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Co-op Activities

New England Farmers Union and New England Farmers Union Educational Foundation NEFU EF) are engaged in several initiatives to support co-op development in our region. NEFU focuses on policy and advocacy, while NEFU EF (a nonprofit educational foundation) supports the development of educational and technical resources related to co-operative development. Our major activities are:

In February, 2014, NEFU hosted the 2014 Co-op Convening. Policy makers and co-op leaders discussed the opportunities and obstacles facing co-ops in our region.

Since its founding in 1902, the National Farmers Union (NFU) has been an advocate of the co-operative model, supporting the development of farm, fishery and forestry co-ops as an effective means to increase producers’ bargaining power in the economy and food system. NEFU also encourages the promotion of co-operative enterprise as a way to secure for our region the infrastructure necessary for production, processing, marketing and distribution of food and other products.

NEFU’s co-op policy priorities:

  1. Protect and promote the co-operative identity by opposing state law changes that would weaken the definition of co-operatives.
  2. Revitalize USDA co-operative services.
  3. Promote co-operative education at colleges and universitites throughout our region
  4. Defend f the Capper-Volstead Act of 1922, which establishes the legal framework for producer co-ops.

You can see more detail on our co-operative priorities, and all our policy priorities, in our current policy book.

Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) Collaboration

NFCAbanner2010_5 In 2010, the Neighboring Food Co-operative Association (NFCA) joined NEFU as an affiliate member. This partnership promotes collaboration between consumers and producers in our regional food system, educates and engages consumers in agricultural policy, and reinforces each organization’s efforts to promote co-operatives. Learn more about the NEFU/NFCA collaboration.

As part of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association affiliation with NEFU, member food co-ops receive a discount on organizational membership ($100/year). Individual members of a NFCA food co-op can also join NEFU at a discounted rate of $25/year. Download a membership form here to join.

Co-op members are engaged in policy, and co-op concerns are being heard in Washington, D.C.  Co-op members attended a dairy policy tour with NFU’s chief lobbyist as well as a farm bill workshop led by NFU president Roger Johnson.

Group photo with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauroSeveral farmers that supply NFCA co-ops have attended the annual Legislative Fly-In in Washington, D.C., as has a consumer co-op member.

Healthy Food Access

Belfast_co-opA recent grant from Jane’s Trust to New England Farmers Union Education Foundation (NEFU EF) funds Food Co-ops and Healthy Food Access, a project to increase access to local, farm-fresh food by low-income communities. NEFU EF is working with Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) and the Co-operative Fund of New England (CFNE) to provide technical assistance to co-ops that are implementing or expanding their programs to improve healthy food access for underserved communities.

The project is under way, with increasing momentum. Receiving a grant from Jane’s Trust enables us and our partner organizations to further advance the impact of this collective work, with the goal of benefiting farmers, food co-ops, and under-served consumers: a win-win-win scenario!

Educational Resource Development

NEFU EF, with support from several grant making organizations, is developing educational resources to support the success of co-operative businesses in our region. Check out our “Resources for Co-ops.”

College Conference on Cooperatives  is an opportunity for students from across the nation to learn how cooperative businesses operate for the benefit of their customers. The annual event, hosted by National Farmers Union, focuses on how and why cooperatives succeed in America’s competitive business environment.

National Farmers Union has developed a Co-operatives Curriculum with resources for first grade through adult.

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