Ardent commits to organic wheat initiative

by Eric Schroeder
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Dan Dye, Ardent Mills
Dan Dye, c.e.o. of Ardent Mills, said the company hopes to help farmers double U.S. organic wheat acres by 2019.

DENVER — Ardent Mills has unveiled a new organic initiative committed to helping U.S. wheat growers double organic wheat acres by 2019. As part of the initiative, Ardent will provide farmers with access to direct support services, workshops and long-term contracts for transitional and organic wheat bushels.

“Ardent Mills’ vision is to be the trusted partner in nurturing our customers, consumers and communities through innovative and nutritious grain-based solutions, and our new organic initiative demonstrates one of the many ways we’re bringing that vision to life,” said Dan Dye, chief executive officer of Ardent Mills. “Today, there is growing demand from restaurants and food companies for organic wheat flour for use in fresh, packaged and menu recipes.”

Mr. Dye said the initiative is an opportunity for growers to become a part of an emerging market and to create additional value for their crops on the path to organic certification. He said Ardent Mills, which has provided organic flour since 1996, is well positioned to meet the challenge.

Ardent Mills said it based its initiative off 2014 Census data showing 263,881 in harvested organic acres.

Mike Miller, vice-president of risk management at Ardent, added the company is excited to work with farmers as they transition to the growing organic wheat market and looks forward to ensuring a steady supply of wheat in support of new product and menu introductions.

“We know there is demand that will continue to increase well into the future,” he said. “We’ve heard from farmers we work with, and we understand the barriers that they face when transitioning to organic. Ardent Mills is addressing these challenges with our Organic Initiative 2019.”

Ardent Mills will be joined in the initiative by Oregon Tilth, a nonprofit certifier, educator and advocate for organic agriculture and products. The group plans to share best practices and knowledge among famers.

“We believe that collaborative education — peer-to-peer learning, model sharing and capacity building — serves to support successful entry into organic farming, offering buyers and farmers a solid path to connect market opportunities with on-the-ground efforts to implement sustainable conservation practices on the farm,” said Sarah Brown, education director for Oregon Tilth.

The initiative also received support from the National Association of Wheat Growers.

“Ardent Mills has been a great industry partner, and we commend the company for reaching out to our growers to offer new incentives to meet a growing market segment,” said Brett Blankenship, president of the NAWG. “There is an opportunity for a premium, and the incentive gives farmers access to an additional market and a new income stream while meeting growing consumer demand for organic wheat flour and organic foods. Ardent Mills is to be commended for developing an incentive-based approach that may be attractive to our growers.”

Farmers interested in working with Ardent Mills on its Organic Initiative 2019 should contact Shrene White by  e-mail at Organic.Initiative2019@ardentmills.com, or phone toll free 844-421-2068 or visit www.ardentmills.com/tcap.
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