Rooted: Food Co-ops Gather in

South Dakota and Online

In June, grocery cooperative leaders from across the United States and Canada gathered in person and online for the Consumer Cooperative Management Association’s (CCMA) first ever hybrid conference. This year’s theme, Rooted: Renewing our cooperative identity, acknowledges the social, political, and ecological crises that have left many feeling uprooted. It challenges cooperatives to grow a more diverse, connected, and thriving cooperative community through their deep cooperative roots. The annual national conference for grocery cooperatives was hosted by UWCC along with Sioux Falls Food Co+op, Natural Abundance Food Co-op, and Breadroot Natural Foods Co-op. CCMA brought together 400 food co-op leaders from 73 cooperatives to discuss pressing issues and innovations. 

CCMA 2022 kicked off with an engaging plenary panel, Resilience through Cooperative Strategies and Values, which featured an international panel of cooperators discussing how the principles of cooperation, participation, social responsibility, and innovation drive their cooperatives and help them weather uncertain times. The second plenary session featured Indigenous leaders who are working at the forefront of food systems change in their communities. Bijibah Begaye of the Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico shared the somber timeline of the systemic desecration of Indigenous food systems over centuries. Nick Hernandez highlighted the ways his organization, Makoce Agriculture Development, is using education and local systems change to develop the infrastructure and resources needed to create a thriving local food system for the Oglala Lakota Nation.
Courtney Berner interviews Jamila Medley, João Martins, and Ibon Zugasti.
Kevin Edberg interviews Bijiibah Begaye and Nick Hernandez.
After a two year hiatus, the CCMA Cooperative Excellence awards returned to recognizing outstanding leadership and innovation in food cooperatives. The 2022 CCMA Cooperative Excellence awards were given to:
  • Cooperative Excellence Award: Oryana Community Co-op, represented by Steve Nance
  • Cooperative Service: Jacqueline Arthur, Three Rivers Market and Ahzjah Simons, Sevananda Natural Foods Market
  • Cooperative Innovation: Emily Rogers, Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society
  • Cooperative Achievement: Crystal Halvorson and Rick Remington, Menomonie Market Food Co-op
  • Cooperative Board Service: Dorian Gregory, River Valley Food Co-op
  • Bill Gessner GM Coaching Award: Jessica Armbrust, East Aurora Co-op Market
  • Bill Gessner Startup of the Year Award: Detroit People's Food Co-op
  • Food Co-op Startup of the Year: Urban Greens
Oryana Community Cooperative Leadership stand together with Co-op Excellence Award
Steve Nance and directors from Oryana Community Co-op accept the Co-op Excellence Award
Rick Remington and Crystal Halvorson accept the Cooperative Achievement Award
Emily Rogers, winner of the Cooperative Innovation Award with nominators from Hanover Co-op
Dorian Gregory, winner of the Cooperative Board Service Award with nominators from River Valley Co-op
Thanks to the support of the Cooperative Development Foundation, 17 cooperators were able to attend CCMA 2022 on scholarship. The UWCC team is thankful to its incredible planning committee, host co-ops, sponsors, speakers, and participants for making CCMA a special experience every year.

We look forward to bringing together food cooperators in Sacramento, California in 2023!

Report Highlights Four Years of Worker Co-op Development in Madison

In June, the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition (MCDC) released a Program Report highlighting achievements over the last four years of implementation. MCDC is an initiative to form worker cooperatives that address income inequality and racial disparities by creating living-wage and sustainable jobs. Funded through the City of Madison, MCDC is a collaborative of community-based organizations, business resource specialists, and cooperative developers working together to diminish barriers to collective entrepreneurship. Program achievements include:
  • Disbursed $150,000 in grants to cooperatives in development and $250,000 to community-based organizations supporting cooperatives.
  • Incorporated nine start-up cooperatives providing a variety of services, including bookkeeping; community health; bicycle transportation and education; cooperative housing development; and racial equity training.
  • An additional twelve start up or co-op conversions are receiving technical assistance to become worker cooperatives.
  • Developed partnerships for financing options for worker cooperatives, including a revolving loan fund with Shared Capital Cooperative and a matching loan fund with Kiva, a global crowdfunding platform.
  • Supported community partners, such as Worker Justice Wisconsin, Nehemiah, gener8tor, and Centro Hispano of Dane County, to strengthen the local cooperative ecosystem through co-op education, technical assistance, grant funding, etc.

Farmer Cooperatives Conference Returns to Minneapolis

We are thrilled to announce that the 25th Annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference will be held in-person, November 29-30 in the Minneapolis. After two years of hosting the conference virtually, we are excited to bring farmer cooperators together again for networking and education.
Horizontal picture of grain elevator with field of harvested grain. 23th annual farmer cooperatives conference, November 29-30, 2022, Minneapolis, MN.

In Brief: Updates and Resources

Educating the Next Generation of Agricultural Cooperators

The CHS Foundation has awarded UWCC an education grant to increase understanding of the cooperative model amongst UW-Madison students and equip graduates with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive as members and employees of cooperatives. The project will survey and convene a focus group of leaders from Wisconsin’s agricultural cooperative ecosystem to hear directly from Wisconsin’s agriculture and farm credit cooperatives about the skills and knowledge they seek in future employees and board members. The information collected will be used to identify and develop cooperative-related material for  key courses in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Ownership Matters Podcast on Co-op Development

In April, UWCC executive director, Courtney Berner chatted with Paul Bradley and Mike Bullard of ROC USA about the changing map of cooperative development. She highlighted the success of sector specific development strategies, particularly in the area of resident owned communities. ROC USA's mission is "to make quality resident ownership viable nationwide and to expand economic opportunities for homeowners in manufactured (mobile) home communities." Berner noted that there is a clear need for affordable housing across the country. When paired with targeted technical assistance and access to capital, those needs can be addressed in a cooperative manner. Listen to the episode.

Cooperative Governance Research Initiative Report to be Released in July

The official launch of the Cooperative Governance Research Initiative (CGRI) Report is scheduled for July! CGRI is the first systematic research to examine cooperative governance across sectors and over time. The report will feature results from the online survey completed by 500 cooperatives and follow up interviews with 11 cooperatives. To ensure that you receive the report, sign up for CGRI Updates!

UWCC's Charity Schmidt joins Shared Capital Cooperative Board

We are pleased to share that UWCC cooperative development specialist Charity Schmidt has been elected to serve on the Shared Capital Cooperative Board. Shared Capital Cooperative is a national loan fund and a federally certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides financing to cooperative businesses and housing throughout the United States. Shared Capital is a cooperative association, democratically owned and governed by its members, with 300 cooperatives in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

Upcoming Events

Worker Co-ops 101 Webinars

July 14, August 18, September 15 | 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. CT | Virtual

Are you interested in starting a worker-owned cooperative business? Tune into our Worker Co-ops 101 webinars to learn more about a values-driven business model that puts workers and community benefits at the core of its purpose. Hosted by the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition in partnership with the Madison Public Library, these sessions will provide an overview of the cooperative model, structure options for worker-owned cooperatives, the process for developing a worker co-op, and technical assistance and grant opportunities available in the Madison area.

Farmer Cooperatives Conference

November 29-30, 2022 | Minneapolis, MN

The 25th Annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference will be held in person for the first time in three years! We are thrilled to return to Minneapolis on November 29-30, 2022. The Farmer Cooperatives Conference will highlight the latest strategic thinking on current cooperative issues and trends. Connect with and learn from your fellow agricultural cooperative peers.

Agricultural Cooperative Director Training

January 5-6, 2023 | Mankato, MN
January 18-19, 2023 | Stevens Point, WI

UWCC and Dr. Michael Boland of the University of Minnesota are developing an in person training designed for agriculture and farm supply cooperative directors. Session topics will include strategic thinking; managing through impending CEO or senior staff retirements; workforce recruitment and alternative staffing; managing with fewer employees; and cooperative capital. These trainings will include a mix of panel discussions and small group activities to maximize engagement. Stay tuned for more details.