The Power of Cooperatives

Working together to achieve success

North Dakota Farmers Union continues to work on behalf of

North Dakota farm families and their locally-owned cooperatives.

Meet Your Co-ops

North Central Grain Cooperative

North Central Grain Cooperative

with locations in Bisbee • Perth • Rock Lake • Rolette • Rolla • Dunseith • Overly

North Star Coop

North Star Coop

with locations in Cavalier • Neche • Park River
is an agricultural supply cooperative located in the northern Red River Valley, dealing in agricultural products, propane, fuel, oil, full automotive shops, convenience stores, and hardware stores.


Farmers Union Oil Co. of Stanley
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 and give them a like to keep up with all of their activiy.

Farmers Union Oil Co. of Turtle Lake

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!

Farmers Union Oil Co. of Watford City

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!

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. 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.

History of Cooperatives

Co-ops have been around since the very beginning of the United States. They have helped shape the character, economics and the social and political life of our state and nation. Farmers Union grew hand in hand with the locally owned Farmers Union cooperatives that evolved into the taproots for CHS Cenex Harvest States.

“Co-ops represents a substantial part of North Dakota’s economy… and play an even greater role in the rural communities they serve by creating jobs, buying commodities from farmers, and serving as the linch-pin of local economic development efforts.” (Changing Landscapes, NDFU 75 Years of Growing Our Future)

Cooperatives have a big history in our nation and organization.

Cooperative Principles

The Rochdale Principles are a set of ideals for the operation of cooperatives that were first set out in 1844 by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England. They have formed the basis for the principles on which cooperatives around the world continue to operate.

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

Toad Lane Museum – the first premises of “The Rochdale Pioneers” early successful retail Cooperative, Rochdale England.

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.

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!

Equitable Economic Participation

Equitable Economic Participation of a co-op or the member economic participation 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.

Autonomy and Independence

Autonomy and independence 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!

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Cooperation among cooperatives says that cooperatives will serve their members by working together. This principle makes it clear that cooperatives are about unity. Co-ops join forces to achieve common goals.

“Co-ops joining together to get better deals, eliminate duplicate costs, expand services to members and strengthen the movement as a whole — these are just a few benefits that come from following the sixth principle.” (Elizabeth Archerd, Member Services Director, Wedge Community Co-op)

Education & Training

Education & training, a principle that says cooperatives will provide training and education for their members so they can contribute to the cooperative. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of a cooperation. Making sure you are an informed member is the best way for you to show what your cooperative can and will do for its members and community!

Concern for the Community

The principle concern for the community means co-ops work for the development of their communities through accepted policies of their owners. This means that while they are continuing to work towards their own personal goals, taking care of their community is also very important to the co-op.
“You can do something for the community even as you keep succeeding.”

The Power of Cooperatives

Cooperatives save their members costs by taking out the middle man. They also give power back to their members by returning profit to them, letting their members make decisions, and making sure the members have the biggest voice.

Annual Meetings

Annual meetings are an opportunity for members to become more involved in the operation of their cooperative by electing the directors that represent you. It is an opportunity to inform members of the changes and progress of the past, opportunities for the future, and direction the co-op is heading.

Co-op Financial Statements

To understand and control the entire business operation, information must be brought together from all parts of the organization. Financial records are needed to control the whole business. Members have an active interest in understanding cooperative financial statements. Financial strength determines a cooperative’s ability to control it’s future and provide services for it’s members! Also, a financially secure co-op is able to redeem equity regularly. Financial statements are distributed at the annual meetings. It really does “pay” to know how your local co-op is doing financially!

Educational Funds from Co-ops

While there is a cooperative principle of continuing education, co-ops need to have education to be worth the money put into it. It must involve a “much deeper effort to raise members’ awareness of what is going on in the world and how the co-op can effectively make a difference.” There is quite a bit of evidence that education in co-ops is linked to the success of a co-op, so education funds must be looked at as a necessity and a long-term investment.