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March 28, 2008
LA FARGE, Wis.—Organic Valley, the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperative, rang in its 20th year of business with solid sales growth results for its fiscal 2007 (FY07). Revenues for the year reached $432.5 million, a 29-percent increase over 2006 and a near 250-percent increase over the past five years. The cooperative reported it now comprises more than 1,200 farmers in 34 states and one Canadian province, and projects sales of $539 million in 2008, which marks its 20th anniversary.
Twenty years ago, seven Wisconsin farmers formed Organic Valley Family of Farms with a shared vision the cooperative still maintains: Work in partnership to produce healthy, nutritious organic food; keep family farmers farming; help revitalize rural communities while serving as stewards of the earth; and always offer a stable, sustainable pay price to its member farmers.
"When we first got together back in 1988, our goal was to save our farms and family farming culture," explained George Siemon, one of the original Organic Valley farmers and the coop's current CEO. "We saw organic agriculture and the cooperative business model as our opportunity to do this. Within our first year we set the target farmer pay-price for organic milk almost 50-percent higher than that of conventional milk. We kept our organic pay price at a fixed amount for the entire year, an unprecedented move in the dairy industry. This became the foundation for stable pay pricing that we maintain today."
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