Skip to main content

Cornell University Cooperative Enterprise Program

Economic Development

Many cooperatives were formed in response to the depressed farm economy in the 1920s. Currently dairy cooperatives market or process 80% of the milk produced in the United States. It is estimated that cooperative businesses market 20% of fruits and vegetables, 40% of grains and oils, and 10% of livestock. Cooperatives supply to farm businesses: 50% of petroleum products, 45% of fertilizer, 30% of crop protectants, 15% of the seed, and 15% of the feed supplies necessary for agricultural production.

Today small scale and new farmers are interested in forming cooperatives or other “group-action” businesses to secure needed services or build economies of scale to compete in the marketplace.

Agribusiness Economic Outlook Conference

Chapters about aggregate cooperative performance in the United States and New York State regularly appear in the proceedings from the New York Economic Handbook.

Severson, R.M., T.M. Schmit. “Chapter 3. Cooperatives.” Proceedings, Cornell Agribusiness Economic Outlook Conference 2013, December 2013. Ithaca, NY.

Henehan, B.M., T.M. Schmit. “Chapter 3. Cooperatives.” Proceedings, Cornell Agribusiness Economic Outlook Conference 2012, December 2012. Ithaca, NY.

Local and Regional Food Systems Performance

Schmit, T. M., N.L. Bills. “Agriculture-Based Economic Development in NYS: Trends and Prospects.” Extension Bulletin, 2012-11. September 2012. Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Schmit, T.M., “Economic Value of Agriculture to the New York State Economy.” November 29, 2012. Presentation NY Farm Viability Institute Partners Summit. East Syracuse, NY.

Schmit, T.M., B.M. Henehan., K. Park. “Improving Firm Competitiveness in the NYS Food & Beverage Manufacturing Industry.” March 4, 2010. Presented to Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Inc. Board of Directors.

Economic Impact of Cooperatives in Northeastern States

The Northeast has farm supply and marketing cooperatives, electric cooperatives, and Farm Credit Associations with assets over $17 billion generating revenues over $13 billion in economic activity from 780,000 members served by over 19,000 employees. View of summary of this activity

Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives describes and quantifies the magnitude of economic activity accounted for by U.S. cooperative businesses. The report created a census of over 29,000 cooperatives doing business in the U.S. with estimated assets over $3 trillion, revenue over $514 billion, with over 856,000 workers collecting over $25 million in wages.