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Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative Stands 800 Farmers Strong

Submitted by: Organic Valley

Categories: Corporate Governance

Posted: Aug 16, 2006 – 11:15 AM EST

 

Represents 40% of U.S. Organic Dairy Farmers, 10% of Nation's Total Organic Farmers

Aug. 16 /CSRwire/ - LaFarge, Wisc.- 800 organic farmers in 25 states -- a record number -- are now members of the Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative, it was announced today by George Siemon, CEO and a founding farmer of the pioneering co-op. This solidifies Organic Valley/CROPP's position as the largest cooperative of organic farmers in North America. Siemon announced two additional membership benchmarks for Organic Valley/CROPP--600 organic dairy farmers and 100 organic produce farmers--the highest levels in the history of the cooperative.

"Our steady growth shows that the marriage of organic agriculture and the cooperative model is a winning formula for family farmers who want to stay on the land, consumers who want delicious organic food, and future generations who want a healthy environment," said Siemon. "Organic Valley is grateful to everyone whose hard work and support over the years have enabled us to stay true to our mission."

Organized in 1988 by a half dozen organic farmers who shared a love of the land and a belief in sustainable agriculture, Organic Valley/CROPP grew to nearly 200 farmers and $28 million in sales by the end of their first decade. By the end of 2005, its number of farmer-owners had risen to 723 farmers in 22 states, and sales had increased nearly tenfold to $245 million. Projections for 2006 continue this upward trend with an anticipated sales increase of $100 million and a 10 percent increase in farmer-owners.

Organic Valley/CROPP Announces $2 Million Farmers Transition Fund

In order to meet mounting consumer demand while guaranteeing a sustainable pay price to its farmer-owners, Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative pioneered a full-service membership support program specifically designed to assist its membership and help new farmers come into organic.

A key feature of the Organic Valley/CROPP Membership Services Program is a new $2 Million Transition Fund. "The $2 Million Transition Fund is dedicated to providing critical financial assistance to dairy farmers who join the co-op during their transition to organic methods," explained Siemon.

The Membership Services Program also includes educational workshops, educational literature, support of existing farmer training programs, mentoring and internship opportunities. It offers certification assistance, technical support for farmers transitioning to organic, counseling by the co-op's nationally renowned staff veterinarian, a farmer speakers bureau, a farmer hotline, web resources at www.farmers.coop and other services. In addition, to further support rural communities, the Organic Valley co-op gives a portion of profits back into the communities in which the farmers reside.

Organic Valley/CROPP Welcomes 600th Dairy Farmer

Marlin Sauder, the first dairy farmer to be certified organic in the state of Kentucky, became the 600th dairy farmer to join Organic Valley/CROPP cooperative on August 1st, the day his certification became effective. Sauder, 34, lives with his wife, Alma, and their seven children in Sharon Grove, KY near the north central Tennessee border. Sauder recently began mentoring Irvin Ramer, 28, whose farm is nearby. He became the state's second certified dairy farmer and the cooperative's 601st dairy member.

Sauder and Ramer represent "Generation Organic," Organic Valley's term for a new generation of organic family farmers who are taking the lead in producing high-quality food to meet America's growing demand for organics. Organic Valley started "Gen-O" in 2004 to nurture a new generation of organic farmers who are the heart of family farming. America lost 4.7 million farmers since 1935 and most of the 2.1 million who remain are over 55 years old. Organic Valley offers a variety of Gen-O educational initiatives. For further information visit www.farmers.coop/gen-o.

Organic Valley/CROPP Celebrates 100 Produce Farmers

This month also marks the addition of the 100th produce farmer in the co-op. The first farmer group, or "pool," in the cooperative, the produce pool now represents more than 100 farmers in 8 states (Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin). The farmers produce more than 50 products on small family farms that average 5 - 15 acres. The products are sold nationwide to distributors, natural food cooperatives and some mainstream grocery retailers.

"Our Produce Pool is realizing 100 percent sales growth annually. It is poised to expand to year-round sales adding growers outside of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest regions," noted David Bruce, Pools Director. "We're proud to be able to provide small producers with access to the marketplace."

Organic Valley/CROPP: Independent and Farmer Owned

Organic Valley/CROPP is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and is one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents more than 800 farmers in 25 states and realized a record $245 million in 2005 sales. Focused on its founding mission of keeping small and mid-sized farmers farming, the co-op produces 200 organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce, juice and meats which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. For more information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop and its new farmers' website, www.farmers.coop.

For more information, please contact:

Sue McGovern McGovern Communications
Phone: 781 648 7157

For more from this organization:

Organic Valley

 

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