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Sustainability Report

25 years of serving our mission and growing the organic movement

CROPP is a farmer-owned and–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

In Cooperation,

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,

sustainability in

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

equally valuable.

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









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

organic certification.

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

every year.

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

our environment.

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

more nutritious.

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.


Celebrating Heroes



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


retailers. Unlike the markets of yore that were mostly local by necessity, today wares are


moved by many other more costly means. While CROPP out-performs the crowd when it comes to


Celebrating Heroes



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

owned facilities.

running. We’ve still got serious

68% of electricity used by our

work to do in order to achieve our

CROPP-owned facilities.

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.


Celebrating Heroes



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*‌ 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

The Numbers

Our farmers produced

572,506 kwh through on-farm renewable energy projects in 2012.

Percentage of Biofuel Used in CROPP Diesel Fleet Vehicles

14% 2009







33 acres of oil seed planted in 2012

82% of construction waste from building the new La Farge addition was recycled

Keep on Trucking

CROPP’s organic dairy farmers kept more than



million pounds

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 |



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.


Growing the

Good Food Movement EATING ORGANIC MATTERS ot only do you avoid

When it comes to our health

Through this varied work,

consuming antibiotics,

and the health of our families,

we believe we are helping people

toxic chemicals,

personal action is so important.

to make the connection between

synthetic hormones

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 (

and on surfaces through home and

and FrogTV (

public lawn or garden application,

and by partnering with missionaligned non-profit organizations

household insecticide use,

on programs and public

application to pets, and

outreach efforts.

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. sales-usage06-07.html ** Environmental Working Group. “Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns.” 14 July 2005. 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. - 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. † Benbrook, C. "Simplifying the Pesticide Risk Equation: The Organic Option: State of the Science Review," The Organic Center. March 2008. ‡ “Pesticide Exposure in Children,” Pediatrics, Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics; Nov. 26, 2012; http://pediatrics.



These organizations are

Strategic Philanthropy

& 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


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


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.


- IN 2012 CROPP Supported



in 42 states with

more than $2.2 million of food or funding

Donated Gave 20 Donated Donated


“year of free

organic product� kits to fundraiser

silent auctions and raffles

f a r m e r $97,300 $300,000 owners to Hurricane to anti-GMO disaster

relief assistance

through the

Sandy relief

in the form of food, equipment,

trucking and people-power

and GMO

labeling advocacy

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.



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





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






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


The children look forward to graduating from butter churning to ice cream making to eventually hatching ducklings and chicks. And they know that “their farmers� 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 investment—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

Organic Valley*

Average Base Pay Price - CWT




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

these years.

uprooted and moved across the country in order to keep a job.



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



2013 (Projected)

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

organic future.

under 35 years old. They are our

of America (FFA) organization

Generation Organic™.

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 100% Post-Consumer Recycled. Printed with UV Inks. COPYRIGHT © CROPP Cooperative 2013-55003 OPS-P02328

Cropp Sustainability Report  

The Cropp Sustainability Report outlines our ongoing work to serve our cooperative’s mission, guiding principles and our sustainability goal...

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