national cooperative month
Property Casualty

Co-ops Commit to Communities

Angela McClendon
Angela McClendon
Property Casualty

Anybody know what October is known for? A great month for football? Yep. The Major League Baseball playoffs? Also, yes. Halloween? And one more yes to that. As fun as it would be to talk about each of those items…October is also a big month for the agricultural community (and other industries, alike). Any guesses now? If your mind went to cooperatives (or co-ops), you are on the right track. October is National Cooperative Month.

Why is this a big deal? Well, first…there are more than 40,000 co-ops nationwide operating in almost every industry including agriculture, rural electric, child care, financial services, food retail and distribution, housing, healthcare, insurance, telecommunications, and many more. AND…using Iowa as just an example, the grain and farm supply co-ops in the state generate significant income, employment, and revenue. They operate in more than 700 communities, employ more than 8,000 people, and pay more than $32 million in property taxes locally. If you know anything about Iowa and the Ag industry, you know this is significant.

To break down what a co-op is, it really looks like any other business. However, co-ops exist to serve their members — who also happen to be owners and have a say in the business decisions. Co-ops are owned and democratically governed by their members interests. They serve on the principle of one member, one vote.

There are several common types of co-ops (as well as hybrids — which combine more than one type), including co-ops owned and operated by:

  • The people working there (worker co-ops)
  • The people buying the co-op’s goods or services (consumer co-ops)
  • The people collaborating to process and market their products (producer co-ops)
  • Groups uniting to enhance their purchasing power (purchasing co-op).

Co-ops dedicate substantial human and financial resources to serve their communities beyond their core business functions. Just as one example, many co-ops take part in charitable giving that meets the needs of underserved populations.

I wanted to bring up the topic of co-ops for two reasons:

  • They’re incredibly valuable, as mentioned above, and I’d be remiss if I let October go by without shining a light on co-ops.
  • Our own Holmes Murphy Ag division has expertise in managing complex risk associated with co-ops and the best markets to handle those risks. If you’d like to discuss options with an Iowa-based broker with experts in the co-op space, strong loss control and claims service, a captive division, and great culture — reach out to us! We’d be happy to go over the risks specific to your business and get you on the right track to success.

Until the next time, Happy National Cooperative Month!

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