October is National Cooperative Month and the perfect time – as we roll into another harvest season at each of our ag centers – to highlight what makes our business so unique.
The national theme for Cooperative Month this year is “Cooperatives Commit.” By committing to education, sustainability, community, and members, our cooperative provides a strong foundation that improves the lives of our members and others in the area.
Cooperatives are found in all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, retail, utilities, housing, banking (credit unions), healthcare, and childcare. Blue Diamond, Ocean Spray, Land O’Lakes and Sunkist are all cooperatives you may be familiar with at the grocery store. U.S. cooperatives actually provide more than 850,000 jobs, resulting in $25 billion in annual wages. There are more than 40,000 cooperative businesses in America, serving 350 million people.
Harvest Land, your local farmer-owned cooperative, employees more than 300 people and is owned by 5,500 farmers in Indiana and Ohio.
Despite a wide variety of products and services provided to their members, all cooperatives follow seven universal principles, first adopted in Rochdale, England, in the mid-1800s. These are:
- Voluntary and open membership: Cooperative membership is open to all who are able to use its products and services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership.
- Democratic member control: Cooperatives are controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
- Members’ economic participation: Members contribute equally to the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative.
- Autonomy and independence. Each cooperative is managed by an independent board elected from its membership, and decisions are made that democratically benefit its members. We have nine Board members, representing all areas of our trade territory.
- Education, training, and information: Cooperatives provide education and training for members, managers, and employees, as well as information to the general public about the benefits of cooperatives and the products and services they provide. Our Winter Innovation Forum is a fantastic example of this principle.
- Cooperation among cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures. Land O’Lakes, CountryMark and Growmark are just a few larger cooperatives that Harvest Land is a member of.
- Concern for community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members. Our Cultivating Communities program proves this principle, tried and true.
We offer a sincere thanks for your continued business with our farmer-owned cooperative. October may be National Cooperative Month, but every day we’re working to provide quality products and services created to serve your family.