Undersecretary of USDA Rural Development’s first visit to Oregon includes milking a Cowlebrity

Xochitl Torres Small, made her first visit to Oregon last week, as USDA Rural Development Under Secretary. Included among a few stops in rural Oregon was a tour and round table discussion at TMK Creamery + Distillery in Canby, Oregon. Undersecretary Torres Small discussed challenges with the process and reporting of the the Value Added Producer Grant program (VAPG), with representatives from Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer's office, Oregon Dairy Nutrition Council (ODNC), Oregon State University Food Innovation Center, Strategic Economic Development Corporation (SEDCOR), and several associations that represent growers and tourism in the Willamette Valley.

The round table discussion was preceded by lunch, courtesy of the TMK Creamery food truck, and included farm-to-fork ingredients produced at TMK, fresh and aged cheeses, as well as angus burgers from TMK Meat Co, part of the TMK brand umbrella. While farm-to-fork dinners are often touted as specialty fare, the TMK experience provides true farmstead farm-to-fork availability every Saturday and Sunday at S Dryland Road in Canby.

Each round table visitor, including representatives from Oregon Coast Visitors Association, Oregon Association of Nurseries, and Oregon Winegrowers Association were treated to a tour of TMK beginning in the calf barn, and on to the Milking Parlor, where Undersecretary Toress Small met Cowlebrity Regan for the first time. In what she called a “highlight” of her visit, the Undersecretary learned how to prep and milk a dairy cow from Marc Koch, Head Dairyman at TMK. Moving through the open air Cowlebrity barn and into the TMK Distillery, Undersecretary Torres Small discussed exactly how the Koch family takes whey, a bi-product of making cheese, and ferments and distills the sugars into a smooth vodka-like spirit, they call Cowcohol. While delicious, the true differentiator in Cowocohol is that it takes waste and creates a sustainable, value added product that can be duplicated at other small dairy’s and used throughout the world to create alcohols for fuel and other uses.

Listed among the Best 30 Top Shelf vodkas in the world, says “Cowcohol is one of the creamiest vodkas on the market… It's no exaggeration to say that vodka enthusiasts will fall in love at first taste. Cowcohol might be a little odd, but it's got all of the flavors of your traditional high-end vodka, plus a beautiful satiny finish that will make you believe in moo-ricles.” 

TMK Creamery is a 2022 recipient of the VAPG program and has used the provided matching funds to create awareness around the Cowcohol product and process. In addition, TMK is working to develop a curriculum documenting the process of  fermentation and distillation to upcycle whey into alcohol, with hopes to assist producers throughout the United States in creating viable products from waste. 

Speaking on behalf of regional producers in the Willamette Valley, TMK Creamery founder Todd Koch told Undersecretary Torres Small; “We are each appreciative of the opportunity to be awarded VAPG matching funds, and are honored for you to see for yourself that these grant funds are being put to good use.”  Small, who was born in Portland Oregon, was raised in, and lives in New Mexico. She was a US representative for New Mexico's 2nd congressional district, served as the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development at the United States Department of Agriculture since 2021 and in February 2023, was nominated by President Biden to serve as the United States deputy secretary of agriculture. She has been visiting rural areas nationwide to harvest grassroots input that she hopes will fine tune procedures that are plagued with obstacles, a job appreciated by all in attendance.

TMK Distilley, and sister operation TMK Creamery are located in Canby, Oregon in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. TMK exists to bridge the gap between urban and rural families by providing remarkable experiences that deliver a transparent look at farmstead cheese-making and sustainably upcycling useful byproducts into creative offerings like ice cream, vanilla extract and Cowcohol. TMK began a registered holstein dairy program just over 30 years ago when owner, Todd Koch, bought his first Holstein heifer in middle school. TMK is the world’s first Farmstead Creamery + Distillery. To find out more about TMK, please visit our website 

# # # 


TMK Distillery 

27221 S Dryland Rd, Canby, OR 97013

Tessa Koch, Owner/Operator

503-683-3397  |



DATE: April 18, 2023

April 18, 2023 0 comments WRITTEN BY Todd Koch