Agricultural Cooperatives: Economics, Opportunities and Structure in a New Era of Food, Fiber and Fuel

Phil Kenkel
Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair, Oklahoma State University
Cooperative businesses are an important part of the U.S. economy and are particularly prevalent in the agricultural sector. Cooperatives operate under a business model that generates unique challenges in finance management, governance, strategy and communication. These unique challenges and the prevalence of cooperatives in U.S. agriculture have encouraged research and education efforts by agricultural economists since the early 1900’s. Cooperatives were included as a part of the mission of the Cooperative

External Issues Facing Cooperatives

Phil Kenkel

Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair, Oklahoma State University

In a recent national project, academic researchers, cooperative managers and members, USDA, agricultural foundations and other stakeholders collaborated to identify the critical issues facing agricultural cooperatives. A two-stage Delphi survey was conducted, followed by expert panel sessions in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The material below summarizes some of the findings from the project.

Market Volantility
Wide spectrums of issues both external and internal to the firm impact the competitiveness, stability …

Communications

Phil Kenkel

Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair, Oklahoma State University

In a recent national project, academic researchers, cooperative managers and members, USDA, agricultural foundations and other stakeholders collaborated to identify the critical issues facing agricultural cooperatives. A two-stage Delphi survey was conducted, followed by expert panel sessions in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The material below summarizes some of the findings from the project.

Cooperatives are owned and controlled by a diverse set of users. They also operate under a unique …

Human Resources

Phil Kenkel

Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair, Oklahoma State University

In a recent national project, academic researchers, cooperative managers and members, USDA, agricultural foundations and other stakeholders collaborated to identify the critical issues facing agricultural cooperatives. A two-stage Delphi survey was conducted, followed by expert panel sessions in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The material below summarizes some of the findings from the project.

The quality and skills of cooperative managers and board members has been considered a critical issue for …

Characteristics of the Best Cooperatives

By Phil Kenkel, Vice Chair, Cooperatives CoP and Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair, Oklahoma State University, phil.kenkel@okstate.edu.

In a recent national project, academic researchers, cooperative managers and members, USDA, agricultural foundations and other stakeholders collaborated to identify the critical issues facing agricultural cooperatives. A two-stage Delphi survey was conducted, followed by expert panel sessions in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The material below summarizes some of the findings from the project.

During the Critical Issues Pre-Conference of the Farmers Cooperative …

Critical Issues Facing Cooperatives

Phil Kenkel

Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair, Oklahoma State University

In a recent national project, academic researchers, cooperative managers and members, USDA, agricultural foundations and other stakeholders collaborated to identify the critical issues facing agricultural cooperatives. A two-stage Delphi survey was conducted, followed by expert panel sessions in Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Some of the findings from the project are summarized under the topics below.

Project Background

External Issues Facing Cooperatives

Need for Strategic Planning

Challenges for the Board of

Cooperative Business Principles

Authors: Greg McKee, North Dakota State University, gregory.mckee@ndsu.edu, and Donald Frederick,
Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA

Cooperative Principles

Various writers over the past century have analyzed and observed the application of cooperative principles. Although slight differences in terminology appear on the various lists, three principles emerge as being widely recognized and practiced.

These principles are more than just good practices, policies or common sense. They distinguish a cooperative from other kinds of business. They are also recognized in state and …

Early Cooperatives

Authors: Greg McKee, North Dakota State University, gregory.mckee@ndsu.edu, and Donald Frederick,
Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA

In the early 1800s, cooperative businesses appeared on several fronts. In Britain, cooperatives were formed as a tool to deal with the depressed economic and social conditions related to the struggles with Napoleon and industrialization. In the United States, farmers began to process their milk into cheese on a cooperative basis in diverse places such as Goshen, Connecticut, and Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

Writers sometimes trace …

Duties of Members-Owners

Authors: Greg McKee, North Dakota State University, gregory.mckee@ndsu.edu, and Donald Frederick,
Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA

Members are the foundation of the cooperative. They organized it. Their needs are the reason for its existence. Their support, through patronage and capital investment, keeps it economically healthy. And their changing requirements shape the cooperative’s future.

Statutory law and the basic legal documents of a cooperative–articles of incorporation, bylaws and contracts between the cooperative and its members–give the members the tools to control the …