Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
September 2003
Organic Farming Gets An Economic Boost From Commerce Grant

On July 12, Deputy Secretary David Storey presented a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant-Public Facilities for Economic Development to the Village of La Farge to assist an expansion by Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative. The southwestern Wisconsin village (population 766) will use funds to help offset the infrastructure (water mains, sanitary sewer, streets, and site grading) at the Cooperative’s new headquarters.

Organized 15 years ago by a handful of organic farmers in rural Wisconsin, the Organic Valley/CROPP cooperative today is made up of more than 500 organic farmer-members in 17 states. Phenomenal growth has necessitated expansion of the facility. Without Commerce assistance, the village would not have had the borrowing capacity to complete the project.

The 45,000-sq.-ft. barn-shaped building will feature state-of-the-art energy efficiencies, which are expected to provide extensive cost savings to Organic Valley/CROPP and generate increased jobs, tax base, and economic vitality to rural Wisconsin.

"Green design" features include an energy recovery system that swaps cool and warm air within the building; day lighting that uses natural light to reduce the need for electric lighting; sustainable water-free plumbing; solar-powered parking lot lights; and the use of sustainable building materials obtained locally.

The cooperative currently employs 216 people, and will add another 105 individuals to its work force when the $5.3 million expansion project is completed in 2004.

At the ceremony, Storey presented a plaque from Gov. Jim Doyle congratulating the cooperative on its continued growth, and commending it for its commitment to La Farge and Wisconsin.

--Barbro McGinn

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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