Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand, today announced their 2011 year-end results, which include bringing on 212 new farmers in regions such as Pennsylvania, Vermont, and California for 12 percent member growth across the country, increasing sales from $620 million to $715 million for 15.3 percent growth, and donating more than $2.2 million to nonprofit organizations dedicated to advancing organic food and farming—from community food banks to farmer initiatives to advocacy for mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.
“We measure our success against our mission,” said George Siemon, C-E-I-E-I-O and founding farmer of Organic Valley. “For us, that means keeping farmers on the land, being responsible stewards of the environment, and supporting rural communities.”
In terms of other tangible metrics for success, Organic Valley achieved sustainability and job creation goals in 2011, such as beginning installation of wind turbines to offset 100 percent of its distribution center’s current electricity use, on-farm renewable energy projects and other sustainability initiatives, and undergoing a state-of-the-art green-designed headquarters expansion in La Farge, Wis., that is expected to add 84 new jobs this year. In 2011 alone, the farmer-owned cooperative brought 79 new jobs to Vernon County, Wis., bringing total employees up to 620.
The past year also saw the launch of the latest of Organic Valley’s regional milks, New York Fresh™, produced, bottled, distributed and sold right in the Empire State. Like its regional counterparts, New York Fresh milk ensures fewer miles from farm to table and supports local economies, including the 113 New York farm families that produce it. Organic Valley also launched the first organic flavored half-and-half and soy creamers, providing an organic, fair-trade alternative to complement beverages and recipes.
The year was not without its hardships, as feed and other input costs skyrocketed, which together with lost acreage and carryover issues from the recession and oversupply era caused a shortage in organic milk supply. As such, Organic Valley will increase its farmer-owner pay price by $2 per hundred pounds of milk (“hundredweight,” or “cwt”) beginning in March 2012.
“It’s important as we start 2012 to support our farmers during these difficult supply times by increasing our farmer pay price,” continued Siemon. “We recognize the challenge of high feed costs and it is a major issue.”
Including the March 2012 pay price increase, Organic Valley farmer-owners will earn an average national pay price of $30/cwt, which exceeds the average pay price for a conventional farmer by approximately $10. As a farmer-owned cooperative, Organic Valley has historically adjusted its pay price to meet the needs of and assure a fair livelihood for its members.
Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,687 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $715 million in 2011 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop, www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative’s farmer website, www.farmers.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.