What resilient economic engine creates market opportunities, helps underrepresented people, keeps profits in the local community, and fights climate change? The cooperative!
In a cooperative, people with a common interest pool their funds and create a business that they own, control democratically, and benefit from financially based on how much they patronize (or use) the cooperative.
Cooperatives can address community needs, focus on a broad range of purposes beyond profits, raise wages, and operate in almost every industry. They provide electricity, broadband, rural groceries, child care, home care, financial services, housing, and operate in the supply chain, agriculture, and education. Cooperatives address market gaps by providing essential goods and services. They can also preserve local jobs when a retiring business owner converts the business to a worker cooperative.
The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the Agriculture Secretary to “chair an interagency working group to foster cooperative development and ensure coordination with federal agencies and … cooperative organizations….” 7 U.S.C. section 1932(e)(12.