A proclamation recognizing October as Cooperative Month was signed by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and presented in a ceremony Sept. 16 at the state Capitol.
Cooperative Month has been celebrated nationwide and in Nebraska for many years to call attention to the economic benefits that come from cooperative businesses.
The proclamation signed by the governor notes that agricultural cooperatives serve the needs of Nebraskans in 398 rural communities across the state and directly employ nearly 5,300 people statewide.
In 2018, Nebraska's agricultural cooperatives invested nearly $163 million in facilities and equipment to serve farmers and ranchers, while also returning more than $57 million in patronage and equity redemption to their farmer and rancher owners.
In addition, Nebraska's farmer-owned cooperatives contributed $1.17 million to local fire departments, local school and youth organizations, local and statewide FFA and 4-H chapters, and provided numerous scholarships to help rural Nebraska students continue their educations.
"Nebraska's recognition of Cooperative Month coincides with national Cooperative Month as recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture," Rocky Weber, president and general counsel of the Nebraska Cooperative Council, said during remarks at the signing ceremony.
"The 2019 national theme for Cooperative Month is 'Co-ops: By the Community, For the Community.' This theme is particularly appropriate for the cooperative system in Nebraska. Local farmer ownership and control. Local return of profits. Local investment in facilities and equipment to support their farmer patrons. Supporting their local communities. These are uniquely cooperative attributes. The partnership between Nebraska's farmer-owned cooperatives, the farmers that own them and the communities they serve form the backbone of the rural economy in Nebraska."
The Nebraska Cooperative Council, a statewide trade association representing all types of agricultural cooperatives, coordinated arrangements for Ricketts to sign the proclamation.
Participating in the event were agricultural producer members of local cooperative boards of directors from across the state and the Nebraska Cooperative Council.