Washington, D.C. (February 26, 2010)—Farmer co-ops play a vital role in promoting competition in agriculture, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) said today, and the upcoming Department of Justice (DOJ)/Department of Agriculture (USDA) workshops on the subject should recognize the benefits that co-ops provide to farmers, rural communities, and consumers.
The DOJ and USDA released the preliminary agenda for the kick-off workshop, to be held in Ankeny, Iowa on Friday, March 12. As the first of five workshops this year, the Ankeny event will feature Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Christine Varney making comments to provide a roadmap of the issues on which the sessions will focus.
“For more than 100 years, America’s farmer-owned co-ops have worked hand in hand with their members to ensure that individual producers can compete on a more even playing field with the large, globally integrated companies that dominate the agricultural sector,” said NCFC President & CEO Chuck Conner. “It is my hope that Secretary Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General Varney will use this opportunity to show strong support for agricultural co-ops and all of their 2 million farmer and rancher members.”
“Farmer co-ops allow individual producers—whether they grow 40 acres of peaches in California or 4,000 acres of wheat in Kansas—to have a combined market power much, much greater than any single farmer or rancher would have on his own,” Conner continued. “By doing this, co-ops help to preserve family farms and foster competition in the marketplace, which ensures the fairest price possible for consumers.”
NCFC staff and several NCFC members will be attending the Ankeny workshop to monitor developments and provide information on the benefits of farmer co-ops. NCFC has also launched its “Farmer Co-ops: Providing for America” campaign to tell the story of how farmer co-ops benefit producers, rural communities, and consumers to policy makers and other opinion leaders.
Future DOJ/USDA workshops will be held on May 21 in Normal, Ala., June 7 in Madison, Wis., August 26 in Fort Collins, Colo., and December 8 in Washington, D.C.
Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 3,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets. America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.