NCERA210: Improving the management and effectiveness of cooperatively owned business organizations

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

NCERA210: Improving the management and effectiveness of cooperatively owned business organizations

Duration: 10/01/2013 to 09/30/2018

Administrative Advisor(s):


NIFA Reps:


Statement of Issues and Justification

Agriculture continues to change rapidly, creating challenges for farmers and residents of rural communities. Farm and population numbers are falling in rural America and concentration in all sub-sectors of agriculture is increasing. Cooperatives are an important means by which producers can remain competitive in an increasingly industrialized agricultural economy. In addition to their traditional role in providing agricultural inputs, marketing agricultural products and coordinating farm production activities, new cooperatives allow producers to participate in value-added processing. Because they allow producers to maintain ownership and a voice in the decision-making process, effectively managed cooperatives provide a way for improving the profitability, viability and diversification of family-owned farming operations.

Together with the decline in farm numbers and rural population, there has been a loss of business in rural communities. This was identified as a major obstacle to rural development when this committee was organized in 1998, and it remains an important issue today. Agricultural cooperatives are key contributors to the economic base of rural communities. Cooperatively organized businesses that provide credit, utilities and other services are important components of the rural infrastructure. Recent developments such as cooperatively organized ambulance services and road maintenance services demonstrate the potential for applying the cooperative business model to the infrastructure challenges of rural communities.

Across the United States and Canada, many university and government researchers have a primary or secondary focus on cooperatives. Recent attendance at NCERA-210 annual meetings has ranged between 45-50 individuals representing land grant university specialists, industry representatives from CHS, Inc., Land OLakes, CoBank, and other national cooperatives, local cooperative managers and directors, cooperative industry associations and representation from the government sector. Recent meetings have also included university faculty from western Canadian provinces, providing international linkages in todays global market place. NCERA-210 conducted an email survey in 2010 to update its listserv. Seventy one individuals indicated that they were actively involved in cooperative activities and wished to remain on the information list. These participants included 51 university personnel representing 33 states, 5 industry representatives and two representatives of cooperative industry associations. Over half of the university personnel who responded to the email survey indicated that they were involved in collaborative activities that crossed state and regional boundaries, both formal and informal.

The establishment of NCERA 210 has greatly facilitated collaborative research amongst NCERA 210 members. During 2011 NCERA-210 members have collaborated in a national study of critical issues facing cooperatives. The effort led to 6 peer reviewed research articles, a national webinar and a pre-conference workshop at a major cooperative industry conference. Over 150 cooperative managers and directors attended the pre-conference workshop. The research project leader, a NCERA-210 member, presented the results to Senate and House staff members during seminars in Washington D.C. in April 2012.

Other research efforts include a national study of the economic impact of the cooperative business sector, a cooperative text book, board of director educational material, international cooperative study tours, case studies of successful value added cooperatives and many other multi-state research projects. New collaborative projects continue to be developed. The Journal of Cooperatives, which is one of the major peer reviewed research publications focusing on the cooperative business model, is hosted on the NCERA-210 web site. The current editor of the Journal of Cooperatives is a NCERA-210 member and the committee members are well represented in submitted and published articles.

NCERA-210 members also have good working relationships with cooperatives, a fact that enhances the relevance and the quick dissemination and application of their work. Representatives from 12 cooperatives organizations served on the expert panel for the first stage of the critical issues research project. In addition to the industry members serving on the panel, the project was supported by the Council on Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (C-FARE) USDA, the CHS Foundation, the Farm Credit Council and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. NCREA-210 annual meetings coincide with annual Farmer Cooperatives meetings, so as to facilitate interaction among researchers and individuals from industry. These meetings average more than 150 managers, directors, and service providers each year and represent a valuable forum for faculty to interact with industry. Many NCERA 210 members serve on the planning activity for this program. These meetings have been considered of utmost benefit for both industry representatives and researchers. Members are also making use of the NCERA 210 web page and the list serve to communicate with each other. Members are actively communicating the results of their research beyond the committee. NCERA 210 members presented cooperative-related research results at over 40 professional meetings and over 50 extension presentations.

NCERA-210 is also working to effectively disseminate research results. The committee works closely with the Cooperative Community of Practice in eXtension which was launched in 2010. The leadership team of the eXtension Cooperative COP are all NCERA-210 members. NCERA-210 members have been active in developing content for the Cooperative COP. The on-going linkage between NCERA-210 and the Cooperative COP has created and effective vehicle to develop and communicate research based information, consistent with the Land Grant mission.

The committees recent research project investigating critical issues facing cooperatives provides an example of the committees effectiveness in disseminating research results. The 6 research articles developed during the project were accessed 2,600 times during the first four months of publication. Individuals in 75 separate sites across the continental U.S., Hawaii and Europe participated in the webinar which was archived on the Cooperative COP and continues to be accessed. The research results were presented at annual meetings of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the National Association of State Cooperative Councils, and at meetings of the Mid-America Cooperative Council, the Texas Agricultural Cooperative Councils, the Oklahoma Agricultural Cooperative Council and the Kansas Agricultural Cooperative Council. Over 250 cooperative leaders attended these state level meetings and had the chance to incorporate the results in their strategic planning process.

In addition to this recent effort, NCERA-210 members have a long history of creating and publishing applied research that is accessible to cooperative managers and board members. A review of publications on the NCERA-210 web site includes papers on equity management, farm supply inventory management, structural arrangements for machinery cooperatives, feasibility of cooperative wineries, cooperative structures for multifamily rural housing, optimal structures for fertilizer warehousing, feasibility of forestry cooperatives, structures for rural water cooperatives and a host of other topics. These research publications are frequently accessed by industry participants and compliment the more theoretical and basic research efforts which are also an important outcome of the committees efforts.

Objectives

  1. The overall objective of NCERA-210 is to promote and coordinate timely research on cooperatively owned business organizations for agricultural marketing, agricultural input supply, vertical coordination through value added processing, and rural services.
  2. Provide annual opportunities for interaction between and among academics, cooperative management, cooperative boards of directors, and government researchers by conducting an annual research forum, conducting periodic webinars, and involvement with the Cooperatives Community of Practice on eXtension. These efforts will communicate ongoing research on cooperatives, identifying research issues, organizing research teams and extend completed research to the broader cooperative community.
  3. Encourage and support research on the cooperative businessC model including interdisciplinary by agricultural economists, rural sociologists and business college faculty. Interaction will be encouraged through publication and support of the Journal of Cooperatives, invitations to annual forums, communication of the NCERA-210 web page and listserve, interaction with the Cooperatives Community of Practice on eXtension, participation in cooperative research projects and other methods.
  4. Foster communication and coordination among participants through the NCERA-210 web page and electronic listserve, periodic webinars, joint efforts with the Cooperative Community of Practice in eXtension and other methods.
  5. Coordinate with other national research projects, industry conferences and complementary groups such as WERA-72, NE-165, Farmer Cooperatives Conference, Cooperatives Community of Practice on eXtension, and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Procedures and Activities

(1) The development and participation in multi-state, multi-region research projects including multi-state grant projects, publication of journal articles, professional papers and other publications, the development and participation in organized symposium at professional meetings, the development and participating in webinars, and other multi-state research efforts.

(2) The organization and implementation of an annual two-day forum at which participants from academics, upper and middle management personnel from cooperatives, directors from cooperatives, and cooperative researchers in government focus on ongoing research on cooperatives, identify research issues, and organize research teams among the participants.

(3) Continued involvement of agricultural economists, and researchers from other related and complementary disciplines in cooperative issues, development, and problems as evidenced by their participation in annual forums, communication posted on the NCERA-210 web page and list serve, and participation in cooperative research projects.

(4) Maintain the NCERA 210 web page http://ncera.aae.wisc.edu/ that serves as an important vehicle for communication among the members and to industry. Continue to disseminate NCERA-210 information through the web site including selected papers presented at NCERA-210 annual forums, other committee publications, a calendar of committee events, and educational programs. The website will also provide current committee member research interests, ongoing research projects, and links to other research groups.

(5) Continue to support and facilitate the publication of the Journal of Cooperatives, an on-line, peer reviewed journal that provides a forum for original scholarly work on research, extension and teaching issues related to cooperatively owned business organizations and the cooperative business model

(6) Disseminate research results through coordination and support of the Cooperatives Community of Practice on eXtension, webinars, industry conferences, organized symposium at professional meetings, sharing information through web-pages and list servers, and the development of educational conferences co-sponsored by NCERA-210 members and industry partners.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • " The prioritization and development of research-based information which improves the efficiency and profitability of cooperatively owned business and advances the understanding of the cooperative business model through multi-state research projects, multi-state grant projects and other research efforts.
  • " Research-based information relating to cooperatively owned business and the cooperative business model will be created and disseminated through publication of journal articles, professional papers and other publications, development and participation in organized symposia at professional meetings, webinars, the Cooperatives Community of Practice on eXtension, industry conferences, the NCERA-210 web-page and list serve, and educational conferences co-sponsored by NCERA-210 members and industry partners. This information will improve the efficiency and profitability of existing cooperative businesses and enhance the success of new cooperative development
  • " Participants from academics, upper and middle management personnel from cooperatives, directors from cooperatives, and cooperative researchers in government will attend an annual two day forum where they will identify research issues, organize research teams, and present and discuss on-going research efforts
  • " Agricultural economists, applied economists, rural sociologists, faculty from business schools, and faculty in other related disciplines will benefit from a cross pollination of thought relating to cooperative issues, development, and problems as evidenced by their participation in annual forums, communication posted on the NCERA-210 web page and list serve, and participation in cooperative research projects.
  • " The NCERA 210 web page will be maintained creating an important vehicle for communication among the members and to industry and disseminating NCERA-210 information through the web site including selected papers presented at NCERA-210 annual forums, other committee publications, a calendar of committee events, and educational programs. The website will also provide current committee member research interests, ongoing research projects, and links to other research groups
  • The Journal of Cooperatives will continued to be published and serve as an important peer reviewed journal that provides a forum for original scholarly work on research, extension and teaching issues related to cooperatively owned business organizations and the cooperative business model The close coordination between the NCERA-210 committee and the Cooperatives Community of Practice on eXtension will enhance the effectiveness and prestige of the Cooperatives COP and serve as another linkage between NCERA-210 members and the cooperative industry.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

One of the primary objectives of the committee is to disseminate new and existing information to academic professionals and industry managers who work with cooperatively owned businesses. Information generated by the committee, including research papers presented at the annual meeting is made available as published proceedings and is available on the NCERA-210 web site. All of the grant proposals, and collaborative research projects supported by the committee to-date, have contained a strong educational component. The NCERA-210 annual meetings are deliberately planned to coincide with annual Farmer Cooperatives industry conference, so as to facilitate interaction among researchers and individuals from industry. NCERA 210 members present cooperative-related research results at professional meetings and extension presentations.

Organization/Governance

Governance: In accordance with the recommended standard governance for multistate coordinating committees for education/extension and research activities a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary are elected at the annual meeting. All officers are elected for at one year terms but the assumed progression is Secretary-Chair-Elect and Chair, which provides continuity. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Adviser and a CSREES Representative.

Literature Cited

Kenkel, P. and J. Park Theme Overview: Critical Issues for Agricultural Cooperatives Choices, Vol. 26 (3) October 2011

Current Issues in Strategy for Agricultural Cooperatives
Michael Boland, Julie Hogeland, and Greg McKee Choices, Vol. 26 (3) October 2011,
Current Challenges in Financing Agricultural Cooperatives

David Barton, Michael Boland, Fabio Chaddad, and Eldon Eversull, Choices, Vol. 26 (3) October 2011,
A Life-Cycle Perspective on Governing Cooperative Enterprises in Agriculture
Brent Hueth and Anne Reynolds, Choices, Vol. 26 (3) October 2011,

New Cooperative Development Issues
Brian M. Henehan, Dr. Shermain Hardesty, Madeline Shultz, and Dr. John Wells, Choices, Vol. 26 (3) October 2011,

Industry Leaders' Perspectives on Communicating the Cooperative Value Package
Jennifer Keeling Bond and Sanjib Bhuyan, Choices, Vol. 26 (3) October 2011,

Attachments

Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, NJ, NY, OH, SD, TX, WI

Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

North Dakota State University, Texas Tech University, University of Wisconsin - River Falls
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