Our Heroes: Los de Mora Local Growers' Cooperative

This post appears courtesy of Animal Welfare Approved.

Los de Mora Local Growers' Cooperative, a producer group of 35 family farms and ranches in the Mora, NM area, has voted to require all livestock producer-members to become Animal Welfare Approved. Customers who buy the Co-op's eggs will now have the quality assurance that comes with Animal Welfare Approved certification, which ensures animals are raised in accordance with the highest welfare standards in the US.

Los de Mora Local Growers' Cooperative was formed by farmers in 2012 as part of a broad effort to maintain the vitality of their rural community and the agricultural heritage of northern New Mexico. Recognizing the growing consumer interest in where food comes from, and how animals are raised on farms, the Los de Mora Cooperative board voted in 2013 to require AWA certification of all livestock producer-members who wish to market animal products through the Cooperative, starting with eggs. Following the successful certification of their egg producers, the Cooperative plans to have all animal products certified to AWA standards by 2015.

Working through the Cooperative enables individual family farm members to secure larger market opportunities. By aggregating the supply of pastured eggs, the Cooperative is able fulfill larger accounts, such as Russell's Discount Foods in Mora, NM and Cid's Food Market in Taos NM and having AWA certification helped the Cooperative to finalize these agreements.

"AWA's third-party certification is an important quality assurance mechanism for us. We can prove to any retail customer that all our farmers are meeting the same rigorous production standards, with minimal bureaucracy or fuss," says Roger Gonzales, President of the Los de Mora Cooperative and owner of Rancho Carmelo Organic Farms.

Many of the Cooperative's producer-members see the AWA logo as a promising marketing opportunity, and hope it will encourage other farmers to consider high-welfare farming techniques that produce better quality, healthier food. For producer members like Jenny Brizal of Grandioso Farm, AWA certification communicates the care and skill invested in their farming operations: "I feel a real sense of accomplishment by gaining AWA certification for my laying hens. Being AWA certified lets anyone who sees my product know that my animals have a loyal caretaker who provides a natural environment for them and sees that they are healthy."

Pastured eggs from Los de Mora Local Growers' Cooperative are sold in AWA's branded egg cartons, which each farm can customize with their own farm-specific information. Certified producers include V's Organic Farm (AWA eggs and beef), Ranchito Organic Farm (AWA eggs and dairy goats), Rancho Carmelo Organic Farm (AWA eggs), Cruz Ranch (AWA eggs), Grandioso Organic Farm (AWA eggs), and Anita Moss Farm. To learn more about Los de Mora Local Growers' Cooperative, Inc., contact Roger Gonzales at [email protected] or 575-447-3846. Please see Animal Welfare Approved's Online Directory of their approved farms, restaurants and products.