Harrisonburg, Virginia-based Farmer Focus has announced a safety and operational milestone in its plant: five million hours without an OSHA-lost workday injury. In addition to this accomplishment, Farmer Focus achieved a total recordable injury rate of .80, well below the industry standard of 3.5.
Furthermore, Farmer Focus’ commitment to employee safety early in the pandemic kept the level of COVID-19 positive cases in Farmer Focus’ production facilities at or below the percentage of cases in Virginia throughout the pandemic.
To solidify its ongoing commitment to safety, the company has hired Stephen J. Shepard as EVP of operations. Shepard brings more than 15 years of experience in poultry plant and farm operations along with a dedication to growing Farmer Focus’ emphasis on employee safety and well-being.
In his new role, Shepard will lead the environmental health and safety, quality, farm operations and plant operations teams while ensuring Farmer Focus’ values are incorporated into everyday operations. He will prioritize creating efficient processes while improving the company’s safety record and continuing the focus on employee well-being and workforce development.
“Stephen brings with him a wealth of knowledge across the entire poultry supply chain and a true passion for the culture of servant leadership that we have developed at Farmer Focus,” said Erik Vaughan, Farmer Focus president and COO. “His leadership will help us ensure that we continue to foster a culture that values worker and farmer welfare as we expand our production capabilities and prepare for more growth.”
Previously, Shepard held positions in plant and farm operations at Pilgrim’s Pride and Miller Poultry. As FACTA’s director of poultry auditing and training, Shepard worked and assisted to originate some of the first poultry animal welfare audits to receive PAACO certification in the U.S.
“Coming from a family with a multi-generational history of farming that has dwindled to just a few farmers, I am passionate about the mission at Farmer Focus to protect generational family farming,” Shepard said. “I am humbled to have the opportunity to join this exceptional team of servant leaders and am deeply committed to lifting up our farmers and our plant workers by creating an efficient, safe and supportive environment to grow and thrive.”
Founded in 2014, Farmer Focus is the only 100 percent USDA organic and Humane Certified chicken company with a mission to promote and protect generational family farms. By shifting farm-level decision-making and chicken ownership back to farmers and empowering them to farm the way they know is best, the company improves the financial viability of the farm and farmer profit. Farmer Focus’ products are available throughout the East Coast and Midwest, at major retailers like Publix, Kroger and Harris Teeter.
For more information, visit farmerfocus.com.