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Co-ops In Our Food System

In addition to their advantages as member-owned, democratically controlled enterprises, co-ops are helping to create a more resilient food system, and are fostering local and regional economic development. As noted by the United Nations, co-operative businesses contribute to more stable local and regional economies through community ownership and control, the development of local skills and assets, and a focus on service and meeting member needs before maximization of profit.

  • Co-ops support greater economic participation and benefit for farmers and fisherman in our rapidly expanding local and regional food system.
  • As locally-focused enterprises, co-ops develop local skills and assets rather than import them into the region. They create local jobs, and build local business and develop local leaders.
  • Co-ops strengthen the local economy by rooting ownership and control of economic infrastructure in our communities.
  • Co-ops enable local producers to help themselves and each other. With a structure that focuses on maximizing member value rather than financial return, co-ops give producers a mechanism to retain control of their financial returns. Co-ops enable members to pool their resources to achieve an economically viable operating scale without giving up local ownership and control.
  • Co-ops aggregate member resources to develop locally and regionally scaled enterprises. For a thriving local and regional food system in New England, we need to develop regionally scaled infrastructure – distribution, marketing, processing, and storage. Farm, fishery and forestry co-ops increase producers’ bargaining power in the economy and food system.
  • Co-ops are themselves resilient. Member ownership makes co-ops hard to buy out or relocate. The focus on community benefit ensures a patient approach to financial results.

 NEFU emphasizes the unique benefits that co-operative enterprise offers to farmers, fishermen and other producers. NEFU also recognizes the important role of co-ops of all kinds across the economy. We support the development of co-operatives as a path to a more stable regional food system and economy, and work closely with co-ops and co-operative associations toward this end.

NEFU’s Co-operative Manual

NEFU’s Co-op Activities

NEFU’s Co-op Partnerships

NEFU’s Food Co-op Members

Co-operatives: The Business of Teamwork.” A co-op curriculum created by NEFU and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, based on the National Farmers Union 2012 curriculum.

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