overhead view of seedlings

Agriculture

Cooperatives play a significant role in the agriculture sector. There are several different types of cooperatives that provide services to farmers, ranchers, and other cooperatives.
grain silo with tractor

Marketing cooperatives handle, process and market virtually every commodity grown and produced in the United States.

Bargaining cooperatives bargain to help their farmer members obtain reasonable prices for the commodities they produce.

Farm supply cooperatives are engaged in the manufacture, sale and/or distribution of farm supplies and inputs, as well as energy-related products, including ethanol and biodiesel.

Credit cooperatives include the banks and associations of the cooperative Farm Credit System that provide farmers and their cooperatives with a competitive source of credit and other financial services, including export financing.

Examples of Cooperatives in the Agriculture Sector

CHS Inc. 

CHS Inc. is the nation’s leading cooperative owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States. CHS supplies energy, crop nutrients, grain marketing services, animal feed, and food and food ingredients. They also operate petroleum refineries/pipelines and manufacture, market, and distribute Cenex® brand refined fuels, lubricants, propane, and renewable energy products.

Foremost Farms

Foremost Farms USA, headquartered in Baraboo, Wisconsin, is a farmer-owned milk processing and marketing cooperative with about 1300 dairy farmer-members and annual sales of $0.5 billion. The nation’s eighth largest cooperative and 28th in annual sales among the Top 100 U.S. dairy processors, Foremost Farms focuses on the creation of tailored and innovative milk solutions that meet the needs of customers around the world.

Compeer Financial

Compeer Financial is a member-owned, Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. Compeer Financial provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America. With 1,200 dedicated team members serving more than 43,000 clients, they offer specialized expertise and personalized service regardless of the size of the farm, the type of crop grown or the livestock raised.

Resources

Coordinating Farm Labor Across Farms: A Toolbox for Diversified Farmers and Farmworkers. Farm Commons and UW Center for Cooperatives, 2017.

Reframing Food Hubs: Food Hubs, Racial Equity, and Self-Determination in the South. Center for Social Inclusion, 2018.

Agricultural Cooperative Statistics 2016. Rural Development Service Report 80, 2017.

Federal Statutes of Special Importance to Farmer Cooperatives, USDA Cooperative Information Report 66, 2017.

Cooperative Farming: Frameworks for Farming Together. A Greenhorns Guidebook, 2014.

A Study of Co-op Business Development in Wisconsin and Minnesota: Fourteen Recent Start-ups in the Food and Agricultural Sectors. UW Center for Cooperatives, 2013.

Dairy Cooperatives in the 21st Century – The First Decade. USDA Research Report 225, 2012.

A Life-Cycle Perspective on Governing Cooperative Enterprises in Agriculture. Choices Magazine, 2011.

Cooperatives in Agribusiness, USDA Cooperative Information Report 2, 2011

Organizing a Machinery Cooperative. Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Center, Oklahoma State University, 2007.

Co-operative Conversions, Failures and Restructurings: Case Studies and Lessons from U.S. and Canadian Agriculture. Centre for the Study of Co-operatives – University of Saskatchewan/UW Center for Cooperatives, 2009.

CROPP Cooperative: The Cooperative Regions of Organic Produce Pools. UW Center for Cooperatives, 2003.

An Analysis of Machinery Cooperatives for Dairy Farms in the Upper Midwest. UW Center for Cooperatives, 2002.

Walton Bean Growers’ CooperativeUW Center for Cooperatives, 2003.

New Generation Cooperatives Case Study: HomeGrown Wisconsin: The Story of a New Producer Cooperative. Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs/Western Illinois University, 2002.

Dakota Growers Pasta Company and the City of Carrington, North Dakota: A Case Study. USDA Fund for Rural America Planning Grant, 1998.

Organizations Supporting Agricultural Cooperatives