Factors that influenced the decision by dairy farmers to select cooperative milk handlers versus proprietary handlers were examined. In a 1989 survey, Tennessee dairy farmers were asked to indicate reasons that influenced their choice of milk handler, such as better price, and assured market, and better service. Characteristics of the dairy farmers were then compared between those who selected a specific reason and those who did not. Between service and an assured market were the most often cited reasons by cooperative members, and higher price and lower deductions were cited more often by nonmembers. Farmers who cited price as a reason tended to have larger dairy farms, be less diversified, and more indebted than those who did not cite price as a reason. Those who selected service as a reason had more dairying experience and were less indebted than those who did not select service.