2016 was a record-breaking year for Organic Valley. At its annual meeting in La Farge Wis., last week, the nation's largest organic cooperative revealed it has grown to 2,013 farmer-owners in 36 states and posted record sales topping $1.1 billion.
In 2016, Organic Valley reported a 15 percent growth in membership and 5.8 percent growth in sales. Accomplishments include:
• Adding more than 250 family farms to the cooperative; CROPP Cooperative farmers now make up 15.6 percent of all certified organic farmers in the United States
• Adding more than 40,000 acres of certified organic agricultural land; CROPP farmer-members are now stewards of 11 percent of all organic acreage in the United States
• Opening the Cashton Office Building, which received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification for its green construction, solar power, and geothermal climate control system
• Breaking ground on a new cheese cutting and labeling and Ghee production facility in Cashton, Wis.
• Growing the co-op's 100 percent grass-fed dairy farms to 140, making Organic Valley the largest producer of 100 percent grass-fed dairy in the country
• Holding three Grass Up events, designed to educate legislators, corporate leaders and scientists about the benefits of grass-based livestock agriculture
The co-op faced challenges last year., Organic Valley farmers accepted a reduction in the price paid for their milk due to a nationwide oversupply that's put enormous pressure on dairy farmers across the country.
"Now, more than ever, it's time to cooperate," said George Siemon, a founding farmer and CEO of Organic Valley. "Our strength has always been in our unity and belief in the collective good. In a world of divisiveness, cooperation continues to be the key to success."
Organic Valley's mission remains the same: to save family farms through an organic, cooperative business model that ensures a fair price is paid to farmers for their milk, eggs, produce and meat. Each Organic Valley farmer-owner has a voice in determining growth, profit sharing, best practices and other cooperative fundamentals.