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NCBA CLUSA among USAID-funded “Partners for Innovation” in Mozambique

farmer-mozambique-web 2730bA memorandum of understanding signing ceremony in Maputo, Mozambique, earlier this month marked the launch of four innovative, public-private partnerships between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and local and international non-governmental agencies—among them NCBA CLUSA—that are expected to benefit approximately 50,000 Mozambican smallholder farmers.

The four partnerships, called “Partnerships for Innovation,” are part of the U.S. Government’s “Feed the Future” initiative to combat hunger and food insecurity worldwide with a focus on smallholder farmers and women’s economic empowerment.

Farmers in four provinces of Mozambique will benefit from the increased availability of improved agricultural inputs, machinery and equipment; extension services, land and crop preparation; training and technology support through mobile text messaging; and better access to loans and credit.

According to a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique, private-sector partners will provide these new benefits by expanding their business services to rural communities in Mozambique through collaboration with USAID and local and international NGOs.

“These new services will address some of the biggest challenges and opportunities to spur the growth of smallholder agriculture in Mozambique today,” the press release said.

The June 3 signing ceremony was hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Douglas Griffiths and attended by representatives from the private partners—among them Carolina Reynoso, Senior Operations Manager for NCBA CLUSA Mozambique—and guests of Mozambique’s Ministry of Agriculture.

“These partnerships will create new market systems and will also increase rural development and educational opportunities,” Griffiths said. “In three years, we will see at least 50,000 Mozambican farm families substantially benefiting directly from activities promoted by these partnerships,” he added.

NCBA CLUSA’s Partnership for Innovation—with Phoenix Seeds and Oruwera—will focus on increasing the availability of and access to high-quality seeds in Mozambique. Poor quality seeds “drastically limit the production potential” of smallholder farmers in the country, Reynoso said.

In an effort to address seed quality during the 2013/14 growing season, Mozambique’s Ministry of Agriculture intended to produce 24,660 tons of certified seed, but only produced 789 tons, meeting just 3 percent of their target, Reynoso said. When high-quality seeds are available, they are often too far from the smallholder farmer. A May 2015 report, she added, indicated that shops selling inputs such as seeds are, on average, more than 40 miles away from rural farmers.

“For a smallholder farmer without transportation and with little funding, this is complicated,” Reynoso said.

NCBA CLUSA’s SEEDS Project aims to improve the conditions of availability and access for small producers in the region. The project’s objective is to increase by 30 percent the production of the following crops: sesame, peanut, cowpea, pigeon pea, lima beans and soy by 10,000 small farmers in the provinces of Nampula and Zambezia. SEEDS also includes complementary activities—provided and managed by Community-Based Service Providers—such as peanut shell mechanics, tilling services using Conservation Farming practices, and the promotion of family-sized metal silos for crop storage.

“Access to improved seeds and other inputs is a challenge for the adoption of improved farming practices,” Reynoso said. “We believe that this partnership will contribute in a positive way to the development of the seed market in Mozambique.”

NCBA CLUSA launches national conversation on future of food co-ops during 2015 CCMA Conference

ccma-600-web 8c801The 2015 Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference brought 400 cooperators representing 75 food co-ops from across the nation to Boise, Idaho, June 11 – 13, for a national conversation on the future of the food co-op sector. The conference was hosted by NCBA CLUSA and the Boise Consumer Co-op.  

During the June 12 opening plenary session moderated by Wheatsville Food Co-op General Manager Dan Gillotte, attendees heard from cross-sector panelists whose businesses successfully communicate the cooperative advantage to their members and customers, while impacting the communities in which they work. Jerry McGeorge, Vice President of Cooperative Affairs for Organic Valley, said the farmer-owned co-op was an early adapter of the .coop domain, giving member-owners an easy “conversation starter” when people ask, “Don’t you mean .com?”

Representing True Value, Division Vice President of Retail Growth Bruce Carrozzi said knowing your audience is critical to the success of a cooperative. True Value targets “young achievers”—the “biggest and fastest-growing segment of our industry,” he said. True Value is also community-oriented, even supporting local Little League games.

panel-ccma-500 6c9e8From left: Bruce Carrozzi, Division Vice President of Retail Growth, True Value; Will Hart, Executive Director, Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association; Debbie Wege, Community Giving Manager, BECU; Jerry McGeorge, Vice President of Cooperative Affairs, Organic Valley; and moderator Dan Gillotte, General Manager, Wheatsville Food Co-op. Panelist Will Hart, Executive Director of the Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association, said his organization provides valuable advocacy services and links consumers to the larger National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Panelist Debbie Wege, Community Giving Manager for BECU, said her credit union provides financial literacy and empowerment training for local communities to communicate the cooperative advantage. 

Despite a marketplace increasingly flush with natural products and savvy consumers who shop around, co-ops can thrive, Mary Ellen Lynch, director of Consumer Insights & Strategic Partnerships for SPINS, said during her keynote presentation on June 13. SPINS gives natural foods a voice and space on retail shelves while measuring the sale of natural products nationwide. “Co-ops are the soul of the natural foods industry,” Lynch said. 

According to a poll conducted by CCMA sponsor Simply Voting during the conference, close to 70 percent of attendees who responded believe Whole Foods is the biggest threat to the consumer co-op industry. Lynch countered, suggesting that even conventional retailers such as Safeway and Kroger are quickly learning what products keep their customers coming back. Natural products, she said, are now the fastest-growing segment of the retail food industry. In 2014, natural products made up just 6 percent of total products sold but accounted for 67 percent of growth within the industry. “This is why retailers are all over natural products,” she said.

Even if they stock natural products, conventional grocers can alienate their shoppers by growing too big and impersonal, Lynch said. “Part of what makes [co-ops] great and part of what’s important for you to understand is that your biggest asset is your knowledge and understanding of your consumer.

mary ellen lynch-500 7c1c7“Co-ops are the soul of the natural foods industry,” Mary Ellen Lynch, Director of Consumer Insights & Strategic Partnerships for SPINS, said during her keynote presentation.“Talk to your shoppers,” she advised. “Where do they go before stopping at the co-op? Where do they go after? How do you fit into their total purchasing habits? Really understanding your consumer can help guide you in your product assortment and where you need to build out and differentiate yourselves from the general retail environment.”

Over the two-day conference, attendees participated in several Community Conversations prompted by themes raised during plenary sessions. During these exercises, attendees broke into small groups to tackle tough questions and brainstorm innovative solutions to the sector's challenges. Answers to the question, “How can we use the co-op brand and identity as a strategic advantage in a competitive marketplace?” ranged from “avoid elitism” to “focus on local.”

Another question, exploring how co-ops can become market leaders, inspired answers including, “Know your community” and “We are too humble. Embrace cool!” The conversations were “a chance to multiply creativity,” facilitator Thane Joyal, a consultant for CDS Consulting Co-op said. The results were collected by NCBA CLUSA and are expected to guide the national conversation going forward.

While much of CCMA was devoted to encouraging conversation and communicating the tools managers and board members need to guide their co-ops to success, the conference took time to honor veterans and start-ups in the food cooperative community.

thayne-ccma-500 25d7bCommunity Conversations during CCMA were “a chance to multiply creativity,” facilitator Thane Joyal, a consultant for CDS Consulting Co-op said. The Cooperative Excellence Award went to the People’s Food Co-op in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota. “People’s Food Co-op has always offered choice and quality at a fair price,” Carol Collins, Central Corridor Advisor for National Co+op Grocers, said during her presentation of the award to Michelle Schry, General Manager of The People’s Food Co-op.

Terry Appleby, General Manager of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society, received the Cooperative Service Award. Appleby is as well known for his dedicated leadership and exemplary service as he is for “his willingness to crawl under a customer’s car to retrieve a dropped banana,” Margaret Drye, President of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society, said during the award presentation. “Cooperation is a team sport,” Appleby observed in his acceptance speech.

The Cooperative Board Service Award went to Jennifer Nalbone of the Lexington Cooperative Market. Nalbone said the award recognizes the co-op’s entire team for “growing together in good governance.” Durham Co+op Market received the Start-up of the Year Award from Stuart Reid, Executive Director of the Food Co-op Initiative. Durham, which opened in March 2015, is currently operating at an impressive 40 – 50 percent above its sales projections, Reid said. Durham General Manager Leila Wolfrum accepted the award on the co-op's behalf. “The future is wide open and I’m excited to be a part of it,” she said.

Alex Gyori of Brattleboro Food Co-op in Brattleboro, Vermont, was also recognized for his years of service to the Howard Bowers Fund and his commitment to strengthening food cooperatives. 

alex-pope-500 bdea7Alex Gyori of Brattleboro Food Co-op is crowned “pope” of the unofficial Italian Grocers’ Caucus, notorious for interrupting the awards ceremony at CCMA. The Cooperative Development Foundation's Howard Bowers Fund supports the food co-op community by providing grants for the training and education of food co-op staff, managers and board members. The fund provided 25 scholarships to CCMA 2015. The fund's annual Silent Auction—held during the CCMA Conference—is its biggest fundraiser of the year. This year's auction raised more than $11,000.  

CCMA co-host Boise Consumer Co-op showcased its innovative stores and friendly, knowledgeable staff during tours scheduled for attendees on June 11. Attendees flying in and out of Boise International Airport had the opportunity to sample some of the co-op’s fresh, local picks at several kiosks throughout the airport. In January, Boise Co-op was part of the airport’s overhaul of its retail space to better reflect the unique identity of Boise and showcase some of its popular local vendors.

The Boise Consumer Co-op led two breakout sessions during CCMA and hosted the Boise Block Party that wrapped up the conference. Each CCMA attendee also received a complimentary Boise Co-op-branded reusable registration bag from Royal Jute, a minority- and woman-owned business that uses sustainable, ethically-sourced, natural materials.

The 2016 Consumer Cooperative Management Association Conference will be held in Western Massachusetts, co-hosted by the members of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, with Franklin Community Co-op and River Valley Market as primary local hosts.

NCBA CLUSA would like to recognize the members of the 2015 CCMA Conference Planning Committee for their hard work in organizing this event! 

4th generation Organic Valley family farmer shares experience at 2015 CCMA Conference

OV-farmer-CCMA-2015 34170Greg Bingham, a 4th generation family farmer from Franklin County, Idaho, captivated attendees of the 2015 Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference in Boise, Idaho, with his story of becoming an organic farmer and member of Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative.

Unstable markets, financial stresses and environmental challenges like climate change make conventional farming a risky business in the U.S. and worldwide, Bingham said. In 2006, he made the switch to organic farming and joined Organic Valley, a farmer-owned cooperative founded in 1988 and a Bronze Sponsor of the 2015 CCMA Conference. Organic Valley is now the largest organic farmer-owned cooperative in North America, and Bingham has seen firsthand the key to their success—putting the farmer first.

When Bingham joined the cooperative with his 1,000-acre farm and 200 cows, Organic Valley was with him every step of the way to ensure he got his organic certification. The cooperative even helped offset the costs of organic certification—a lengthy and costly process.

Today, Bingham’s land is much healthier. His soil is full of earthworms, a sign that it's rich in nutrients. Not only is Bingham's land healthier, so are his cows. And they're happier, too, he said. “They know when it’s time for them to go grazing. They wait at the gates chomping at the bit.”

Thanks to Organic Valley, Bingham no longer has to worry about his pay because it’s not determined by what he can make on an unpredictable market. The cooperative sets the prices, and it will not undercut the farmers. Organic Valley works hard to control production as well so that the market does not become oversaturated. The farmers are at the center of every decision the cooperative makes.

"At Organic Valley, the family farm is the focal point. I’ve had two younger brothers come back because we could finally afford to have them work on the farm. It’s been a great blessing," Bingham said. 

NCBA CLUSA member Pachamama Coffee Cooperative generates buzz at 2015 CCMA Conference

mollie-pacha-web 80b20There was no shortage of great food and drink at this year’s Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference in Boise, Idaho. Participants enjoyed local and organic dishes, snacks and beverages provided by co-host Boise Consumer Co-op and bronze sponsor Organic Valley, tea tastings from expo village sponsor Frontier Food Co-op, tea and chocolate samples from expo village sponsor Equal Exchange, and coffee tastings from expo village sponsor Pachamama Coffee Cooperative.

Pachamama’s coffee tastings were a special feature and huge hit at CCMA this year, thanks to the barista—Pachamama’s Director of Outreach Mollie Moisan—and the impressive quality of Pachamama’s premium organic coffee. Hundreds of CCMA attendees sampled Pachamama’s Guatemalan, Ethiopian and multi-origin coffees. In addition, the cooperative’s unique business model is something every conscientious consumer can get behind.

Pachamama is the only 100 percent farmer-owned and governed coffee cooperative in the U.S. The cooperative is owned by five cooperatives in five countries: COCLA in Peru, PRODECOOP in Nicaragua, Manos Campesinas in Guatemala, La Union Regional in Mexico, and Oromia in Ethiopia. Together, Pachamama is owned by more than 100,000 family farmers. One hundred percent of profits go back to these farmer-owners, and, in 2014, they received $10 for every pound of coffee sold. That’s five times more than the Fair Trade price.

At Pachamama, even the board of directors is made up entirely of farmers. The board is composed of five farmers, one from each of the member cooperatives. During her village presentation at CCMA, Moisan explained that her full-time position with the co-op was a decision made by the board, making her work even more meaningful. 

With support from NCBA CLUSA through its U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Cooperative Development Program, Pachamama recently purchased a roaster for its retail location in Sacramento, California. By roasting coffee on site, Pachamama has become a completely vertically integrated business.

“The co-op model is something I can believe in every day,” Moisan said during her presentation.

For more information on Pachamama or to order some of their organic, Fair Trade coffee, visit www.pacha.coop or www.coffeecsa.org. If you live near Davis, California, stop by Pachamama’s coffee bar at 521 First Street.

Meet the 2015 CCMA Conference Village sponsors

boise-stamp-150 e75bf d3764The Village at the 2015 Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference was a popular destination for attendees in Boise, Idaho, who were able to meet representatives and learn about the business solutions offered by these sponsors. Please take a few moments to learn how our Village sponsors are supporting the food co-op sector below. Click on each organization’s logo for additional details. 

Village Sponsors 

Coop-Grocer-Network-175 a9779

Cooperative Grocer Network is an engine for inspiration—a membership community where staff and board can develop and share best practices via a web-based collaboration platform, discussion groups, member spaces, email and library. CGN connects food co-op resources, publishes Cooperative Grocer magazine and makes grocer.coop available to the public.

Coop-Fund-New-England-175 75fbf

For 40 years, the Cooperative Fund of New England has provided access to capital for new and seasoned cooperatives—from food co-ops to fishing co-ops and farmer
co-ops. The Fund has also provided a place for cooperatives to invest funds that support other co-ops’ development. 

Equal-Exchange-175 2af03

Equal Exchange is a leading importer of organic, Fair Trade products and one of America’s largest and fastest-growing worker cooperatives. Equal Exchange’s philosophy is to import exclusively from farmer cooperatives, in keeping with Principle 6. Based in Massachusetts, Equal Exchange currently partners with more than 50 farmer co-ops worldwide. 

Food-Coop-Initiative-175 a3bc1

Strengthening communities through cooperation, the Food Co-op Initiative paves the way for
New Food Co-op Excellence, leading to better fed, healthier communities with local control and connections. The Initiative’s purpose is to increase the number, success and sustainability of new food cooperatives delivering access to healthy food in diverse communities nationwide. Food Co-op Initiative provides information, training and technical assistance, as well as seed capital, and engages in research to blaze, maintain and improve the development path for new food coops. 

frontier-food-logo-175 df13d

Frontier Natural Products Co-op
is a wholesaler of natural and organic products, founded in 1976 and based in Norway, Iowa. Frontier sells products under the Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. Products include culinary herbs, spices and baking flavors; bulk herbs and spices; and natural and organic aromatherapy products. Frontier manufactures and distributes products across the U.S. and in Canada.

LEAF-175 2f58c

The Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) loan fund with a focus on food, housing and worker cooperatives. LEAF has been lending to food co-ops for more than two decades and recently approved loans to Lexington Coop, Hub City Co-op, East Aurora Cooperative Market, Marquette Food Co-op, Durham Co-op Market and Hendersonville Community Coop. LEAF often partners with the North Country Development Foundation and National Cooperative Bank to finance food co-ops.

Neighboring-Food-Coop-175 9ff89

The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is a co-operative of more than 35 food co-ops and startup initiatives in New England, locally owned by more than 90,000 members. Together, NFCA co-ops are working toward a shared vision of a thriving cooperative economy rooted in a healthy, just and sustainable regional food system and a vibrant community of cooperative enterprise. NFCA supports the success
of its member co-ops through shared marketing and educational efforts, regional sourcing initiatives and peer-to-peer training opportunities.

North-Coop-Dev-Fund-175 083c1

Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund (NCDF) is a cooperatively-owned community development loan fund and federally certified Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) committed to fostering economic democracy by investing in cooperative enterprises. NCDF currently serves 175 members across more than 30 states. Since its founding in 1978, NCDF has provided more than $40 million in financing to over 800 cooperative projects, including 275 food co-op startups and expansions. Financing is available to cooperatives across the U.S. for equipment, leasehold improvements, property acquisitions, inventory and working capital.

Pachamama-175 36f83

Pachamama Coffee Cooperative is a unique company that is 100 percent owned and governed by small-scale coffee farmers around the world. Pachamama represents more than 100,000 family farmers in Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Ethiopia who receive 100 percent of the profits generated from the direct sale of their best organic coffee. In 2014, Pachamama farmers earned more than $10 for every pound of coffee sold — that’s five times more than Fair Trade farmers earn!

P6-175 415da

The Principle Six (P6) Cooperative Trade Movement exemplifies just and equitable trade relationships between farmers, producers, retailers and consumers rooted in cooperative principles and values. P6 is owned by and designed for grocery co-ops and cooperative food producers. P6 is the symbol of a growing consumer-supported food economy, recognizing products grown or produced locally,
or internationally, by small farmers/producers and cooperatives. P6 is a national movement guided
by shared values and three overarching criteria: small, local and cooperative. The movement is committed to increasing market access for small farmers, building cooperative supply chains and, ultimately, changing our food system. P6 supports retail co-ops in tracking, marketing and increasing the market share of small, local and cooperative products sold. P6 is a co-op owned by eight retail grocery co-ops and three wholesale co-ops.

St-Marys-Uni-175 9a30f

Cooperative Management Education is part
 of the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University and offers programs that cultivate a deep understanding of cooperatives, credit unions and mutuals within a globalized, online curriculum. Opportunities include a master’s degree in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions, a graduate diploma in Co-operative Management, a bilingual certificate in Co-operative Management and various executive education courses. These programs are designed for leaders in the international cooperative community. St. Mary’s students graduate with internationally-recognized credentials in cooperative management, gain an extensive network of international contacts and are equipped to immediately apply what they’ve learned to their home cooperative or credit union.

seafood-producers-175 9285b

Seafood Producers Cooperative is owned by more than 550 members who fish the waters of the North Pacific. Each member-owner is a small boat, hook-and-line fisherman. What started in 1944 as a cooperative to provide halibut liver oil to vitamin companies has now become a full-fledged organization that provides premium-quality, sustainably-harvested seafood to high-end food service and retail industries worldwide. Seafood Producers Co-op is the oldest fishermen’s cooperative in North America.


  • US Development PR

    NCBA CLUSA is dedicated to the continued growth and strengthening of cooperative businesses across the United States. Cooperatives at all levels provide a much needed and sought after alternative to other business models. Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with local cooperatives to embed them as permanent fixtures in their local economy. Through the implementation of cooperative development grants, NCBA CLUSA is providing support and training to coops across all cooperative sectors, through case studies and economic impact research. Using that research and the power of the collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of coops, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislature that protects the cooperative business model.

    Our domestic development work is grounded in our three-part mission:

    • to raise the profile of cooperatives
    • to promote and protect the cooperative business enterprise model
    • to drive cross-sector collaboration among cooperatives in keeping with Principle 6 of the Cooperative Principles

    We believe in collaboration, and in bringing value to the many efforts already underway through our cooperative development partners and intermediaries that are doing the necessary ‘boots on the ground’ cooperative development work.

    In our role as facilitator, convener, and financing partner, we assist our partners in their work with strengthening the structure, reach and financial sustainability of existing cooperatives, and as well as their efforts to establish new cooperatives. In particular we are collaborating with Cooperation Works! and Cooperative Development Centers across the country to develop more diverse – and sustainable – funding for their important work.

    We are responding to local and regional nationwide that are interested in establishing Cooperative Business Associations, with the intent of creating local cooperative ‘chambers of commerce’ to drive the financial success of cooperatives in these associations, raise the profile of cooperatives in their communities, and foster cross-collaboration among cooperatives.

    Using the power of cooperative development work and our collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of cooperatives, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislation that protects the cooperative business enterprise model.

    Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with cooperatives and cooperative development organizations to embed cooperatives in their local and regional economies. With our partners NCBA CLUSA supports cooperative development, funds cooperative education, and promotes the need for research to continually strengthen the case for cooperatives in our economy.

  • Advocacy PR
  • International Development PR
  • CBJ - PR


For nearly 100 years, NCBA CLUSA has encouraged communities to live cooperatively, harnessing the uncommon power of common purpose. NCBA CLUSA applies cooperative principles in development, advocacy, and education.

Association Services

  Pat Brownell Sterner, Chief Operating Officer Click Here To Email Pat 202-638-6222   Thomas Bowen,  Director of Membership Click Here to Email Thomas Bowen 202.383.5461                           The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA (NCBA CLUSA) represents a cross-sector co-op community of more than 40,000 businesses that control over $3 trillion in assets.  We unite co-ops by promoting the cooperative business model, driving cross-sector collaboration, and being the national ‘voice’ for cooperatives to raise the profile of co-ops everywhere. Our work is grounded in our three-part mission:
 To raise the profile of cooperatives
 To promote and protect the cooperative business enterprise model To drive cross-sector collaboration among cooperatives in keeping with Principle 6 of the Cooperative Principles       We believe in collaboration, and in bringing value to the many efforts already underway through our cooperative development partners and intermediaries that are doing the necessary ‘boots on the ground’ cooperative development work. In our role as facilitator, convener, and financing partner, we assist our partners in their work with strengthening the structure, reach and financial sustainability of existing cooperatives, as well as efforts to establish new cooperatives.  We are collaborating with Cooperation Works! and Cooperative Development Centers across the country to develop more diverse – and sustainable – funding for their important work. We are responding to local and regional nationwide that are interested in establishing Cooperative Business Associations, with the intent of creating local cooperative ‘chambers of commerce’ to drive the financial success of cooperatives in these associations, raise the profile of cooperatives in their communities, and foster cross-collaboration among cooperatives. Using the power of cooperative development work and our collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of cooperatives, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislation that protects the cooperative business enterprise model. Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with cooperatives and cooperative development organizations to embed cooperatives in their local and regional economies. With our partners NCBA CLUSA supports cooperative development, funds cooperative education, and promotes the need for research to continually strengthen the case for cooperatives in our economy.   OUR FOCUS NCBA CLUSA takes very seriously its role as CONVENER of cooperatives and cooperators across the country. ADVOCACY NCBA CLUSA is also working hard to amplify the voice of cooperatives at the national level, specifically through increased advocacy work on behalf of cooperatives sectors.  For example, NCBA CLUSA sent letters to members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees pressing for tax reform to retain the tax exemption for credit unions. Likewise, through the efforts of NCBA CLUSA and partners, a significant shift in the government’s fiscal year 2014 spending bill has made provision for $5.8 million for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) and an additional $3 million for the Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG). Moving forward, we plan to establish a congressional Cooperative Caucus as a forum to brief legislators on cooperatives and cooperative sectors. CO-OP TALKS Another significant focus for NCBA CLUSA is boosting our presence with members through a series of Co-op Talks.  These meetings will be excellent opportunities for us to listen to our members, recruit new members, and learn more about what cooperatives need in communities across America.  Current list of venues include: Denver, Colorado Madison, Wisconsin   CONFERENCES NCBA CLUSA hosts and/or supports several conferences throughout the year: Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA):  June 12-14 in Madison, Wisconsin Co-op Week (in partnership with the National Cooperative Bank and the Cooperative Development Foundation):  May 5-9 in Washington, D.C. Purchasing Cooperative Conference and the NCBA CLUSA Annual Meeting:  September 8 – 11 in St. Paul, Minnesota   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS (CBA'S) We are working with several groups throughout the country that are organizing to establish CBAs.  To support these efforts NCBA CLUSA is providing financial support, human resources and business planning to launch what can be thought of as local “co-op chambers of commerce”, with missions to promote the co-op business model, grow the bottom-line of cooperatives in local communities, and engage more consumers as co-op members.  We are focused on four locations: Austin, Texas  (Austin Cooperative Business Association) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Area Cooperative Association) Upstate New York Western Massachusetts (Valley Cooperative Business Association   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS SERVICES We are committed to raising the profile of cooperatives as economic drivers in our communities.  To that end we will be providing services such as internal and external “cooperative assessments” for members interested in (internally) better integrating the cooperative principles into their business plans and operations, and (externally) leveraging cross-sector relationships to promote their businesses to a broader base of consumers.  We will be utilizing the Blueprint for the Cooperative Decade in this work with our members, with a projected outcome of better identifying and communicating the economic power of cooperatives in given communities.   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE In 2014 we will be establishing the Cooperative Business Roundtable, which will be a convening of CEOs from our larger members.  We have recognized the opportunity to bring CEOs together to network with each other about the opportunities and challenges for cooperatives in today’s economy as well as those they face in their own cooperatives.  Plans are being made to launch the inaugural session of the Roundtable during Co-op Week in Washington, D.C. (May 5 – 9, 2014).     OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH CooperationWorks AND THE COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT CENTERS CooperationWorks! Is the center for excellence for cooperative business development. They are a dynamic and innovative national cooperative created to grow the cooperative model across the United States. Cooperative development centers work to revitalize communities through effective cooperative enterprise development. The centers provide a broad spectrum of expertise and technical assistance, including feasibility studies, market analysis, business plan development, governance training, and educational programs. NCBA CLUSA works closely with both CooperationWorks! and the centers to provide support and resources to aid in their very critical work. NCBA CLUSA understands that it is imperative to grow and sustain financial support so that CooperationWorks! and the centers may foster cooperative economic development. To that end, NCBA CLUSA is co-hosting with CooperationWorks! a summit to engage the cooperative development centers on a national level that will bring forth strategies that will diversify and grow funding. PARTNERSHIP WITH FREELANCERS UNION NCBA CLUSA first began working Freelancers Union in 2010 while assisting organizations across the United States that were applying for funding to develop the new national health care CO-OPs. NCBA CLUSA first provided expertise to Freelancers Union regarding board governance and board development for the application and later played a role in board training for Freelancers Union. Since that time, a close and productive relationship has grown between the two organizations. Sara Horowitz, Found and Executive Director of Freelancers Union, recently wrote; “Cooperatives are deeply knit in the American fabric. In 1752, founding father (and volunteer firefighter) Ben Franklin started the nation's first mutual fire insurance company, Philadelphia Contributionship, which still operates today. In his book For All The People, historian and woodworker John Curl highlights the amazing diversity of cooperative businesses that popped up in the 1800s -- mining coops, shoemaking coops, knitting coops. Basically anything workers could unite to own, they did. We are beginning to see the rise of that mutualistic ethos once again. Many of these efforts directly mirror the late 1800s mutual support model -- but this time with the internet helping bring what had once been local models to national scale.” Freelancers Union has a mission of promoting the interests of independent workers through advocacy, education, and services. NCBA CLUSA is working with the Freelancers Union to provide certain training, education and support services to assist the Freelancers Union in fulfilling their research of cooperatives, member educational programming, project management, board education, business model transition, and public relations objectives, and services for which cooperation may be mutually beneficial. REGIONAL FARMERS MARKET/USDA RCDG GRANT NCBA CLUSA’s 2012 USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant is dedicated to supporting the establishment of a Regional Farmer’s Market located in the Mississippi Delta, in partnership and through the leadership of Shreveport Federal Credit Union and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. The establishment of food hubs that address food deserts is a particular area of expertise for NCBA CLUSA through our international work, and we are applying that expertise to our rural cooperative development partnerships. The work is also supported by previous project work related to wealth creation and development of value chains, especially as relate to cross-sector cooperative business opportunities. The initial work around the establishment of a regional farmers’ market located in Marks, Mississippi has been led by the Shreveport Federal Credit Union, which located a branch in Marks in 2006. Joining with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the primary cooperative development expert in the rural south, Shreveport FCU has worked with local community leaders to further explore opportunities for community engagement and is currently building out the concept for the market, setting in motion plans to launch the market by the end of 2013. The idea for the Delta Regional Market (a name under consideration) came about through multiple meetings with community members, mayors of several towns, and farmers in which they addressed the challenges which have caused this region to be so economically deprived. The Market will be a food hub for the entire community providing reasonably priced, fresh, locally-grown foods; creating jobs for some and for others an entertainment and a gathering place that is planned to be a major draw for customers within a 50-mile radius.  On-street parking provides plenty of space for customers, and the building is located near local businesses to encourage foot traffic to nearby merchants. The Market will also be a showcase for the community’s cultural roots. In addition to being a Food Hub with sales of fresh farm products, the Market will also house a small Museum called “The Muletrain Museum and Gift Store”, a Kidz Zone, and a small Food Court. “Sunday Go to Meeting at the Market” will highlight the deep spiritual roots of the people of the Delta, and provide the opportunity for area churches from diverse communities to bring their choirs and congregations to the market to sing in the food court area on Sunday afternoons as an additional way to attract consumers to the Market. Another central feature of the Market will be the participation of the North Delta Produce Growers Association, which will use part of the Market’s building to expand their commercial enterprise which currently sells purple hull peas to Walmart. Expansion of their operations will increase the distribution opportunities for their participating farmers, and open the door for other farmer cooperatives to join. Leadership and partnership must go hand in hand for the success of this project. Shreveport Federal Credit Union is stepping up with some of the financing for the building; the Federation of Southern Cooperatives is providing the hands-on expertise in agricultural as well as small cooperative business development. Thanks to funding from the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant, NCBA CLUSA is providing expertise in business planning, project design and financing to support the launch and sustainability of the project. We believe the Delta Regional Market can become an important pilot for other communities to follow, and we will work with our partners to document and evaluate every step of this important project. Links to partners: Shreveport Federal Credit Union Federation of Southern Cooperatives North Delta Produce Growers Association USDA

Association Services


window.location.href = "https://www.ncba.coop/current-events" Succession Planning for Co-op Members Join us for a Webinar on June 26 Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: What will happen to your business when its leadership is ready to retire? During NCBA CLUSA’s June 26 webinar, presenter Gary Pittsford, CFP, president and CEO of Castle Wealth Advisors, will discuss key factors you need to consider in planning for the future of your coop, including: • Issues affecting family members • Transition options • Retirement income security • Tax impacts and options • Business and estate plans Get the answers to your burning questions about the succession planning process and begin to assemble an advisory team who can help you make smart decisions for your organization.   Title: Succession Planning for Co-op Members Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT   After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.   System Requirements PC-based attendees Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server Mac®-based attendees Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer Mobile attendees Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet       Future NCBA CLUSA Webinar Topics Promoting Cooperation with Financial Cooperatives Learn how financial cooperatives are engaging in cross-sector collaboration by doing business with other cooperative sectors. Cooperative education in colleges and universitiesWhile the cooperative business model is distinct from other business models, our current options for pursuing relevant cooperative management education is limited. Join this webinar to learn about the existing programs, along with work being done to improve management education for the cooperative sector. Cooperative GovernanceWebinar will explore key issues in cooperative governance, and how cooperative governance is different than governance of other organizational models.   NCBA CLUSA’s webinars continue to be a popular source of information on issues impacting the cooperative community. Whether it is marketing and branding your co-op, understanding the legal and governmental framework of cooperatives or learning how co-ops are using technology to be innovative, NCBA CLUSA’s webinars provide useful and timely information to leverage opportunities for growing and improving your cooperative. Webinar Archive Miss a webinar? Visit NCBA CLUSA's archive to view presentations on-demand We'd Love Your Input! Do you have an idea for a webinar topic? Please send your suggestions to:info@ncba.coop



  Thursday, 01 August 2013 10:38 In a July letter to the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) stated he supports credit unions and their tax exemption status. Outside of the Washington beltway, regular folks may not be aware that Congress is working to overhaul the existing tax structure. For the last few years, Congressional tax committees have been considering comprehensive tax reform, and they now plan to draft and pass a bill later in the year. The current process in the Senate is called the “blank slate” approach. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have asked senators to submit letters advising the committee which tax exemptions they support that should be included in the committee’s approach to comprehensive tax reform. Along with his requests to keep housing and energy tax provisions, Senator Begich also included the credit union tax exemption in his July 26 letter to the Senate Finance Committee. In his letter, Senator Begich stated, “Alaska is far removed from traditional financial centers and that credit unions play an outsized role in the state’s economy. That is why Section 501(c)(14), which grants tax exempt status to credit unions, should be retained in any tax reform effort, to ensure continued access to affordable credit for consumers, homebuyers and small businesses alike, all of which contribute substantially to economic growth.” At the Finance Committee’s request, the letter writing exercise has been kept confidential, but Senator Begich, along with a few other senators have made their requests public. It is not clear how senators are participating in the “blank slate” process, or how the House of Representatives will proceed with their tax reform approach. NCBA CLUSA has coordinated its efforts with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) to support the credit union tax exemption and will continue to work with its association partners as the tax reform process moves ahead in Congress.  


Call to Action: Tell Your Members of Congress to Support Cooperative Development Funding!

Cooperative Development Centers Need Your Support! During the Congressional appropriations process, vital funding for the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program was impacted dramatically, and the cooperative community needs to do everything we can NOW to restore it to sufficient levels. The House of Representatives Agriculture Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 eliminates RCDG funding that is critical to the development of cooperatives in rural America. The Senate provides $8.8 million in their funding bill for the program. Without sufficient funding for the RCDG program, cooperative development centers providing hands-on assistance will be unable to operate, and the only existing program in the federal government dedicated to cooperative development would be hindered significantly or possibly eliminated. As an NCBA CLUSA member and supporter, you have an opportunity to help! Attached are two letters, one specifically drafted for the House of Representatives and the other for the Senate. Please send the appropriate letter of support to your Representative or Senators and let them know this vital program needs to be saved. If you would like to share the success of your advocacy efforts on this issue or have any questions, please contact NCBA CLUSA’s Vice President of Advocacy, R.L. Condra at 202.383.5480 or rcondra@ncba.coop. Sincerely, Michael Beall President and Chief Executive Officer   Download House of Representatives Letter » Find Your Representative Download Senate Letter » Find Your Senator

Call to Action: Tell Your Members of Congress to Support Cooperative Development Funding!

Legislative Update: Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of Representatives

  Legislative Update Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of RepresentativesLegislation Focuses on Job Creation by Promoting Cooperative Development  (WASHINGTON, DC) – The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) is excited to announce the introduction of legislation that will spur job creation and development of cooperatives. The legislation H.R. 2437 titled, “Creating Jobs Through Cooperatives Act of 2013” was introduced by Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) on June 20 in the House of Representatives. “Co-ops bring communities tighter by encouraging residents to pool their skills and resources,” said Fattah. “They empower people to make decisions that will create opportunities that grow their communities and provide an added sense of belonging. This legislation brings federal resources and a policy priority to that effort.” The legislation would create a national program within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide capital, training and other resources to foster member owned businesses. The bill introduced will strengthen communities, promote self-help, and generate jobs by awarding grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities that help grow or create cooperatives. Also, when establishing cooperatives, communities will be provided with guidance, best practices, and technical assistance. Furthermore, the legislation will create a revolving loan fund, providing seed capital to groups forming cooperatives and funding to train providers in technical issues, supporting existing professional development for organizations engaged in cooperative development. “On behalf of the 29,000 cooperatives throughout the country, we thank Congressman Fattah for his support and leadership,” said Michael Beall, president of NCBA CLUSA. “This legislation is a giant step in providing more communities around the country with the financial backing to grow businesses that share their same values.” Cooperatives already play a significant role in the U.S. economy operating in all 50 states and across all sectors. They are owned and operated by the people who utilize the goods or services provided by the co-op and they operate for the benefit of its members. Cooperatives are a part of many industries including energy, telecommunications, food distribution, insurance, credit unions, agriculture, health, housing, and wholesale and retail purchasing and distribution. There are 29,000 U.S. cooperatives that account for more than $3 trillion in assets, totalling over $500 billion in revenue, $25 billion in wages and benefits, and providing nearly two million jobs. If you would like to receive the text of the bill, or would like to learn how you could have your Member of Congress support the legislation, please contact R.L. Condra, NCBA CLUSA Vice President of Advocacy, at  or 202.383.5480. The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the apex association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps co-ops thrive. For nearly 100 years NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives in bettering the lives of individuals and families. In the last 60 years, NCBA CLUSA has grown its international development portfolio to over $34 million of active programs in 14 countries.

Legislative Update: Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of Representatives

Co-op Jobs

Reaching thousands of like-minded cooperators has never been easier! NCBA CLUSA’s jobs posting service targets your job listing to those in the cooperative community looking to get involved in cooperative work!



NCBA CLUSA is the nation’s oldest and largest national membership association representing cooperatives of all types and in all industries. We are democratically organized and operate according to internationally recognized cooperative principles. NCBA CLUSA’s mission is to develop, advance and protect cooperative businesses and to demonstrate the power of the cooperative business model to achieve economic and social impacts. As the apex organization representing the interests of the US cooperative community, NCBA CLUSA provides a strong, unified voice on Capitol Hill. The Association’s portfolio includes programs and services that meet the shared advocacy, education and communications needs of a cross-sector, US cooperative community. In addition to its work domestically, NCBA CLUSA’s international program has been engaged in cooperative and sustainable business development in over 100 countries for close to 60 years.


NCBA CLUSA is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer with a commitment to diversity.  All individuals, regardless of personal characteristics, are encouraged to apply; all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, age, and legally protected characteristics for non-merit factors. NCBA CLUSA is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities in all facets of employment, including the employment application and selection process. If you have a disability that affects your ability to use our online system to apply for a position at NCBA CLUSA, please send an email to Misti French or call 202-383-5465.



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The Team

Meet Our Senior Leadership Team

Michael Beall

Michael Beall

President & Chief Executive Officer
Patricia Brownell Sterner

Patricia Brownell Sterner

Chief Operating Officer, NCBA
Amy Coughenour Betancourt

Amy Coughenour Betancourt

Chief Operating Officer, CLUSA International
Valeria Roach

Valeria Roach

Chief Financial Officer
Lisa Bowman

Lisa Bowman

Chief Administrative Officer, NCBA CLUSA
Larry Thomas

Larry Thomas

Chief Human Resources Officer, NCBA CLUSA

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the oldest and largest national cross sector association for cooperatives, professionals servicing co-ops, and supporters.