Cooperative Ownership

Date: 20 Nov 2008 | posted in: agriculture | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Increasingly, a small handful of corporations control inputs, credit, elevators, processing facilities, and markets necessary to grow and distribute agricultural products. Since the last half of the 19th century, farmer owned cooperatives have provided farmers a stronger presence in the marketplace and greater bargaining power to control the costs of inputs and the value of outputs. These new forms of agricultural cooperatives are commonly referred to as “value-added coops” or “new generation coops.” In 1994, 2,200 marketing coops sold 31 percent of all U.S. farm commodities and 29 percent of the nation’s farm supplies. The 240 farm credit cooperative banks made 25 percent of all agricultural loans. But as costs of inputs continue to rise and prices of commodities fall, farmers need ways to add value to the raw materials they produce. Rather than only growing and selling commodities, many value-added agricultural cooperatives have formed to process crops and return added value to producers rather than middlemen. While value added dairy and fruit cooperatives are not a new phenomena, a new generation of diverse cooperatives is on the rise – corn processing coops produce ethanol and fructose, and cooperatives owned by wheat farmers produce pasta.

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Lisa Gonzalez

Lisa Gonzalez researches and reports on telecommunications and municipal networks' impact on life at the local level. Lisa has worked in politics, education, and as a freelance journalist. In addition to her contributions at, Lisa writes for and produces the Broadband Bits podcast.