Omsco is 100% farmer-owned and farmer-run.
Founded in 1994 by a small group of like-minded individuals, today we comprise over 250 members, spread across the UK.
Our farmers are the main providers of organic milk to the UK liquid and ingredients markets, as well as supplying the requirements of our overseas customers and partners.
As a co-operative, we are a not-for-profit business, with our members and their families working together in close partnership for our mutual benefit. More than just a legal, or financial structure, our organisation is a way of life.
Meet a few of our members:
Wicton Farm is a family run dairy farm managing a 110 cow herd over 113 hectares. They converted to organic dairy farming in 1998 and the family have been supplying Omsco members since 2000.
The team at Wicton Farm are passionate about farming to the highest standards possible and they are always keen to learn about new ideas and have won several Omsco awards.
Claire is a key member of the family farm: "As farmers we very much enjoy being part of Omsco as it is a friendly, creative, forward-thinking co-operative who have a flexible 'can do' business attitude with a refreshing ethical outlook.
"Being an organic farm has become part of who we are as people - we are continuously evaluating our farm system as a whole, starting with the health of the soil and our dedication to ensuring our cows live long natural, happy healthy lives."
Tim and Louise Downes, in partnership with Tim’s parents, run The Farm in Longnor, Shropshire. They also manage a second farm and in total look after 400 cows, 150 beef cattle and 357 hectares. Tim is an Omsco director and the family have been Omsco members and farming organically since 2000.
Tim is well known in the dairy industry for his sustainable farming practices as well as his technical dairy farming expertise. In 2017 Tim and Louise were finalists in one of the industry’s most prestigious awards, Farmers Weekly Dairy Farm of the Year.
Tim is passionate about animals, sustainable farming, developing his staff and educating local communities on the importance of food and farming and what they do on the farm on a day to day basis. They often open their farm doors to school children and the general public.
“We have always been happy with how Omsco strives to open up and secure new markets for our milk: From Omsco’s beginnings when they nurtured a relationship with Yeo Valley, to more recently how they have formed a partnership with Wyke Farms and developed new premium export markets." Tim Downes.
Wil Armitage manages and part owns 920 cows on three units with 3000 acres of organic land. Starting as herd manager with Peter Dixon-Smith, Wil became managing partner in 2004 changing the business, one of the highest yielding herds in the country, to organic in 2005 and has supplied Omsco since 2007.
Wil has a pioneering and innovative approach to farming and introduced a biological farming system. Explaining biological farming, Wil says it's all about taking a holistic approach and working with nature to grow and improve soil health.
“As a supplier of milk to Omsco’s US premium pool, it’s been great to have the opportunity to learn lessons from America. I’m now keen to share my knowledge of biological systems with other farmers, particularly in my role as an Omsco technical committee member.” Wil Armitage.
The Willis Family have been supplying Omsco for nearly 20 years and run a 140 cow herd over 360 acres.
The family moved from Wiltshire to Scotland in 1989 and were one of the first organic dairy producers in Scotland.
Following the death of Anthony 15 years ago, William took over the management of the farm with his mother Anne.
William has taken the business from strength to strength and was named Farmers Weekly Young Farmer of the Year in 2015. Now joined by middle brother Angus, the family have installed milking vending machines on the farm. Their latest venture is proving very successful.
The family's hard work and passion was rewarded in 2017 when they were named Omsco Farmer of the Year for their attention to detail and clear business strategy.
“We have expanded the business to ensure the future of a family farm with the support of Omsco. With a sustainable milk price and the expertise of Omsco we are confident in the future of Organic Dairy Farming.” Anne Willis.
Woodhorn Farm is a 1,500 acre mixed farm in Sussex. The dairy side of the business comprises 250 cows and is now 94% self-sufficient in feed, growing a combination of wheat, barley, oats and maize.
Woodhorn Farm has been farmed organically for twenty years, and has been an Omsco member for almost the same amount of time.
For John, organic is simply the way he farms and there is no Plan B. It is a holistic approach to sustainability, encompassing everything the business does from the cows, the environment, the soils, and the staff to the local community in which they live.
“Omsco was pioneered by the very first organic dairy farmers to whom we all owe a great debt. The spirit of close cooperation amongst the membership combined with an exceptional team of staff, has enabled Omsco to lead the development of the market for organic dairy products ever since. Through unceasing innovation and outstanding business expertise, Omsco continue to set the standard which others can only follow.
"I take great pride and pleasure from being part of a co-operative that genuinely delivers the best market returns for its members, is building a stable and sustainable future whilst retaining the essence of being a co-operative – mutual support and equality. I would be nervous as an organic dairy producer outside of the Omsco family.” John Pitts
Laurence Harris has been dairy farming for nearly 50 years and is the founder and commercial director of award-winning Welsh organic dairy brand Daioni.
Laurence took over from his father’s 120 acre dairy farm in 1971 and by 1999 the farm had increased to 1500 acres. But by this time Laurence had become increasingly concerned about the effect intensive farming can have on human health, the environment and also on the well-being of his cows. He sought a new direction and by 2002 the farm had converted to organic and joined Omsco.
Laurence explored opportunities to grow the business with his son Tom, when he returned home after securing a PhD from Cambridge and spending three years in Post Doc research at the University of Michigan.
In 2006 they launched the Daioni milk and flavoured milk brand. The brand is now exported to over ten countries and has a turnover in excess of £3m. The family farm business has grown to over 3500 acres and three herds, and its milk is supplemented with milk from the Omsco pool to meet the brand’s demand growth.
“The demise of traditional co-operatives in being the back stop of the industry is well documented. It is reassuring to be part of a co-operative that is on the front foot.
“Having farmed conventionally for over 30 years and now organically for nearly 20 years, there can be no argument on the way forward.” Laurence Harris.