We're happy to provide a mouthpiece for you to express your opinions here on the Web site. The following guest editorial was written by Greg Goree, a farmer near Monrovia in Morgan County.
Greg has strong feelings about why farmers should remain involved in co-ops, even though it's not the co-op system of your father or grandfather. He used National Co-op month as an occasion to express his views, although they would be applicable any time.
Here is his letter to the editor.
"In your magazine, you frequently champion the causes that are good for agriculture. Please use your platform to announce that October is national CO-op month. As a co-op member and customer, I want growers, especially younger growers, to know that the cooperative business model has a lot to offer them and their communities.
Farmer co-ops have been serving Hoosiers with inputs and services since the 1920's. According to the National Cooperative Business Association, Americans hold more than 350 million co-op memberships. The top 100 co-ops generate $150 billion annually in revenues. NCBA estimates the co-op impact from patronage, dividends and refunds to be $79 billion.
To be successful, today's co-op is more aggressive, competitive, responsive and innovative than ever before. Strong co=op partnerships are being formed now to bring even more resources home, while still retaining the local representation, ownership and control of a 'small' supplier. A strong coop not only delivers products and services, but is also a major local employer, taxpayer and agricultural advocate in the community. Plus, as NCBA points out, a well-managed co-op returns significant patronage right back into the local community it serves.
I can attest that the co-op I joined years ago is within a partnership which has returned more than $14,6 million in local patronage and $3.6 million in equity redemption in just the last three years. Our co-op has also invested more than $63,000 in that same time period in academic scholarships from ember children and grandchildren.
Most Americans agree that farmer-owned co-ops help farmers succeed, and strengthen rural communities. Please ask your e-readers if they are members of their local co-op. If not, they could be leaving money on the table in terms of patronage and equity earned based on the business they're already doing with their co-op. If you are a member, let others know of the benefits and services provided/. Also, be active, serve as a director, and be a vocal supporter for the cooperative system.
Rural Hoosiers have a rich tradition of standing together and helping one another, and your local cooperative is proud to be part of that heritage. Consider joining a co-op today.