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La Farge, Wis.-based Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative with 1,636 organic farmers nationwide, participated in the 26th annual Farm Aid 2011 concert held Saturday in Kansas City, Kan.
Our appreciation for Farm Aid and their caring support of family farmers grows each year," said George Siemon, CEO and founding farmer of Organic Valley. “It is an honor to be so aligned in our shared mission to keep family farmers and their descendants on the land farming. As always, we’re encouraging concert goers and citizen eaters everywhere to ask ‘Who’s my farmer?’ and make the connection with the farmers who grow our food.”
Organic Valley provided chocolate milk samples and family-oriented games for concert-goers, who were able to meet “Gen-O,” or Generation Organic farmers. Gen-O is what Organic Valley calls its young organic farmers, aged 16 to 35, who represent a new generation of sustainable agriculture leaders. According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, America has lost approximately 4.5 million farms since 1935, and most of the 2.1 million farms that remain are operated by farmers with an average age of 57. In contrast, the average age of Organic Valley farmers is 44.
“It’s inspirational to be part of Gen-O and join other young farmers here at Farm Aid,” said 21-year-old Casey Knapp, a Gen-O farmer from upstate New York. “We’ve chosen organic farming as our career path. Our reasons and stories are diverse, but we all believe in the power of organic to change the world.”
Organized in 1988, Organic Valley represents 1,636 farmers in 34 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $619 million in 2010 sales. The cooperative produces a variety of organic foods, including milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide.