National Farmers Union promotes rural economic and cooperative development by supporting existing agricultural co-ops and helping form new farmer co-ops and other rural businesses. The primary objective is to help family farmers and ranchers add value to the food, fiber and energy they produce. NFU assists producers to retain ownership of their commodity further into the processing channel and enhance market returns on their investment. By working together with other persons and groups, Farmers Union helps family farmers and ranchers advance their farm, ranch, co-op and community enterprises.
2010 College Conference on Cooperatives hosted by NFU was featured in USDA’s “Rural Cooperatives” Magazine, March/April 2010 issue. Click here to read the article.
Seven Cooperative Principals
- Voluntary and Open Membership — Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
- Democratic Member Control — Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
- Members’ Economic Participation — Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
- Autonomy and Independence — Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
- Education, Training, and Information — Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives — Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
- Concern for Community — While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.