Democracy and Peace | November 4, 2019

One hundred demonstrations of co-op power

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Nov. 4, 2019 – The ranks of cooperatives include household names like ACE Hardware, ShopRite, Associated Press, Sunkist and Ocean Spray. Co-ops span agriculture, finance, energy and healthcare businesses that are owned by and operated for the benefit of their members.

The structure is relevant as developed economies like the U.S. grapple with growing wealth and power gaps.

The annual tally by National Cooperative Bank found the top 100 U.S.-based cooperatives raked in a combined $222 billion in revenues in 2018, up from $214 billion in 2017. The bank, which focuses on serving co-ops, has $75 billion in assets under management and, yes, itself is a co-op.

Some takeaways from the NCB Co-op 100:

Ag rules 

The top revenue-generator was CHS Inc., an Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota-based agribusiness owned by farmers and ranchers that reported $32.7 billion in sales last year. That’s more than double the revenue of the next two largest coops, also in agriculture: Land O’ Lakes ($14.9B) and Dairy Farmers of America ($13.6B) Accelerating co-op businesses to expand ownership for workers and customers

Community-owned energy

Co-ops have long helped rural areas access energy and communications in areas without the density to attract for-profit enterprises. Roughly a quarter of the top 100 co-ops are provide energy and communications. The proliferation of local, distributed, community-based renewables and broadband systems gives the model new relevance. Accelerating co-op businesses to expand ownership for workers and customers

Gender imbalance 

Of the top 100, just 5 are run by women.