NCBA CLUSA makes economic case for co-ops in transition paper to Trump-Pence Administration

transition paper 400transition paper 400In a presidential transition paper sent to President-Elect Donald Trump today, NCBA CLUSA outlines the many ways the cooperative business model can help answer some of the nation’s most critical challenges.

Called “Cooperating for a Better Tomorrow: Creating Economic Opportunity for Americans and People Around the World,” the transition paper unpacks the scope of influence of the cooperatives in the U.S. and asks the incoming Administration to consider the cooperative business model as a bipartisan approach to federal policy making.

Encouraging close collaboration with the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus and the Interagency Working Group on Cooperative Development, the paper outlines key areas where the Administration could support cooperatives: tax reform, worker ownership, the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program, small business lending, inclusion of co-ops in the 2017 Economic Census, healthy and sustainable food access and the Global Food Security Act.

“Cooperating for a Better Tomorrow reflects the value and power the cooperative business model has across many sectors of the American economy,” NCBA CLUSA president and CEO Judy Ziewacz said in a letter accompanying the transition paper.

Click here to read the full transition paper.


State-by-state, provision-by-provision comparison of U.S. co-op statutes now available

A comprehensive, state-by-state review of co-op law

A comprehensive, state-by-state review of co-op lawA comprehensive, state-by-state review of co-op lawA comprehensive, state-by-state review of co-op lawAgriculture and general cooperative statutes for the state of Virginia along with an a state-by-state, provision-by-provision comparison of all the existing laws are the newest additions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development's State Cooperative Statute Library, which is temporarily housed online by NCBA CLUSA.

The addition of Virginia brings the co-op statute state count to 13, with 23 expected by the end of the year, said Meegan Moriarty at an October preview of the State Cooperative Statute Library. USDA Rural Development is expected to formally launch a dedicated website for the library in January 2017, she said.

The new document compares statutes governing fiduciary issues, patronage, capitalization, mergers and consolidations, dissolution and other state laws state-by-state, along with contact info for each of the researchers, and is particularly valuable for practitioners.

“Practitioners like the spreadsheet because it helps them zero in on specific co-op issues,” Moriarty said.

A comprehensive, state-by-state review of co-op law, the State Cooperative Statute Library is expected to address the challenge of inconsistent legislative framework for cooperative development in the U.S. Currently, co-op statutes differ greatly from state to state. Nationwide, both incorporation legislation and enabling legislation are needed to create a legal environment conducive to cooperative growth.

NCBA CLUSA has long advocated for a 50-state approach to cooperative law. The growing database is a critical step forward to identifying core pieces of good co-op law that can be adopted by other states, resulting in clearer and more consistent statutes nationwide.

To receive a copy of the spreadsheet, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


U.S. Rep. Pocan promotes awareness and benefits of cooperatives at visits to local businesses

[During visits to co-ops in his district this week, Rep. Mark Pocan raised awareness of the benefits of the cooperative business model. Here, he speaks at the January 2016 launch of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus.]

[During visits to co-ops in his district this week, Rep. Mark Pocan raised awareness of the benefits of the cooperative business model. Here, he speaks at the January 2016 launch of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus.][During visits to co-ops in his district this week, Rep. Mark Pocan raised awareness of the benefits of the cooperative business model. Here, he speaks at the January 2016 launch of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus.][During visits to co-ops in his district this week, Rep. Mark Pocan raised awareness of the benefits of the cooperative business model. Here, he speaks at the January 2016 launch of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus.]U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), co-chair of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus along with Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), released the following statement after visiting several local cooperative businesses to promote the benefits of this business model and raise awareness of the caucus. Pocan represents Wisconsin's Dane County, which is home to 80 cooperatives—the highest number of co-ops per capita of any county in the country.

"Cooperatives not only create good paying jobs, they also give employees and local communities an opportunity to be directly involved in business decisions," Rep. Pocan said. "I'm proud that my district is home to many thriving cooperatives such as the ones I visited today. Earlier this year, I launched the bipartisan Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus with Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) to help policymakers enact co-op friendly legislation. By highlighting successful co-ops in my district and through my work with the Co-op Caucus, we can promote greater awareness of the cooperatives business model."

Cooperatives can be found in virtually every sector of the U.S. economy, from affordable housing to quality-sourced food, greater access to electricity, banking and credit needs, and for early childhood learning. Dane County, home to 80 cooperatives, has the highest number of co-ops per capita of any county in the U.S.

To learn more about the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus, visit ncba.coop/coopcaucus.  

U.S. Department of Commerce “researching feasibility” of including co-ops in 2017 Economic Census

us map data points 500 48f25us map data points 500 48f25[Including co-ops in the 2017 Economic Census will help pinpoint the scope and impact of cooperative businesses nationwide.] The U.S. Department of Commerce last week acknowledged receipt of a co-signed letter addressing a decades-long absence of federally-reported data on co-ops and said its Census Bureau is currently “researching the feasibly” of including questions on cooperatives in the 2017 Economic Census.

“The Census Bureau is committed to providing assistance to the cooperative business community by helping to document their existence and assessing their economic impact via our collected statistics,” the letter, addressed to U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-CA), states.

As co-chairs of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus, Representatives Royce and Mark Pocan (D-WI) spearheaded the May 17 co-signed letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker requesting the inclusion of co-ops in the 2017 Economic Census.


The letter, signed by seven other members of the U.S. House of Representatives—among them three members of the caucus: Ron Kind (D-WI), Reid Ribble (R-WI) and Barbara Lee (D-CA)—points out that since 1997, Economic Census survey forms have not provided a checkbox for “cooperative” in the Legal Form of Organization question. 

Last week’s response indicates that the Department of Commerce recognizes the significant potential that coordination among NCBA CLUSA, the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus and the USDA Interagency Working Group on Cooperative Development has to raise the profile of co-ops in the U.S. and is committed to supporting that process, said Alan Knapp, Vice President of Advocacy for NCBA CLUSA.

“Specifically naming NCBA CLUSA, the caucus and the working group in the letter indicates that Commerce really grasps the need for high-level involvement through these existing channels as a means of engaging stakeholders and finding a solution,” Knapp said.

As a participating agency of the Interagency Working Group on Cooperative Development, the Census Bureau is able to stay up to speed with the needs of the cooperative business community and will “continue to strive to meet those needs,” the letter states. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue with stakeholders throughout the planning and execution of this initiative and the resulting data review,” it adds.


Members of Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus, other legislators, urge U.S. Census Bureau to include co-ops in 2017 Economic Census

coops US map 500 8114bcoops US map 500 8114bIn a May 17 letter, U.S. Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI), co-chairs of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus, urged U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to consider including cooperative businesses in the 2017 Economic Census—a move that would end a decades-long absence of federally-reported data on co-ops in the U.S.

The letter, signed by seven other members of the U.S. House of Representatives—among them three members of the caucus: Ron Kind (D-WI), Reid Ribble (R-WI) and Barbara Lee (D-CA)—points out that since 1997, the Economic Census survey forms stopped providing a checkbox for “cooperative” in its Legal Form of Organization question.

NCBA CLUSA’s Advocacy team is pleased that the request is bipartisan, including five Republicans and four Democrats. The signatories also represent a wide spectrum of Americans, hailing from California, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio, Arkansas and Pennsylvania.

The census letter was part of an advocacy toolkit distributed by NCBA CLUSA members to 27 Congressional offices during the fly-in portion of the organization’s 2016 Annual Cooperatives Conference earlier this month. Alan Knapp, Vice President of Advocacy for NCBA CLUSA, said movement on the letter is a testament to the leadership of the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus and the efforts of fly-in participants. It also illustrates the “great potential” that coordination between the caucus and the USDA Interagency Working Group on Cooperative Development has to raise the profile of co-ops in the U.S., he said.

“The USDA has been working with their counterparts at the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure that stakeholders who want cooperatives measured in the next census are heard. This letter helps reinforce and support that work,” Knapp said.

In a joint press release from his office yesterday, Rep. Royce said cooperatives nationwide “deliver critical goods and services” while “allowing their members to share in their success. As a longtime advocate of credit unions, mutual insurers and rural electric co-ops,” he added, “I believe policymakers should have a better handle on how these organizations are building a stronger economy.”

Rep. Pocan contributed to the joint release, pointing out that cooperatives are present in “virtually every sector of the U.S. economy” where they “create good-paying jobs and offer employees a chance to be directly involved in business decisions.”
Rep. Pocan added that in his district alone—Wisconsin’s Dane County—there are 80 cooperative businesses, making it the highest per capita of co-ops of any county in the country.

“But despite their prevalence in the economy and positive consumer attitudes, there is relatively little data available on co-ops. To better advocate on federal policy issues unique to the cooperative community, it is vital we have ample data on this vibrant sector of our economy,” Rep. Pocan said.

The full letter, available here, indicates that since the U.S. Census Bureau stopped identifying the cooperative business sector in any of its census or business reporting surveys, the only available data on co-ops came from federally-supported research by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives in 2007.

That study found that there were 29,000 cooperatives in the U.S. that account for more than $3 trillion in assets, more than $500 billion in revenue, $25 billion in revenue and sustain nearly two million jobs. NCBA CLUSA now estimates that there are closer to 40,000 cooperative businesses in the U.S., but census data is needed to confirm that number.

“The next Economic Census in 2017 provides the perfect opportunity to measure their [cooperatives’] impact nationwide,” the letter reads. “We support this work and ask that the Census Bureau coordinate with all stakeholders on this issue and work together with them on how to best ensure more data-driven information is readily available on cooperatives.”


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