University of Wisconsin Center for Wisconsin Rural Cooperatives, November/December 1997, pp. 33
Published by the Rural Business and Cooperative Development Service 

USDA Funds 11 Co-op Development Centers


    Eight existing and three new centers for cooperative development have been funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the rural Cooperative Development Grant program. Funding for 11 projects totals $1.7 million.

    The program, administered by USDA's Rural Business-Cooperative Service, provides funding for nonprofit cooperatives and institutes of higher learning to operate centers for cooperative development. These centers also provide technical assistance and other resources intended to support the cooperative form of business in rural area. Some of the centers also receive support from the National Cooperative Business Association.

    Fund recipients are:

  • The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Epes, Ala., which will organize produce marketing cooperatives, conduct comprehensive training programs for cooperative and credit union members and employees and assess the feasibility of value-added processing cooperatives for low-income, minority farmers in the southeastern United States.
  • Alaska Village Initiatives, Anchorage, Alaska, which will establish and operate the Alaska Cooperative Development Center as a means to provide existing and emerging rural cooperatives with a variety of management, marketing, finance and operational assistance.
  • The Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development, Morrilton, Ark., which will organize small sawmills into a flexible manufacturing network for greater efficiencies and added value to products. Agribusinesses and other rural businesses will be organized into a network for technology transfer and greater market access.
  • The University of California-Davis Center for Cooperatives, which will conduct an applied research project to enhance education and direct technical assistance to cooperatives as well as assess the feasibility of a strawberry marketing cooperative and organize a cooperative of Hmong (Southeast Asian refugee) farmers.
  • The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Foundation, Aurora, Colo., which will help beef producers explore cooperative marketing opportunities, work with small-scale goat ranchers to explore the feasibility of a cooperative to produce and market fete cheese and strengthen existing value-added cooperatives.
  • The Cooperative Development Institute, Greenfield, Mass., which will provide business planning and organizing for a community-based energy purchasing cooperatives and a regional service cooperative to support other cooperatives, as well as to continue conducting cooperative leadership training programs.
  • The University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Md., which will establish a center to develop and deliver a range of technical assistance actvities to benefit agricultural-based cooperatives on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
  • The Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, Jackson, Miss., which will establish and operate a center to assist cooperatives through the development of business plans and by evaluating marketing and processing strategies. It will also assist co-ops by performing feasibility analysis and other developmental assistance.
  • The North Dakota Association of Rural Cooperatives, Mandan, N.D., which will continue work with value-added cooperatives for cattle ranchers and vegetable growers and provide technical assistance to rural electric and telephone cooperatives in a statewide effort to develop a fiber optic network.
  • The Puget Sound Development Foundation, Seattle, Wash., which will assist Native American geoduck clam harvesters and hybrid poplar growers in forming cooperatives to market their products and also to help organize a value-added cooperative food processing center for livestock and produce on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands.
  • The Cooperative Development Services and the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives at Madison, which will assess the feasibility of an agri-forestry cooperative that produces fast-growing hybrid poplars, organize a cooperative of oilseed producers to market rapeseed for industrial users and assess the feasibility of alternative livestock cooperatives.

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