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Veteran co-op leader Ralph Paige steps aside; Federation of Southern Cooperatives announces new executive director

ralph-paige-web 8857dIn a March 11 letter, longtime executive director Ralph Paige announced his intent to continue supporting the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in a volunteer capacity, effective March 1, 2015.

Paige joined the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in 1969 as a grassroots organizer and became its executive director in 1985. In 2004, Paige was inducted to the Cooperative Hall of Fame, the cooperative community’s highest honor. A profile released alongside Paige’s induction indicated that, under his leadership, the Federation withstood scarce resources, racism and organized resistance to champion cooperatives and empower black and low-income family farmers in the rural South.

“I look forward to continuing to be involved in the work [of the Federation] as a volunteer and supporter, since I personally do not believe in retiring,” Paige said in the letter.

He also asked friends and colleagues to join him in welcoming Cornelius Blanding as the Federation’s new executive director, effective March 1, 2015.

Acknowledging the transition in a press release from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Blanding called Paige “a mentor and friend who worked untiringly with great dedication for three decades to build the Federation and support our membership to realize the vision of social and economic justice in the South through cooperatives, credit unions and community-based development.”

Blanding brings “a strong commitment to the communities that the Federation and I have served for the past 47 years,” Paige said in his letter.

Blanding also contributes expertise in project management and significant leadership experience to his new role as executive director, Paige said. Blanding has spent more than a decade managing diverse, rural development projects worldwide. He has worked as a small business development and management consultant, manager of a $3 million revolving loan fund and project director.

Blanding has worked with the Federation for the past 17 years in various program and leadership capacities to propel the organization and its membership forward. For the past eight months, he has served as the Federation’s deputy director. Previously, Blanding spearheaded several of the Federation’s special initiatives, including its international work in Africa, the Caribbean and around the world; its disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, tornadoes in Alabama and the earthquake in Haiti; a U.S. Department of Labor-funded rural workforce development project driven by co-ops; and a pilot urban agriculture project in Cleveland, Ohio.

Blanding has also led the Federation’s Cooperative Development Team working nationally and internationally to promote the cooperative movement. He developed the “Cooperative Roundtable” as part of the Federation’s efforts to connect emerging and people-of-color cooperatives in the South with the more established cooperative movement in the nation.

“I am looking forward to serving the membership of the Federation and moving our cooperatives forward so they may better serve the communities in the South where they are working,” Blanding said in the press.

Blanding serves on the boards and committees of numerous organizations, among them NCBA CLUSA, Agricultural Safety & Health Council of America, Southeast Climate Consortium, Alabama Department of Agriculture’s Small Farmers’ Marketing & Education Association and the Presbyterian Committee on the Self Development of People.
Blanding is a native of Montgomery, Alabama.

Tracks, workshops announced for 2015 CCMA Conference

ccma-email-template-600 a1c08The 2015 Consumer Cooperatives Management Association (CCMA) Conference—cohosted by NCBA CLUSA and the Boise Co-op in Boise, Idaho, from June 11 to 13—will provide an unprecedented opportunity for managers and board members of food co-ops and their support communities to innovate, grow and lead—cooperatively.

Presented by experts, practitioners and peers, CCMA Conference workshops will explore issues critical to the food co-op sector and help attendees build better co-ops and become better retailers. Workshops, which are organized into six tracks, will be informative, interactive and inspiring. Click on each track below to view descriptions and presenters for each workshop.

Track 1, “Embracing Change,” will explore how co-op leaders can help their constituents prepare for and embrace a changing food environment. Individual workshops include “Changing Our Co-ops for Our Changing World: Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Case Studies,” “Building Alignment for Change: Boise Co-op Case Study,” “Culture Change Through Crucial Conversations,” “The New Normal: Thriving in a Competitive Landscape” and “Rebranding Against the Blurred Lines of Mainstream Retailers.”

Called “Strategic Leadership,” Track 2 will address the roles of the board and general manager and how they can provide effective, strategic leadership for co-ops by working together. Workshops include “Recruit, Orient, Nominate, Repeat: Building a System for Strong Board Perpetuations,” “Board/GM Collaboration on Strategic Leadership,” “Positive Performance Culture,” “Be Prepared: GM Succession and Hiring Skills for Cooperative Boards” and “Empowerment: Fulfilling Your Fiduciary Responsibilities.”

Track 3, “Telling Our Story,” will guide attendees—especially those involved in marketing and membership—toward measuring the impact of their co-ops and telling their stories in a way that leaves members and customers informed, inspired and connected. Workshops include “Building Trust-Based Relationships for Bottom-Line Impact,” “Cooperative Advantage in Action: How P6 Co-ops Measure and Demonstrate Their Impact,” “It’s Not That Hard: Making Social Media Your Biggest Brand Advocate,” “Transparency: Treating Members as Owners” and “Breaking Through the Walls Without Collapsing the Co-op: Board/GM Strategic Leadership.”

What’s the best way to keep employee turnover low? Is it possible to excel despite the challenge of operating on lower margins and with lower costs? You’ll learn real-world solutions to these and other questions in Track 4, “Be the Best Retailer.” Workshops include “Improving Efficiency in Retail Operations,” “Better Hiring = Better Service,” “Cooperative Management Practices to Elevate Competitiveness,” “Managing Your Personnel Line Item” and “Priced to Compete: Pricing Strategy for Co-ops.”

Track 5, “Growing Our Co-op” will address building a capital infrastructure for food cooperative development and other barriers to growth. Workshops include “We Have the Money, We Just Have to Ask for It: Funding Cooperative Development and Community Donation,” “Real Estate Issues: Removing a Big Barrier to Rapid Growth,” “More Stores = More Impact,” “Preparing to Grow” and “Financing Your Project: Two Co-ops ‘Bare All’ with Their Leader.”

Because not every topic fits neatly into the above categories, Track 6, “Workshop Medley,” includes a variety of workshops selected to inspire food co-ops to perform at the highest level. Workshops include “Customer Loyalty and Building Membership,” “From Food for All to Co-ops for All: Is it Possible?” “All About National Co+op Grocers,” “Grow Your Co-op with Capital: Speed Networking with Co-op Lenders” and “Committed Relationships with Younger Co-ops.”

The CCMA Conference will also provide multiple opportunities for the entire CCMA community to engage in the same national conversation. The conference will open with a panel of co-op sector representatives who successfully communicate the cooperative advantage to their members and customers. Day 2 will begin with a presentation by a food industry expert who will share industry trends, consumer expectations and how co-op competitors are positioning themselves. Day 3 will provide a final opportunity for attendees to envision together what the food co-op sector could look like a year from now, then draft concrete steps to propel the movement toward that goal.

To learn more about the 2015 CCMA Conference, and to register, visit www.ccma.coop. Attendees who register for the full conference on or before March 31 will be entered into a drawing to win two free nights' accommodations at the Riverside Hotel during the conference.  

MOU between NCBA CLUSA, Fairtrade America to advance cooperative business model

banana-fairtrade-web aa04dA memorandum of understanding between NCBA CLUSA and Fairtrade America aligns both organizations to further advance long-term, sustainable and equitable business alliances between cooperatives.

Under the MOU, NCBA CLUSA will identify and create opportunities for Fairtrade America to promote their work and educate U.S. consumers on the value of a responsible food supply chain. Fairtrade America will work to link cooperative producers with international markets. Both organizations will share producer contact information, knowledge and tools, and collaborate on key promotional and educational activities.

According to the document, the agreement initially applies to the “global activities” of both organizations, with a “particular focus” on Latin America and the U.S. The MOU is valid through December 2019. 

To celebrate the MOU, Fairtrade America is offering each NCBA CLUSA member a free resource pack to help observe World Fair Trade Day on May 9. Materials include posters, bookmarks, buttons and stickers that raise awareness of fair trade objectives and outcomes. Click here to request your free pack, which will be mailed in April.

As the U.S. arm of Fairtrade International, Fairtrade America encourages companies to obtain the right to use the Fairtrade Mark on their products by sourcing ethically from certified farms, joining the ranks of more than 27,000 other products in 120 countries. Purchasing products that bear the Fairtrade Mark meets the social, economic and environmental standards set by Fairtrade International and helps support smallholder farmers and workers worldwide.

Fairtrade International aims to promote the certification of ethical standards among smallholder producer groups, cooperatives and partners along the entire supply chain, through a people-first approach to trade. Fairtrade America aims to enable producers to link to regional and international markets, empower producers to achieve a fair wage and educate consumers on the Fairtrade model.

Founded in 1916, NCBA CLUSA is the oldest not-for-profit cooperative development and trade association in the U.S. NCBA CLUSA’s international program, currently active in 17 countries, is a dynamic organization with a mission to alleviate poverty through cooperative development and economic empowerment.

After discussions, NCBA CLUSA, NCFC working group focused on preserving core cooperative services as USDA Rural Development undergoes reorganization

usda-mtg-LisaMensah-web 45cedAs the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development moves toward a Community Economic Development focus, NCBA CLUSA is poised to engage as a partner to help defend the longstanding role of cooperatives and retain the services provided to them by the department.

At a March 23 meeting with new Rural Development Under Secretary Lisa Mensah, NCBA CLUSA expressed support for the reorganization as long as co-ops remain a “mainstay” of the department’s education and research work and budget and appropriations for cooperative development are preserved, said Pat Sterner, NCBA CLUSA COO for Domestic Operations.

“We feel confident that cooperatives are just as strongly regarded [by the department] as they have been, and that USDA is streamlining its own internal processes to be more efficient with funds and better communicate the cooperative business model to their field agents,” Sterner said after the meeting.

Earlier in the month, NCBA CLUSA and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) sent a joint letter to Under Secretary Mensah outlining both organizations’ initial concerns over the restructure and expressing a willingness to engage for further clarity.

“Many in the cooperative community have been concerned about what a possible reorganization might entail, how vital services will get administered, and how cooperatives ultimately will retain dedicated resources for the purposes of education and development,” the letter, dated March 6, says.

NCBA CLUSA works in close partnership with the USDA to protect the interests of cooperatives and promote their value to empower rural communities, most recently with a focus on retaining dedicated resources for cooperatives in the annual federal budget and appropriations process through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program.

“We appreciate the inclusion of cooperatives in the larger Community Economic Development strategies promoted by the Administration, and see this reorganization as a potentially positive step that can reinforce USDA’s commitment to supporting the development and growth of cooperatives in the U.S. economy,” the letter, signed by NCBA CLUSA President and CEO Mike Beall and NCFC President Chuck Conner, says.

NCBA CLUSA and NCFC have convened a working group within the cooperative community to help guide discussion on what cooperative services should look like going forward and where, within a new Community Economic Development division, cooperatives should receive focus. NCBA CLUSA has requested that the division be renamed "Cooperative and Community Economic Development." In addition, NCBA CLUSA and NCFC have met with members of the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees to brief them on the letter, working group and meetings with USDA.  

Sterner said the working group will serve as a “conduit of communication,” solidifying and articulating a unified, definitive message to USDA. She added that Chad Parker, deputy administrator for Business Programs at USDA’s Rural Development, will be invited to join the group. Parker is helming the reorganization process at USDA.

During Monday’s meeting, Under Secretary Mensah told NCBA CLUSA that her priority as incoming under secretary is to work on Rural Development’s “infrastructure” and “core business.” Data from the field still arrives in the mail and must be entered manually, she said.

Kevin Natz, who represented NCFC at the meeting, acknowledged the wealth of information the department provides, but expressed the hope for "more timely updates to various resource materials that Cooperative Services produces." 

Mensah also asked NCBA CLUSA why resources and information from USDA on co-ops are seen as vital by the cooperative community. The question gave Sterner and Beall an opportunity to explain that, as a third party and longtime authority in rural cooperative development, USDA is in a unique position to engender trust.

“NCBA CLUSA has a critical role to play in convening cooperative leaders to ensure the entire cooperative community has a strong voice during the proposed restructure,” Sterner said. “We are committed to working with USDA to revitalize the infrastructure for cooperative education, research, data and ensuring long-range support for cooperative development.”

Cooperative Hall of Fame inductee spotlight: Daniel T. Kelley

inductee spotlight - Dan Kelley 0f653Daniel T. Kelley
Former Chairman of the Board & President

An authentic leader and champion of cooperative development, Daniel Kelley spent more than three decades serving the cooperative sector. Most recently, he retired as board chairman and president of the agriculture supply cooperative GROWMARK, Inc. Kelley’s roots in the cooperative movement began in 1970 when, as a full-time farmer, he joined his local cooperative, Evergreen FS. He later served as president of the organization from 1985 to 2008.

A tireless champion of new ideas and innovation, Kelley is widely credited for shaping GROWMARK, Inc. into the organization it is today. AgriVisor, a grain and livestock marketing analysis and brokerage service, was initiated during his tenure. A joint venture between GROWMARK and Illinois Farm Bureau, the venture has since expanded to serve Farm Bureaus in Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.

In the 1980s, Kelley shouldered efforts to reform the Farm Credit Banks, creating a foundation for success that co-ops, the Farm Credit System, its member-owners and rural communities enjoy today. Over his career Kelly has served on many cooperative boards.  He is currently on the board of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, CoBank and Illinois Agriculture Leadership Foundation, which he chairs.

Let Kelley know you appreciate his commitment to cooperatives by placing a congratulatory message or adding your name to the Friends of Daniel Kelley page in the Hall of Fame Commemorative Program.

The Cooperative Hall of Fame is administered by the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF), the 501(c)(3) non-profit affiliate of NCBA CLUSA. Nominations are received annually from throughout the cooperative community, with the final selection made by the NCBA CLUSA Board of Directors on the recommendations of a selection committee of national cooperative leaders. 

The Cooperative Hall of Fame gallery is on display at NCBA CLUSA offices in Washington, D.C. and can also be viewed online at www.heroes.coop. For Hall of Fame dinner attendance or sponsorship information, call CDF at (202) 383-5445 or email cdurand@cdf.coop


  • 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   Bryan Munson,  Director, Membership Click Here To Email Bryan 202.442.2318   Tom Decker, Director, Cooperative Development Click Here To Email Tom 202.442.2318                   The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA (NCBA CLUSA) represents a cross-sector co-op community of 29,000 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

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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 employment opportunity employer. It is the intent and policy of NCBA CLUSA to bar discrimination in the recruitment, selection, employment, assignment, payment, training, development, promotion, discipline, and termination of its employees. It is also the intent of NCBA CLUSA to treat all applicants for employment and all employees on the basis of job-related qualifications, and not based on race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, pregnancy, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, or any other classification proscribed under local, state, or federal law.


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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.