Cooperatives show second-highest sales, incomes in 2009

Cooperative farms saw a banner year for sales in 2009.
Cooperative farms saw a banner year for sales in 2009.
Used tractor owners who applied their machines and efforts to cooperative farming may have seen positive returns, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA said farm cooperative sales and incomes in 2009 saw their second-highest levels on record. In all, sales came to $170 billion, which came in second only to the $192 billion seen the year before.

Judith Canales, USDA administrator for the Business and Cooperative Program, said the results show cooperatives are an important part of the farming economy.

"Rural cooperatives not only provide thousands of jobs, they invigorate local communities and rural farms, ranches and businesses," Canales said.

There are roughly 2,389 cooperatives in the country, according to USDA estimates. These groups give members a number of resources, including storing crops.

October is National Cooperative Month, which was recognized by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with a proclamation. The USDA supports these operations with a number of development grants, including $8.3 million in funds announced recently.

The money will go to organizations in 27 states and the District of Columbia.