Farm Credit Basics: Cooperative Principle #5

 

Cooperatives, including Farm Credit, are organizations structured and managed according to seven guiding tenets established in 1844, formally known as Rochdale Principles of Co-operation. This AGgregator series will explore each of the cooperative principles throughout the coming months. 

The fifth cooperative principle of “Education, Training and Information” holds that cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.

The rationale behind this principle is clear: it behooves a cooperative businesses to ensure that the people who contribute to the governing of the organization – those customers who are also owners and who elect the board of directors – are educated about the operations of the cooperative. By the same token, ensuring that employees and managers are highly-trained and effective in their roles contributes to the efficient and successful performance of the cooperative, benefiting the customer-owners as well as the employees themselves. Finally, helping to educate the public can help strengthen and grow the cooperative through expanded membership and can help improve the communities it serves, fulfilling another cooperative principle.

“Cooperatives view their customers as their partners, and for this reason, co-ops are uniquely focused on educating their members and strongly support education initiatives in their communities,” says Bill Oemichen, Cooperative Network president and CEO. “In addition, because their directors are drawn from the membership, education has always been a top priority for cooperatives.”

Within the Farm Credit System, each organization provides education and training to its own constituents. These educational programs range from seminars for young, beginning and small farmers to support for specific industry conferences; programs also include employee training that contributes to long-term professional development and also focuses on issues important to the organization, such as Diversity & Inclusion.

Nationally, Farm Credit actively supports numerous educational programs through the National Contributions Program. Organizations that receive Farm Credit donations are selected in three categories, including Agriculture Education and Training. Through organizations like National FFA and National 4-H, Farm Credit is supporting the next generation of American agriculture; through programs like Annie’s Project, Farm Credit supports current agricultural producers to become even more effective in providing the food, fuel and fiber on which we all rely.

 

Categories: General Information

It’s Porktober & We’re Bringing Home the Bacon

October is National Pork Month, a great time to pig out on all things pig. One of America’s favorite pork products is bacon: last year, we ate 1.1 billion servings of bacon, an increase of 6 percent over the year before. That big number translates to 21 percent of American’s eating more than two pounds of bacon in a year, and five percent eating five pounds or more.

How are we eating all this bacon? Much is served as a meat portion of breakfast meals, or on burgers and sandwiches – including the B in the BLT. In recent years, though, bacon has been making its way into meals and snacks enjoyed throughout the day – bacon crumbles on salads or mixed into soups don’t seem like that much of a stretch for this savory meat, but how about some bacon beer with your bacon ice cream topped with chocolate covered bacon? If you want to enjoy bacon without eating it, you can even buy bacon lotion and lip balm.

There’s a simple reason behind the love of bacon: it’s fatty, providing calories are bodies are designed to crave, it’s salty from the curing process used to transform regular pork belly, and it’s often smoked, delivering “umami,” a fifth taste for our taste buds to enjoy. The other four are salty, sweet, bitter and sour.

People have been “bringing home the bacon” since the 12th century, when an English church started offering a side of bacon as a reward to its male congregants who succeeded in not fighting with their wives for a year. And thanks to the 67,000 pork operations across the United States, millions of Americans will also bring home the bacon, and maybe even fry it up in a pan. Iowa tops the list for pork production, marketing more than 49 million hogs in 2012.

 

Categories: General Information

Farm Credit Sponsors National Beef Ambassador Competition in Denver, CO and VA Youth Brings Home the Prize

Phillip Saunders

Phillip Saunders, from Piney River, VA won the 2015 National Beef Ambassador Junior Competition in Denver, Colorado, September 26-27, 2014.  The annual National Beef Ambassador competition, which is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff and managed by the American National CattleWomen, Inc., contractor to the beef checkoff, featured 10 JR contestants ages 12-16 and 20 Senior Contestants age 17-21.  JR contestants are judged in the areas of consumer promotion, media interview technique and issues response.

Contestants from throughout the country vied for a place on this elite team of agriculture advocates and cash prizes sponsored exclusively by Farm Credit. Additionally five educational scholarships totaling $5,000 were given by the American National CattleWomen Foundation, Inc. and Monsanto to SR team winners.

While preparing for this national beef promotion and education competition, youth across the nation learn about beef and the beef industry with support from state CattleWomen and Cattlemen’s associations and state beef councils. The preparation highlights industry issues of current consumer interest. Winners of the state competitions compete at the national level where they receive additional training. After the event, the youth ambassadors speak to industry issues and misconceptions and educate their peers and meal-time decision makers about beef nutrition, cattle care, safety and more during consumer events, in the classroom and online.

Follow the National Beef Ambassadors on Twitter at @beefambassador and visit http://www.nationalbeefambassador.org or http://www.ancw.org for more information.

 

Farm Credit of the Virginias provides over $1.5 billion dollars in financing to more than 10,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners throughout Virginia, West Virginia and western Maryland. Farm Credit is a cooperative capitalized largely through investments made by farmers, ranchers and the rural homeowners and businesses that borrow from them.  Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm through its constant commitment to competitive lending,  expert financial services and for facilitating and sharing knowledge and resources through the Farm Credit Knowledge Center.   For more information, visit www.FarmCreditKnowledgeCenter.com or www.FarmCreditofVirginias.com.

 

Categories: General Information

Cooperative Month: Agriculture Co-ops Contribute to Economic Growth

 

Across the country, more than 3,000 agricultural cooperatives represent approximately two million farming, ranching and fishery producers. These cooperatives are successful businesses owned by the agricultural producers who are also their members and customers, and they also touch millions of American consumers’ lives every day. Did you know that popular brands like Welch’s, Ocean Spray, Sunkist and Blue Diamond are all cooperative organizations that process, market and distribute products made from the crops raised by their farmer-owners?

Combined, agricultural cooperatives large and small make significant contributions to the national economy and to their local economies as well. In 2013, ag co-ops earned $6.2 billion in pre-tax income, an increase of four percent over 2012. This is the third consecutive year of record income for ag cooperatives, generated by higher prices in some commodities, and higher sales in a few sectors including vegetables and dairy.

Ag co-ops come in all shapes and sizes, from a few member-owners to thousands. The majority, though, are small or moderate in size and in 2013, 33 percent of U.S. ag co-ops had less than $5 million in sales; in contrast, only 33 cooperatives had sales in excess of $1 billion. These large cooperatives include agribusiness and agronomy organizations like CHS, Inc., the largest cooperative in the U.S., and household names like Land O’Lakes, the country’s second largest.

The continued growth of American ag co-ops – which have enjoyed increased revenues for three consecutive years – translates into an increased need for employees: between 2012 and 2013, employment at ag co-ops increased five percent to a total of 136,000 employees. These employees primarily live in rural America, and their earnings and spending contribute to these local economies, helping build vibrant rural communities.

Agriculture cooperatives are only part of the cooperative story in the U.S.  Since Benjamin Franklin created the first American cooperative in 1752, the cooperative model had grown to more than 48,000 cooperatives today. It’s a model that works and that will continue to thrive, including at Farm Credit, which is a network of financial cooperatives dedicated to serving its farmer, rancher and agricultural cooperative borrower-owners.

 

Categories: General Information

FARM CREDIT BASICS: COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLE #4

By Karen Macdonald

 

Cooperatives, including Farm Credit, are organizations structured and managed according to seven guiding tenets established in 1844, formally known as Rochdale Principles of Co-operation. This AGgregator series will explore each of the cooperative principles throughout the coming months.

Cooperatives operate under the principle of autonomy and independence. While the cooperative itself is democratically controlled by its members through the election of the board of directors, it cannot be influenced or directed by any external organization.

Similar to any other business, a cooperative is responsible for its success or failure. Its staff and business operations are focused on contributing to the organization’s long-term success, whether that success is measured as increased revenues or member satisfaction with the cooperative’s services.

Unlike other businesses, though, a cooperative cannot give up control of its own operation. It can merge with another cooperative, but it cannot be purchased by another company. Even partial ownership of the cooperative cannot be sold to an investor as a way to raise capital, as another company might issue stock.  As part of Principle #4, a cooperative may enter into agreements with other organizations, such as raising capital from external sources, but these business relationships must be established on terms that ensure continued democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.

This principle of Autonomy and Independence means that cooperatives are reliant entirely upon their own efforts, making all business decisions, including leadership selection and employee recruitment, especially critical. Member-owners remain engaged not only through election of board members but also through the sharing of the cooperative’s profits.

“Cooperatives represent the grand self-help tradition of the United States, where people join together to do something that they can’t do independently of each other, and their first instinct is not to ask the government to do it for them,” says Bill Oemichen, Cooperative Network president and CEO.

 

Categories: General Information

October 2014 Preview: Focus On Cooperative Month

October is national Cooperative Month, an opportunity each year to recognize the value of the cooperative business model and to appreciate the important role that cooperatives play in the daily lives of millions of people, and their economic contributions.

The Farm Credit System itself is a network of cooperatives: four banks and 78 regional lending associations are each structured as a cooperatives, adhering to the seven cooperative principles that include ownership by their customers and governance by a democratically elected board.

Agriculture, the most significant industry Farm Credit serves, is rich with examples of cooperatives, often formed by groups of producers who recognized they could do more together than individually. Virtually every farming sector is represented among the thousands of farmer cooperatives in the U.S.: grain farmers and dairy producers, are joined by sugar, citrus, apple and cotton growers. Some ag cooperatives are small, but others bring us nationally recognized brand names, including Ocean Spray, Welch’s, Land O’Lakes, Florida’s Natural and Blue Diamond almonds. Farm Credit also finances rural infrastructure cooperatives and companies that bring essential services to the rural areas where our farmers and ranchers reside.

Cooperatives touch many people’s lives every day. One young man illustrated this in an essay that detailed how many cooperatives he encountered in a single day: Billy Marshall of Viola, Wisconsin, is one of thousands who rely on cooperatives for everything from electricity to telephone service, financing to food, marketing to farm supplies.

Agriculture and rural America aren’t the only places to find cooperatives: the U.S. is home to more than 6,800 credit unions, financial cooperatives that together have 97 million members. Ace Hardware is a cooperative, owned by individual store operators, as is the REI sporting goods chain, owned by the consumers who shop there.

The cooperative movement has come a long way since a group of 30 farmers joined together in Rochdale, England, to establish the principles and create the unique cooperative business model in 1844. The Farm Credit System was founded in 1916 on the same notion of cooperative operation as the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers and is still going strong nearly 100 years later, thanks in large part to our cooperative ownership model. This cooperative month, as always, we say thank you to our borrower-owners who contribute to our success every day, and to the many agricultural and infrastructure cooperatives who help our industry and our rural communities continue to thrive.

 

Categories: General Information

Farm Credit & Country Mortgages announces promotion of Katrina Davis to Loan Operations Supervisor

Katrina Davis
Katrina Davis joined the Farm Credit & Country Mortgages’ team over 30 years ago. She has taken on multiple roles within that time and has recently been promoted to the new Loan Operations Supervisor for the Harrisonburg Processing Center. Davis is from and still resides in Mt. Solon, VA where she lives with her husband, D.R. and son, Spenser. She is no stranger to the agriculture industry having grown up on a beef cattle farm that is still owned and operated by her father and brother today. Katrina has a strong presence in her community and is proud to be an active member of the Bridgewater United Methodist Church as well as the Mt. Solon VFW Auxiliary.

Farm Credit of the Virginias provides over $1.5 billion dollars in financing to more than 10,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners throughout Virginia, West Virginia and western Maryland. Farm Credit is a cooperative capitalized largely through investments made by farmers, ranchers and the rural homeowners and businesses that borrow from them. Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm through its constant commitment to competitive lending, expert financial services and for facilitating and sharing knowledge and resources through the Farm Credit Knowledge Center. For more information, visit http://www.FarmCreditKnowledgeCenter.com or http://www.FarmCreditofVirginias.com

Categories: General Information
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