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Tom Trantham Wins National Award for Sustainable Farming

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2002-Colien Hefferan, Administrator of the Agriculture Department’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) today announced that dairy farmer Tom Trantham, of Pelzer, S.C., received the first Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture.

"It gives me great pleasure to present the first Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture to Tom Trantham," said Hefferan. "His commitment to agriculture in general and sustainable farming in particular is one in which we can take great pride."

In 1990, Trantham said he switched from a struggling dairying operation on 70 acres to a profitable, environmentally sound grazing system for dairy cows. With the help of USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program grant, Trantham began experimenting with grazing to reduce feed costs in the late 80s and ended up with 75 healthier cows and a profitable dairy operation. This year, Trantham converted his silo into a bottling plant and began processing and bottling his milk on site instead of sending it off the farm for processing. Now, customers buy bottled whole milk, buttermilk and chocolate milk pumped and pasteurized on site in Trantham's Happy Cow Creamery.

“The beauty of this kind of dairying is that, every day, you wake up with more ideas you want to try,” Trantham said. “I’m going to finally have the experience of watching people stand on my property, drink a glass of milk, rave about the taste and pay me a fair price.”

Trantham has hosted many field days and regularly shares his techniques with farmers all over the country. He also offers his farm as a training site for other farmers who are considering switching to sustainable farming.

The award is named after the first director of CSREES's SARE Program, Patrick Madden, who died last year. The award is given in honor of Madden who provided the leadership as well as the inspiration for a strong sustainable agriculture. The SARE program advances farming systems that are economically viable, environmentally sound and good for communities.

Its current director, Jill Auburn, presented the award at a national sustainable agriculture conference, Oct. 26, 2002, in Raleigh, NC. To learn more about CSREES’s sustainable agriculture program, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov/sustainableagriculture.html.

For more information about the award or a photo of Trantham, contact Valerie Berton (301) 504-5230, vberton@wam.umd.edu.