High input costs led to shortage of organic milk supply in 2011.
Dairy producers who are members of Organic Valley will earn an average national pay price of $30 per cwt. in 2012.
Reporting on its 2011 year-end results, Organic Valley said the past year was not without its hardships for its dairy members, as feed and other input costs skyrocketed. Those high input costs, together with lost acreage and carryover issues from the recession and oversupply era, caused a shortage in organic milk supply, the national cooperative said in a news release. As such, Organic Valley will increase its farmer-owner pay price by $2 per cwt. of milk beginning in March 2012.
“It’s important as we start 2012 to support our farmers during these difficult supply times by increasing our farmer pay price,” said CEO George Siemon. “We recognize the challenge of high feed costs and it is a major issue.”
The $30 average national pay price includes the March 2012 pay price increase. It exceeds the average pay price for a conventional farmer by approximately $10. Organic Valley said. As a farmer-owned cooperative, Organic Valley has historically adjusted its pay price to meet the needs of and assure a fair livelihood for its members.
Organic Valley is the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand. Its 2011 achievements included bringing on 212 new farmers in regions such as Pennsylvania, Vermont, and California for 12% member growth across the country, increasing sales from $620 million to $715 million for 15.3% growth, and donating more than $2.2 million to nonprofit organizations dedicated to advancing organic food and farming—from community food banks to farmer initiatives to advocacy for mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.
“We measure our success against our mission,” said Siemon. “For us, that means keeping farmers on the land, being responsible stewards of the environment, and supporting rural communities.”
In terms of other tangible metrics for success, Organic Valley achieved sustainability and job creation goals in 2011, such as beginning installation of wind turbines to offset 100% of its distribution center’s current electricity use, on-farm renewable energy projects and other sustainability initiatives, and undergoing a state-of-the-art green-designed headquarters expansion in La Farge, Wis., that is expected to add 84 new jobs this year. In 2011 alone, the farmer-owned cooperative brought 79 new jobs to Vernon County, Wis., bringing total employees up to 620.
The past year also saw the launch of the latest of Organic Valley’s regional milks, New York Fresh™, produced, bottled, distributed and sold in the Empire State. Like its regional counterparts, New York Fresh milk ensures fewer miles from farm to table and supports local economies, including the 113 New York farm families that produce it.
Organic Valley also launched the first organic flavored half-and-half and soy creamers, providing an organic, fair-trade alternative to complement beverages and recipes.
Organized in 1988, Organic Valley represents 1,687 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.