Another Banner Year

Organic cooperative builds new generation of farming leadership.
Determined to stay independent and true to its founding mission, La Farge, Wis.-based Organic Valley Family of Farms, America’s largest independent cooperative of organic farmers, announced its best-ever year in January with $208 million in sales and a growing total of 689 organic farmers in 20 states.                                          
“Organic Valley’s cooperative approach to organic agriculture guarantees our nation’s struggling family farmers a lifeline for survival and sustained growth in an era when consolidation is consuming all sectors of our economy, especially agriculture,” says George Siemon, chief executive officer for Organic Valley and one of the 17-year old cooperative’s founding farmers.
Defying the trend, Organic Valley farmers were paid in excess of 25 percent more than their conventional counterparts in 2004, the co-op reports, receiving a premium of $4.16 per hundredweight. Sales for the cooperative were the highest in its history, jumping 33 percent over the previous year ($208 million in 2004 and $156 million in 2003). This rate of growth surpassed that of the food industry (2 percent) and the organic industry (20 percent), the co-op says. In 2005, Organic Valley expects to continue this course with projected sales of $259 million.
The age range of Organic Valley’s farmers — 21 to 78 — also offers hope for the future, co-op leaders say. At a time when the average age of an American farmer is about 55 (according to the 2002 Farm Census), Organic Valley is increasing its numbers of young farmers. More than 49 percent of cooperative members are now 45 or younger.
“Organic Valley is committed to building a new generation of farming leadership,” says Travis Forgues, 31, an Organic Valley dairy farmer who milks 80 cows on more than 160 acres in Alburg, Vt. “It is the new generation of young people getting into organic farming today who will have to fight to protect the purity of the organic mission and the health of our environment in the years to come. The future of food is in our hands.”

For more information, visit www.organicvalley.com.

March
15-17: SmartMarketing 2005, International Dairy Foods Association, Westin Buckhead, Atlanta, www.idfa.org.
16: NAFFS California Meeting, Hyatt Regency Orange, Anaheim, Calif., contact Diane Davis, (732) 922-3218, www.naffs.org.
22-25: 16th Annual Cheese Short Course I, Cal Poly Dairy Products Technology Center, San Luis Obispo, Calif., contact Laurie Jacobson, (805) 756-6097.

April
5-6: International Private Label Food Exhibition 2005, Paris-Expo, Porte de Versailles, contact Gilles Ferrod, gilles.ferrod@jangil.net.
12-13: Oregon Dairy Industries Annual Conference, Valley River Inn, Eugene, Ore., contact Reitha McCabe, reitha@solid-ground.com.
14-16: National Food Processors Association Executives Conference, The Phoenician, Scottsdale, Ariz., contact Mary Olsen, (202) 639-5968.
19: NAFFS Technical Meeting, New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center, Edison, N.J., contact Diane Davis, (732) 922-3218, www.naffs.org.

May
1-3: American Dairy Products Institute and American Butter Institute 2005 Annual Conference, Fairmont Hotel, Chicago, (630) 530-8700.
14-15: DeLaurenti's Seattle Cheese Festival, Pike Place Market, Seattle, contact Anne Theisen, (206) 849-7508.
23-26: 3-A Sanitary Standards Inc. 2005 Annual Meeting, Four Points Sheraton Milwaukee Airport, Milwaukee, contact Timothy Rugh, (703) 790-0295.
24-25: Cheese Packaging Short Course, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Food Science, (608) 262-2046.

June
5-7: Dairy-Deli-Bake Seminar & Expo, International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, Minneapolis, (608) 238-7908.

July
16-20: Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo, New Orleans, (312) 782-8424, e-mail info@ift.org.

August
2-4: Advanced HACCP Short Course for the California Cheese Industry, Dairy Product Technology Center, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif., contact Jennifer Giambroni, (415) 254-4549.

September
11-15: Cultured Dairy Products Course, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa., e-mail ShortCourse@psu.edu.
17-22: International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, contact Caroline Brooks, e-mail Cbrooks@fil-idf.org.
23-25: The NAFEM Show, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, Calif., www.thenafemshow.org.
27-30: 6th Annual Dairy Science and Technology Basics for the Artisan/Farmstead Cheesemaker, Cal Poly Dairy Products Technology Center, San Luis Obispo, Calif., contact Laurie Jacobson, (805) 756-6097.

October
8-12: National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Convention, National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, San Francisco, Calif., (717) 657-8601, e-mail info@nfraweb.org.
10-12: Sanitation Short Course, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa., e-mail ShortCourse@psu.edu.