Green Festival Speakers

Jon Bansen


Bansen has been a member owner of Organic Valley since June of 2000. He is currently the West Coast regional leader of Organic Valleys Farmer Ambassador Program and one of the Cooperatives Dairy executive committee representatives for Oregon. Bansen is also a contributing writer for Graze Magazine focusing on cow nutrition.

Bansen is a thirdgeneration dairyman who milks around 200 Jersey cows twice a day on his family farm Double J Jerseys in Oregon. He spent six years working for his father learning the dairy business and purchased his own farm in 1991.

Bansen began pasturing his herd on mostly grasses and clover 15 years ago. He uses an intensive, rotational grazing system in which the cows are grazed in threeacre paddocks, the electric borders of which are changed every 12 hours. Every 16 days the cows begin the rotation all over again. Research is a daily matter on his dairy farm. Jon is constantly monitoring cow feedback (milk production, health) to measure success of any new changes made to the dairy.

Most people think Christmas is the best day of the year, but theyre wrong, says Bensen, The best day of the year is the first day of spring, when the cows go back out to pasture.

Bansen wouldnt dream of keeping his cows indoors yearround as happens at confinement dairies nationwide. He must bring them in for winter, to guard the herd from bitter weather and the land from being stomped on when wet and fragile. But the day that the skies clear, he opens the gates.

For months afterwards he sleeps with his bedroom window open, listening for rain. In springtime, we do a thing called The Dance, he says. We dance them outside, then dance them back in if the weather gets too bad. Its extra workhis father always just kept the herd in until spring was absolutely certainbut its worth it to Bansen. My approach is that whenever theres grass growing, my cows will be grazing. Thats what theyre meant to do, after all. I wouldnt have it any other way.

Organized in 1988, Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative represents morethan 1,300 farmers nationwide. Focused on its founding mission ofkeeping family farmers farming, Organic Valley makes it possible forconsumers, our citizenpartners, to become participants in a foodsystem that sustains family farms, local food production and theenvironment, all while enjoying nutritious, delicious organicproducts.