Skip to main content
Michigan Farm Bureau Family of Companies

‘Member-Owned: Fundamentals of Cooperatives’ workshop scheduled Feb. 22

Agricultural cooperatives continue to provide supplies and services in an increasingly dynamic and challenging farm economy. Image credit: Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Date Posted: January 12, 2023

Agricultural cooperatives are a big business according to a USDA Rural Development Cooperative Services Branch report released this past November.

As member-owned and member-driven business entities, the nation’s 1,699 ag cooperatives generated $231.4 billion, in revenue in 2021 according to USDA, with net income before taxes increasing for the fourth straight year at a record $9.3 billion in 2021.

According to the USDA analysis, 51% of those cooperatives were predominantly marketing commodities, another 42% were farm supply co-ops, while the remaining 7% were service co-ops providing storage, transportation and agronomy services.

Recognizing the vital role cooperatives play in the financial success of production agriculture, Michigan Farm Bureau, along with Michigan Milk Producers Association, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, Foster Swift Law Firm, Farm Bureau Insurance Company and the Michigan Pork Producers Association are hosting ‘Member-Owned: Fundamentals of Cooperatives’ workshop.

The event, scheduled for Feb. 22, from 8 a.m. – noon, at Michigan State University’s James B. Henry Center for Executive Development, will focus on the principles of the co-op business model, and current trends in agricultural cooperatives, according to Michigan Farm Bureau Assistant General Counsel Allison L. Eicher.

“Participants will also be briefed on the roles of co-op member-owners and leaders though interactive training provided by Hannah Scott, program director of the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at The Ohio State University on behalf of the Mid America Cooperative Council,” Eicher added.

Scott leads the creation and implementation of programming to foster cooperative and rural business and has worked with a variety of farmers who established co-op enterprises.

Topics Include:

  • What is an agricultural cooperative?
  • Overview and history of agricultural co-ops
  • Cooperative Principles
  • Comparison to other structures (LLCs, Corporations, Partnerships, Sole Proprietorships)
  • Advantages and limitations of Co-ops
  • Why does agriculture use the co-op structure?
  • What does it mean to own or be a member of a co-op?
  • Role of co-op directors, management, and employees
  • Governance of cooperatives

Following the core training, attorney Todd Hoppe, a partner at Foster Swift Collins & Smith law firm and general counsel for Michigan Sugar Company and Michigan Milk Producers Association will update participants on the legal rights of co-op members.

In addition to helping clients with business organization and planning, transactions, succession planning and estate planning, Hoppe specializes in representing cooperatives, including agricultural marketing and supply cooperatives, consumer cooperatives and purchasing groups organized as cooperatives.

Interested producers can learn more and register for the workshop online. Registration is limited to 100 participants and does require a $50 fee to cover breakfast and program costs.

Allison Eicher headshot

Allison Eicher

Attorney & Assistant General Counsel
517-679-5315 [email protected]
Jon Adamy

Jon Adamy

Media Relations Specialist
(517) 323-6782 [email protected]