Sierra Nevada Cheese Company

Farm/Brand HeadquartersWillows, CA
Market AreaNationwide
Total Score1285

They write: “Partnering their many years of creamery experience, long-time friends, Ben Gregersen & John Dundon, founded Sierra Nevada Cheese Company in 1997. We handcraft award-winning cheese, butter, and yogurt in micro-batches proudly using local Northern California natural and Organic milk. We do not use artificial ingredients, preservatives, gums, fillers, or animal rennet. Our milk is guaranteed by farmers to be free from added hormones and antibiotics. Our Organic milk meets the American Humane Association’s (AHA) certification standards. We feature the hallmarks of an Artisan Cheese Company: Friendship-Wholesome Ingredients-Dedication-Handcrafted Foods.”

TOTAL (possible score is 1600 plus extra credit) 1285
4-Cow Rating | Excellent
Farmstead dairies earn the most points. Corporations that have a history of skirting the organic rules receive the fewest.
Ownership structure
70Closely held corporation
Farms that produce 100% of their milk receive the most points. Milk from "open market" or known confinement dairies receive the fewest.
Milk Supply
75Own patrons plus a highly rated supplier
100% organic farms receive the most points. Split operations with conventional dairy on the same property receive the fewest.
Organic Production
80Markets both organic and natural products, but has no split operations supplying organic milk
Farms that completed the survey in detail received the most points.
Disclosure of Information for Verification
100Full disclosure
Points determined by integrity of the brand’s organic certifier.
Organic Certification
80Products certified by Oregon Tilth (OTCO); Dairies certified by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)
Animal Welfare Approved and Biodynamic certifications receive the most bonus points. Producers are not penalized for not having additional certifications beyond organic.
Other Labels/Standards
0(Currently working on Certified Humane and non-GMO verified)
100% grass-fed with independent verification of standards
40Meets minimum standards for grazing
No points are given for this but the information may be useful to certain consumers looking to avoid soy.
Soy Free Ration?
Sliding scale based on policies, enforcement, acreage/cow, days/year on pasture, and permissible exemption.
80Two cows per acre, with rotational grazing
One time/day receives the most points. Two times per day is standard.
Times Milked
90Two times a day (standard protocol on legitimate organic dairies)
Lower cull rate scores better, with under 10% receiving the most points.
Cull/death Rate
90Low cull/death rate
Farms with closed herds receive the most points. Farms that sell organic calves and buy conventional replacements receive the fewest.
100Closed herd
Standard practice is removing calves shortly after birth, with extra points given for unique ways of managing calves
75Removed shortly after birth (standard practice)
Farms that prohibit antibiotics receive the most points. Farms that allow young stock to receive antibiotics (under one year), receive the fewest.
Antibiotic Use
75Cows may be brought back into organic production after antibiotic use
No hormones is the standard, however some farms do use oxytocin for therapeutic purposes.
Hormone Usage
75A portion of milk supplied uses hormones therapeutically
Farmstead dairies (owner lives on-site) receive the most points. Fewer points are given as oversight declines.
Farm Support
90All dairies are visited regularly by staff
All ingredients sourced from inside the organization or on the farm receives the highest points. Ingredients from confinement factory farms and/or imported ingredients receive the fewest.
Procurement of Ingredients
90Milk powder from trusted source
Various levels of extra credit given for 1) providing full organic systems plan, 2) providing details on all farms (multi-farm brands, details on largest five required), and 3) sourcing feed on-farm or domestically.
Extra Credit
75Gave details and was transparent about all their suppliers