George Siemon: C-E-I-E-I-O

One of the nation's foremost organic agriculture advocates for nearly two decades, George Siemon is best known for his leadership in organizing farmers and building market support for organic agriculture. His work champions an agriculture that supports family farms, humane treatment of farm animals, soil mineralization, the environment, and high-quality organic food.

In 1988, George joined a group of family farmers in Wisconsin to found the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP). More commonly known by its brands Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, CROPP has grown to become the largest organic farming cooperative in North America while still remaining true to its local roots. The cooperative focuses on regional production and distribution, contracting with local production plants rather than building their own, which invests in local communities and farmers instead of “brick and mortar.” Organic Valley producers promote sustainability by farming without antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or pesticides. Their livestock herds feed on pasture, preserving landscapes and biodiversity for future generations. 

As a part of Organic Valley or in his own time, George has greatly influenced the organic industry for the past two decades. Most notably, he was instrumental in developing the national standards for organic certification. He also initiated Farmers Advocating for Organics, the largest (and only) organic-focused granting fund in the U.S., which is funded entirely by Organic Valley farmer-owners; advised the USDA as part of the Livestock Standards Board; and currently participates on the boards of directors for The Organic Center and Global Animal Partnership. in 2012, George was awarded the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Growing Green Award in the “Business Leader” category, and the Social Venture Network’s Hall of Fame Impact Award in the “Environmental Evangelist” category.

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