Our second member spotlight is Organic Valley and CROPP Cooperative. Here is an interview with Jonathan Reinbold, Sustainability Program Manager at Organic Valley. His responses outline some of the organization’s views surrounding climate change.
What types of challenges and opportunities does Organic Valley and CROPP Cooperative’s commitment to sustainability present?
First and foremost, CROPP was established to support family farmers. We exist in order to support the sustainability of multi-generational family farms. Farms that must be ecologically-conscious due to their dependence upon the land on which they are placed and also economically viable.
The long view that comes with that type of organizational foundation allows the business and employees to consider more than return on investment when evaluating projects. We need to take into consideration the long term impacts to operations, employees, farmers and the community as well.
A challenge is that we may be more conservative than others when considering a project. We are willing to observe for a longer period of time, not needing to react immediately to achieve a quick financial gain.
Have the farmers in the cooperative noticed that organic practices boost their farms’ resilience in the face of extreme weather events?
I expect that many members have seen the ecological benefits of organic agriculture in the face of climate change. Employees have certainly seen the research that confirms this. Farmers have shared stories of wildlife returning to their farms when conservation practices are instituted and their crops and pasture being more resilient during times of weather stress.
What are Organic Valley’s goals surrounding climate change adaptation and mitigation?
Our primary goal is that our members are able to continue farming on their land. We know that through effective pasture management, more moisture is retained during extended periods of warm, dry weather. During heavy rain events, pasture has been shown to reduce erosion compared to tilled crops. The added benefit of this is that milk produced from cows on pasture is more nutritious than other milk.