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National Farmers Union (NFU) today joined the cooperative community in kicking off National Cooperative Month. 

Since the founding of our organization 116 years ago, Farmers Union members have demonstrated that they not only believe in and belong to cooperatives, but also that the cooperative concept is at the very heart of who we are and how we think as an organization.

This year’s theme is “Co-ops See the Future,” and it highlights the sustainable and inclusive tomorrow that is envisioned by the more than 40,000 cooperatives in the U.S.  The Farmers Union shares this vision, and the organization is working to ensure that family farmers and the general public understand the important democratic decision-making process that is employed by cooperatives.

Co-ops are not just an effective business model. They empower individuals, and they connect those that otherwise would not have significant buying or selling power in a marketplace. Co-ops are more important than ever in rural America, given the fact that agriculture is increasingly highly concentrated on both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

Farmers Union’s roots in cooperatives go all the way back to the organization’s founding in Point, Texas, in 1902, when farmers began to see an increase in both political strength and visibility through cooperative businesses. Our organization’s founders responded to sundry business practices that not only placed farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage, but actually pitted us against one another.

After that realization, Farmers Union members went on to organize cooperatives that focused on storage warehouses, supply and marketing, purchasing, rural electric and even credit unions. Today, they’ve expanded even further, and have even teamed up with public schools to provide local, nutritious food for school lunches in the “Farm to School” program.

Cooperatives to this day remain a vital cornerstone of rural American communities, forming the nexus of the rural economy and putting their money and efforts back into their communities. As an organization, we are committed to ensure that this smart business and empowerment model continues to help bring increased strength and prosperity to rural America, and we’re delighted that the cooperative spirit is reaching further than ever into new areas and ideas..

Johnson is the president of the National Farmers Union

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