Wheat Scoop: Converse with your coop during National Cooperative Month

Kansas Wheat

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Contact: Marsha Boswell, [email protected]

For audio version, visit kswheat.com.

“Just put on your boots and do it again,” was an apt sentiment a farmer recently expressed to Brandi Miller, president/CEO of the Kansas Cooperative Council, for how producers are dealing with weather concerns, delayed supply chains and trying to find help. But she wants to remind growers that they have more resources than their own grit and gumption, thanks to their local agricultural cooperatives, which are also working to tackle these unprecedented concerns.

“Given the challenges agriculture has faced in the last two years, we’ve been in this place that nobody has experienced before,” Miller said. “We’ve obviously been through droughts before — that’s not new — but not compounded with some of the residual supply chain issues and labor challenges.”

Miller and her team are taking to the road this October to visit with cooperatives and their members across the state as part of National Cooperative Month, proclaimed this year by both Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Kansas Governor Laura Kelly. Drawing a member’s name from a hat, the Kansas Cooperative Council is treating one cooperative in each of its four districts to lunch. Doing so has allowed them to dig into how agricultural cooperatives are working to address both today’s issues and tomorrow’s.

“It’s been great because it gives us a chance to sit down not just with the people that we usually interact with — which is usually the CEO or the manager — but also a lot of employees,” she said, noting that with this year’s drought and start-stop fall harvest there has been more time for those discussions. “We’ve had some great conversations with folks talking about their challenges, what we need to be watching going into the next legislative session and what opportunities there are to support our members better.”

According to the Kansas Cooperative Council, Kansas is home to more than 575 cooperative locations serving more than 116,000 members and employing more than 5,000 people. The local co-op is where farmers deliver and store their grain, market their crops, obtain field recommendations and purchase inputs. Agricultural cooperatives also return earnings to their members, known as patronage.

Outside of this now-standard set of services, cooperatives provide credit, insurance, electric service, health care, housing, telephone services and even childcare. Cooperatives also support the health of local economies by creating jobs, paying property taxes and income taxes and giving to charity.

Each October since the 1930s, the American agriculture industry has expressed appreciation for these member-owned, member-controlled businesses during National Co-Op Month. In addition to touring the state, Kansas Cooperative Council is also having a Co-op Month photo contest this month; entries are due by October 25. To enter or learn more about the work of cooperatives in Kansas, visit the organization’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KansasCooperativeCouncil.

“I always try to encourage folks to learn about what their cooperatives are doing in their communities,” Miller said. “A common theme that cooperatives have is that they care about the communities they serve. It’s what I love working in this environment because these are businesses that support communities all year long, not just for the month of October.”
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Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat

 

Gov. Laura Kelly signed the proclamation declaring October to be Co-p Month in Kansas. (Photo courtesy of Kansas Cooperative Council’s Facebook)

 

 

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