Meet our member: Upländer Farmers’ Dairy


The Upländer Farmers’ Dairy was founded in 1996 by 18 organic farmers together with environmentalists, private and business people. Today it includes more than 100 farms, who hold the majority shares in the dairy, so it is free from any corporate control. It is committed to GMO-free agriculture and the preservation of biodiversity.

Upländer Farmers’ Dairy’s organic milk is processed into high-quality, organic dairy products in Willingen-Usseln in Hesse. The products are processed in a particularly gentle way, without using preservatives or stabilisers, making them especially tasty. 

Initially, the organic 18 farmers supplied an annual quantity of one million litres of organic milk, too little to keep the facilities busy. Therefore, milk was bought from conventional farms in the region and processed separately. The Upländer Farmers’ Dairy was the first dairy to label conventional milk with a Non-GMO logo in 2005 - a real pioneering achievement, which took an enormous effort in changing the feedstuffs and medicines used by the farmers until then. Since then, many conventional companies have followed suit and are producing Non-GMO products – labelled with the official seal (provided by VLOG) introduced in 2009. 

Since 2009, the dairy has been processing only organic milk, which is produced without the use of genetic engineering.

ENGA spoke to Upländer Farmers’ Dairy’s managing director Karin Artzt-Steinbrink.

Why is Upländer dairy so committed to Non-GMO despite the challenges?

We worked for a year to produce conventional milk without GMOs. For organic dairy products Non-GMO is self-evident. We made this big effort because of our conviction that GMOs do not belong in nature nor in food. We were persistent and have always found solutions, although the German Non-GMO regulation in force at that time was intended to prevent animal-based foods from being labelled as Non-GMO.

How do you see the future of the Non-GMO production standard in the organic and conventional sector?

Under pressure! Interested parties keep trying to make GMO processes socially acceptable, especially new processes of genetic engineering. It is important to continue to consistently question this and to point out the risks. Hopefully, consumers will continue to demand Non-GMO products and clear labelling.

How important is organic to Upländer?

Since 2009, the dairy has been processing only organic milk. Everyone involved in organic farming wants to produce healthy food, while protecting the natural organic systems and ensuring animal welfare. So our cows have freedom of movement, straw bedding in the barns, natural light, and are fed mainly with the farm's own organically grown products and are given outdoor access whenever possible.

What role does sustainability play in your business?

We rely on a thriving natural environment and sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. For example, we put into operation a new building last year and we placed great value on sustainable construction. We used lots of local wood, instead of concrete. And we did the same for our cold store, instead of choosing other less sustainable materials. We have also installed a system that supplies the new production plant with up to two-thirds with self-generated energy.

Why has Upländer become an ENGA member?

We see our ENGA membership as an opportunity for networking with other operators critical of GMOs. ENGA can lobby on our behalf, which we cannot do individually.

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