Farmer Focus Reaffirms its Commitment to Safety and Operational Excellence with New Executive Hire and Plant Safety Milestone

As Farmer Focus celebrates 5 million man-hours without an OSHA-lost workday in its facilities, the company welcomes Stephen J. Shepard as Executive Vice President of Operations to build on its commitment to operational excellence and worker safety and wellbeing.

HARRISONBURG, Va., May 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Farmer Focus, the only 100% USDA organic and Humane Certified® chicken company with a mission to promote and protect generational family farms, is proud to announce a major safety and operational milestone in its plant: 5 million man-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 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 the highest level of safety and operational excellence, the company welcomes Stephen J. Shepard as Executive Vice President of Operations. Shepard brings over 15 years of experience in poultry plant and farm operations along with a dedication to growing Farmer Focus’ emphasis on employee safety and wellbeing.

As EVP of Operations for Farmer Focus, Shepard will lead the Environmental Health and Safety, Quality, Farm Operations, and Plant Operations teams while ensuring Farmer Focus’ values — including worker safety, farmer empowerment and animal welfare — are incorporated into everyday operations. Specifically, Shepard will prioritize creating more efficient processes while improving the company’s industry-leading safety record and continuing the company’s focus on employee wellbeing 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 US.

“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,” said Shepard. “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.”

This news is just the most recent indication of Farmer Focus' expansion and commitment to its mission. Other noteworthy points include:

  • Farmer Focus is the #1 fastest growing organic chicken brand*
  • Farmer Focus is the #1 distributed organic chicken brand*
  • Farmer Focus is the #2 organic chicken brand*
  • The company was recognized by the White House in January 2022, when CEO Corwin Heatwole was invited to join President Biden at a roundtable to discuss competition in the meat industry. During this conversation, he advocated for independent farmers and explained how Farmer Focus is creating a new and equitable business model for the poultry industry.
  • Farmer Focus received an Impact Award from Progressive Grocer in recognition of outstanding environmental, social and governance leadership.
  • Farmer Focus’s pre-seasoned organic chicken line earned two NEXTY Awards in September 2021 and was nominated for a third in March 2022. NEXTY Awards are bestowed upon products that display outstanding innovation, inspiration and integrity.

*All data references organic chicken brands in grocery stores over the 52-week period ending 4.17.2022 as indicated by IRI data.

About Farmer Focus
Founded by sixth-generation farmer Corwin Heatwole in 2014, Farmer Focus is the only 100% 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, Farmer Focus significantly improves the financial viability of the farm and farmer profit. Available in 2,800 stores throughout the East Coast and Midwest, including major retailers like Publix, Kroger, Harris Teeter and more, Farmer Focus is committed to consistently producing exceedingly delicious, 100% USDA organic and humanely raised chicken that is better for people, the planet and animals.

Contact: Molly Antos
Dadascope Communications


Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:


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