Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn comprised of more than 2,500 local farmer cooperatives across the country. The majority of America’s 2 million farmers and ranchers belong to one or more farmer cooperatives. NCFC members also include 22 state and regional councils of cooperatives.
Farmer cooperatives handle, process and market almost every type of agricultural commodity; furnish farm supplies; and provide credit and related financial services, including export financing. Earnings from these activities are returned to their farmer members on a patronage basis, helping improve their income from the marketplace.
Farmer cooperatives also provide over 250,000 jobs, with a total payroll in excess of $8 billion, and contribute significantly to the economic well-being of rural America.
NCFC’s mission is to advance the business and policy interests of America’s cooperatives and other farmer-owned enterprises.
In fulfilling this mission, NCFC upholds four core values. These are:
For more than 100 years, farmer-owned co-ops have played an integral role in the lives of farmers, the business of agriculture, and the economy of rural America. Through their co-ops, individual farmers and ranchers gain strength from their numbers that helps preserve the family farm and a uniquely American way of life.
Farmer co-ops also reach into the lives of consumers across the globe. They play a central role in ensuring an abundant, safe, healthy and affordable food supply. From grains to dairy, meat to fruit, vegetables and nuts, and much more, farmers rely on their co-ops to help them provide the food we eat and the clothes we wear.
All statistics from USDA data, 2011, except employment numbers which are approximate and based on NCFC analysis of industry data.
Cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the people who use them. Cooperatives differ from other businesses because they are member owned and operate for the mutual benefit of members. Like other businesses, most cooperatives are incorporated under State law.
There are estimated to be over 40,000 cooperatives in the United States whose member owners include over 100 million Americans – nearly 1 out of 3. These include agriculture, child care, credit, health care, housing, insurance, telephone, and electric cooperatives to name a few.
In agriculture, there are nearly 3,000 farmer cooperatives whose members include a majority of our nation’s 2 million farmers and ranchers. These include:
Marketing cooperatives – which handle, process and market virtually every commodity grown and produced in the United States.
Bargaining cooperatives – which bargain to help their farmer members obtain reasonable prices for the commodities they produce.
Farm supply cooperatives – those 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.
Farmer cooperatives exist for the mutual benefit of their farmer members with earnings returned on a patronage basis. For example, a farmer member who accounts for 10 percent of the volume of corn delivered to the cooperative would receive 10 percent of the net earnings derived from the handling, processing, marketing and sale of that corn or related products. Such patronage dividends help boost the income of farmers directly or by reducing the effective cost of the goods and services provided.
Farmer cooperatives also help contribute in another way to the economic well being of local communities, particularly in rural areas where they are an important source of jobs and payrolls – accounting for as many as 300,000 jobs and a total payroll of over $8 billion.
Being farmer-owned and controlled, farmer cooperatives are governed by a board of directors elected by their farmer members – generally based on one member one vote rather than on the basis of shares or percent ownership as in other types of businesses. This provides for a unique accountability.
Cooperatives Through research in 2014, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) gained compelling insights into farmers’ perspectives on cooperatives. NCFC surveyed two segments: large-scale producers and younger farmers. When asked to name the biggest challenges facing agriculture today, the two groups were remarkably in sync: government regulation, and the lack of understanding among American consumers about how their food is produced. Both the large-scale and young producers viewed their local cooperatives quite favorably. They see co-ops as uniquely positioned to speak out on behalf of rural America to a larger national audience that is increasingly detached from agriculture. Below are resources, including the complete survey results, graphics, a customizable news release and presentation and more.
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