Agricultural Co-ops Impact Economic Growth
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RALEIGH, NC - Co-ops across the country are celebrating October's Co-op Month, and celebrate they should. This business model, which has existed in the U.S. since Benjamin Franklin started the first co-op in 1752, has proven to be successful, impacting economic growth with more than 48,000 co-ops today.
In the United States alone, there are more than 3,000 agricultural co-ops. These successful businesses represent approximately two million agricultural producers who's products are used daily by millions of Americans. One thing that many people do not realize is that some of our most popular food brands are actually processed, marketed and distributed by farmer-owned co-ops. This includes brands such as Welch's, Ocean Spray, Sunkist, Blue Diamond, Florida's Natural, Sunmaid, and Land O' Lakes, all delicious products we commonly buy and consume.
The economic impact of these 3,000 agricultural co-ops is significant. According to a cooperative report by the USDA, in 2013, these co-ops earned $6.2 billion in pre-tax income, an increase of four percent from 2012, making it the third consecutive year of record income for agricultural co-ops. With increased revenue comes the need for more employees. Last year alone, these co-ops increased employment by 5%, giving more jobs to people across America, with earnings and spending that have contributed to their local economies.
Co-ops vary in size, but are all member-owned. In 2013, 33% of agricultural co-ops in the U.S. had less than $5 million in sales. However, only 33% of these ag co-ops had sales over $1 billion. The recent Top 100 Agricultural Cooperatives report by the USDA reveals that the largest ag co-op in our country is CHS, Inc., with the second largest being Land O'Lakes. Both are headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The number of co-ops in the United States is on the rise, and co-op memberships are increasing as well. The co-op is a successful business model that is thriving in today's economy, offering Americans a variety of goods and services. This success gives co-ops a great reason to celebrate throughout October's Co-op Month.