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Source: Joseph Gallo Farms news release

Joseph Gallo Farms, maker of Joseph Farms Cheese, was awarded the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for its sustainable farming and cheese making.

Joseph Gallo Farms, located in Atwater, received the award in the Sustainable Practices or Facilities category in a ceremony held Jan. 22 in Sacramento.

The award, known as the GEELA, is California's highest and most prestigious environmental honor. It recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses for their exceptional leadership in voluntary achievements that help conserve California's resources, protect and enhance the environment and build public-private partnerships.

"We are honored and pleased that the Governor has recognized our commitment to sustainable practices," said Mike Gallo, CEO of Joseph Gallo Farms. "Sustainability is something my family and I are very passionate about. This award is a testament to the amazing support we receive from our family of customers and employees, and it inspires us to continually improve."

Joseph Gallo Farms began in 1946 as a small family farm and is today a model of sustainable agriculture, pioneering practices that have become industry standards for large-scale dairying and cheese making. The farm's biogas digester turns methane into power to run the cheese-making operation, and it reclaims and reuses 100 percent of the effluent in a closed system.

The third-generation family farm has pioneered investments in renewable energy, which have played a crucial role in allowing the family to reduce dependence on fossil fuel, better preserve the natural environment and maximize economic health. Joseph Gallo Farms was able to create hundreds of new jobs during the recession, Gallo noted.

"We designed our operation to maximize efficiency and sustainability, and we are proud that our practices have a positive impact on our community and the natural environment," he added.

The Governor's Award joins a long list of awards for Joseph Gallo Farms' environmentally sustainable practices, including three California EPA awards for waste reduction; a U.S. EPA award for outstanding leadership in protecting the environment; and awards from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other environmental agencies for the development of ag conservation easements and wetlands preservation and restoration.

Joseph Gallo Farms' cheeses are 100 percent natural, hormone free and award-winning, with a record 30 awards for its dairy products in 2012 alone, including 17 gold medals at state, national and international competitions. Among the gold medal winners are the newest Joseph Farms cheeses - Chipotle Cheddar, Jalapeņo Muenster, Italian Garden Jack, Caraway Cheddar and Reduced Fat Monterey Jack.

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