Organic Valley Flips the Script in 2023 by Welcoming Dozens of Family Farms into the Cooperative Amidst Farm Crisis
As farmers and rural communities face the effects of increased consolidation, an organic dairy cooperative seeks not just more milk but more farmers.
LA FARGE, Wis. — In a year marked by significant challenges for small family farms and rural communities, Organic Valley, the largest cooperative of organic farmers in the nation, is not just seeking more milk but actively welcoming more farmers. The cooperative has brought 84 family farms into its fold in 2023, demonstrating a robust response to the trend of farm loss and agricultural consolidation.
This expansion is not just about numbers; it's about a growing movement. With plans to welcome more farms in 2024, Organic Valley is set to redefine the landscape of organic farming in America, demonstrating its steadfast commitment to nurturing organic farmers, protecting the environment and feeding communities with wholesome, organic products.
“This is who we are,” said Shawna Nelson, Organic Valley executive vice president of membership. “Last year, we brought in farms that were abruptly dropped by their milk buyers, and this year, we've welcomed 84 more into our organic dairy community. Our commitment to organic family farmers is unwavering, and we aim to be the go-to option for those seeking a stable future in farming.”
The cooperative welcomed 26 organic family farms from Pennsylvania, a dozen more from Wisconsin, 22 in New York, six from Ohio, and several others from Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and Vermont. By doing so, Organic Valley continues to strengthen its supply chain across multiple regions, bringing an organic market and sense of community to farms nationwide.
“We can’t do this alone,” said Jaclyn Cardin, Organic Valley chief brand officer. “If you care about how your food is produced and who is producing it, we think we offer a lot. We want consumers to buy with both heart and head, knowing that Organic Valley products come from a place of integrity. Because we're a farmer-owned cooperative, when you purchase our products, the farmers who dedicate themselves to caring for the land, the animals and their communities receive stable and farmer-determined compensation. We believe good food comes from good, small family farms.”
The addition of these 84 farms sets the stage for more significant growth. Looking ahead to 2024, Organic Valley will continue supporting small organic family farms, further solidifying its role as a leader in sustainable organic farming. This growth is a testament to Organic Valley's commitment to protecting organic farmland in the U.S. — more than 460,000 acres of organic farmland — and growing.
In 2023, Organic Valley built a sustainable market for another 84 organic family farms and continued a movement that values the role of small family farms in America. This year's expansion is a clear indicator of Organic Valley's dedication to a future where family farms can thrive.