Welcome to 2023! // NFCA News January 2023

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In this edition:

Co-op Identity Survey

Key findings of the ICA Survey on Co-operative Identity unveiled.

The International Cooperative Alliance presented the main findings of the Survey on the Co-operative Identity during a dedicated webinar on 14 December. More than 200 people worldwide participated in the event. Launched on 28 April, the survey aimed to gather opinions on how well the Statement on the Co-operative Identity is defined and understood. The survey forms part of a wider Consultation on the Co-operative Identity, which intends to identify whether it remains fit for purpose and determine actions the ICA can take to refresh, deepen and protect it, explained Martin Lowery, ICA board member and chair of the ICA Identity Committee. The consultation also seeks to enhance co-operatives’ understanding of the co-operative identity and stimulate them to take actions consistent with their co-operative identity to address the problems facing today’s world.

Presenting the findings of the survey, Alexandra Wilson, the Chair of the ICA Cooperative Identity Advisory Group (CIAG), noted that it has been made available in 11 languages and three versions: one for organisations, one for individual co-operators and one for experts.

A total of 2,290 complete responses from 136 countries were received (42% from the Americas, 26% from Asia-Pacific, 19% from Europe and 13% from Africa). Of these, 622 came from organisations, 951 from individuals and 717 from experts.

A written report sharing the main findings of the survey will be published at the beginning 2023.

CoBank: Cooperative. Connected. Committed

CoBank is a national co-operative bank and one of the largest private providers of credit to the U.S. Rural Economy.

As an integral member of the Farm Credit System, CoBank’s mission is to serve as a relevant and dependable provider of credit and other value added financial services and support to agriculture, rural infrastructure and other similar business for the benefit of rural America. While CoBank was formed in 1989, our roots extend back over a century to the establishment of the Farm Credit System (FCS) in 1916 when Congress established twelve Federal Land Banks and later Federal Land Bank Associations to lend to farmers across the nation. As the FCS evolved, the Farm Credit Act of 1987 provided flexibility that led to the 1989 creation of CoBank from the merger of 11 of the Banks for Cooperatives with $12 billion in assets, $9 billion in outstanding loans and $807 million in capital.

Today, CoBank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 765,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and maintains an international representative office in Singapore.

CoBank is well-positioned to meet the financial needs of our customers and to continue to fulfill our mission from Congress of delivering capital to rural America. As we see those needs evolve and grow, we are ready to meet the challenge.

CoBank also is committed to the Co-operative Principle of Concern for Community and invests ~1% of revenues in corporate citizenship and charitable giving. Our signature program is Sharing Success through which we match customer contributions up to $10,000 per year. That program has helped deliver more than $62 million dollars to worthy recipients in the communities where our customers live and work.

CoBank also works with partners across the country to support the development and success of local food cooperatives in rural communities, especially those that have lost or are at risk of losing their local grocery stores. Access to fresh, healthy food is a vital resource for every community. Local food cooperatives increase access, create economic growth and support the infrastructure of our communities. As part of these efforts, CoBank is proud to be a long-time sponsor of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association.

As part of our effort to encourage more people to “Go Co-op”, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association partners with organizations like CoBank to build greater awareness of co-ops and credit unions and how they help to build stronger communities and a more just, inclusive and sustainable economy. To learn more about CoBank, visit https://www.cobank.coop.

January Cave-to-Co-op Special

This month’s special cheese is Pawlet from Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet, VT.

Each month, your Neighboring Food Co-ops feature our region’s artisan cheesemakers by offering a specially selected cheese at great price. The Cave to Co-op program is possible because of the partnership between distributor Provisions International, NFCA Co-ops and the many cheese producers in our region.

Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet Vermont is a producer of award-winning handmade cheese. Spanning the rolling hills of Vermont’s Champlain Valley and easternmost Washington County, New York, 300-acre Consider Bardwell Farm was the first cheese-making co-op in Vermont, founded in 1864 by Consider Stebbins Bardwell himself.

In the late 1860s, the farm changed hands. The Nelsonville Cheese Factory purchased the property, where they continued the same service that Bardwell had started until the late 1930s, when the Great Depression brought it crashing down. A century later, Angela Miller and Russell Glover, with the help of cheesemaker Peter Dixon, revitalized the tradition of cheesemaking on the farm. After years of both accolades and challenges – today’s line up of cheeses are made using the milk from neighboring Indian River Farm to craft cheeses that are both friendly enough for everyone but nuanced enough for the discerning palate.

Pawlet is an Italian-style mountain toma, and is aged four to six months. Flavors are mild, buttery and rounded, with hints of flowers, grass and savory herbal notes. A creamy texture and bright bite makes this a great sandwich cheese or an appetizer with broad appeal. It is a versatile cheese, like the town of Pawlet itself, which provides the farm with slate, syrup, and timber.

Strengthening our local and regional farmers and producers by supporting artisanal cheesemakers is a key goal of the Cave to Co-op program. For more information on Cave to Co-op, contact Suzette Snow-Cobb at Suzette@nfca.coop

Look for the “Cave to Co-op” sign in the cheese section at your local food co-op. To find one near you, visit www.nfca.coop/members.

Sarah Baker, a member of Charles River Co-op, and Anne Warde, a GreenStar Co-op member, were among the winners of the Co-op Month New Member Giveaway.  

Ten names were drawn from over 900 entries during October. Congratulations to winning new members from City Market/Onion River, Dorchester Food Co-op, Monadnock Food Co-op, Springfield Food Co-op, Middlebury Food Co-op, Hunger Mountain Food Co-op and Assabet Co-op Market. Our Neighboring Food Co-ops are 40+ food co-ops and start-up initiatives locally owned by over 168,000 people, like those who joined in October! NFCA was thrilled to be able to collaborate with Cabot Creamery Co-operative to offer these great prizes along with co-ops REI and Mad River Glen Cooperative ski area.  

Enjoy the winter in the Northeast and #gocoop

New England Farmers Union

Join us for our Annual Meeting to hear from National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, our achievements in 2022, and looking forward to the coming year!

New England Farmers Union is a membership-driven organization that is committed to enhancing the quality of life of family farmers through educational opportunities, co-operative endeavors and civic engagement. Be part of the solution and become a Farmers Union Member today — and join us for our online Annual Meeting on January 26, 2023!

New England Farmers Union is a grassroots organization that works to protect the social and economic well-being of family farmers throughout New England. Our membership is as diverse as the agricultural landscape in New England and includes grain farmers, vegetable growers, fruit growers, livestock farmers, and dairy farmers. All of our members play a role in bringing the issues that matter most to lawmakers in New England and fighting for their rights as family farmers.

New England Farmers Union has been the voice of family farmers, rural residents and consumers across the region since our founding. We believe the needs of New England’s farm economy are every bit as important as the policy priorities of Wall Street and Corporate America. We are the dedicated voice of family farming, and we aim to preserve a sustainable economy that benefits each of us where we live while providing domestically grown, healthy choices for consumers.

  • If you are a family farmer or rural resident dedicated to preserving your way of life.
  • If you are a consumer and you believe it’s important to buy locally from someone you know and trust.
  • If you represent a business that believes in sustainability and want to see an economy that works just as well for the little guy as it does for the big guy.
  • If you are concerned about any of these issues, then we invite you to join New England Farmers Union. We work every day to further all of these priorities and many more.

For over ten years, the New England Farmers Union has partnered with the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) to support the success of our family farmers and fishers, advocate for agricultural policies that strengthen our regional food system and grow the co-operative movement. Please consider joining today — and remember to join us for the online Annual Meeting on January 26, 2023, where we’ll elect a delegate to National Farmers Union 121’st Annual Convention in San Francisco!

National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.  Farmers are invited to join the New England Farmers Union chapter – and consumers can join as a “Friend of the Farmer” for just $15.  For more information, please visit www.newenglandfarmersunion.org. 

Workshop: Taking Action on Principle 6

Join fellow co-operators for an interactive short course to take a deep dive on Principle 6 from diverse perspectives — from the role of associations and federations to business partnerships and supply chains, to the development of new co-ops. NFCA member co-ops receive a discount on registration. For more information, visit https://www.smu.ca/iccm/.

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