Farming co-ops aggregate and market farm products, supply members with the fertilizer and other things they need in order to farm, and provide financial services.
Local farming co-ops reach into bigger towns, too, by marketing meat, grain, fruits, vegetables, fiber — and even rock salt — produced by or for member farmers to processors, retailers and, ultimately, consumers.
In addition, some of the region’s largest cooperatives that provide nonagricultural services, such as Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. and Buckeye Power Inc., have their roots in the Ohio Farm Bureau.
A co-op’s main financial goal is to be profitable enough to serve its members, unlike a corporation, which aims to make as much profit as possible for its owners.
Though U.S. cooperatives date from 1752, legislation in the 1920s and 1930s helped farmers survive the Depression and encouraged future markets, the U.S. Agriculture Department said.
Ohio was home to 39 marketing co-ops and 18 farming supply and service co-ops in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, the USDA said. Those co-ops did $3.7 billion worth of business that year.
You can read the full story about Ohio’s Cooperatives here.