The cooperative form of business can be an effective tool to:
- Provide economic opportunities particularly to rural and underrepresented people
- Combat climate change, and
- Address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic including food chain issues
Did You Know?
- People with limited resources can pool their funds to form a cooperative business
- Members own, use, and control the cooperative voting democratically on cooperative policy and initiatives
- Members receive financial benefits which are distributed equitably based on their use or patronage of the cooperative
- Co-ops are resilient during an economic downturn. Members have the power to decide how to handle the ups and downs of the business cycle, for example by accepting lower distributions or wages
- Cooperatives can focus on a broad range of purposes beyond profits including community needs and market gaps (like broadband)
- Co-ops operate in almost every industry, but are common in agriculture, insurance, financial services, grocery, education, healthcare, housing, and utilities
The 2014 Farm Bill authorized a working group to ensure coordination on cooperative development among federal agencies and private sector organizations:
The Agriculture Secretary
“shall coordinate and chair an interagency working group to foster cooperative development and ensure coordination with federal agencies and national and local cooperative organizations that have cooperative programs and interests.” 7 U.S.C. section 1932(e)(12).
To review the USDA presentation on the interagency working group in October 2021 please see PDF.
More than 20 Federal departments or agencies are involved in the Interagency working group outside of USDA. For links to USDA programs to assist cooperatives and cooperative development, see PDF.
For a greater understanding of the Interagency Working Group on Cooperative Development, please review this Q & A.