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Horizon Organic Recognizes First Annual HOPE Award Winner.

Laing Family Honored at Farm Aid 2006 as Model Organic Farmers

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Earlier today in a ceremony at the annual Farm Aid[R] benefit event, Horizon Organic honored one of the company's family farmer partners, Scott and Traci Laing of Potsdam, N.Y. with the first annual HOPE Award. The award was established to pay tribute to and congratulate farmers who have not only navigated the challenges of transitioning to organic but who have also served as a model for other organic farmers.

In presenting the Laings with this honor, Horizon Organic acknowledged the strength of character and hard work that goes into organic farming and encouraged others to embark on the same course. In addition to receiving the award, Scott, Traci and their four children received an all-expense paid trip to the Farm Aid benefit concert and an American Express[R] gift card.

"As Horizon Organic continues to offer a pay price that meets the financial needs of small farmers, we can continue to dairy farm as a family," said Traci Laing. "Organic premiums give us hope that we can continue living in a way that allows us to work and spend time as a family while teaching our children the value of hard work and caring for animals, while helping each other."

Scott Laing has been farming for 28 years, nine of them as an organic farmer, and it all started with a passion for farming he realized as a child. In 1994, he and his wife, Traci, were able to buy their own farmCoadding cows in 1996. Times were tight and the family lived simply, sometimes even living without electricity because it was too expensive. In 1997 when a local non-profit organization began speaking to dairy farmers about transitioning to organic production, the Laings decided to give organic a try.

Going organic was tougher than they imagined, and a series of set-backs in 1999 almost forced them to give up farming altogether; they even had an auction scheduled to sell their farm. But when a financial advisor told them they had two choices: go organic or give up dairying, they opted to cancel the auction and give organic another shot. They started shipping milk to Horizon Organic, the only company that would pick up their milk.

Since then, organic dairying has allowed the Laing family to make a living operating a small farm and work together as a family. The Laing's milk between 45-48 cows all year, and all four children - Aislyn, 15; Coty, 13; Lila, 12; and Joshua, 9 - help out and have been part of the team since they were big enough to bottle-feed the calves. The family all goes to the barn together, gets the chores done and leaves together.

In addition to the Laings, Horizon Organic currently works with a network of producer partners that now totals 342 family farmersCoa number that continues to grow largely because of the success of the Horizon Organic Producer Education (HOPE) program. In fact, there are an additional 240 number of farmers currently transitioning to organic production with the help of the HOPE program, which provides technical and financial assistance to farmers as they transition from conventional to organic production.

"The Horizon Organic Producer Education program helps us secure future organic milk supply and ensure Horizon Organic can provide a sustainable future for family farms while continuing to meet growing consumer demand, "says Jule Taylor, vice president of dairy operations for Horizon Organic. "We are committed to investing $15-20 million into the program over the next five years in order to help even more farmers transition to organic because we know that is the right thing to do, for the people, animals and the planet."

Farmer partners like the Laing family allow Horizon Organic to remain true to its commitment to provide high quality natural and organic foods to as many people as possible. Their dedication, hard work and commitment to sustainable and humane farming practices make them role models for farmersCoboth organic and conventionalCoeverywhere.

For more information on Horizon Organic and the HOPE program, please visit


Horizon Organic, founded in 1991, was the first certified organic dairy to distribute products nationally in the United States. The company remains true to its vision for a more organic planet, purchasing milk from 342 certified organic dairy farms and providing certified organic dairy products to natural foods retailers and supermarkets across the country. Horizon Organic products are produced without the use of harmful pesticides, antibiotics or added growth hormones and always will be. That's the organic promise from our farmers to consumers. For more information on the growing world of organic, visit
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Sep 30, 2006
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