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Getting Paid With Purpose: Organic Valley

Not a company, a co-operative.

In 1988 seven farmers with values and a common vision banded together. They set out to create a sustainable approach to agriculture, and founded a cooperative called Coulee Region Organic Produce Pool (CROPP). As demand increased for organic foods, the co-op created its own brand and marketed products under the name Organic Valley Family of Farmers. Twenty-two years since its founding, CROPP is the largest organic farming cooperative in North America and counts more than 1652 farmer-owners in 33 states and four Canadian provinces. Organic Valley is founded on a lesson that will benefit us all: we are stronger when we stand together than when we stand alone.

Start With A Purpose

Organic Valley created a Proclamation of Interdependence founded on the ethics and values of a cooperative. The preamble starts with "We The Farmers," and continues on to declare the 12 points of their core mission, including respecting nature and building strong rural farming communities. The profit sharing model of their co-op guarantees: 45 percent profits to farmers; 45 percent profits to employees; 10 percent profits to community.  Learn more about how a co-op works.

As any good company with the three pillars of CSR in check, transparency and continual improvement are central themes to Organic Valley. In addition to meeting the basic USDA National Organic Standards, Organic Valley members also pledge to meet additional CROPP-specific standards that ensure responsible and humane treatment of animals. Living in a glass house isn't always easy. Taking these extra steps and remaining honest with their consumers about the challenges they face makes it crystal clear that this unique brand is dedicated to its triple bottom line.

Stay Sustainable

  • People: CROPP provided support to various community organizations totaling $2.2 million in 2008, and benefited 586 organizations.
  • Planet: Since 1988, they have prevented nearly 59 million pounds of synthetic nitrogen and approximately 950,000 pounds of herbicides and pesticides from being applied to their soils.
  • Profit: Over the last 20 years, CROPP farmers received on average, 38 percent higher milk premiums compared to the conventional average pay price.

To find out find out more about Organic Valley's efforts to improve their triple bottom line.

Get Involved

If you are interested in supporting family farms, first buy a gallon of Organic Valley milk and then get out your check book, put on your dancing shoes and check out Farm Aid. Since the first benefit concert in 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $36 million to support programs that help farmers thrive. Board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews tour the country playing concerts to raise money and spread the word. Who knew that helping the fabric of our great nation could mean being front row at a rock concert surrounded by sweating and screaming fans? This org rocks!

Read more from Tonic's Dollars & Sense.

Tonic is a digital media company dedicated to promoting the good that happens around the world each day. We share the stories of people and organizations that are making a difference by inspiring good in themselves and others. At Tonic, we also see ourselves as a service company — one that strives not only to inspire our readers, but to equip them with the resources to make a difference.

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