Matt and Brad VanRay of VanRay Farms. Photo by Steve Woit/Farm Flavor Media

Many North Dakota farmers work closely with large suppliers, giving them the valuable opportunity to make a national or international impact and connect with consumers far beyond the Peace Garden State.

For example, Fargo-based Cass-Clay Creamery helps those in the Great Plains region access fresh dairy products that contain milk from North Dakota cattle, and thanks to Cavendish Farms, potatoes grown in North Dakota are used to make French fries served in restaurants around the world.

These supplier-farmer relationships make it possible for the public to enjoy quality foods no matter where they are – and get a taste of North Dakota.

Photo by Steve Woit/Farm Flavor Media

Dairy and Potato Production

Potatoes are one of North Dakota’s top agricultural commodities, and it’s easy to see why. The eastern portion of the state is part of the Red River Valley Region, which is the largest producer of red potatoes in the U.S. – it’s even known as the “Idaho of Red Potatoes.”

According to the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the state produced 2.7 billion pounds of potatoes from 74,000 harvested acres in 2017, making it the fourth-largest potato-producing state in the nation.

“North Dakota’s nutrient-rich soil and temperate climate create an ideal environment for growing potatoes,” says Matt VanRay, who grows Russet Burbank potatoes on VanRay Farms in Pingree. “It rarely gets very hot here, even in the summertime, and that’s perfect for spuds; they tend to thrive in cooler weather.”

In the state’s dairy sector, NASS reports that North Dakota cows produced 345 million pounds of milk in 2017. In addition, according to the Midwest Dairy Association, North Dakota is home to 75 licensed dairy herds as well as five plants that process dairy products and make it possible for milk to travel from the farm to the grocery store dairy case in just 48 hours.

Matt and Brad VanRay of VanRay Farms. Photo by Steve Woit/Farm Flavor Media

Partnering With North Dakota Producers

VanRay, who operates VanRay Farms with his father, uncles and cousins, works exclusively with Cavendish Farms and supplies the company with Russet Burbank potatoes throughout the year.

Along with VanRay Farms, Cavendish Farms – one of the region’s three major French fry processors and North America’s fourth-largest producer of frozen potato products – partners with potato farmers across the state. At their state-of-the-art potato processing plant in Jamestown, Cavendish Farms turns potatoes into French fries that are shipped to a variety of restaurants across North America and beyond, which gives North Dakota crops a global reach.

“Working with Cavendish Farms has been a great experience for us, and my family and I feel fortunate to be part of this supply chain,” VanRay says. “North Dakota grows some of the nation’s highest-quality potatoes, and I’m glad that people all over the world can enjoy the fruits of our labor. Plus, Cavendish Farms promotes our products and helps consumers understand that potatoes are a healthy, nutritious food.”

Cass-Clay Creamery also partners with North Dakota producers, sourcing milk from the state’s dairies to produce milk, yogurt and other items that are shipped to retailers across the state and surrounding areas. As a result, the region’s consumers have reliable, easy access to farm-fresh dairy products, and by purchasing them, shoppers are supporting their local farmers – that’s a winning combination.


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