Organic Valley HQ damaged by fire

Organic Valley’s headquarters building in La Farge, Wis. suffered significant damage from a fire Tuesday evening, May 14.

Western Wisconsin news media reported that one-half to two-thirds of the headquarters building may be a total loss because of the fire, the cause of which was unknown.

WXOW-TV in La Crosse reported that workers were evacuated shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“We were having a board of directors meeting upstairs and the fire alarms went off,” Jim Wedeberg, one of the Organic Valley cooperative’s founding farmers told the TV station. “We saw smoke when we got outside, but couldn’t see where it was coming from or what the severity was.”

More than a half-dozen fire departments responded to the blaze. About 400 people work in the building, according to news reports.

Cooperative Regions of  Organic Producers Pools, which markets products under the Organic Valley brand, is the nation’s largest cooperative of organic farmers, with more than 1,800 members in the United States and Canada, according to the La Crosse Tribune newspaper. It said the headquarters building opened in 2004 and was expanded in 2010 and 2011.

Organic Valley’s products can be found throughout the Twin Cities area, and it has become one of the largest organic brands in the nation, according to its website. It offers milk, cheese, juice, eggs, spreads, produce, and soy, as well as meat labeled under a sister brand, Organic Prairie Family of Farms.

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