In 1988 – a time when family farms were endangered – a handful of Wisconsin farmers were bold enough to believe that a sustainable approach to agriculture could help farming communities survive.
Those farmers founded a co-op of local organic farmers, starting with vegetables and later expanding to organic dairy products. When the co-op began to gain in momentum, they created the Organic Valley brand name and expanded their product line. Organic Valley soon became the most popular source of organic milk in the country.
George Siemon, one of the original seven farmers, is now Organic Valley’s CEO (though he prefers the title C-E-I-E-I-O). As a farmer-owned cooperative, all 1,800 farm families who produce Organic Valley foods – 59 of whom are here in the Pacific Northest – have a voice in the future of the business. By combining two alternative business models – the family farm and the cooperative – Organic Valley helps small farmers and rural communities to survive. This is significant in the business of agriculture, where, according to Organic Valley itself, large corporations have taken over 600,000 family farms since 1960. By supporting family farmers, consumers are protecting their right to choose foods produced in a way that ensures quality, health, humane animal treatment and environmental stewardship.
Organic Valley supports organic farmers regionally, which builds local economies. For example, dairy products available in the Northwest are from Washington and Oregon farms. To see photos and read about the many Organic Valley family farms in the Northwest, visit Organic Valley’s Web site and click on Who’s Your Farmer at the top of the page.