The first cooperative was formed in 1844 in Rochdale, England by a group of weavers. The Rochdale Pioneers founded their cooperative on valued principles and today all cooperatives are guided by those same ideas.
- Open Membership – anyone who wants to become a member is eligible.
- Democratic Control – members control the direction of the co-op as they elect board members to represent them
- Limited Returns on Investment – returns are limited to keep control in the hands of the users
- Patronage Refunds – earnings are returned to members in proportion to the amount of business done with the cooperative
- Continuing Cooperative Education – a duty to educate members and the general public about the cooperative form of business
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives – working together is a major strength of cooperatives
- Concern for Community – while focusing on members’ needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities
Cooperatives are present in all facets of our lives. A few cooperatives with familiar names are Prairie Farms, Sunkist, Blue Diamond Almonds, Ocean Spray, Sun Maid Raisins, C & H Sugar, Land O’Lakes, and Welch’s.
Agricultural cooperatives partner with producers to improve productivity and offer premium products and services. Agricultural cooperatives perform at a level comparable to large corporations but do so while maintaining a close personal relationship with their customers and improving the local economy. Co-ops proudly deliver value to their community and their members.