Cooperatives & Purchasing
Farming cooperatives are formed by groups of farmers to help solidify their market strength in multiple ways. As members of a business collective, farmers benefit from the group operations, purchasing, marketing and processing of their farm products.
Greater than the sum of its parts.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, there are three primary principles that uniquely characterize a cooperative organization:
The User-Owned Principle: The people who own and finance the cooperative are those who use the cooperative.
The User-Control Principle: The people who control the cooperative are those who use the cooperative. They democratically elect a board of directors. The board sets the overall operating policies, approves the annual budget, oversees its operation, and distributes the benefits derived from use of the cooperative to members. The board also hires professional management to handle the day-to-day operations.
The User-Benefit Principle: The cooperative's sole purpose is to provide and distribute benefits to its users on the basis of their use. While the goal of agricultural cooperatives is not to generate a return on investment, they, like all businesses, must cover costs and generate capital to cover expansion and unforeseen emergencies.
Educate. Empower. Engage.
Modern agricultural cooperatives, regardless of size, are an important part of the world-wide food marketplace. The mission of cooperatives, large and small, however, always remains the same--to serve its members. GRRO has created two cooperatives of 40+ small farms in both urban and rural communities that have grown into thriving community assets. SOWFA, The Southern Organization of Women in Farming and Agriculture, is a tax-exempt cooperative dedicated to fostering and engaging women in the industry, helping to identify resources, training, and support systems to this growing group of non-traditional farmers. The Southern Sustainable Initiative, SSI, is a for-profit entity that focuses on economic development for our member farms, and by extension, our rural communities. SSI functions as a purchaser/seller for its member farms. This rural cooperative also functions as a resource for community non-profit organizations, offering them affordable access to healthy, locally grown and processed foods for purchase and distribution to their consumers.