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Organic Valley Posts First Annual Loss in Co-op History
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 04/11/2018

It appears that the struggling dairy industry is also having a negative impact on the organic sector. The Wisconsin-based Organic Valley Cooperative announced it has posted its first-ever financial loss for fiscal year 2017. Company officials say a surplus of dairy products and falling milk prices are to blame for the off year, in which the co-op reported an after-tax loss of about $10 million.

During the group's annual meeting, CEO George Siemon reported gross sales at more than $1.1 billion during the past year. That was four percent more than the previous year, but still short of the company's total expenses on its balance sheet.

"Organic Valley has flourished over the past three decades and exceeded our founders' expectations in nearly every way," Siemon said. "Bumps in the journey, such as market fluctuations are inevitable. But our priorities are, and always have been, our farmer-members, our employees, our animals and our consumers. We're confident that as we continue to work together as a cooperative, we are a force for good in a troubled time."

The co-op paid its dairy patrons an average of $32 per hundredweight for their milk in 2017, which is about double the price conventional producers get from their processors. Siemon says that price may have to go down in order to keep the company from losing too much money.

Organic Valley, which is located in La Farge, is the nation's top organic food supplier of grass-fed dairy and meat products. The group also has a new cheese plant in Cashton and another facility in McMinnville, Oregon. As of this past year, they had over 2,000 farmer-members that farm about a half-million organic acres in 35 states and Canada.

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