Lest anyone think that all we’re about is grain growing and haying we should talk a bit about the dairy part of our operation. We purchased our farm in 1998 as a working dairy farm and started immediately to transition to organic production. We consider it serendipity that when we finished our transition in the spring of 2000, Organic Valley was looking to start a pool of farmers here in Vermont. We were among the first handful of farmers to sign on as farmer owners and have happily been a part of this national cooperative ever since.
From the outside, Organic Valley may look like a giant but from the inside it is like a large family. Farmers have voice in the coop at all levels and we have many opportunities to participate in decision making. Here are some of the benefits we’ve found as owners of the cooperative:
1. We are the only stockholders. All decisions at the coop are made with farmers in mind first. The first tenet of these decisions is that farmers are paid first and fairly for the milk we produce.
2. Farmers are involved in many types of committees and decision making bodies that guide the coop in everything from policy decisions to the day to day workings in the coop.
3. Farmers are integrally involved in marketing. This is especially close to my heart as I coordinate the Farmers in Marketing program on the East Coast. This means that I assist in connecting farmers to consumers and retailers through farm tours, media requests, events, retail education and more. This is really powerful as people are very interested in farmers and what happens on our farms and the connection to our products. It also allows us as farmers to hear what consumers and retailers are thinking and what’s important to all of you.
If you’d like to buy products that have our milk in it or that support our farm here are a few ideas. Purchase anything Organic Valley! Since it’s a cooperative owned by us, any sale of Organic Valley product is a benefit to us. Erin’s picture is on the salted butter package. Organic Valley has a regional milk called Northeast Pastures into which our milk goes. We also sell a lot of milk to Stonyfield Farm for their yogurt so if you’re eating Stonyfield you’re probably eating some of our milk. Thanks!