Fostering positive change in rural communities, family farming and the environment throughout the nation, Organic Valley Family of Farms, the nation's largest cooperative of organic family farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands, donated more than $2.2 million in cash and food to charitable organizations last year, the cooperative reported today.
Organic Valley provided almost $1.2 million in cash and food contributions to 586 non-profits, educational institutions and other similar organizations in the local communities and regions of its farmer-owners. The co-op strives to support organizations that are champions in one or more of the following areas: family farming, rural communities, organic research, organic education and promotion, humane animal treatment, environmental education and preservation and child wellness.
"Our giving programs are an extension of our cooperative ideals. We know when we give to great organic causes and to local communities, we get back tenfold. We consider every dollar given an effective way of supporting change for good," said Theresa Marquez, Chief Marketing Executive at Organic Valley.
Nearly half of the total dollars contributed originated from Organic Valley's FAFO (Farmers Advocating for Organics) Fund, a program completely funded and managed by the farmer-owners of the cooperative.
Organic Valley and Organic Prairie farmer-owners voluntarily contribute to FAFO, which seeks to advance and promote organic research, education and advocacy. A committee of farmer-owners reviews grant applications from regional and national organizations, then awards grants to those projects that have the greatest potential to positively impact organic agriculture, the industry and the marketplace. (www.organicvalley.coop/farmerfund)
Among FAFO's largest grants in 2008:
- $45,000 to the University of Minnesota - Southwest Research & Outreach Center, for two studies: "No-Till Organic Research" and "High Tunnel Season Extension of Vegetable Crops."
- $38,016 to the University of Vermont Extension, to study the feasibility and season extension of cereal grains as a source of organic feed.
- $25,000 to Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, to expand their "Help Wanted: Organic Farmers" program as a way to recruit and support new and transitioning organic farmers.
- $25,000 to Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (now merged with National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture and known as National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition), for advocacy and oversight of the implementation of organic farming programs in the 2008 Farm Bill.
In addition, Organic Valley provided over $1 million in food to more than twenty food shelters and food banks nationwide, with Feed the Children (based in Oklahoma), God's People Helping People (Wisconsin), Feeding America (Chicago), Capital Area Food Bank (Washington, DC), and Birch Community Services (Portland, Ore.) among the largest recipients.
Organic Valley Family of Farms: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and is one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,332 farmers in 35 states and one Canadian province, and achieved $527 million in 2008 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. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie Family of Farms 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.