USDA evaluates economic impact of co-ops

Cooperatives employ 2 million workers in the U.S.
Cooperatives employ 2 million workers in the U.S.
More than 29,000 cooperatives contribute annual revenues of $654 million while employing about 2 million workers, a new study shows.

Department of Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said today that the USDA-sponsored study, Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives, is the result of extensive research that began in 2006.

"Because of the hard work that USDA and its partners did, the nation now has a more definitive view of the role and economic strength of cooperatives in our economy," Vilsack said in a release. "Historically, cooperatives have always been extremely important to rural America, serving as economic engines and innovators. This study shows how significant their impact is nationwide."

University of Wisconsin-Madison, the National Cooperative Business Association and other private-sector associations contributed to the research in compiling the report, which is the first of a series of reports, analyses and web-based resources issued from the multi-year research effort.

Cooperatives are businesses that are mutually owned and democratically operated by members who benefit from its products and services.

USDA Rural Development's Cooperative Services Program led the effort for the department in order to promote understanding and use of the cooperative form of business as a viable way to market and distribute agricultural products, USDA said.