How Do Cooperatives Nurture Mother Nature? 🌿
TL; DR — Very well. In fact, environmental awareness is in cooperatives' nature. It is not just an add-on for cooperatives; it's part of their DNA. This is a story about the 7th of the seven cooperative principles at work.
A Co-operative Pioneer in the Dairy Industry 🥛
Organic Valley has taken a groundbreaking step with the launch of the Organic Valley Carbon Insetting Program (OVCIP) 🌱. As reported by Yahoo Finance, this initiative is more than just beneficial for the planet. It also supports farmers financially and technically, helping them make their farms greener.
This is even made more significant by the fact that Organic Valley is the largest organic dairy cooperative in the U.S.
Organic Valley's global influence is undeniable, with 1,800 farmer-owners across 34 U.S. states, Canada, Australia, and the UK 🌍. Their commitment to organic farming is evident in their investment in real projects that enhance dairy farming's environmental friendliness.
In partnership with Clean Energy Credit Union and NativeEnergy, Organic Valley supports renewable energy and carbon sequestration projects, such as solar panels and rotational grazing, as detailed on Wikipedia. Supported by a grant from the USDA, OVCIP aids farmers in project planning and implementation, including tree planting, renewable energy systems, and manure management improvements.
In carbon insetting, a company invests in emissions reduction projects within its own value chain or supply chain.
Environmental Impact of Organic Dairy Systems 📊
A comprehensive study, "Farm Level Environmental Assessment of Organic Dairy Systems in the U.S." (available for download below), provides insights into the environmental impact of organic dairies, all of which are members of the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP), marketed as Organic Valley.
Sustainable Food System: Organic Valley's Vision 🌾
Organic Valley's mission extends beyond environmental stewardship. They envision a sustainable food system where farming harmonizes with nature. This philosophy promotes healthy soil and cows, leading to higher-quality milk. It's a part of a broader mission to support small organic family farms and ensure ethical food sourcing, as described in the Yahoo Finance article.
In carbon offsetting, a company compensates for its carbon dioxide emissions by funding an equivalent amount of carbon savings elsewhere.
Leadership and Achievements 🏆
George Siemon, a crucial figure in the founding of Organic Valley, handed over the CEO reins in 2020 after leading the cooperative for 32 years. Bob Kirchoff, previously the COO since 2016, stepped up as the new CEO. This change was a big moment for Organic Valley, marking a new chapter in its journey (Organic Valley history).
In 2019, Organic Valley became 100% powered by renewable energy, the largest food company in the world to achieve this!
Climate Terms in Simple Terms 🌐
Carbon Insetting involves a company reducing emissions within its operations or supply chain 🔗. Carbon Offsetting is balancing one's emissions by investing in environmental projects elsewhere 🌳. Net-Zero refers to balancing emitted greenhouse gases with an equal amount removed or offset ⚖️. Carbon Capture is a technology capturing CO2 emissions from sources like factories before they enter the atmosphere 🏭.
Sidebar: Rabobank Coooperative
Rabobank Cooperative: A Partner in Sustainability 💚
This video features Rabobank's collaboration with Microsoft, launching a digital marketplace for carbon removal units. Unlike traditional banks, Rabobank operates as a cooperative, where its farmer-members, not shareholders, benefit from its success. Established in 1898 by Dutch farmers, Rabobank has grown into a global leader in food and agriculture finance, with its cooperative roots central to its identity and mission.
Notably, Rabobank operates as a cooperative rather than a traditional for-profit bank.
Further Readings and Resources 📚
For more on carbon insetting and offsetting, For more info, see: Gillenwater, M. (2012). What is Additionality? Part 1: A long-standing problem. Greenhouse Gas Management Institute, and Rogelj, J., Popp, A., Calvin, K.V., et al. (2016). Scenarios towards limiting global mean temperature increase below 1.5 °C. Nature Climate Change, 8, 325–332.
See also: Farmers.coop. (Note: This site is not viewable in the Philippines. You can see it when you are using VPN).