Sustainability is in the soul of every good farmer and at the heart of co-op success.

Farmers have worked for generations to ensure their way of life is sustainable. They understand passing a farming business on to their children and grandchildren requires it to be profitable; the natural resources producing those profits have to be treated with respect; and that engaging both socially and economically with the communities around them is critical to their success.

 

America’s farmer-owned cooperatives, along with their members, have a sustainability story to tell. We invite you to explore this website to learn more about the important role farmer co-ops play in helping today’s farmers continue to operate in a sustainable manner.

A FIELD GUIDE FOR CO-OP SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS


A growing number of farmer cooperatives are actively working to establish new sustainability programs or refine existing programs within their respective businesses. NCFC and its Sustainability Working Group have created a Field Guide to support the work of co-ops in developing their own approaches to sustainability. The Field Guide describes the basic steps, processes, and considerations relevant to effective programs across the range of co-op business models. NCFC invites you to view the Guide here.

SUSTAINABLE CO-OPS IN ACTION

Farmer cooperatives provide products and services spanning the entire food chain. From those selling the seeds to the farmer to those selling items in the grocery store, farmer cooperatives are critical to America’s food supply. Farmer co-op leaders understand the role they play in bolstering their members’ ability to provide food, fiber and fuel in a sustainable manner, and provide the education and resources needed to help their members meet changing demands. Below are a few examples of how farmer cooperatives and their members are operating in a sustainable way.

  • Success Story: Environmental Stewardship

    MBG MARKETING/THE BLUEBERRY PEOPLE: CULTIVATE WITH CARE

    “Cultivate With Care” represents the commitment of MBG Marketing, its member growers and its Naturipe Farms brand partners to operate their businesses in a way that minimizes environmental impact while supporting and sustaining their local and global communities.

     

    As an example of this commitment, integrated pest management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of pragmatic practices. MBG Marketing has utilized this approach for more than 30 years and has advanced its program to promote pests’ natural enemies and reduce pesticide use wherever possible.

     

    From field operations to executive management, all Naturipe growers and partners work

    to combine up-to-date science with on-farm realities across all berry operations. Taking it one step further, third-generation MBG Michigan grower Chris Hodgman has reinforced his rigorous IPM program with bio-based products. Biopesticides are naturally occurring substances, such as

    microbes, Bt bacteria, plant extracts, fatty acids or pheromones.

     

    Naturipe growers understand that proper implementation of this comprehensive approach results in fewer resistance problems, reduced pesticide use and more high-quality fruit with low environmental impact.

     

    Learn more at http://www.naturipefarms.com/cultivate with care.

  • Success Story: Community Well-Being

    COBANK: SHARING SUCCESS

    “Across rural America, cooperatives of all kinds are supporting charitable organizations and working to advance the growth and development of their communities. Sharing Success enables CoBank to leverage that local knowledge and expertise, and provide assistance to causes that our customers care deeply about.”

    Robert B. Engel, CEO

     

    CoBank has reported record participation in its 2015 “Sharing Success” program. More than 700 eligible CoBank customers participated in the program, which generated millions of dollars for charitable organizations throughout the United States.

     

    Sharing Success is a $3 million charitable fund designed to benefit CoBank’s cooperative customers and the charitable groups they support throughout rural America. Through Sharing Success, CoBank matches contributions by its cooperative and other eligible customers to the nonprofit organizations of their choice on a dollar-for-dollar basis, from a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $5,000.

     

    CoBank first launched the program in 2012 in conjunction with the International Year of Cooperatives. It is one more way CoBank creates value for its customers by partnering with them to strengthen the communities they serve.

     

    Learn more at http://www.cobank.com/About-CoBank/Corporate-Citizenship-Pages.aspx.

  • Success Story: Economic Viability

    AG PARTNERS & AGP LAUNCH SUSTAINABILITY PILOT PROGRAM WITH UNILEVER

    “As everyone is aware, our society is more and more interested in the safety and well-being of our food supply. Consumers want to know that the food products they are consuming are healthy, safe and produced in an environmentally responsible manner.”

    Troy Alberts, AGP vice president, refined oils

     

    AGP believes it is their duty to maintain and protect the precious resources that sustain agricultural production in the rural communities in which they operate. The co-op is constantly seeking to improve operational efficiencies, not only to benefit the environment today but to also preserve it for future generations.

     

    Unilever, an industry leader in sustainability, approached AGP in 2015 inquiring about partnering with them to document the sustainability of the refined oil they receive from suppliers. Unilever has set a corporate objective of securing 100 percent of their soybean oil, documented sustainable, in the U.S. by 2017.

     

    Learn more about AGP’s sustainability commitment at www.agp.com/about/our-commitment.

ABOUT FARMER COOPERATIVES

Cooperatives are an integral part of the rural American landscape. From farm inputs and marketing to banking and insurance, America’s 2,500 farmer cooperatives have worked for decades to help their members be successful. The people using their services or buying their products also own the cooperative and, as such, profits made by the cooperative are returned directly to the member-owners. This business structure ensures members receive the products and services they need and, in return, are invested in the business. This business structure benefits local communities by keeping resources in the community in which they operate. The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) supports farmer cooperatives across the nation. To learn more, visit www.ncfc.org.