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October is Co-op Month across US

These businesses are vital to rural areas

There are various types of businesses that operate as cooperatives, but according to the National Cooperative Business Association they all are owned and democratically controlled by their members and are designed to serve those members. The members typically are the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are 40,000 co-ops of all types in the country. Collectively, they pay out some $25 billion a year in wages.

Here in Iowa, we are most familiar with the co-ops that run grain elevators and provide fuel and other supplies to farmers.

The NCBA estimates that about 30 percent of farmers’ products in the United States are marketed through 3,100 farmer-owned cooperatives.

The nation’s nearly 850 electric cooperatives provide electricity to 42 million people in 47 states.

October is a time to pay tribute to those businesses and all other co-ops. That’s because October is National Co-op Month. It is described as an annual opportunity to raise awareness of a trusted, proven way to do business and build communities.

A co-op month has been marked since since 1948, when Minnesota was the first state to proclaim it. It became a nationally recognized event in 1964, when U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman proclaimed October as National Co-Op Month.

The theme of this year’s month is is Co-ops Commit: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion.

Organizers of the commemoration say the theme highlights how co-ops are creating diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces and boards. They say the theme also highlights how co-ops can better meet the needs of communities that have been excluded from economic participation and advancement.

Cooperatives across America celebrate October as National Co-op Month. During this month they undertake various activities designed to increase awareness of the role and accomplishments of co-ops.

The Messenger applauds this worthwhile educational effort. The members of the many cooperatives throughout north central Iowa make important contributors to this region’s economic success.

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