Ben & Jerry's added its own political/enviro message to January's inauguration activities in Washington. The Vermont-based ice cream maker took out newspaper ads encouraging Washington policy makers to put aside Blue and Red divisions and instead think Green by working to halt global warming.

An agriculture advocacy group in Berkshire County,Vt., is considering establishing a central facility for the aging and distribution of locally produced artisan cheese. The group will also explore the value of a regional label to support cheese and other artisan foods.

Foremost Farms USA will offer 11 scholarships worth $2,000 each to member-owners and the children of member-owners in 2005. The Agricultural Education Scholarships will be awarded to students who are pursuing a career in the agricultural field.

Dave Thomas has joined Gossner Foods Inc., as gen. mgr. of the Idaho Dairy Operations. Construction is currently underway on a state-of-the-art Swiss cheese plant in Heyburn, Idaho. Thomas has been pres./CEO of Glanbia Foods Inc., Twin Falls, Idaho for the past 14 years and will maintain a close working relationship with Glanbia.

In Canada last month a third case of mad cow disease was reported in Alberta Province. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said no part of the animal entered the human food or animal feed systems.

Grater Inc., a cut and wrap operation in Elgin Ill., was recently ordered to pay 108 current and former employees nearly $182,000 in back pay after Federal authorities determined that the company failed to pay employees overtime wages. In some cases employees were said to be working 50- and 70-hour work weeks.

The Sierra Club, and other environmental groups are asking California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to rethink his appointment of Chuck Ahlem co-owner of Hilmar Cheese, as undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The groups claim that Hilmar has been continually in violation of wastewater regulations.