BEAVER DAM – United Cooperative is celebrating National Cooperative Month in October, along with 40,000 other cooperative businesses serving more than 120 million people nationwide. “Cooperatives Commit” is the theme of this year’s celebration, when cooperatives across the nation engage in efforts to make more people aware of the advantages of the cooperative business model.
As member-owned and member-controlled businesses, cooperatives commit to meeting the needs of their members and communities, rather than generating returns for distant investors.
“This year’s theme is right on target, because co-ops commit in so many ways to meeting the needs of their members and building stronger communities,” says David Cramer, United Cooperative President and CEO. “Our cooperative had $633 million in sales last year, and returned $28.7 million in total patronage to members. Forty percent of those dollars were distributed in cash in April, while 60 percent were retained in equity credits. In October, we will revolve over $6 million dollars, and retire $770 thousand dollars of stock for patrons at age 77 and pay all estates as requested. All these dollars circulate close to home, helping to strengthen the local economy.”
Co-ops commit to community
The seventh cooperative principle is Concern for Community. United Cooperative works for the sustainable development of its communities through charitable contributions to support agriculture youth, rural health and safety initiatives, and community food pantry and resources. In addition, United Cooperative awarded $51,000 in college scholarships for youth attending college and trade schools during 2017-2018, Cramer said.
Co-ops commit to jobs
Cooperatives generate jobs in their communities, keep profits local and pay local taxes to help support community services. United Cooperative employs over 600 full- and part-time workers across 32 Wisconsin communities. In 2017, United Cooperative ranked 45th on USDA’s Top 100 list of agricultural cooperatives in the United States by Rural Cooperatives magazine.
Co-ops commit to trust
Most co-ops strive to adhere to seven key cooperative principles, which combine to help build trust between the co-op, its members and the community. For example, the first principle is Voluntary and Open Membership, which means that we are a voluntary organization open to all people to use our services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership. The second principle, Democratic Member Control, gives members a voice in the cooperative’s policies and decisions. “United Cooperative is governed by a 10-member board of directors who represent the more than 20,000 members from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and the upper peninsula of Michigan,” adds Cramer.
Co-ops commit to better world
Through all of the above ways, cooperatives build a better world. United Cooperative helps its local members by originating and transporting grain for the global marketplace, and by sourcing feed, energy and crop nutrients products from global sources. “We connect the farmer with all the solutions for managing their operation, adding even more economic vitality to the communities where they live and work,” adds Cramer.
Formed in 1936, United Cooperative is a full-service cooperative offering feed, grain, agronomy, and energy products and services to Wisconsin farmers and consumers.