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Federation of Southern Cooperatives Honors Lifetime Achievement of Civil Rights Leader and Activist, Reverend C. T. Vivian

Federation 46th Anniversary 350x350On Friday, August 16, 2013 the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund held their 12th Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner and 46th Anniversary Celebration. Serving as Honorary Chairman for the 46th Annual Celebration Activities was NCBA CLUSA board member, William J. Nelson, vice president of Corporate Citizenship for CHS Inc. and president of the CHS Foundation. Also in attendance from NCBA CLUSA were Wilson Beebe, board chair and president of Thanexus, Inc.; Michael Beall, president and CEO; R.L. Condra, vice president of advocacy; and Tom Decker, director of domestic cooperative development.

Being honored as the 2013 recipient of the Estelle Witherspoon Lifetime Achievement Award was The Reverend C. T. Vivian. Reverend Vivian’s accomplishments are far too numerous to mention here, but he is best known for his work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While serving with Dr. King he was national director of affiliates and strategist for every Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.) organization. His work in Birmingham helped win the Civil Rights Bill; in Selma, the Voting Rights Bill; and he was deeply involved in other movements in Nashville, TN; Danville, VA; St. Augustine, FL; and Chicago, IL. Dr. Vivian won his first non-violent direct action movement in 1947 opening restaurants in Peoria, IL.

The Federation’s 46th Annual meeting was held in Epes, Alabama at the Rural Training and Research Center. The two-day meeting included a number of workshops and plenaries focusing on the ongoing Farm Bill negotiations, cooperative and rural development programs, and an update from USDA.

NCBA CLUSA is proud of its longtime association and collaboration with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund and looks forward to supporting the organization in its very important work. Please join us in congratulating The Reverend C. T. Vivian, as well as the Federation’s executive director Ralph Paige and director of field operations Cornelius Blanding, both of whom are NCBA CLUSA board members.

Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Heads to Zambia for Second Assignment

Steve Laible ZambiaNCBA CLUSA is pleased to host Steve Laible on his second Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer assignment in Zambia. Mr. Laible will be working with a Zambian organization called the Agricultural Commodities Marketing Program (ACOMAP) to help develop their business management skills. Mr. Laible’s first assignment in 2012 focused on introducing improved peanut butter production techniques to the farmers ACOMAP serves. Farmer-to-Farmer Program Manager Eric Wallace said, “We’re very excited to be hosting Steve on another Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer assignment. Steve’s analytical mind and generous heart make him a real asset to our program.”

Along with his wife Nancy, Mr. Laible is the founder and director of Education and Technology (EAT) centers in Bangladesh, India and Vietnam. The EAT center initiative is designed to help people use post- harvest processing technologies provided by NCBA CLUSA partner organization Compatible Technology International to improve their food security and nutrition, mainly through production of peanut butter.

Mr. Laible lives in New Brighton, Minnesota. Steve’s volunteer assignment is made possible through the generous support of USAID and ACDI/VOCA.

Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer Recounts Assignment in Zambia

NCBA CLUSA had the opportunity to chat with Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Brittany Jablonsky, a member of NCBA CLUSA’s Board of Directors and Director of Advocacy Communications with National Farmers Union, following her assignment in Zambia. She recounts her experience with fellow volunteer Ellen Linderman, a senior member of the North Dakota Farmers Union. The two returned in July 2013 from a volunteer assignment working with the Chipata District Farmers Association and the Community Oriented Development Program to improve the marketing of their farmer members’ crops. The Chipata District Farmers Association (CDFA) recently registered as a cooperative in Zambia, with the help of a previous Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer and National Farmers Union Board member. 

What was your overall impression of the experience? Do you think the Farmer-to-Farmer program is a good idea?

Absolutely! I think it is just as a valuable for U.S. farmers as it is for farmers in the developing world because now you have two more people who can be advocates here in the U.S. and really have a much better understanding of some of the challenges that the developing world faces. I was always interested in these issues but I didn’t know much about them and certainly wasn’t able to talk about them from a firsthand perspective.

You said you grew up on a farm?

I did. I grew up on a farm in North Dakota. We had wheat and beef cattle. It was a very different scale and that is the thing that was so interesting; farmers everywhere face the same issues: risk management problems, credit problems, difficulty accessing markets, and determining which markets are most appropriate and will be the most lucrative. Those are challenges farmers everywhere face no matter where you are.

From that perspective, why did you personally decide to do this?

I was really interested in seeing how the exact opposite kind of agriculture from our U.S. production really worked on a very fundamental level and the relationship with the global system. We (National Farmers Union) work a lot on policy issues that are mostly domestic, but our food system is global. You hear things about how the policies in one country impacts another but you don’t get firsthand knowledge of that, it’s very anecdotal and hard to understand.

We learned a lot from the farmers about how the system works, the government’s role in agriculture, and how they interact with neighboring countries via exports. I got a much better understanding of how the system works together.

F2F Zambia Jablonsky Linderman 350x350Ellen Linderman (left) and Brittany Jablonsky (right) on assigment in ZambiaWhat was your assignment on this trip?

We were given marketing assignments. We talked with local staff beforehand to learn what the best information was that we could convey while we were there. We mostly covered very basic marketing concepts, talking about what products bring you the most money in the market, what specific markets are most lucrative for certain products, and getting folks to start thinking about the idea of profit and record keeping as a necessary way of understanding or knowing what the best things are to continue or expand into new markets. We also talked about marketing concepts like identifying new customers, providing the customers with what they want and how to meet some of those needs.

Did you find it difficult to do the teaching?

Absolutely, I didn’t know how to exactly fill their needs; I didn’t want to be too simplistic but I also didn’t know what level the farmers were at and wanted to be easy to understand. I just wanted it to be useful for them in some way. That was a bit challenging but overall everyone was interested. We typically taught in classrooms to 15-30 people but sometimes we were outside, one class was outside under a fig tree in the middle of a village with pigs and chickens and goats roaming around us – it was pretty amazing! 

What kind of farms did you see? How was the product?

It was astonishing to me how many different things they were growing. They had very diversified operations. We would start every session with the farmers listing some of the things that they grow and it was many things. It’s good because you can access different markets if one is not doing well. Some of the things they were growing they don’t get a lot of money for, so why don’t you not grow that and grow something else. What we learned is that people grow what their neighbors grow without a lot of thought put into the question of ‘Can I really make money off of this?’

Throughout all the conversations that you had and trainings that you led, what did you see was the most common challenge that the farmers face?

Transportation is a huge challenge and just the lack of mechanization, the time it takes to do things really limits your ability to actually harvest the things that you grow and plant everything. Chipata may be a more lucrative market than some of the local villages but if you’re several kilometers away it is incredibly time consuming to get products to market.

Did you encounter a lot of gender issues and how were you perceived as a woman going there and teaching?

Some of the farmers who we met with who are leaders in CDFA in particular were women. That was  really encouraging. I was surprised in a way to see that some of the leaders were women. In a lot of our meetings the men and women sat separately and had their own little conversations going on but both were very much engaged. It seemed to me that the people who were really engaged in the meeting, regardless of gender, were more educated; they were asking questions that were technical in nature, a little more specific, they knew what to ask compared to the farmers that weren’t as educated who didn’t interact as much.

It was very important that Ellen in particular was able to be a part of the experience because she herself is a leader in her organization here in the U.S. and she and her husband farm together, she does all the farm labor just as much as he does. We passed around pictures of our farms here in the U.S. and one is of Ellen driving the combine and some of the farmers didn’t believe it was her. She told them that this is very much part of what she does on the farm and that was important just so people know women are out in the field doing this work.

On a more personal note, what do you feel impressed you the most?

The thing that I enjoyed the most was the meeting we had outside. I loved that we were right in the middle of the village, everyone’s houses were around us so people were welcoming you into their homes in a way and into their neighborhood. Everyone was so welcoming the entire trip. At the end of that meeting the farmers there sang us a song in appreciation. I just really loved that they sang us a song and asked us to come dance with them. You made these instant friends and that was awesome.

All in all, what was the largest takeaway that you had from this whole experience?

Two things, one is just that the bulk of the issues they face are what we faced in the U.S. 100 years ago, trying to scale up, addressing mechanization and market access issues. Co-ops are a huge part of that. National Farmers Union was founded in 1902 and started its first co-op in 1906 and that really paved the way for the farmer-owned movements and provided some great economic benefits for our members and to farmers all over the country. I see the same issues and the same need, it would be interesting to be able to see how things change in the next 50 years.

The other thing is just how important education is. A lot of the challenges that farmers in Zambia face could be solved or alleviated through greater education opportunities, both formal and informal. The government has a role in encouraging greater education, there’s a need for a much greater effort.

So now that you’ve had this experience, what are your thoughts on the Farmer-to-Farmer program?

I think it is great. It was an incredibly valuable experience. It obviously has its limitations; we had such a small amount of time with every group that was very challenging. It would be nice to do an ongoing project with the same group of farmers to be able to do a series of workshops that they needed and really be able to see some of the impacts of the trainings. All in all I thought it was an incredible opportunity and an incredible program.

Who would you recommend to go on a trip like this?

I would say anyone who is interested in global issues and the intersection of U.S. agriculture with farmers across the world. You have to have a flexible personality and be able to adapt to the situation because we didn’t know a lot about the farmers we would be meeting with when we got there. Farmers in the U.S. have an incredible amount of knowledge and can use their experiences finding markets and  dealing with storage issues, all of those things are the perfect analogy for issues that the farmers in Zambia were facing just on a different scale. 

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Workplace Democracy Conference Examines Strategies to Increase Growth

ECWD Philadelphia 2013By Tom Decker, Director of Domestic Cooperative Development, NCBA CLUSA

“Growing our Cooperatives, Growing our Communities” was the theme of the 2013 Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy held in Philadelphia, PA on the campus of Drexel University in late July. Many representatives attended the conference from worker, food, and other cooperative sectors. The conference also hosted values-based organizations that are not cooperatives and associations representing cooperatives.

The well-attended sessions examined strategies that seek to increase the growth in cooperatives and the communities they serve, while never losing sight of a democratic structure and core cooperative values. Attendees were challenged to “take time to explore how to best thrive – as individual members, as cooperatives, as communities and as a movement. How we can help each other understand just what it means to grow sustainable democratic workplaces.”

Speakers included a keynote address by Deborah Frieze, the co-founder and current director of the Boston Impact Initiative. Other speakers were; Rodney North from Equal Exchange); NCBA CLUSA Board Member, Esteban Kelly of the Mariposa Food Cooperative; Sally Stevens of the New Orleans Cooperative Development Project; David Woo of Weavers Way Food Cooperative; Peter Frank of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA); Ed Whitfield of the Fund for Democratic Communities; and Ellen Quinn of the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF).

NCBA CLUSA was honored to serve as one of the conference sponsors and looks forward to the continued success of worker cooperatives and the rising wave of growth this sector is experiencing.

NCBA CLUSA and Partners to Establish Regional Farmers Market in the Mississippi Delta

Marks Ribbon CuttingBy Patricia Brownell Sterner, COO, National Cooperative Business Association

Seven years ago Shreveport Federal Credit Union opened a branch in Marks, Mississippi to expand their services to the broader community in the Mississippi Delta region. The credit union’s leadership embraced their unique position as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and began building alliances with other cooperative organizations with a focus on using their collective resources to address the many needs and opportunities of the region.

The credit union’s initial work led them to discussions about the establishment of a regional farmers’ market located in Marks, Mississippi. Joining with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the primary cooperative development expert in the rural south, Shreveport FCU worked with local community leaders to further explore opportunities for community engagement.

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 resulting consensus has been the establishment of the Delta Regional Market as a means to overcome these challenges by providing the venue for farmers, artisans, and others to bring items to market inexpensively, allowing them to realize the financial benefits resulting from their labors and creativity. 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.

Partnering with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and NCBA CLUSA, Shreveport FCU recently hosted a daylong community planning session in Marks, Mississippi to build out the concept for the market, engage community support, and set in motion the plans to launch the market by the end of this calendar year.

Marks Opening GroupFrom left to right: Dr. Birdex Copeland, Board Chairman, Shreveport Federal Credit Union; Ben Burkett, local Mississippi farmer; Patricia Brownell Sterner, COO, National Cooperative Business Association; Helen Godfrey-Smith, President and CEO, Shreveport Federal Credit UnionLed by Mrs. Helen Godfrey-Smith, CEO of Shreveport Federal Credit Union, and Dr. Birdex Copeland, the credit union’s Chairman of the Board, the group made a visit to the proposed site for the Market in the old Barth Manufacturing Building near the southern edge of Marks, MS.  This spot is ideal because it is highly visible from the main highway and directions are simple from as far away as Memphis TN or other area towns. Climate control equipped with heating for the fall and winter and air-conditioning for the spring and summer, the Market can be open year round, which will 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.

As Mrs. Godfrey-Smith said during the community meeting “We see this as a glimmer of hope for the region and thus a movement toward a revived Delta Spirit.”

 

Our Work

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.

International Development

Following World War II, NCBA became involved in the promotion of the spirit of cooperation internationally, through its CLUSA International Program.  NCBA’s CLUSA International Program’s history includes work on hundred projects in more than 100 countries.  Early in our history, NCBA’s CLUSA International Program focused primarily on creating and strengthening cooperative businesses overseas, but in recent decades, we have broadened our focus to work with groups and group-enterprises in many different sectors to utilize their newly found strength as a group to improve its members’ lives. CLUSA works in the following sectors: Cooperative Development, Agriculture and Food Security, Democracy and Governance, Natural Resource Management (NRM), Community-Based Health. CLUSA’s comparative advantage stems from the organization of effective grassroots institutions, through the expert guidance of our professional staff empowering the groups to create change, be they agricultural cooperatives, village health committees, civil society organizations, or resource management committees, to name just a few.  CLUSA’s work in institutional capacity building and technical expertise provides an invaluable mechanism to achieve sustainable results, leading to long term positive change for people all over the world. Cooperative Development Program Agriculture and Food Security Democracy and Governance Natural Resource Management Community-Based Health Volunteer for Farmer-to-Farmer

International Development

Webinars

Upcoming NCBA CLUSA Webinars December 11, 2013: Utilizing Reverse Auctions to Maximize Your Co-op ROIIn today’s economy, cooperatives across all sectors are aggressively pursuing new opportunities to reduce costs and to incur huge savings in their buying efforts.   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
Anthony La Creta

Anthony La Creta

Chief Financial and Administrative Officer

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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