If a company is going to make a difference in today’s world, it’s going to have to think differently. At Organic Valley, our philosophy and decisions are based on the health and welfare of people, animals and the earth. We’re a mission-driven cooperative, owned by family farmers, and we’ve been leaders in organic agriculture from the very beginning.
Our story starts back in January of 1988—a time when family farms were on the brink of extinction. We were a handful of farmers in Southwestern Wisconsin’s coulee region and we shared a love of the land. We also shared the belief that a new, sustainable approach to agriculture could help family farms and rural communities survive. We remain driven by our mission to promote regional farm diversity and economic stability by the means of organic agricultural methods and the sale of certified organic products.
We dubbed ourselves Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool (CROPP). In July of 1988, we branched off into organic dairy, since then we began producing organic eggs in 1993, organic meats in 1999, organic juice in 2001, soy in 2004, and the grower pool in 2008. Reflecting our national farmer membership base, CROPP now stands for “Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools."
We are committed to organic agriculture and building a future for sustainable family farming in America. Organic. It’s all we do.
Where is the co-op today?
- CROPP has distinguished itself nationally as a leader of organic production, marketing, and farm policy. It was our strong vision and effort that led the charge encouraging the USDA to change its policy and allow the labeling of organic meat and poultry products, an effort that had been 10 years in the making.
- CROPP also worked with partners across the industry to guide the USDA and the National Organic Standards Board as they created and instituted the National Organic Standards, implemented in 2002. George Siemon, one of the original CROPP dairy farmers turned CEO of the cooperative, and Bill Welsh, a CROPP member, both served on the National Organic Standards Board and were instrumental in creating these standards.
- CROPP is the largest organic cooperative in the US. We have over 1800 farmer members in 34 US states, Canada and Australia. The co-op employs over 700 folks across the country, with most located in and around rural La Farge, WI.
- We work with dozens of dairy and meat plants across the U.S. and are proud to have our own farmer-owned organic creamery, in Chaseburg, Wisconsin, and our own distribution center in Cashton, WI.
What products does the co-op market?
As a cooperative, CROPP gives organic farmers a unique opportunity to participate in marketing their products through their own labels,Organic Valley and Organic Prairie. Each U.S. region has its own mix of customers. We work hard to promote regional and local production.
- Our product list under the Organic Valley label includes a full line of cheeses, dry and fluid milk products, yogurt, cream, cottage cheese, vegetables, juice and eggs. An organic soy beverage was introduced in 2004. We also have a substantial selection of meat (beef, pork and poultry) products under the Organic Prairie label.
Our customer base also includes many manufacturers that depend on us for milk and ingredients. These customers buy liquid milk and cream, milk and cheese powder, shredded cheese, butter, eggs, meat, and more. Our products appear in such items as organic pizza, spinach pies, ice cream, broccoli cheese entrees, and baby food.
Is there a market for organic products?
- The market for organic foods has increased at a rate of 5-10 percent in recent years. Currently, organic foods represent four percent of total food sales in the US. The US has now overtaken Europe to become the largest market. Projections predict similar sales numbers in the US as consumers demand food produced without antibiotics, hormones and toxic pesticides. Consumers are eager to support producers who farm organically.
Why choose CROPP?
- Our Organic Valley & Organic Prairie labels are a vehicle to protect the long-term pay price to the farmers and their stability in the organic marketplace.
- Membership in CROPP Cooperative provides brand equity. Our labels are nationally recognized as representing America’s organic family farmers.
- CROPP Cooperative’s producer pools continue to raise the bar, setting higher standards in order to maximize organic potential.
- Our success speaks for itself: we have become the nation’s largest organic farmer cooperative, with a diverse product line and an equally diverse member base. Our excellent reputation gives us power in the marketplace.
- Our brands are our secure home for added value.
- Our successful collective bargaining efforts have brought a stable farmer pay price that has steadily gone up.
- The co-op structure puts the farmer in the driver’s seat.
- Our foundational “Y in the road” policy ensures that farmers are paid first for their production, and the business is run on the remainder, not the other way around.
- We constantly work to strengthen our relationship with consumers and the marketplace.
- Every member farm enjoys the same potential. “We work for the farmers,” says George Siemon, the CEO of CROPP Cooperative. “When it comes down to it, they are the bosses, and we take our direction from them. These folks are passionate about their co-op!”
- We are a cooperative of family farmers, not a cumbersome, profiteering corporation.
True local representation
- Each regional pool of farmers elects a representative to serve on their pool’s Executive Committee, which has areas of authority and makes recommendations to the Board of Directors. The Board governs the co-op, so the voice of the farmer is heard clearly.
Hope for your family farm
- Organic is a new/old model of farming that is not subject to the fluctuations of commodity markets. Low-input, sustainable methods often require less initial investment.
- Our farmers are the face of a new generation of organic farmers. They range in age from 21 to 78, but are, on average, ten years younger than conventional farmers!
- “Keeping farmers on the land revitalizes America’s rural landscape. We are proud to be a part of a new agricultural renaissance,” says George Siemon. “Organic farming is a vision of hope.”