Organic Valley invites small family farms into co-op to save their businesses

The US co-op has offered the lifeline to 80 farms in the northeast after they lost their contracts

Organic Valley, the US co-op of organic farmers, has invited 80 family farms to join its organisation after they lost their supply contracts.

The Wisconsin-based co-op says the move is the “single largest effort to save small organic family farms” in the north-eastern states of the US.

It follows news last year that Horizon and Maple Hill Creamery would be terminating contracts with more than 130 family farms in the region. Organic Valley, a farmer-owned co-op since its founding in 1988, is offering 80 small, Northeast organic family farms a market for their dairy through a letter of intent. 

While those 80 families decide, 10 Northeast organic family farms have already been offered membership – including Osgood Family Farm in Vermont. 

“My family began farming this land over 65 years ago,” said George Osgood of Corinth, Vermont. “I’m glad to partner with Organic Valley to continue our family farm.

“A co-operative owned by small family farms is the perfect fit for us. It gives us the chance to keep doing what we love.”

Over the last decade, states like Vermont have lost hundreds of individual dairy farms. As a co-operative borne out of the farm crisis of the 1980s, the issue of saving small family farms is core to Organic Valley. And with 100,000 small family farms being lost over the last decade due to consolidation and industrialisation, the fight is not over. 

“We are the only national brand still fighting for small family farms because we know that the best quality food is ethically sourced from small family farms,” said Bob Kirchoff, Organic Valley CEO.

“With the help of consumers and customers across the country, we are helping solve the crisis of disappearing small family farms. We are creating the food system we all want – one that regenerates soil, cares for animals, nourishes people, and strengthens communities.”

The farmer-owned co-operative plans to release more information on efforts to provide hope to small family farms in the Northeast and across the USA in the coming weeks and months.