25 years of serving our mission and growing the organic movement
CROPP is a farmer-owned andâ€“governed cooperative, which produces and markets organic foods under the Organic Valley and Organic Prairie brands.
Hello Friend, As an organic farmers’ cooperative rooted in
contribution to our families, our earth and the
the sustaining truths of organic agriculture,
wide array of communities we touch—a
we believe that a commitment to continual
concept often called, “people, planet and profits.”
improvement combined with the important concept of transparency are essentials of organic and of our business model.
As an organic farmer-owned cooperative, sustainability has been ingrained in our mission from the start. We will always work
Our cooperative has been a pioneering force
to fulfill our mission in all its intentions, and
in the organic movement for 25 years, and
continually learn as we go. This is our pledge
we’ve made much progress in raising the bar
to our members, employees, communities
of organic standards. Organic farmers are at
and future generations.
the forefront of effective sustainable farming techniques. We believe that the organic standards and practices of our cooperative are among the strictest standards in agriculture. However, perfection is never possible, even in organic. There is always
We are grateful to be on this mission and to all of you who share in this duty with us. From the farm fields to the grocery aisles, each choice is connected to the whole— organic in the truest sense.
room for improvement. With this spirit, we are sharing this report to outline our ongoing work to serve our
cooperative’s mission, guiding principles and our sustainability goals, as well as to share key learnings and accomplishments. The scope of information in this report includes
George Siemon C EI EIO
benchmark sustainability information with regard to our cooperative’s impact and
Cover Photo by Eric C Snowdeal III
Sustainability: Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Introduction hese days, folks
celebrating 25 years of “cultivating
at night after working hard all
typically think of
goodness” in our products, on
day to keep their families, land,
our farms and with our people.
animals and communities safe
relation to energy, but it really factors into all of life. In fact, life itself is the pursuit of sustainability: a sustainable life ensures one will wake up to live another day.
Looking back, we see that our business model and commitment to organic agriculture have always been inherently “sustainable” and supported the “triple bottom line” before the terms became
CROPP Cooperative is grounded
and healthy, they know their rest is brief. Tomorrow brings a whole new paradigm, a new challenge to make it the best it can be. The work is never done. Since a foundation of CROPP’s
the buzzwords they are today. We
mission is continual improvement,
in the pursuit of sustainability
have been a sustainable business
we know a job well done is great,
in every way you define the
since our inception in 1988. We
but that “doneness” is temporary.
word—environmentally as well as
may be behind the curve when
We get up every morning because
socially and economically. We believe
it comes to data collection, but we’ve
there are always new ideas,
that being good community partners
been on track where it counts—in
new technology, new bars to
and environmental stewards are
our actions—for 25 years.
equally as important as meeting
set, reach and surpass. We are happy with and proud of the
profit goals—that social, intellectual,
But the pursuit of sustainability
accomplishments set out in
financial and natural capital are
is always just that: pursuit. It’s
this report, but you can bet
more about what’s to be done
that we’re never satisfied.
We sustain farms and the families who steward them by paying them a fair price for the conscientious production of our food. In return, farm families sustain the land
than what is done. It is not static. It is a minute by minute practice. It is both spiritual and boots-onthe-ground physical. We’re talking about continual improvement.
and animals, and create healthy
Nearly 2,000 family farmer-owners
sustenance for all. That cycle is
of our cooperative know this all
embedded in CROPP’s credo
too well. When they go to bed
PEO PL E
PLA NE T
PR O FI T
Most of what’s on our tables lived or grew on a farm before it got to the table. It’s our job to ensure the creation of human and animal sustenance is better for you, for animals, and for the world.
We Never Use: Antibiotics Toxic Pesticides Synthetic Hormones GMO Feed Synthetic Fertilizers
How We Farm PASTURE-BASED FARMING asture-based farming
Pasture-based farming fulfills
is the cornerstone
part of our mission to treat our
to producing food in
animals with care and respect
harmony with nature.
while producing high-quality
When animals graze, the land,
food. Eating grass and soaking
water, air and animals all benefit.
up vitamin D from the sun makes
That’s why CROPP farmers have
our cows’ milk higher in omega-3,
had pasture requirements since
more optimally balanced in omega-3
1997, twelve years before pasture
to omega-6 and higher in heart-
standards became a part of
healthy amino acids such as
conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Soil exists in a symbiotic
Finally, pasture-based farming
relationship with plants and animals.
has a positive impact on the global
Soil nurtures plants, and plants
climate. Pasture plants take carbon
can improve soil quality. Animals
out of the air and sequester (store)
eat plants and step on them,
it for use in photosynthesis.
speeding up decomposition of
Amazingly, the Rodale Institute
old growth and making room
has shown that healthy organic
for new growth. Their manure
soils can sequester more than
fertilizes the plants and renews soil
2,000 pounds of carbon per acre
nutrients. The result is grassland
that lives, dies and decomposes in a sustainable cycle. Essentially, plants cannot live without animals; soil cannot exist without plants; and animals need both for proper nutrition.
"Instead of making them [natural systems] fit into our box, organic works with the way things are. I can’t really see any other viable way to farm." Garin Smith, Maine Organic Valley dairy farmer-owner
HOLISTIC ANIMAL CARE What does humane animal care
This is a natural cycle that
have to do with sustainability?
sustains humans, animals and
For one thing, keeping animals
free of toxins (in both their feed and their environment) means they are healthier. When animals are well, they are stronger and happier, their farmers spend less money on veterinary visits, and the food they provide us is
The efforts of CROPP farmers to sustain their animals and their land in peak condition are supported by a staff of professional holistic
veterinarians, animal nutritionists, humane
But there’s more to this cycle
animal care specialists and agronomists.
than good food for humans:
See below ... •C ows grazing organic pasture are in their natural environment, eating what they’re meant to eat.
•S oil and water erosion and run-off are reduced. •O rganic pasture builds soil health. •T he plant roots retain soil. •H ealthy soil retains moisture.
•G round-and-surfacewater is protected.
Organic Pioneer - AWA R D -
Jim Wedeberg |
CROPP’s Dairy Pool Director
The Ray Hass Organic Pioneer Award was established in 2002—the year after Ray, one of the co-op’s founding farmers, passed away—to recognize the pioneers and visionaries who have made CROPP what it is today. The 2012 award winner is Jim Wedeberg, CROPP’s dairy pool director and one of our founding farmers. Jim was involved in establishing the first organic dairy standards, and he has been instrumental to bringing more organic farmers “onto the truck” through
Jim Wedeberg past & present
the past 25 years. His hard work and dedication to making this business a success for its farmer-owners has been an inspiration, not only to those he works with here at CROPP, but also those he encounters in the wider organic industry.
(Em)Powering Ourselves Reducing our dependence on fossil
Food businesses today target
exemplary, sustainable organic
fuel and creating renewable
a variety of markets—from local
farming practices, the overall
sources of energy are cooperative-
farmers’ markets and direct-selling
sustainability of our business
wide priorities. Our energy efforts
from farm stands, to national
practices is a question of greater
are focused in three areas:
distribution into grocery stores.
complexity. How do we walk
1. O PERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY - energy efficiency - employee engagement
CROPP’s brands Organic Valley,
this tightrope between farm
Organic Prairie, and Stonyfield
and market? As it turns out,
fluid milk, are part of he latter,
CROPP employees are making
shipping regionally and nationally
a difference every day.
to distributors, large grocery chains and small, independent
2. R ENEWABLE ENERGY PRODUCTION
retailers. Unlike the markets of yore that were mostly local by necessity, today wares are
3. O N-FARM SUSTAINABILITY
moved by many other more costly means. While CROPP out-performs the crowd when it comes to
GREEN SPIRIT - AWA R D -
Mary Ewing |
CROPP’s Master Planner
The Green Spirit Award is an annual,
challenging aspect of this balancing act
system. If Mary doesn’t catch a CROPP
cooperative-wide recognition of
is making it work within the confines of
vanpool to work, she commutes in her
a CROPP employee who incorporates
CROPP’s regional supply model.
trusty Honda Civic Hybrid.
Mary came up with a plan to increase
As CROPP’s Chief Operations Officer
utilization of milk produced on Organic
Louise Hemstead points out, “Mary
Born and raised not far from CROPP
Valley farms in the Northeast within
would say she’s just doing what anyone
headquarters, Mary Ewing walks the
that region. The plan significantly
else would do, but I think she always
green walk, both at work and at home.
reduces the miles tanker trucks and
adds a little more. Mary understands
semis travel, saving thousands of gallons
the value of the cooperative to the farmers.
of diesel fuel. Overall, this reduces the
She quietly embraces the organic
cooperative’s carbon footprint, saves
lifestyle at work and at home.”
environmental sustainability into her/his work and personal life.
Seventeen years after Mary joined the co-op as a dairy program manager, she is CROPP’s Master Planner. It’s her job to match milk supply with market demand.
money and reduces product waste.
Working with the Demand Management
Mary lives with her family on her husband’s
team, Mary’s Supply Management team
family farm. The old farmhouse has
must balance how much milk CROPP
been completely updated for energy
farmer-owners can supply with how
efficiency and features a “pump-and-dump”
much the market will demand. The most
geothermal indoor climate control
Energy Efficiencies & Sustainability Features at CROPP’s La Farge Headquarters
Mary Ewing CROPP's Master Planner
▸ Storm water collection
▸ Triple-paned windows
▸ On-site permaculture & habitat restoration
▸ Solar cells in south facing windows
▸P arking lot lights use LED bulbs and are designed to reduce light pollution
▸ Solar tracking panels
▸ Bicycles for in-town trips
▸ Solar roof panels
▸ Priority to local, recycled building materials ▸ Low VOC choices (paint, carpet, etc.) ▸ Dual-flush toilets ▸ Waterless urinals ▸ Low-flow faucets
▸ Solar hot water ▸ Occupancy sensors on lights ▸ Natural day-lighting ▸ Zero-CFC refrigerants ▸ Occupant comfort surveys
Energy neutrality by 2020:
CROPP will produce enough
Though our operations use an
offices in Cashton, Wis. overlooking
increasing percentage of renewable
the wind farm. In the first seven
equivalent of 100% of its
biofuels like sunflower and canola
months that the turbines were
oils, we must also use a mix of
operational, we produced enough
electricity) needs for
electricity, natural gas, propane
and petroleum to keep us up and
wind power in Cashton to offset
running. We’ve still got serious
68% of electricity used by our
work to do in order to achieve our
renewable energy to offset the total energy (fuel and
goal of energy neutrality in our CROPP-owned facilities by 2020,
but we are up for the challenge!
E n e r g y u s e a t o u r L a Fa r g e
When it comes to energy production, it didn’t make sense to put all our kilowatts in one energy basket. We believe that “distributed energy” networks (also known as “decentralized energy”) are the path to future energy independence and security. Creating such networks means that a community or region’s energy needs come from that
facilities is offset by a suite of tracker-mounted solar panels, roof-mounted solar panels, solar hot water heaters and transparent, solar cell windows. Together, these installations create approximately 86,000 kilowatt hours of greenhouse-gas-free energy per year.
region, make the most sense for
We’ve been integrating biodiesel
that region, and come from
into our local fleet vehicles (e.g.,
a variety of sources.
van pools, grounds maintenance vehicles, etc.) since 2002 and
WIND In collaboration with local health care provider Gundersen Lutheran Health System, we developed Cashton Greens Wind Farm, Wisconsin’s first community wind farm. The two-turbine wind farm generates enough electricity to power 1,200 homes each year.
growing our own oil seed crops since 2007. Oil extracted from the “oil crops” grown by CROPP farmers is processed into locallysourced, sustainable biofuel. The byproduct is a nutritious, highprotein supplementary livestock feed. We grow it. We process it. We use it. Cows eat it.
Or in our case, one turbine can power our 81,000 square foot headquarters and additional warehouse facilities in our h o me t o w n o f L a Fa r g e , Wi s. , plus our ten-story cold storage distribution center and its 75
We learned that one 2.5 megawatt wind turbine can provide clean electricity to power 600 homes for one year. So we got two!
32% of diesel fuel used by CROPP’s local fleet is bio-based or straight veggie oil
Increase biofuel use to 60% by 2015
Develop “fuel sheds”* in the Midwest and eventually all regions where we have farmers
Continue development of organic, non-GMO oil crop seeds to further supply our growers
* Think of “fuel sheds” like watersheds—an area where water flows to a larger body of water in patterns according to the natural topography. With fuel sheds, oil seed crops would be grown, pressed and used in an area that benefits the most people with the least environmental and financial impact.
ON-FARM SUSTAINABILITY The On-Farm Sustainability
renewable energy, biofuels and
to implement various renewable
program helps CROPP farmer-
waste agricultural plastic recycling,
energy projects. In 2012, CROPP
owners who are interested in
to manure management and
facilitated an agricultural plastic
self-sufficiency. The cooperative
composting. Since 2008, the
recycling program for our members
provides energy efficiency
sustainability team has helped
in Northern Indiana; nearly 30 farms
audits to farmer-owners at no
more than 100 farmers complete
participate in this program. Total
cost to help our farmers identify
farm energy audits and more
cooperative-wide on-farm renewable
areas for improvement and
than 50 farmers to obtain
energy installations now generate
renewable energy sources that
renewable energy site assessments.
572,506 kWh annually.
would work well on their farms.
The cooperative has secured
Support is available for projects
approximately $3 million in grant
ranging from energy efficiency,
funding on behalf of our farmers
Our cooperative defines organic as a philosophy and system of production that mirrors the natural laws of living organisms with emphasis on the interdependence of all life.
LEADERSHIP IN SUSTAINABILITY - AWA R D -
Eric & Cathy Paris |
Tamarlane Farm | Lyndonville, Vermont
The Leadership in Sustainability Award honors a farmer within the cooperative who has demonstrated
fertilizer and growing feed on the farm for their own animals rather than purchasing from out-of-state. The
Eric enthusiastically shares his experiences with sustainable agriculture by speaking at agriculture
an outstanding commitment to sustainable agriculture by stewarding the land, knowledge and resources for the next generation.
farm also follows a comprehensive nutrient management plan, and they have a high tunnel for fourseason vegetable production.
workshops, local schools and during the pasture walks he hosts at Tamarlane Farm.
Tamarlane Farm is a thriving 420acre diversified farm in Lyndonville, Vermont, where an underlying respect and love for the land and animals is evident in all aspects of the farm. The Parises produce milk, beef, chickens, turkeys, vegetables and compost. They also own and operate the Freighthouse, a farm-totable restaurant in Lyndonville. The farm supplies organic meat and vegetables to the restaurant, as well as to the local hospital and schools.
The Paris’ composting operation takes in 5 tons of organic waste per week from local schools, restaurants and businesses. Some of the compost is sold off farm. And as part of the farm’s continual improvement ethic, Eric is working to install a polemounted solar electric array to provide renewable electricity for the farm.
Minimizing the need to use “inputs” that come from somewhere else is what diversified farming is all about—and what used to be the norm in farming. Tamarlane Farm employs the most sustainable a g r i cu l t u r e m o d e l p o s s i b l e , implementing rotational grazing, utilizing farm-made compost as
Paris Family (above) Tamarlane Farm Photos on this page by Elizabeth Ferry
Freighthouse Restaurant (top) Lyndonville, Vermont
We produced enough to offset*â€Ś 41% of our total energy needs 68% of our electricity needs
*For CROPP-owned facilities in 2012
EPA Energy Star Performance for original headquarters building (before addition), which qualifies for LEED EBOM certification.
57: average age of U.S. farmers 47: average age of CROPP farmers
Our farmers produced
572,506 kwh through on-farm renewable energy projects in 2012.
Percentage of Biofuel Used in CROPP Diesel Fleet Vehicles
33 acres of oil seed planted in 2012
82% of construction waste from building the new La Farge addition was recycled
Keep on Trucking
CROPPâ€™s organic dairy farmers kept more than
of toxins and synthetic 1st certified organic fertilizers native prairie in off the land the country. since 1988.
5 million gallons
water consumption reduced in 1 year thanks to a new water filtration system at our Chaseburg Creamery in 2010, paired with new cleaning techniques.
Change in resource use per employee from 2009-2012:
6,000 kwh less electricity 5,500 gallons less water |
S OCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
1.2 Billion 21 *
Pounds of pesticides used annually in the United States.
Different pesticides found in babies’ umbilical cord blood at birth.
Levels in children’s urine decrease to undetectable levels immediately after switching to an organic diet.
This toxic pesticide still exists in the environment, food, and Americans’ cells, 30 years after being banned.
S OC IAL RES P ONS IBIL ITY
Good Food Movement EATING ORGANIC MATTERS ot only do you avoid
When it comes to our health
Through this varied work,
and the health of our families,
we believe we are helping people
personal action is so important.
to make the connection between
Ideally, we would grow all of our
the food we eat, the environment
and genetically modified organisms
own food, but when that’s not
and our health.
(GMOs), but you reduce the impact
possible, we can take responsibility
of a “cocktail effect” on your
for learning the story behind our
“…the influences of low-level
body, where toxins and other
food and making informed decisions.
exposures [to pesticides] on child
CROPP is working hard to
health are of increasing concern.
unnatural ingredients in our food combine in a real-life imitation of a high school chemistry experiment. Just as prescribed synthetic medicines can interact badly in our bodies, so can a cocktail of synthetic chemicals, building up to eventually surpass our bodies’ tolerance thresholds, resulting in allergies or even illness.
bring this awareness to people— especially parents and children.
Children encounter pesticides
We do this through our public
daily in air, food, dust, and soil
education initiatives such as Earth Dinner (www.earthdinner.org)
and on surfaces through home and
and FrogTV (www.frogtv.com)
public lawn or garden application,
and by partnering with missionaligned non-profit organizations
household insecticide use,
on programs and public
application to pets, and
agricultural product residues.
If just 3% of U.S. cropland was converted to organic production, it would reduce pesticide exposure risk by 97%. The Organic Center†
* Environmental Protection Agency. “Pesticide News Story: EPA Releases Report of Pesticide Use in the United States.” Press Release. 17 Feb 2011. http://epa.gov/oppfead1/cb/csb_page/updates/2011/ sales-usage06-07.html ** Environmental Working Group. “Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns.” 14 July 2005. www.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden2/ execsumm.php *** Lu, C. et al. “Organic diets significantly lower children's dietary exposure to organophosphorus pesticides.” Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 114, No. 2:260-263. 2006. abstract: http://ehp. niehs.nih.gov/docs/2005/8418/abstract.html - Environment Programme and the World Health Organization, 2013.
For many children, diet may be the most influential source.” (emphasis added) The American Academy of Pediatrics‡
**** Benbrook, C. "Simplifying the Pesticide Risk Equation: The Organic Option: State of the Science Review," The Organic Center. March 2008. www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/ † Benbrook, C. "Simplifying the Pesticide Risk Equation: The Organic Option: State of the Science Review," The Organic Center. March 2008. www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/Pesticide_SSR_2008.pdf ‡ “Pesticide Exposure in Children,” Pediatrics, Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics; Nov. 26, 2012; http://pediatrics. aappublications.org/content/early/2012/11/21/peds.2012-2757
These organizations are
& Partnerships From the beginning, CROPP has
has been granted to support
recognized that part of doing
young and transitioning farmers,
good business is giving back to
on-farm organic research and
the communities who support us.
anti-GMO initiatives—all of
Just like organic farming, when
which impact organic farmers
we give back more than we take
and consumers alike.
out, we all reap the benefits. of grassroots non-profit
GROWING DEEP PARTNERSHIPS
organizations each year that
We believe long-term partnerships
CROPP supports hundreds
share in our mission. Collectively, these groups—representing millions of people—are leading the good food movement and growing positive change.
are the way to real change in our food and farming system. Over time, some of our partnerships have evolved to be quite deep, resulting in close friendships as well as good mission-driven
ORGANIC FARMERS GIVE BACK
work. For our partners like the
Farmers Advocating for Organics
Working Group, Holistic Moms
( FA F O ) i s a p h i l a n t h r o p i c
Network, Bioneers, and many more
Rodale Institute, Environmental
organization within CROPP’s
national and local organizations,
farmer membership that is dedicated
we’re in this for the long haul.
to protecting and promoting organic farmers by investing in organic research, education and advocacy. The funds are contributed entirely by farmers, and projects funded are chosen by farmers. Since FAFO’s first granting cycle in 2007, approximately $2.3 million
Photo on the next page by Mike Griffin
just a few of the hundreds that CROPP is proud to support each year.
S OC IAL RES P ONS IBIL ITY
- IN 2012 CROPP Supported
in 42 states with
more than $2.2 million of food or funding
Donated Gave 20 Donated Donated
â€œyear of free
organic productâ€? kits to fundraiser
silent auctions and raffles
f a r m e r $97,300 $300,000 owners to Hurricane to anti-GMO disaster
in the form of food, equipment,
trucking and people-power
Art Wedig Fund
Ward & Rosie Burroughs (left) dairy farmer-owners from CA Mike Griffin (right) CA division pool manager March to support labeling of GMO foods in California
Resilience: the ability to recover from or adjust easily to change.
How We Work What do employees—fondly
Written by employees, the
referred to as CROPPies—have
CROPP Employee Values
to do with sustainability? And what does sustainability mean to
Statement embodies what
employees? A heck of a lot, as it
the co-op values in its staff
turns out. Providing meaningful, gainful employment for folks is a
and what drives our past
foundation of resilience. But there
and continued success:
should be a lot more to the relationship. At CROPP, we believe
Common sense, commitment,
in supporting our employees’
customer focus, inspiration,
growth beyond their job description. The Employee Growth Incentive (EGI) program encourages employee growth, both personal and professional. Throughout the year, employees earn points
remembering our roots, and of course, fun.
WELLNESS - PROGRAM -
This program offers educational programming designed to provide resources and encourage positive lifestyle choices and participation in self-improvement—and it goes well beyond fitness to include the mind and spirit as well.
for participating in training, community service, wellness and sustainability activities. At the end of the year, all participants receive an accrued-points-based bonus check rewarding them for their efforts.
CROPPies practicing yoga
CROPPies highway clean-up
Road clean-up photo by Rhett Adams Yoga photo by Amber Werre
S OC IAL RES P ONS IBIL ITY
The Organic and Mission Education
To support bodily health, CROPPies
For truly holistic wellness, we
Program is designed to align and
have access to free or discounted
must feed and support our spiritual
engage CROPPies in the co-op’s
exercise classes, gym memberships,
selves, as well. The co-op offers
mission. Classes on organic food,
weight loss programs, smoking
confidential counseling services,
organic agriculture, our products,
cessation support, on-site health
as well as weekly mindfulness-
production of the business, and
risk screenings to catch health
based stress reduction classes
sustainability are available to all.
problems early (like diabetes, skin
that incorporate the easy movement
and breast cancer, cholesterol and
of Tai Chi with breathing exercises
others), and on-site chiropractic,
and coaching. The co-op is also host
massage and acupuncture.
to regular Red Cross blood drives.
As part of our ongoing sustainability educational offerings, Practically Green is a social network that CROPPies use to connect their green spirits and thumbs, including tools for developing sustainability
You can see employees taking walks around our campuses in almost any weather.
plans for home and work. Currently,
As an organic food company,
nearly half of our staff are members.
CROPP wouldn’t be walking the
Speaking of green thumbs, all CROPPies
grow their own food in the organic garden, just outside the headquarters building in La Farge Finally, in-house trainings and professional development consulting are regularly available to help CROPPies develop new skills and meet their professional goals.
“Last year I decided to shed some pounds. Using Weight Watchers I lost 30 pounds and 2 dress/pant
talk if we didn’t make organic
sizes. My cholesterol dropped
food available to as many CROPPies
from 214 to 173. This past May
as possible during working hours. Our La Farge, Wis., headquarters
I ran my first 5K, and in July
houses an organic café, and our
I completed my first triathlon
other facilities in Cashton and Chaseburg, Wis., have daily access
at age 59. I am in the best shape
to free organic dairy and sandwich
of my life, and my energy level
fixings. The plans for a new office building in Cashton (to be completed
is through the roof. CROPP’s
in 2014) also include a new
commitment to wellness inspired
organic café. CROPPies can also
me and gave me the boost
order organic foods in bulk directly from a distributor through the Buying Club, helping reduce the cost of eating organic.
I needed for a lifestyle change.” Mary Fleming programmer analyst II
BODY MIN D
IN THE CLASSROOM Connecting the Next Generation to Food at P.S. 41 P.S. 41, a K-5 public school, lies within the
CROPP’s relationship with P.S. 41 sprang from
peripheral view of Manhattan skyscrapers.
a sponsorship in 2005 of the National
But inside the classrooms, it is all about the
Gardening Association’s adopt-a-school-garden
farm. CROPP farmers Susan Hardy and Maureen
program. After CROPP gave P.S. 41 a $3,000 grant
Knapp are visiting. Butter is churned, cream
toward their rooftop garden, parent Vicki Sando
is transformed into ice cream, and ducklings
reached out to say thank you and asked if the
and chicks peep in the children’s hands. Susan
cooperative ever sent farmers to schools.
and Maureen will spend all day at P.S. 41
CROPP responded with support for Susan and
visiting all the class sections for several different
her husband, David, to visit. Since then, the
grades. And at the end of a full day of food and
Hardys and now Maureen have been visiting the
farm fun and learning, they will promise the
school four times a year, twice in fall and twice
more than 140 children that they’ll be back soon.
in spring. Every grade gets a different activity.
Photos courtesy of P.S. 41
S OC IAL RES P ONS IBIL ITY
The children look forward to graduating from butter churning to ice cream making to eventually hatching ducklings and chicks. And they know that â€œtheir farmersâ€? will continue coming back to share these experiences with them. P.S. 41 stands as a tribute to the changes dedicated people can make. A relatively small commitment of time and resources has resulted in a priceless investmentâ€”teaching the next generation where their food comes from and connecting the urban community to its rural farm neighbors.
David Hardy teaching P.S. 41 kids about gardening (left)
Susan & David Hardy, CROPP New York farmer-owners (right)
Pay Price Comparison
Average Base Pay Price - CWT
EC ONOMIC S TABIL ITY
When profit goals are achieved, CROPP shares with the farmers, employees and the community. It’s our way of honoring the hard work of everyone involved in making CROPP an economically sustainable business.
People’s Sake here’s no point in
starting a business if
Even through its recent years
you have no plans to make it last. In 2013, CROPP celebrated its 25th anniversary—25
producing the highest quality organic products, nurturing health and harmony between human and natural communities, and supporting local economies
by striving to keep our food in the region it was produced—from farm to shelf. Looking at all we’ve become in such a short period of time is hard to believe, but our founding farmers had a vision—
of fast-paced growth, CROPP has remained loyal to the rural Wisconsin communities who first accepted the “hippies” and “back-to-the-landers” in 1988. As the largest employer in predominantly rural Vernon County (one of the most economicallydepressed counties in Wisconsin), CROPP is vital to sustaining a healthy rural culture through its jobs, patronage of local goods and services, philanthropy and community service.
a sustainable vision—that has
For CROPPies, this stability
served the cooperative well for all
means no worries of being
uprooted and moved across the country in order to keep a job.
PEOPLE COME FIRST
And the co-op’s robust wellness
CEIEIO George Siemon has often
program and emphasis on
said that people are CROPP’s greatest asset. This means we must support our people first
in order to have a healthy,
prevention has helped some employees reduce their personal health care costs: lifestyle education has encouraged many to adopt
economically sustainable business.
healthier eating habits and lose
The business operates on a very
have indentified pre-illness
small profit margin so that the
conditions in a few people, allowing
farmer-owners can get the most
them to manage the condition
back for their hard work. They
through diet and exercise or
are paid first (most marketing
get treatment before the illness
cooperatives pay their farmers
manifested, avoiding the potential
last), ensuring that they get the
for costly medical care.
weight, and health risk screenings
pay price they’re promised, and the business operates on the
remainder. A fair and stable pay price allows our farmers to be financially secure today and
*M idwest base price without butterfat or quality premiums. †B ased on annual FMMO average blend price and 2013 estimate.
to plan for tomorrow.
Tomorrow, We Begin Again ustainability is about
But farmers are always thinking
So it’s no surprise that we think
how we conduct
forward, too. For example, the
about legacy when it comes to the
ourselves today so that
question of legacy is never far from
many actions and organizations
we’ll be here tomorrow
their thoughts. After carefully
we support and the efforts we
to continue the good work. Daily,
tending their land, the desire
make to maintain forward
farmers are always engaged in
for someone to continue that
momentum and plan for the future.
the moment because the natural
stewardship is only natural. The
world in which they operate is
same is true of the cooperative
constantly changing around them.
built by those farmers.
THE FUTURE IS ORGANIC America lost 4.7 million farmers
each region with Gen-O Awards.
organic agriculture movement
since 1935, and most of the 2.1
Our crop of Gen-Os spread the
for many years, some since they
million who remain are over
word about organic and CROPP
were children. These passionate
55 years old. In contrast, the
through outreach events and
young farmers are our next gen-
average age of CROPP farmers is
conferences, and the co-op has
eration of leaders—both for our
much younger, with a growing
been a longtime sponsor of
cooperative and for the nation’s
n u m b e r o f f a r m e r - m e m b e r s
the national Future Farmers
under 35 years old. They are our
of America (FFA) organization
as well as numerous local chapters. Recognizing the importance of safeguarding CROPP’s future, in
co-op’s board of “Gen-Os” are the next generation
directors and management team
of stewards of the earth. They’re
approved the formation of the
the young people who will
Generation Organic Executive
preserve and practice previous
Committee (GOEC). Like other
generations of organic wisdom.
CROPP all-farmer executive committees, the GOEC serves as
C R OPP s u p p o rt s i t s yo u ng
an advisory committee for the
farmers with a slate of initiatives,
board of directors, providing
from educational programs,
recommendations on important
scholarships and regional
issues affecting the Gen-O
gatherings, to a farmer support
Program and network members.
hotline and on-staff organic
The seven representatives
veterinarians. And every year
currently serving on the GOEC
we recognize a young farmer in
have been active in CROPP and the
Laura Boere, CA (left) Adam Holter, MD (top) Jared Luhman, MN (bottom) Gen-O Award Winners
CULTIVATING LEADERSHIP We are a farmer-owned and-
creation of CROPP’s Farmer
business operations, mission and
governed business. Leadership by
Leadership Symposium, an
culture, and communication and
CROPP farmer-owners keeps us
educational and networking
leadership skills. They also tour
focused and effective. So how do
summit for potential leaders
CROPP facilities to get a better
we keep this good thing going?
in all areas of the cooperative.
sense of both the scope and the
This question generated the
Attendees focus on CROPP history,
intricacies of their business.
REQUIRES LONG-TERM VISION Our vision for the cooperative
them, raising the bar and doing it
and the world around us is
again. The changes from year to
not about activism or policy or
year may be incremental in some
advocacy, it’s about a culture shift.
areas and leaps in others, but it’s
“Mainstream culture in the United States is dominated by greed, s e l f- cent e re dne s s a nd materialism,” said Theresa Marquez, CROPP’s longtime chief marketing executive and now the cooperative’s mission executive. “How do you change that?” It all comes back to the cooperative’s philosophy of continual improvement. CROPP is constantly working toward new goals, reaching
all positive change, and that’s what counts in the end.
“What I hope we can do is help to shift our culture. We don’t have to shift hugely to make a change. We just have to move.” Theresa Marquez CROPP's Mission Executive
CROPP COOPERATIVE www.organicvalley.coop 100% Post-Consumer Recycled. Printed with UV Inks. COPYRIGHT © CROPP Cooperative 2013-55003 OPS-P02328
The Cropp Sustainability Report outlines our ongoing work to serve our cooperative’s mission, guiding principles and our sustainability goal...