SALEM, Ore., Feb. 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time, pioneering farmers and partners gathered in Salem today, Wednesday, February 6, to educate, celebrate and meet with lawmakers to underscore the important role organic plays in Oregon. Organic Valley, America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and a leading organic brand, partnered with Oregon Tilth, Oregon Organic Coalition, the Organic Trade Association, OMRI, Hummingbird, Mountain Rose Herbs, Friends of Family Farmers, Organically Grown Company, Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences and Oregon State University Extension Service to host the organic education and awareness luncheon event in the state Capitol. Goals of partnering and amplifying organic in Oregon developed as the cooperative opened its first brick-and-mortar outside of Wisconsin, the McMinnville Creamery, in August of 2017, adding 50 jobs to the state and a $21 million capital investment.
Oregon is already a natural leader in organic—with 864 certified organic operations and $350 million in organic farm gate sales, it's ranked 9th in the nation and has received more than $13 million in federally funded organic research. In Oregon, where the top organic products are milk, alfalfa, potatoes, cattle and berries, there are 176,000 certified organic acres, and 91% of households purchase organic products.
In visiting more than a dozen lawmakers' offices today the farmers and advocates stressed the economic, environmental and human health benefits of organic. Nationwide, organic is a $50 billion-a-year industry and emerging research shows organic agriculture can potentially help sequester carbon in healthy soil and reduce nitrogen runoff from a farm landscape. With a national organic standard, enforced by USDA, advocates were quick to point out that organic is a voluntary marketplace—a choice for farmers, a choice for businesses and a choice for consumers.
"I'm honored to be representing one of 39 Organic Valley family farms in my state today. A good portion of the state's dairy farms are members of our cooperative and last year we paid out $56 million to organic dairy farmers," shares organic dairy farmer Steve Pierson. "These are dollars which circulate in our state's economy creating jobs supporting other agricultural-related businesses. As a farmer owned co-op, Organic Valley was uniquely set up to help us organize and mobilize for more awareness and representation."
The organic supporters also got a chance to meet with Governor Kate Brown, who addressed the group. "I have been blown away about the organic products and business boom to our state," said Governor Kate Brown. "The organic sector continues to grow and is a critical and diverse agriculture economy here in our state. I'm thrilled this growing sector provides so many opportunities for Oregonians."
Attendees asked Governor Kate Brown and 90 state legislators for Oregon to join many other states in formalizing a state-assembled Organic Advisory Council. Additionally, they requested expanded investments that would leverage greater organic agriculture research, outreach, and education in the state.
"Organic Valley is a farmer-owned cooperative with deep roots in the Pacific Northwest. We are committed to working with local farmers to support economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture in Oregon," said George Siemon, CEO and a founding farmer of Organic Valley. "Organic means more choice for consumers and more avenues of economic security for farmers."
Organic Valley: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents more than 2,000 farmers in 35 U.S. states and achieved $1.1 billion in 2017 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a wide range of organic dairy, eggs and produce. 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. For further information visit www.organicvalley.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter (@OrganicValley) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/OrganicValley).
Sasha Bernstein Skon
SOURCE Organic Valley