We Are Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 Recertified!

In 2013, Didion achieved our FSSC 22000 – however to maintain this certification we’ve had yearly surveillance audits. Since this is Didion’s 4th year with the program, we were required to go through a complete recertification audit.

The full audit takes 2.5 days to complete (a surveillance audit take only 1.5 days) and due to our company’s role in food safety, all departments are affected by the audit. FSSC 22000 is more than a certification, it is a way of doing business – Didion’s entire process, from purchasing, milling, shipping, and even training, is done according to FSSC 22000 guidelines.

We are proud of our participation in FSSC 22000! Not only does our certification prepare us for the FDA’s Food Safety Moderation Act revision and help meet our customer’s requirements, but it also makes us a better company and ensures safe manufacturing of our products.

The recertification audit this year was a success! There was only one minor nonconformity found and actions have already been taken to correct it. We are very proud of our results and continuous improvement to ensure the best possible product for our customers. The entire Didion team looks forward to celebrating our success!

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You can read more about FSSC 22000 here.

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It’s Not Easy Being Green

Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day! At Didion, we’re dedicated to sustainability – not just in sourcing but in every aspect of our business. We partner with local and national sustainability-focused organizations to further our environmental efforts – since 2008, our energy efficiency investments have reaped enough energy savings to power 4321 homes for an entire year!

FOE AwardLast week we proudly accepted a 2016 Excellence in Energy Award from Focus on Energy for our commitment to energy efficiency practices. A program through the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, Focus on Energy works with Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. To learn more about our projects with Focus on Energy, check out this great article!

In Wisconsin, Didion is also part of the WI Sustainable Business Council’s Green Masters Program, achieving our Green Masters Designation for the third year in a row. The objective of this program is to provide companies with a benchmark for themselves and the ability to compare their sustainability performance to other companies in their sector.

Sustainability ObjectiveOn a national level, Didion is a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Plants Program – in December 2009 we signed a pledge to reduce our energy consumption by 25% over the course of 10 years. We’re definitely on our way with a 13.3% reduction over the last 6 years!

As Didion grows and evolves, so does our dedication to sustainability. Our commitment to conservation means we will continue to look for ways to reduce our impact on the environment and preserve the land for future generations.

By: Tonya Umbarger, Program Manager at Didion Milling

Feeding & Fueling the World Together

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Zoey Brooks, Wisconsin’s 67th Alice in Dairyland, visited Didion Milling and Ethanol on Tuesday morning to learn about how locally-grown corn is processed into food, feed and fuel products that are used in our local communities, across the country and around the world.

As Wisconsin’s agriculture ambassador, Alice in Dairyland strives to educate audiences across Wisconsin about the $59 billion economic impact and importance of our state’s diverse agriculture industry in our daily lives. Corn, as Wisconsin’s second largest agricultural commodity by cash receipts, is an important part of Alice in Dairyland’s story.

Zoey took a stroll down fermentation alley in the ethanol plant, inspected samples in Didion’s labs and explored various granulations of milled corn. While touring our facilities, she learned how corn is fractionated in our dry corn mill, then sorted for its best use in food and fuel production. For more information about how we maximize the kernel of corn in our two facilities, check out the Corn Milling 101 series on our blog.

During her year as Alice in Dairyland, Zoey drives a flex-fuel vehicle wrapped in graphics promoting ethanol production. Here are some of facts she shares about ethanol as she fuels up with E85 during her travels around the state:

  1. Provides a lot of jobs. A study done by ABF Economics found that the 13.3 billion gallons of ethanol produced in 2013 created 86,503 jobs and supported an additional 300,277 indirect and induced jobs.
  2. Lower cost of fuel for everyone. A report from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University found that ethanol supplying about 10 percent of our fuel has reduced the price at the pump by more than $1.00 per gallon.
  3. More than fuel. One bushel of corn (56 lbs.) can produce 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17-18 pounds of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS). These are an important co-product of ethanol production and a common livestock feed.
  4. Improves the air quality of motor emissions. A study from the University of Nebraska found that ethanol reduces emissions by almost 60 percent.
  5. Decreases U.S. dependence on imported petroleum. Since 2008 net petroleum imports have fallen by one third and are continuing to decrease to the lowest level in 20 years.

Click here to learn more about Alice in Dairyland.

By: Adam Lemmenes, Plant Manager at Didion Ethanol

Didion Named “Green Master”

Green-Masters-Logo-300x200Congratulations to Didion’s Green Team for being recognized as a Green Master at the 6th Annual Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference!

Green Masters is Wisconsin’s largest and most-notable sustainability recognition program. It is an objective, points-based program enabling Wisconsin institutions of all sizes and industries to join a group of like-minded companies on the road to sustainability. Similar to the program name, the top 20% of applicants are called Green Masters. Other levels include Green Professional and Green Apprentice.

At Didion, we focus on constant improvement in energy efficiency and sustainability in operations. Didion Ethanol, a zero liquid discharge facility, recycles process water, using approximately 20 percent less water than the industry average with no direct discharge water into local waterways. Natural gas consumption is 5.8% lower than the industry average per unit of ethanol produced. Didion Milling reengineered its processes to reduce energy and steam usage by eliminating the need for some equipment.

Tom Eggert (left), executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council presents Green Masters Award to Tonya Umbarger (right), program manager at Didion Milling

Tom Eggert (left), executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council presents Green Masters Award to Tonya Umbarger (right), program manager at Didion Milling

In 2010, we pledged to the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent over 10 years. Our sustainability team carefully monitors energy usage, streamlining processes and reducing energy demands while maintaining high quality and production standards.

It’s an honor to be recognized among the impressive group of companies in the program. We’re working towards an even more sustainable 2014!

By: Tonya Umbarger, Program Manager at Didion Milling

A Growing Culture, A Growing Workforce

It’s exciting to be part of an actively growing company and offer rewarding careers to local folks who are excited to help us feed and fuel the world. We’ve tripled production over the last three years and expect more growth in 2014. To meet increasing demand, we’re actively seeking employees for 14 new positions.

Our recent growth is largely due to expanding product lines and new or growing partnerships with food and industrial manufacturers. The ethanol production business unit is also experiencing growth with improved efficiency and exploration of new coproducts.

Just as our business has grown and evolved over time, so has our culture. We realized that we needed to shift our focus from products to people. We’re in business to develop great people first. Creating quality products from grain is secondary.

The changing culture has fostered more cross-functional teamwork and a front-line staff that is engaged in business decisions. Employees are empowered to hire their coworkers through a hiring team. They are the best evaluators of skills, character and cultural fit.

We are looking for driven team players with a desire to grow in the company’s dynamic culture. Positions are open across all areas of the business, including operations, maintenance, technology and management. Didion Milling is hosting career fairs to give potential employees an opportunity to meet the team and learn more about the company.

Career fairs are scheduled on Tuesday, January 28th at the Beaver Dam AmericInn and Wednesday, February 12th at the Portage Best Western. Both events are open from noon – 8 PM. More information is available at didionmilling.com/careers.

Nine Groups We’re Thankful for at Didion Milling

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Thanksgiving week is a time to express our thanks to those who have helped us grow and have made a difference in our lives.  This year we’d like to show special appreciation for nine groups of people who have made special efforts to help us get to where we are today.

9. National/Wisconsin Corn Growers Association

Our corn growers associations do a great job educating the public about the good things corn farmers do to produce the safest, healthiest, most efficient, abundant and sustainable corn crop in the world. We appreciate their support for food and fuel production with corn.

8. Renewable Fuels Association

We’re thankful for RFA as the authoritative voice for the ethanol industry. The organization’s continued efforts to expand markets for ethanol and promote friendly policies, programs and initiatives help us to continue growing our business.  Their work to improve public awareness about the benefits of renewable fuels is vital to our industry.

7. North American Millers’ Association 

NAMA enables its members to grow and prosper through education, advocacy, regulation, legislation, trade, supply and consumption. We are grateful for their efforts on behalf of the milling industry to promote the utilization and consumption of dry milled, grain-based products.

6. The local community

We appreciate the opportunity to do business in a rural community.  It has been a pleasure to get to know the people in the community and we’re happy to support them through our corporate programs and the Old Mill Foundation.

5. Strategic vender partners

We’re thankful for our vendor partners and their efforts to help us in our mission of constant improvement.  It has been a pleasure growing our businesses together.  We’re excited to see what the future brings working together!

4. Our producer partners

Local farmers have been at the core of our business since we opened our doors more than 40 years ago. We are proud to work with some of the most efficient and sustainable farmers in the world.  You inspire us to maximize the value of every kernel we process in our facilities and keep the value add in our communities. Click here to view our producer thank you video.

3. Our customers

We have the great pleasure to work with wonderful friends, our customers. It has been a joy to serve you and grow with you.  We are excited to see what new opportunities we can discover together in 2014!

2. Our families

Our staff families are a big part of our organization.  We sincerely appreciate your care and support as we work to achieve our goals. Thank you to all of the families that make up our Didion family – we couldn’t do it without you.

1. Our great people

Finally, we’re thankful for the great people we work with at Didion. Our employees are the heartbeat of the organization as we develop great people and make quality products from grain. We are thankful to employ people with shared core values. Thank you for your role in helping us feed and fuel the world.

May you and all your friends and family have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

By John Didion, CEO of Didion Milling

Thank You, Farmers!

The holiday season is the perfect time to recognize those that help put food on America’s table. November 20 is “Thank a Farmer” Day, a time to honor the 22 million Americans who work on farms or in farm-related jobs.  Our farmers are extremely efficient – today the average U.S. farmer feeds 155 people a day, both in the United States and abroad.  They achieve this while also using sustainable growing practices to preserve their cropland for the next generation of farmers.  At Didion, we are proud to partner with our producers to help feed and fuel the world.

For more information about Thank a Farmer Day, visit www.thankafarmer.org.

By Garry Gard, Grain Manager at Didion Milling

We’ve Achieved a Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000!

Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 is a comprehensive food safety management system. It incorporates the ideals of continuous improvement and prevention to develop a proactive and effective food safety plan. FSSC 22000 is one of four Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognized food safety schemes and is the only ISO-based system. FSSC 22000 was selected of the four acceptable GFSI schemes due to Didion’s short-term plans to achieve certification in other ISO-based systems.

FSSC 22000 encompasses two standards, ISO 22000:2005 (Management system) and ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 (Prerequisite programs), but in itself really is a three-part system.
• Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan
• Prerequisite Programs (PRPs)
• Management System

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Plan
Risk analysis of ingredient and production processes

HACCP is a systematic, preventative approach to food safety that uses the idea of hazard analysis to identify physical, chemical and biological hazards/risks associated with a food manufacturing process. Hazards identified in the HACCP plan are assessed for severity and likelihood to determine the risk associated. Risk is then mitigated through the incorporation of control programs (PRPs), which when monitored and validated for effectiveness, ensure product safety to the greatest possible efficacy.

Prerequisite Programs (PRPs)
Programs in place as foundation of the HACCP plan to mitigate risks

Prerequisite programs (PRPs) are a series of in-depth programs that provide the foundation for the food safety program and are standard practices necessary to ensure safe products. Prerequisite programs provide the groundwork for the entire system and are also the real driving force behind the food safety program based upon the HACCP plan.

Management System
System focused on the management and assurance of food safety

The management system ensures the necessary processes, resources, approach and culture are in place to support the food safety system.

By: John Deininger, Quality Assurance Manager at Didion Milling

Putting & Produce – Didion Gives Back to the Local Community

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Al Ogorzalek, New Berlin, Wis., hit a hole-in-one on the Ballweg Implement-sponsored hole 10 to win a John Deere XUV550 S4 Gator. Al is pictured with his wife Mary Claire Lanser.

Didion Milling hosted the seventh annual Old Mill Foundation Golf Outing on July 26 at the Fox Lake Golf Club. A new record was set this year, raising more than $15,000 for the Old Mill Foundation. Brenda Oft, grain merchandiser at Didion Milling, organized the fundraiser. This year’s event saw its first hole-in-one contest winner, Al Ogorzalek of New Berlin, Wis. He hit a hole-in-one on the Ballweg Implement-sponsored hole 10 to win a John Deere XUV550 S4 Gator.

IMG_6898The Old Mill Foundation was founded in 2006 to give back to the community of Cambria through support of local nonprofit organizations that work to enhance the lives of the Village of Cambria, Township of Courtland and the Cambria-Friesland School District. Cambria Fire Department, Cambria-Friesland School, Cambria-Friesland Youth Football Team and the Cambria Pool Fun Committee are a few such organizations that have benefited from the Old Mill Foundation’s numerous donations and scholarships.

Didion Milling’s summer food drive had an overwhelming response, as employees donated 373 pounds of non-perishable food items for the Cambria Bread Basket to help fight local hunger. Didion Milling and Alsum Farms and Produce of Friesland, Wis. generously matched employee contributions by donating fresh produce. This resulted in more than 1,000 pounds of food to stock the local food pantry for families in need.

According to the University of Wisconsin-Extension, hunger affects 1 in 11 households in Wisconsin, or approximately 560,000 people. The food donated has fed people not just in the Cambria community, but other communities in the area such as Columbus and Beaver Dam.

A Fresh Look at the Gluten-Free Diet Trend

Certified-Gluten-Free-Logo-300-dpi-ncGluten-free this, gluten-free that, go gluten-free. This trend seems to be popping up in the news, grocery stores and bakeries. Recently, Dunkin’ Donuts became one of the first food chains to introduce gluten-free bakery items on their menu. But what does this all mean? What is gluten and why is it important?

Gluten is a specific protein found in wheat, barley and rye that causes gastrointestinal complications in people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.

Only one percent of the U.S. population has this disease and it is four times more prevalent now than in the 1950s. So why are so many people going gluten-free when few are actually affected by it?

The answer is actually quite simple; demand for gluten-free products is growing. According to Celiac Central, the autoimmune disorder is becoming more prevalent among Americans. Gluten-free diets have been pegged as one of the top five health trends of 2013 due to perceived health benefits and diagnosis increase.

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Nearly 18 percent of consumers eat gluten-free foods as compared to 15 percent in October 2010, says Packaged Facts, while 30 percent are trying to avoid foods containing gluten according to a NPD Group research survey. Restaurants are now offering 275 percent more gluten-free menu options than in 2009.

There are many wheat substitutes, like nut, buckwheat, millet and rice flours, on the market for those looking to eliminate gluten from their diets. Corn is naturally gluten-free, unlike wheat, barley and rye; giving those with celiac disease an affordable option to these specialty products.

Since corn has similar properties to wheat, it makes an excellent ingredient in gluten-free foods. Corn works well in cake mixes, breadings and thickeners because of its viscosity.

Didion Milling has responded to this trend by working with the Gluten Intolerance Group to receive gluten-free certification. As of June 19, Didion products are now certified gluten-free. To read more about Didion Milling’s gluten-free corn products, visit our website.