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Current Research

Dairy Pricing Research

UWCC and the UW Center for Dairy Profitability are implementing a USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant program to research geographic pricing and competitive issues in the dairy industry. The aim of this research is to determine the influence of distance, presence of cooperatives and farm-level heterogeneity on milk prices. The program will develop a model to characterize and measure market power where cooperative and non-cooperative buyers compete for farmers' output. By collecting farm-level price data, the team will be able to provide farmers with benchmark reports that compare prices between nearby farms.

U.S. Census Project

UWCC staff are developing models for identifying cooperatives and their performance. The aim is enable annual reporting on the economic footprint of cooperative businesses, and to enable richer analysis of their behavior and year-to-year performance. Researchers will be able to compare cooperatives on national, state and local levels and provide a snapshot of key economic indicators such as wages, assets and revenues. This research will inform and provide recommendations to the U.S. Census Bureau of the importance and need for reporting on the economy-wide impact of cooperative businesses.

Annual Cooperative Business Survey

UWCC staff has developed the Annual Cooperative Business Survey program, which gathers basic annual financial data from cooperative firms, including patronage equity and refund practices. The results of the survey, implemented through financial support and collaboration from the National Society of Accountants for Cooperatives, will provide a baseline for understanding financial management across cooperatives sectors. This research is part of an ongoing initiative to evaluate cooperative behavior and performance.

2014 Annual Cooperative Business Survey Final Report

2013 Annual Cooperative Business Survey Final Report

Recent Research

Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives: Phase I

The cooperative ownership model is used in a wide variety of contexts in the United States. Until this project, no comprehensive set of national-level statistics had been compiled about U.S. cooperative businesses.

Through funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and matching support from the National Cooperative Business Association and its members, and the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, the Center conducted a census of the U.S. cooperative movement quantifying the magnitude of economic activity accounted for by U.S. cooperative businesses.

For the project report, visit the project website.

For state summaries based on project data, click here.

Research on Economic Impact of U.S. Cooperatives Phase II

This project, which is on-going, builds on the work in Phase I by initiating a longitudinal survey of cooperative business that will sustain research on cooperatives beyond the period of the grant.

Additionally, we have submitted a research proposal for access to data maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau that covers all U.S. businesses. Access to these data will enable research on a variety of specific research topics, and allow continued reporting on the economy-wide impact of cooperative business.

Cooperative Governance, Behavior, and Performance

The aims of this research project are to: (1) generate hypotheses regarding differential governance practices across cooperative and investor-owned firms; (2) test for and measure these differences among firms in the food and agricultural sector of the U.S. economy; and (3) evaluate the effects of these differences on the behavior and performance of cooperative firms. This research will generate important new insights regarding the means to effective governance in cooperatives.