Nation's largest organic cooperative seeks dairy, livestock, produce and grain producers
As part of its ongoing effort to educate farmers about the benefits of organic agriculture, Organic Valley Family of Farms, America's leading organic farmers' cooperative, today announced it full support for "Help Wanted: Organic Farmers," a major education campaign just launched by the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service Inc. (MOSES).
The "Help Wanted: Organic Farmers" campaign provides interested farmers with the information they need to consider converting to organic agriculture. Producers are urged to call MOSES at (715) 772-3153, or visit the MOSES web site at www.mosesorganic.org for further information.
"The time is now to spread the word about the organic opportunity, especially for America's family farmers. Consumer demand for organic products is high and shows no sign of straying from its course of double digit annual growth," said George Siemon, Organic Valley CEO. "The MOSES 'Help Wanted: Organic Farmers' campaign will play a key role in helping producers understand how organic can be a lifeline."
"Demand for organic dairy, livestock, produce and grain producers is increasing, but getting more grain producers on board is the first step," said Siemon, who noted organic grain prices have been relatively stable and consistently higher on average than conventional over the last three years. "Feed producers are in strong demand at Organic Valley to support our organic livestock and dairy sector growth. We're looking for organic corn, soybeans, grains and hay producers."
Strong future growth is expected across all of Organic Valley's producer pools, which include dairy, egg, beef, pork, poultry, vegetable, citrus and soy organic farmers. The co-op's dairy pool is expected to double in the next five years. Organic Prairie Family of Farms, Organic Valley's meat subsidiary, grew 106 percent from 2003-2004, and is projecting 50 percent growth in 2004-2005. Egg flock numbers and sales projections are expected to triple in the next five years. In 2004, 200,000 birds were in the program. By 2008, that number is expected to be more than 600,000.
A defining characteristic of Organic Valley is that its farmers set their own annual milk price and control the supply of the cooperative's milk. Organic Valley farmers have succeeded through supply control in maintaining a stable pay-price, unlike conventional dairy farming where farmers' paychecks fluctuate due to unpredictable markets. In 2004, the co-op's dairy farmers were paid 25 percent more than their conventional counterparts. They received a premium of $4.16 per hundredweight.
In 2004, Organic Valley sales were the highest in the co-op's history, jumping 33 percent over the previous year ($208 million in 2004 and $156 million in 2003) and surpassing the 20 percent rate of growth in the organic industry. Organic Valley is projecting sales of $259 million in 2005.
Organic Valley offers intensive support to farmers who want to convert to organic. Most recently, the co-op created the "Transition to Organic Fund," a financial assistance program to help offset the costs for dairy farmers who are transitioning to organic. Farmers who are interested in the fund or joining the co-op should call Organic Valley's Producer Hotline, (888) 809-9297 or visit www.organicvalley.coop/our_story/join_our_coop/index.html.
Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organized in 1988, Organic Valley represents 689 organic farmers in 20 states. It owes its success to staying independent and true to its mission: keeping small and mid-sized farmers farming. It's proudly one of the few independent national organic dairy cooperatives in the United States, and one of the nation's only national organic brands to be 100-percent farmer-owned. As stewards of the earth who use nature as their teacher, Organic Valley farmers produce more than 130 delicious organic products. Look for their organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce, juice and meats in food cooperatives, natural foods stores and supermarkets throughout the country. For further information, contact Organic Valley at 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop.