Farmer owned cooperatives were formed and exist for the mutual benefit of their members. How do members benefit? Last year, Nebraska’s farmer owned cooperatives made cash payments of patronage allocations (profits) and members equity redemptions in the amount of almost $78 million. These cash payments were made to local farmer and rancher cooperative patrons. No other agricultural input or grain company shares its profits with its patrons in such a manner. These cash payments to members were in addition to Nebraska’s cooperatives reinvesting $186 million in 2017 in upgrading facilities and equipment to serve their farmer and rancher owners.
Nebraska’s metropolitan areas also benefit from the operations of farmer owned cooperatives. In 2016 the University of Nebraska estimated that of the $2.2 billion annual economic impact in Nebraska by farmer owned cooperatives, approximately $127.2 million of that economic impact occurred in the Lincoln and Omaha metropolitan areas. This same study concluded that Nebraska’s farmer owned cooperatives created a total of 13,944 jobs annually via operations, member payments and investments.
Annually Nebraska’s farmer owned cooperatives provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of their local community, student and youth organizations. Every year many of the individual cooperatives providescholarshipstolocalstudentstoattendcollegesanduniversities. Inaddition,theNebraska Cooperative Council Education Foundation annually funds over $19,000 of scholarships to the University Nebraska College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources in Lincoln and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.
Local farmer ownership and control. Local return of profits. Local investment in facilities and equipment to support their farmer patrons. Supporting their local communities. These are uniquely cooperative attributes. The partnership between Nebraska’s farmer owned cooperatives, the farmers that own them and the communities they serve form the backbone of the rural economy in Nebraska.
Lt. Governor Mike Foley presented a proclamation declaring October as Cooperative Month in Nebraska. Pictured left to right are: Ron Velder, President of Farmers Cooperative headquartered in Dorchester; Allan Zumpfe, CEO of CPI headquartered in Hastings; Randy Robeson, Manager of Frontier Co-op Company headquartered in Brainard; Rocky Weber, President & General Counsel of the Nebraska Cooperative Council; Dean Thernes, President of Farmers Pride headquartered in Battle Creek; Lt Governor Mike Foley; and Kent Taylor, Manager of Ag Valley Co-op headquartered in Edison.
A proclamation recognizing October as Cooperative Month was signed by Governor Pete Ricketts and presented by Lt. Governor Mike Foley in a ceremony at the State Capitol on September 17.
Cooperative Month has been celebrated nationwide and in Nebraska for many years to call attention to the economic benefits which come from cooperative businesses.
The proclamation signed by the Governor notes that agricultural cooperatives serve the needs of Nebraskans in 374 rural communities across the state and employ over 5,400 people statewide. Cooperatives also invest nearly $186 million annually in facilities and equipment to serve farmers and ranchers while also returning nearly $78 million annually in patronage and equity redemption to their farmer and rancher owners.
In brief remarks at the signing ceremony, Rocky Weber, President & General Counsel of the Nebraska Cooperative Council, said “Cooperatives certainly contribute to the slogan ‘Nebraska - the Good Life’ by providing a $2 billion annual economic impact. Cooperatives also contribute to the ‘Good Life’ through their significant contributions to youth scholarships and youth organizations such as FFA and 4-H and to communities in their trade territory.”
In Nebraska, more than 40 cooperatives serve over 60,000 members in both rural and urban areas of the state. Cooperative businesses in Nebraska provide agricultural marketing, farm supplies, consumer goods, telephone, electricity, communications, and other products and services.
The Nebraska Cooperative Council, a statewide trade association representing all types of agricultural cooperatives, coordinated arrangements for Governor Ricketts to sign the proclamation. Participating in the event were representatives of the Nebraska Cooperative Council.