Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman, Oregon, is a living example that a big farm can be green too. Recognized as a leader in sustainable agricultural practices over the past decade, we have demonstrated that forward-looking green farming can be good for both business and the environment.
Threemile Canyon Farms produces high quality food products and brings them to market in ways that earn the trust of our customers, neighbors and employees. Our large-scale organic farming gives regional markets a trusted source for organic produce. Our dairy has allowed the industry to expand in Oregon and our milk is used in making the region's premier cheeses. By practicing the best sustainable farming techniques on a large scale and sharing our experiences, we are creating models for farms of every size. We are committed to providing a safe, healthy and rewarding work environment for our employees. And our innovative water, soil, habitat and energy conservation practices help preserve natural resources.
Our farm blends one of the nation's largest dairy operations with extensive production of potatoes and other crops. By doing so, we have created a harmonious, closed-loop system that yields high value-added agricultural products while recycling nearly all farm wastes. Our innovative water, soil, habitat, renewable energy and wildlife conservation practices have earned us recognition as a Founder of a New Northwest by Sustainable Northwest, a prestigious organization that promotes socially responsible business practices.
Every day, people use our farm's products. Our milk is used for cheese. Our potatoes are used to make French fries and other products sold around the world. And our growing variety of organic crops are used in the finest Oregon brands.
Threemile Canyon Farms is owned and operated by R.D. Offutt Company — Northwest, one of the nation's leaders in innovative agricultural practices. We own 93,000 acres of Columbia River Basin land just west of Boardman, about 150 miles east of Portland. Our farm has a $420 million annual economic impact in Gilliam and Morrow counties. It provides full-time jobs with benefits and promotion opportunities, as well as seasonal jobs, to a culturally diverse workforce.
By practicing the best sustainable farming techniques - whether they involve leading-edge technology or age-old natural processes - we are providing a living laboratory for model agricultural practices. And both our size and location - far removed from towns and population centers - provide plenty of area for crop rotation, wildlife buffers and composting dairy wastes. We use advanced technology to provide traceability on all our crops and cattle to assure the quality our customers expect. To help Oregon become a leader in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, Threemile Canyon Farms is partnering on innovative, renewable energy projects.
Today Threemile Canyon Farms continues its commitment to use water wisely. Our home in Oregon's arid Columbia Basin provides 300 days of sunshine and is one of the world's leading potato-growing regions. The dry climate is an asset to our dairy operation - we are able to guarantee that no dairy waste will enter local rivers or water tables. When our farm was first established, we voluntarily agreed to place limits on the water we draw from the Columbia River.
Of course, the dry climate means that we must irrigate. So we invested in a precision, central-pivot irrigation system that minimizes water lost to evaporation or over-watering. Monitors connected by a state-of-the-art wireless computer network allow us to spot - and repair - leaks immediately. We use dairy compost extensively on our fields so our soil will retain water better. And we recycle and reuse all of our water that isn't used for drinking.
Organic farming, managing our inputs
Our sustainable, closed-loop system system begins with 230,000 tons of potatoes produced annually. Potatoes are processed off-site and the processing wastes - peels and culls - are returned to the farm and recycled for use as dairy feed. We also grow alfalfa, corn and other rotation crops to provide a balanced, all-vegetative ration for our dairy cattle.
Our 24,000 dairy cows produce more than 1.4 million pounds of milk each day. Our herd includes Jersey and Holstein cows so we can supply consistent, high-quality milk for cheese-makers. Closing the loop, manure from the dairy provides a low-cost source of nutrient-rich fertilizer and compost. That organic fertilizer allows us to substantially reduce our use of external inputs - such as crop protectants - and to increase our production of certified organic vegetables and grains. Our digester pilot project provides another link in our closed-loop system. We are extracting methane gas from dairy manure to improve air quality and to produce fuel. We will continue to look for opportunities to expand the use of digesters on our farm.
In 2000, Threemile Canyon Farms joined with The Nature Conservancy and state and federal wildlife officials to create one of the broadest voluntary wildlife-conservation areas areas in the country. We placed 23,000 acres - more than a quarter of our farm's land - into a preserve to protect four threatened species and Columbia Basin grasslands, a unique and irreplaceable part of Oregon's natural heritage. The Nature Conservancy manages the preserve. The U.S. Secretary of the Interior and others praised the agreement in 2004 as a model for how private interests and public agencies can work together for effective environmental preservation.
Threemile Canyon Farms' reputation for innovation and progressive practices is growing. Our dairy allowed the cheese and dairy industry to expand in Oregon. Our large-scale organic farming gives regional markets a trusted source for organic produce. We are committed to providing a safe, healthy and rewarding work environment for our employees. By practicing the best sustainable farming techniques on a large scale and sharing our experiences, we are creating models for farms of every size to follow. Threemile Canyon Farms is a living example of the harmonious partnership of good business and good stewardship.