In celebration and support of National Co-op Month, I wanted to share this article by California Department Food and Agriculture’s Secretary Karen Ross. In this article Secretary Ross explains the importance and value of co-ops. “Co-ops enable many small family farm operations to reach markets, direct research, and connect with consumers in ways they would not be able to do alone. The United Nations has said that, ‘Cooperatives are a reminder…that it’s possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.’ Our agricultural co-ops achieve both on a daily basis while making an invaluable contribution,” she wrote.
Co-ops are one of the oldest business models, but they are also among the most relevant, given consumer interest in healthier, whole foods. Especially today, consumers need to feel connected to the source of their food, which has inspired the farm to fork movement. Employees of co-ops see the higher purpose in working for farmers who are the producers of the food we market. Blue Diamond’s consistent 20 percent growth is a leading example of how a co-op can grow from selling commodities to becoming a global branded marketer of innovative food products. Over the course of Blue Diamond’s 105 years, it has leveraged an innovative spirit to protect the interests of its grower-members and with this power of partnership elevated the success of the entire almond industry. This is the power of a cooperative!