairy farm. Rod knew he did not want to dairy as an adult, so he joined the armed forces then spent many years in the corporate world forging valuable experience in sales and marketing and in the financial aspects of business management.
These acquired skills served Rod well upon his return to the family farm. They have been especially useful in building the Wisconsin Grass Fed Beef Cooperative from a very small startup enterprise to a multi-producer branded program that supplies high quality grass fed beef to retail and restaurant customers throughout the state of Wisconsin. Through Rod’s guidance, the Cooperative has experienced continuous growth and provides the people of Wisconsin with a true source for locally raised, high attribute grass fed beef.
Terry Gompert, for whom the award was named, was a University of Nebraska Extension Agent, a Certified Holistic Management Educator and a great friend and mentor to many in the grassfed industry.
The 2016 Grassfed Exchange will be held in Perry, GA, April 27-29, 2016.
Rod Ofte, Mike Lorentz, Blake Hitzfield, Brooks Hitzfield, Blaine Hitzfield