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Award Honorees

David Vetter, Grain Place Foods

2016 : Growing the Organic Industry

Selected to receive the Organic Trade Association's 2016 Organic Leadership Award for Growing the Organic Industry, David Vetter has unselfishly mentored and shared information about organic to countless numbers of farmers transitioning to organic production, from Canada to Central America, from Europe to Australia.
 
David grew up working on his family's farm in central Nebraska. In the 1950s, David's father began questioning the ethics and science behind emerging agricultural practices that were part of the Green Revolution, and the family farm began to adopt organic farming methods. David left the farm and went to college to earn his Bachelors in agronomy and soil science and a Masters of Divinity. He returned in 1975 and helped the farm become certified organic. For David, organic and sustainable farming methods were the way he integrated his studies of biological and theological principles.
 
"Taking care of the environment and our natural resources is one of my core values, and something I have always strived to do," says Vetter. "Organic agriculture is an integral part of that mission, and it's been especially fulfilling to help other farmers adopt organic and see organic agricultural practices become more common."
 
Over the years, the farm has grown into Grain Place Foods, employing three generations of Vetters, and helping steward other farms into making the transition to organic. It has been certified organic since 1978. In 1987, the family operation took the next step of processing its own grains into value-added products onsite. Today, it employs almost 25 people, several of whom have worked there for over 15 years. The farm produces organic heirloom barley, soybeans, popcorn, corn and grass-finished beef in a nine-year rotation.
 
Today, Grain Place Foods also sources organic grain to supplement what is grown on the Vetter farm because the family business has expanded so much. It purchases organic grains from 128 organic farm families, including 46 neighboring Nebraskan farms.
 
Vetter also shares the family's strong land stewardship ethic through working to develop sound and sustainable farm policy. Grain Place Foods emphasizes fair trade practices in addition to requiring organic when sourcing ingredients that it cannot grow on its farm.

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