The Organic Valley Farmer Cooperative

Organic Valley, a thriving farmer cooperative, is revolutionizing the food business.

| February/March 2006

  • Travis Forgues with two of his children, Gabe and Molly, on the family’s organic dairy farm in Alburg Springs, Vt.
  • Visitors to Organic Valley’s corporate headquarters in LaFarge, Wis., enter through this big red barn.
  • George Siemon, Organic Valley chief executive officer.
  • Sales of Organic Valley products rose 25 percent in 2005. Its products include organic milk, butter, cheese, eggs, soy milk, orange juice and meat.
  • George Siemon’s own organic farm.
  • According to Siemon’s organic food philosophy, people should grow much of their own food near their homes. 1st: Grow Our Own - Memories, Firsthand knowledge, Best flavor, Peak nutrition, Self-sufficiency
  • Erin Beidler, daughter of Organic Valley farmers Brent and Regina Beidler, enjoys the open air of the family’s organic dairy farm in Randolph Center, Vt.
  • Then come the organic foods distributed by conscientious organizations such as Organic Valley. The key element in this philosophy is consumers’ intimate knowledge of where their food comes from and the effects of its production. 3rd: Buy Natural and Organic Foods - Environmental protection, Whole foods, No genetic modification, No hormones, Fewer artificial ingredients
  • The next best thing to homegrown food is food grown by trusted local farmers. 2nd: Support Local Farms - Direct relationships, Farm visits, Family involvement, Freshness, Community, Less fuel consumption
  • In the last century, an extraordinary shift occurred in how each dollar spent on food was distributed. The latest information shows farmers receive only about 8 cents of every dollar we spend on the food they grow.

Organic Valley is North America’s second-largest producer of organic dairy products. The sales of this $259-million cooperative jumped 25 percent last year, surpassing the growth rate of both the conventional and organic food industries. The cooperative’s milk, butter, cottage cheese and soy milk are on the shelves of more than 10,000 stores from coast to coast. But its chief executive officer, George Siemon, doesn’t talk like a corporate chieftain:

“We wouldn’t mind if the growth slowed down,” he says. “The most important thing to us is to keep our mission. Organic Valley’s not looking to conquer the world. We do things our own way, because we care about things other than business success.”

Despite this unorthodox approach, Organic Valley has helped revolutionize the food business over the past 18 years, and has changed the way Americans eat — for the better. Organic Valley is owned by a cooperative of 723 family farmers from 22 states.

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