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At Quebec Summit, panel considers smallholder farmers as food security solution

panel-amy-web 366eaNCBA CLUSA’s COO for International Development Amy Coughenour shared a unique perspective on smallholder farming at the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives’ panel on family farming and food security last week.

Bringing vulnerable smallholder farmers into the global economy, Coughenour said, depends on the integration of four distinct pillars of food security—availability, access, utilization and governance—not on an increase in commercial farming alone.

The conversation came during a year the United Nations named the "International Year of Family Farming," an endorsement of a seemingly simple model of agriculture that is anchoring sustainable production and food security going forward, panelists said.

"We cannot address the stunting, malnutrition and food security needs of smallholder farmers with a purely economic growth strategy around agribusiness and large-scale commercialization of staple crops," Coughenour said. "We have to incorporate the pillars of food security through smallholder farmers."

NCBA CLUSA works to increase the availability of diversified foods smallholder farmers require to meet the nutritional needs of their families, using strategies such as conservation farming and nutrition-led agriculture. One project in Senegal highlights Vitamin A and other micronutrients found in orange-colored fruits and vegetables.

Access involves both securing the income to purchase food and establishing networks to ensure its distribution, Coughenour said. NCBA CLUSA increases the asset base of smallholder farmers by diversifying incomes and increasing access to financing and new technology.

Utilization, Coughenour continued, is a measure of how food is consumed at the smallholder farmer level and how it is integrated into the family’s diet, which largely hinges on the empowerment of women.

"Women play a critical role in producing food, purchasing food, preparing food and ensuring their children’s nutrition," she said. "We need to focus on nutrition education for women in order to impact stunting and underweight in women of childbearing age and children under five."
Hygiene training and access to sanitation should be coupled with nutrition education, Coughenour said.

"All of these elements on the utilization side are essential, because if you’re improving the diets of the families, but you’re not addressing the lack of potable water or the lack of sanitation, the uptake of those nutrients isn’t going to achieve your purpose of decreasing malnutrition," she said.

The fourth pillar of food security, governance and stability, is unique to NCBA CLUSA. The organization bolsters its food security and nutrition programs by engaging citizens and governments to work together to plan and budget priorities and services.

Here, too, women are "powerful advocates at the local level," Coughenour said.

The formation of cooperatives plays a major role, she continued, and are the "vehicle" for the smallholder farmer to access new farming technologies, better resources for distribution and storage and finance. Co-ops also allow family farmers to negotiate better prices.

"Co-ops are playing an absolutely vital role in scaling up the kind of strategies that are working at the smallholder farmer level," Coughenour said.

Smallholder farmers are at the core of NCBA CLUSA’s food security work in 16 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia.

Coughenour spoke during a panel also featuring Nora Ourabah Haddad, team leader of Producer Organizations and Cooperatives for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Italy; Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union; Sumalee Thongteera, general manager of Thailand's Lam Phra-Phloeng Agriculture Cooperative; and Toru Nakaya, vice president of the Central Union of Agriculture Cooperatives in Japan. 

The 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives, held bi-annually, brings together hundreds of experts and more than 3,000 participants from 42 countries who share their knowledge on innovation in sustainability, development, employment, food security and economic recovery.


Quebec Summit: Co-ops "key partners" in economic recovery, according to job creation panel

panel-mike-web c6191In recent years, cooperatives have posted the best growth of any market sector, weathering a global economic downturn, innovating to overcome challenges and scaling up job creation and productivity worldwide.

At a discussion moderated by NCBA CLUSA President and CEO Michael Beall last week at the 2014 International Summit of Cooperatives in Quebec City, Canada, panelists addressed the scale of cooperative employment and its proven ability to help people achieve financial independence.

The cooperative movement’s growth and success can be attributed to its commitment to "lend, defend and upend,” Beall said.

"Mutuals, credit unions and SACCOs have continued to lend when banks have pulled back in recession. Co-ops have continued to defend consumers from predatory actors and practices across sectors, and we have upended conventional wisdom about co-ops,” Beall said during the panel discussion. "Sometimes seen as social actors, co-ops are now increasingly relied on as businesses and effective partners in job creation and productivity.”

A new study by the International Organization of Industrial and Service Cooperatives (CICOPA) outlines the impact and scope of the cooperative movement, offering details on cooperative contributions to resilient employment, economic recovery and employee well-being worldwide.

Bruno Roelants, secretary general of CICOPA and a panelist, introduced the results of the organization’s recent 15-month study, "Cooperatives and Employment, a Global Report,” during the discussion.

While based on "incomplete” data that should be considered "estimates, not statistics,” the study indicates that "at least” 250 million people worldwide "work in or within the scope of cooperatives,” making up 12 percent of the entire workforce in the G20 countries, Roelants said. That percentage almost doubles in South Korea and some parts of France and Italy, he said.

"We hope that this study will encourage further research, as well as serious statistical work on co-ops everywhere, and that it also continues to draw the attention of policymakers, civil society and the cooperative movement itself as we recognize the enormous involvement and potential of cooperatives,” Roelants said.

With co-ops increasingly on the radar of decision-makers worldwide, the movement is empowered to tackle persistent challenges to job creation, said Sandra Polasky, deputy director-general for Policy for the International Labour Organization (ILO) and a panelist. The ILO is a United Nations agency that oversees employment issues, particularly international labor standards and decent work for all.

With more than 200 million people still unemployed globally, job creation remains a major concern, Polasky said, particularly in emerging economies, where informal employment—characterized by low pay, job insecurity and lack of benefits—continues to dominate labor markets.

"Looking forward, the global economy will need to create more than 600 million jobs between now and 2030 to accommodate those currently seeking employment and those just entering the labor market,” she said, a number that grows significantly "if we’re able to increase the participation of women and youth in the workforce.”

The labor market is also seeing deterioration in job quality, Polasky added, particularly among jobs open to low- to medium-skilled workers. "In the developing world, nearly one in four workers and their families live on less than $2 a day, constituting ‘working poverty,’” she said. Increases in involuntary part-time work and short-term contracts are further eroding employment quality in the developed world.

As "value-driven, principled enterprises,” co-ops are "key partners” in working toward social justice and full employment, and function as "major building blocks” in a jobs-oriented economic recovery strategy, Polasky said.

Co-ops, she added, are uniquely positioned to support gender equality and career advancement through education and training, as well as examine their supply chains to eliminate abuses such as forced labor and discrimination. Co-ops also play a crucial role in formalizing jobs and small businesses in the informal economy.

"Co-ops are partners in creating quality employment, providing social protections for their member-owners and their communities, giving a voice and representation to those who have often found themselves excluded from democratic decision-making,” Polasky said.

The business model is gaining traction even in economies not historically supported by cooperatives.

Over the next five to ten years, Beall said, an estimated 25 percent of previously government-run businesses in Cuba—ranging from the textile industry to auto repair shops—will outsource jobs to cooperatives. Beall and a team from NCBA CLUSA recently led a research and education trip to Cuba to gain a clearer picture of the cooperative movement there, which observers say is playing an increasingly significant role in the country's push for economic reform. 

"It's an interesting transition for Cuba, and one we can all learn from in the sense that not just traditional co-ops, but every business going forward, can use the cooperative model," he said. "It’s an empowering time!”


NCBA CLUSA and USDA representatives convene for Co-op Month forum, webinar

USDA-rural-development-web22 8c4adNCBA CLUSA will host representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the National Press Club next week for a forum and panel discussion on the intersection of cooperatives and the government.

The event falls during Co-op Month, an annual opportunity to celebrate the cooperative difference, the movement’s history and its economic impact on communities nationwide.

Beall and Lillian Salerno, administrator of the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service, will moderate a panel of experts addressing the role cooperatives play in growing the U.S. economy and creating sustainable jobs. The panel is also expected to address current barriers to cooperative development and discuss how best to resolve these issues going forward.

This special event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Click here to reserve your seat today. The National Press Club is located at 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. The event convenes on the 13th floor.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive at the National Press Club at 8:30 a.m. EDT for a continental breakfast and time to network. The program will begin at 9 a.m. with NCBA CLUSA president and CEO Michael Beall and Doug O’Brien, deputy under secretary for USDA Rural Development.

As part of Co-op Month celebrations, NCBA CLUSA will also join USDA for an October 23 webinar on how cooperatives and the communities they serve can benefit from USDA Business & Industry loans.

The webinar, scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m. EDT, will feature Brenda Griffin with the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Business Programs, and Bruce Reynolds of the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Cooperative Programs.

The USDA’s Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan Program helps develop business, industry and employment in rural communities. B&I loans bolster the local economic climate by investing in credit-worthy businesses—among them cooperatives—that protect and create jobs in rural America.

The program prioritizes projects that benefit communities where access to affordable, healthy foods is limited and residents face high rates of hunger, food insecurity and poverty.

This webinar is part of NCBA CLUSA’s ongoing series: “USDA Rural Development Update and Impact on Cooperatives." Click here to register for "Potential Uses of the Business & Industry Program for Cooperatives." 

 

October 16 is International Credit Union Day

world-credit-unions cdaf1We're joining cooperatives nationwide to raise awareness of the "Local Service, Global Good" credit unions provide by celebrating International Credit Union Day today. The Credit Union National Association published this round-up of ICU Day events happening nationwide. Find more by searching social media sites for #ICUDay: 

Today the credit union movement celebrates International Credit Union Day, first observed 67 years ago to remind credit unions, staffs and members around the globe to take a step back and recognize the work credit unions do in their communities all year long.  

The day, celebrated annually since 1948 on the third Thursday of October, also offers a golden opportunity to raise awareness for the credit union industry.

"When good consumer value is a matter of the core philosophy of an organization as opposed to a promotional come-on, it means that you can count on that value being there today, tomorrow and for years to come," wrote Rob Kimmett, senior vice president of marketing for the New Hampshire Credit Union League, in a recent op-ed that appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Internationally, there is a lot to celebrate, as credit unions have played critical roles in supporting the communities and the nations they serve.

In the Philippines, for example, credit unions helped members get back on their feet after a devastating typhoon ravaged the country late last year. In Mexico, impoverished and marginalized citizens have more access to bank services thanks to credit union field officers who bring mobile banking services to underserved populations.

U.S. credit unions have coordinated myriad events to honor the day and the movement.

Hope FCU in Jackson, Mississippi, with $188 million in assets, is celebrating International Credit Union Day all week by encouraging family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers to become credit union members, or to learn more about how credit unions can benefit them.

In Kansas, credit unions are carrying on their tradition of surprising people in their local communities with special events today. Called "Make a Difference" events, credit unions will announce locations via Twitter and Facebook for special happenings around their communities that will be full of surprises, according to the Kansas Credit Union Association.

The World Council of Credit Unions is encouraging credit unions this year to celebrate by raising funds for causes supported by the movement.

Many credit unions are accomplishing this by participating in the Credit Unions for Kids "Shop for Miracles" Day, a fundraising program that supports Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through donations made by credit unions for each time a member uses their credit or debit cards. 

In many cases today, credit unions will celebrate simply by hosting small get-togethers at their branches.

For example, at $614 million-asset Consumers CU in Round Lake Beach, Illinois, officers, directors, managers and staff will be on hand to greet members and the general public. Those who visit will be able to enjoy a cup of coffee, a donut or a cookie, or receive a gift, according to the credit union. 

Many likely will share their celebratory events and experiences today through social media as well. When posting onto Facebook or Twitter, or when searching for International Credit Union Day social media posts, use the hashtag #ICUDay.


U.S. agriculture co-ops set record for annual sales, income

ag-farm-500 934f2Since 1930, co-ops across the U.S. have convened every October to celebrate the cooperative movement's history and economic impact on communities nationwide. This year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) marked the launch of Co-op Month by announcing milestones set by agriculture co-ops nationwide: 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the nation's farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives set a new sales record in 2013, with total business volume of more than $246 billion. That surpasses the previous record, set in 2012, by $8 billion, a 4 percent gain. U.S. co-ops also enjoyed robust job growth over the previous year.

This third consecutive year of record sales by ag cooperatives reflects increased sales in the overall farm economy in 2013. U.S. crop production and livestock sales both increased 6 percent in 2013, while production input (farm supply) sales increased 2 percent.

"These sales and net income records for ag cooperatives, combined with strong gains in employees for 2013, underscore the strength and productivity of the nation's farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives. These co-ops play a vital and growing role in the nation's economy," Vilsack said.

Secretary Vilsack made the announcement to mark the start of National Co-op Month in October. He also signed a Co-op Month proclamation that salutes the nation's entire cooperative business sector, which includes about 30,000 co-ops. In addition to agriculture, the nation's co-ops play a major role in electricity and telecommunications services, credit and financial services, housing and in many other sectors of the economy.

Ag co-ops also enjoyed record net income (before taxes) of $6.2 billion, besting the previous high of $6.1 billion, set in 2012. Co-op income is either reinvested in the co-op for needed improvements or returned to the member-owners. It then circulates in local communities.

The number of full-time employees working for ag co-ops climbed by almost 7,000 in 2013, to 136,000, up 5 percent from 2012. Counting seasonal employees, ag co-ops employ 191,000 people.

In addition to marketing and processing their members' crops and livestock, co-ops are also major players in the farm supply market. Co-op sales of petroleum, feed, seed and crop protectants were all up in 2013. Fertilizer sales declined, the only major farm supply to see sales drop in 2013.

With grain and oilseed prices generally lower in 2014, it appears unlikely that co-ops will set a fourth consecutive sales record when the results are tallied next year. However, livestock, poultry and dairy producers and their co-ops will benefit from lower feed costs, which should offset at least some of the decline in revenue from grain and oilseed sales.

While 33 ag cooperatives recorded more than $1 billion in sales in 2013, 33 percent (726 co-ops) had less than $5 million in sales.

The value of cooperative assets fell in 2013 by almost $1 billion, with liabilities decreasing by $5.3 billion and owner equity gaining $4.5 billion. Equity capital still remains low but is clearly showing an upward trend, with a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

Patronage income (refunds from other cooperatives due to sales between cooperatives) increased by almost 33 percent, to $1.2 billion, up from $900 million in 2012.

U.S. farm numbers remained about the same in 2013 as in 2012, with USDA counting 2.1 million in both years. There are now 2,186 farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives, down from 2,236 in 2012. Mergers account for most of the drop, resulting in larger cooperatives.

Producers held 2 million memberships in cooperatives in 2013, down about 7 percent from 2012. The number of cooperative memberships is slightly less than the number of U.S. farms, but this does not mean that every producer is a member of an agricultural cooperative. Previous studies have found that many farmers and ranchers are members of up to three cooperatives, so farm numbers and cooperative memberships are not strictly comparable.


Subcategories

  • 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.

    PARTNERSHIP WITH FREELANCERS UNION
    COOPERATIVE BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS (CBA'S)
    OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH CooperationWorks AND THE COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT CENTERS
    LINKS TO OTHER COOPERATIVE ORGANIZATIONS
    REGIONAL FARMERS MARKET/USDA RCDG GRANT
  • Advocacy PR
  • International Development PR
  • CBJ - PR

Services

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.

Webinars

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

Webinars

NCBA CLUSA Takes Food for Progress Success Story to Capitol Hill and USDA

(WASHINGTON, DC)—This week, NCBA CLUSA’s Chief of Party for Uganda, Gretchen Villegas, met with key leadership on Capitol Hill to share the success of the Uganda Conservation Farming Initiative funded by United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food for Progress program currently being implemented by NCBA CLUSA in Northern Uganda. Ms. Villegas was accompanied by NCBA CLUSA leadership; President and CEO Mike Beall, CLUSA International Chief Operating Officer Amy Coughenour Betancourt, and vice president of Advocacy R.L. Condra.    “This program is vitally important to farmers in Uganda,” said Villegas. “Providing local Ugandan farmers access to this training in conservation agriculture has benefitted more than just the farmers and their households, it benefits the community as a whole and provides a measure of food security and stability in the region.”   Through this program, NCBA CLUSA is training 60,000 farmers on the proper implementation of conservation farming techniques. Within three years, following proper implementation, Ugandan farmers can increase their crop yields by over 100 percent and are now able to support their families. The delegation met with key Congressional players that oversee International development programs funded by government agencies including USDA. They shared the successful outcomes of the project and requested continued support for the program.    The visit included conversations with T.A. Hawks, Staff Director and Taylor Nicholas, both senior staff serving on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees and authorizes the USDA Food for Progress program. Both Hawks and Nicholas work for Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) who is Ranking Member on the Committee. Additionally, they met with Ned Michalek, Chief of Staff to Congressman Eliot Engel who is Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.   An overview of the project and its progress was presented at USDA to Food for Development Branch Chief Nicola Sakhleh and his staff from partner and funding agency, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.    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 15 countries.   ###

NCBA CLUSA Takes Food for Progress Success Story to Capitol Hill and USDA

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

SENATOR BEGICH SUPPORTS CREDIT UNION TAX EXEMPTION

  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.  

SENATOR BEGICH SUPPORTS CREDIT UNION TAX EXEMPTION

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 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.



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