Organic Valley to Celebrate 25th Anniversary

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Farmer-Owned Cooperative Turns 25 in March 2013; Celebrates 25 Years of Cultivating Goodness and Commitment to Organic

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'What makes them true leaders is their cooperative model of sustainable agriculture that is both environmentally sound and economically viable.'
-Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and chair of Stonyfield

Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand, today announced it will celebrate its 25th anniversary in March 2013.

Organic Valley began in 1988 with a group of Wisconsin farmers who shared a love of the land and a belief that a new, sustainable approach to agriculture was needed in order for family farms and rural communities to survive. Frustrated by the loss of nearly 2,000 family farms each week and the staggering number threatened with extinction, these farmers set out to create a solution: organic agriculture.

"The success of Organic Valley proves that organic agriculture can be a lifeline for America's struggling family farms," says George Siemon, C-E-I-E-I-O. "In an era of rising and falling agricultural prices, Organic Valley farmer-owners can count on a stable, living wage to stay in business on their land. We are humbled and extremely thankful that the original spirit of our founding farmers, and the co-op model, has sustained our organization for 25 years, and we hope to enjoy many more in the future.”

In January 1988, a time when family farms were on the brink of extinction, a handful of farmers gathered in Southwestern Wisconsin’s coulee region. A small poster inviting area farmers to join George Siemon at the country courthouse for an informational meeting was all that it took to gain momentum; they became the founding farmers of CROPP Cooperative (Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools), officially founded on March 13, 1988 with the mission of keeping farmers on the land.

“At Stonyfield, we couldn’t be prouder having Organic Valley as our trusted organic milk partner for over a decade,” says Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and chair of the world’s leading organic yogurt company. "What makes them true leaders is their cooperative model of sustainable agriculture that is both environmentally sound and economically viable. George Siemon has publically and tirelessly advocated for a system that pays a fair wage to the farmer, is ecologically sound in practice, and is socially just and humane. This is the Organic Valley vision of what organic can offer our country—and what makes them American heroes.”

“Organic Valley is the kind of company that shows the complete beauty of organic leadership–they have saved and supported small family farmers around the country while providing households with food that is delicious and good—both for people and the planet," says Maria Rodale, Chairman and CEO, Rodale Inc., and Co-chairman, Rodale Institute. “I congratulate them on their success, their independence, and their innovation!"

Today, CROPP Cooperative under its brand name Organic Valley is the largest organic farming cooperative in North America, with more than 1,766 farmer-owners in 35 states and three Canadian provinces. In addition to providing farmers a way to stay in business, organic agriculture fulfilled their vision for a sustainable agriculture: farming without antibiotics, synthetic hormones or toxic pesticides, pasturing animals, and ensuring the land will be preserved for future generations. Today, Organic Valley’s farmer-owners represent approximately 9 percent of the entire nation's certified organic farming community.

Organic Valley will be celebrating with a yearlong schedule of activities, including cause partnerships and giving back to the community. Organic Valley will host an anniversary party at Natural Products ExpoWest on Saturday, March 9, 2013 outside of the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. In addition, a book of commemorative stories about Organic Valley and its beginnings is being edited for publication in early 2013.
For more information about the 25th anniversary of Organic Valley, and a history of the cooperative, go to http://www.organicvalley.coop/about-us/overview/our-history/.

Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,766 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $715 million in 2011 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. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit http://www.organicvalley.coop, http://www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative’s farmer website, http://www.farmers.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/OrganicValley.

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Elizabeth Horton
Organic Valley
207-838-0084
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