The Strength and Power of Cooperatives

working together to achieve success

North Dakota Farmers Union continues to work on behalf of North Dakota’s farm families and their locally-owned cooperatives.

Loyalty has rewards

The people who purchase products and services from a cooperative are the stockholders or “member-owners” of the business. All members share in the profits of the business rather than just a few investors.

If the cooperative has a profitable year, you will receive a cash dividend based on the amount of business you did at the co-op. You will also build stock in your local cooperative that will be paid back to you in cash at a later date.

It pays to shop at your local co-op.

Rochdale Principles

Open membership
anyone can join

Democratic control
one member, one vote

Limited return on invested capital

Patronage refunds in proportion to each member’s volume of business

Sales at competitive prices

Political and religious neutrality

Continuing cooperative education program

Continuous expansion

What is a Cooperative

A cooperative (co-op) is defined as: “a farm, business, or other organization that is owned and run jointly by its members, who share the profits or benefits.”A co-op is owned and democratically controlled by people who use its services.

Another definition for a co-op is, “involving mutual assistance in working toward a common goal.” Cooperatives exist primarily to serve their members. They pay tax on income kept within the cooperative for investment purposes and as a reserve, while surplus revenues from the cooperative are returned to the members, who pay tax on that income.

Equitable Economic Participation

The next principle that we want to discuss is the Equitable Economic Participation of a co-op or the member economic participation. This means when there is a surplus (or profit), the distributions are to be allocated back to the member in proportion of use (dollars spent) a portion as a cash patronage refund and as allocated Equity. The equity portion is used for improvements, expansions or adding new services for the membership, or any other activities supported by the membership. Allocated equity is the portion of ownership the member has in the cooperative.

Cooperatives are businesses that exist to improve the lives of those that participate in them, by providing goods and services their members need. This principle shows the responsibilities of the members of a co-op and how money is to be treated in the co-op business association.

We would like to feature the Turtle Lake Farmers Union Oil Co. Located in Turtle Lake, the co-op provides full agronomy services along with a retail location for seed and chemical, seed treating and custom application. They also have a gas station and a C-store; they really do it all!

Cooperative Principles

Co-ops thrive in all types of communities, big and small. There are many different types of co-ops that operate in many different ways. Co-ops can be: insurance, childcare, financial services or utilities, and much more. Did you know Land O Lakes is a co-op? What about Ace Hardware?

Co-ops are driven by service rather than profit and are guided by specific co-op principles, which are:

  • Open Membership
  • Equitable Economic Participation
  • Democratic Control
  • Autonomy & Independence
  • Cooperation Among Cooperatives
  • Education & Training
  • Concern for Community

We would like to showcase our Cavalier cooperative. North Star Co-op is located in Pembina County, and is an agricultural supply co-op dealing in agricultural products, propane, fuel, oil, full automotive shops, convenience stores and hardware stores.

Democratic Control

The next principle we want to learn about is Democratic Control. In a co-op, democratic control means: one member, one vote. This was put in place to be sure that every member’s interest was covered. The belief for this principle is that every member is equal as a person, and that the cooperative belongs to the members and they have the right to manage it in such a way that the organization function like a democratic institution.

Your voice counts, especially in a cooperative!

We would like to feature the Farmers Union Oil Co. in Stanley, ND. Pinnacle is a member owned cooperative whose goal is to provide expert service, timely delivery of quality products and services at competitive prices. Be sure to check out their Facebook page below, and give them a like to keep up with all of their activities!

Open Membership

Co-ops, like we said at the last feature, have a list of principles that they are guided on. One of these is open membership. This means that anyone can join these co-ops! A benefit of being a member? You become a stockholder or “member-owner” of the business. All members get to share in the profits of the business rather than just a few investors.

It pays to shop at your local co-op!

We would like to feature the Bisbee co-op called North Central Grain Cooperative.

Autonomy and Independence

The next principle we are going to discuss is autonomy and independence, which means cooperatives are self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, they do it in a way so the members can keep democratic control.

This principle is in place to help make sure you stay in control of your cooperative!

Featured here is the Farmers Union Oil Co. of Watford City. The Farmers Union Oil Co. of Watford City offers gas and diesel, socks, and everything in between. They also have clothing and hardware as well. Be sure to visit their brand new website to check out more about them, view their catalogs and get access to your account!