WILLCOX — With 70 percent employee ownership and a company motto of “Be Safe and Be Kind,” Coronado Farms spokeswoman Moirie White told Cochise County Board of Supervisors Tuesday that workers at the dairy operation outside of Willcox are passionate about their jobs.
White’s presentation to the board offered insight on a rapidly-growing business in Cochise County, which currently employs a staff of 120 locally, many of whom are five-year degreed professionals in animal science or veterinarians. Coronado Farms is operated by Riverview LLP, an agricultural partnership based in Morris, Minnesota. The company has farming sites in five states employing about 1,200 people, White said.
The operation in Cochise County has 10,000 acres in crop production and milks a “flex dairy” herd of up to 7,000 heifers twice a day. Coronado Farms is primarily responsible for heifer breeding as part of Riverview’s dairy operation and handles about 66,000 head onsite. Newborn heifers are transported to the company’s site in New Mexico within four days after birth. There, they are housed in calf shelters until they are three months old. Except for Cochise County, Riverview maintains its dairy operation at sites in Minnesota and South Dakota.
White said the company is transparent in its employment practices, participating in the federal government’s E-Verify program and paying for employees to obtain work visas.
“We’re right up front with who we hire,” White said.
She said Coronado Farms pays a competitive wage, offers health care coverage, a 401k benefit and pays its employees for their overtime hours.
“It’s important that our people are passionate about what they do and we want to facilitate that as much as we can,” White said.
Riverview’s employees own 70 percent of the company, which fosters a culture that puts a priority on improving local communities, White said. Coronado Farms is actively partnering with local schools and developing agriculture programs for students; it’s also a sponsor of events in local communities, she said.
Supervisor Pat Call questioned the company’s position on water conservation.
White said Coronado Farms is “well aware” of groundwater consumption concerns in the Sulphur Springs Valley where it grows corn and wheat for silage. She said the company works closely with agronomy and water experts to efficiently use water and address issues about the level of the aquifer.
In other business, supervisors approved the addition of road segments in the Parker Lake area to the County Maintained Road system. Karen Riggs, highway and floodplain director, said the additional segments are about one-quarter mile of roadway that needs to be maintained to provide access to other public roads in the Parker Lake subdivision.
The board authorized the abandonment of the Richardson subdivision, platted in 1914 and recorded in 1919. The 71-acre site is located north of Interstate 10 in the Bowie area, south of East Anderson Street and west of South Apache Pass Road. The property has been developed as a pecan orchard — operated by National Pecan — with just two structures onsite. The abandonment eliminates subdivision of the property for residential development.
Supervisors approved an intergovernmental agreement between the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Cochise County Health Department totalling more than $600,000. The state funds pay for the Women, Infants and Children Services Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program which are operated by the county health department.
Board members also gave the health department a stamp of approval for a grant of $180,063 to pay for case management and family caregiver services between the Southeast Arizona Government Organization and the county’s health and social services agency.