Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative, an organic farmers' cooperative with more than 1200 farmer-members and a leading national organic brand has announced the election of VT dairy farmer-member Travis Forgues to its Board of Directors. Forgues is a second-generation farmer who milks eighty cows with his father on his 240-acre farm in northwestern Vermont. As Organic Valley's first Vermont farmer-member, he was instrumental in building the cooperative's membership in the state. He is the youngest person ever to be elected to the Organic Valley Board.
"We're excited to have Travis join the Board of our cooperative. He brings the perspective of a member from the Northeast and the vision of a younger farmer," said George Siemon, founding farmer and CEO of Organic Valley. "Travis helped Organic Valley pioneer the development of our Vermont dairy pool, which today numbers 118 Vermont farmers. Travis has served on our Dairy Executive Committee and has been a leader in engaging farmers in our marketing and in developing our Gen-O program, which focuses on nurturing the next generation of organic farmers in the U.S. Travis is a welcome addition to our Board."
Organic Valley's unique decision-making structure is reflected in its Board of Directors. Each board member, a farmer who owns equity in the cooperative, is elected by the farmer-members of the cooperative whose concerns and input are regularly reviewed.
Forgues and his wife, Amy, have been members of Organic Valley since 1999, two years after their farm became certified organic. The two have supported the cooperative through their work developing the cooperative's Gen-O program for young farmer-members and Travis' former role as the National Leader for the Farmer Ambassador Program, which gives farmers an active role in Organic Valley's marketing and outreach efforts.
Organic dairy farms are the largest segment of Vermont's organic farm community, according to the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, growing from a mere three farms in 1993 to nearly 200 today. The state's organic sector as a whole ranks high in the country, boasting 427 certified organic farms in 2005.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that organic farming is one of the fastest growing segments in U.S. agriculture. Certified organic farmland has grown from under a million acres in 1990 to over 4 million acres in 2005. Organic foods grew more than 20 percent in 2007, accounting for an estimated $20 billion in retail sales, according to the Organic Trade Association. With the rapid increase in demand for organic products, Forgues would like to see more young farmers become involved in the organic movement.
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 1,266 farmers in 35 states and one Canadian province, and achieved $432.5 million in 2007 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces more than 200 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.com and the cooperative's farmers' website, www.farmers.coop.