In celebration of National Co-op Month, please join USDA, national cooperative leaders and development specialists for an engaging webinar on how cooperatives have benefited food supply chains and played a critical role in developing local and regional food systems.
Moderator: Andrew Jermolowicz – Associate Deputy Administrator, Coop Programs, USDA Rural Development
· Elanor Starmer – National Coordinator, USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative
· Jim Barham – Agricultural Economist, Coop Programs, USDA Rural Development
· Margaret Bau – Cooperative Development Specialist, USDA Rural Development
· Robin Seydel – Membership and Community Development Coordinator, La Montanita Co-op
· Jan Tusick – Center Director, Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center
· Karl Sutton – Farmer, Coop Member, Western Montana Growers Cooperative
This webinar is free to the public and does not require registration.
Click here on October 30 at 1 p.m. ESD to log in to the webinar. Alternately, you can call toll-free (800) 738-1032 to listen to the webinar audio on your phone.
October 27, 2014
Following closely on recent announcements about the Rural Business Enterprise Grant and Rural Business Opportunities Grant awards to support small businesses and economic development in rural communities, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development announced the latest round of grantees for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant program (RCDG) on Friday, October 24. The timing of the awards is especially appropriate with October being National Cooperative month.Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) loans were also announced. In total, USDA announced $12.8 million in grants and loans to 43 organizations in 27 states. Of the $12.8 million, $5.8 million in RCDG awards went to 32 recipients, while just over $7 million in loans went to 11 recipients under IRP.
Established in the 1996 Farm Bill, RCDG is a competitive grant program that funds non-profit organizations and higher education institutions to create and operate coop development centers that help establish, expand, or improve rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned rural businesses. The funding can be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, offer technical assistance, establish low-interest loans, and help rural businesses develop new markets for their products and services. Since fiscal year 2009, USDA has awarded 200 RCDG grants for approximately $38.4 million that have helped more than 2,500 businesses.
Today’s announcement includes several recipients who are supporting local food marketing and other ways to expand economic opportunities for farmers and ranchers.
Among them, are:
- Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) in North Carolina, an NSAC member group, which received a $200,000 grant to launch a program on agricultural cooperatives. Funding will be used to provide technical assistance to groups in rural North Carolina, South Carolina, northern Florida, and eastern Kentucky;
- Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability which received a $200,000 technical assistance grant to help meat processing cooperatives link producers with local and regional consumers. Funding will be used to provide education and training; and
- Cooperative Network in Wisconsin, which received a $200,000 grant to help establish cooperatives focusing on health care, local foods and senior housing. Funds will be used to help Native American tribal members form a cooperative.
Other grant recipients working on local food projects can be found on the full award recipient list.
USDA Webinar: The Role of Cooperatives in Local Food Systems Development
In addition to these awards, which highlights the importance of cooperatives to rural community development and the difference they can make to local and regional food systems, USDA plans to host a free webinar, The Role of Cooperatives in Local Food Systems Development, this Thursday, October 30 at 1pm Eastern time.
Details about the webinar, including participating speakers from USDA and cooperatives, and how to connect, are available on this National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) webpage.
Serving Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Southport & Edgecomb since 1876
Each October, cooperatives all across the country celebrate the role, accomplishments and contributions of our nation’s cooperatives. Damariscotta’s own natural foods cooperative, Rising Tide Community Market, is a full-service retail grocery store, distinguished from other local businesses in that it’s owned by over 3,000 local and seasonal residents of the greater Damariscotta area.
Rising Tide grew out of local buying clubs which operated in the 1970s, and its first storefront opened in 1978.
“The theme of Co-op Month this year is ‘The Co-op Connection.’ We want to highlight the ways in which Rising Tide connects with our community — whether it’s through donating to local nonprofits and community events, having local art exhibits in our café, or supporting local farms and producers,” said Elya Markert, Rising Tide’s Outreach and Marketing Coordinator. “Co-op Month is also a great opportunity to raise awareness about the cooperative movement in general, for our own member-owners and the community as a whole.”
During Co-op Month, Rising Tide is publishing an educational series of posts on its Facebook page and website. Posts for the first part of the month have included Maine co-op news, Rising Tide’s history, and history of the cooperative movement.
October is also Non-GMO Month, bringing awareness to the issue of genetically modified organisms in the food supply.
“GMO labeling is not yet mandatory, which presents a challenge for consumers who want to avoid GMOs in their food. Many of our shoppers are concerned about GMOs,” Markert said. “The Non-GMO Project works with companies to label their products as ‘Non-GMO Verified’ if they meet ingredient standards that ensure no contamination by GMOs. Rising Tide currently carries over 700 products bearing this label, all clearly marked by shelf tags …. We also provide information and education in the store about which ingredients are most likely to be contaminated by GMOs (corn, soy, sugar beets, alfalfa and canola) and how customers can choose foods that do not contain GMOs. Ultimately, we believe that people have the right to know what’s in the food they consume every day.”
The cooperative movement in Maine is thriving, with several new retail cooperatives forming or opening in Maine during 2014. Food stores in Brooks (Marsh River Cooperative), Fort Kent (Market Street Cooperative) and Houlton (The County Co-op and Farm Store) have all opened their doors in recent months and are welcoming new members.
All of the food co-op stores in Maine focus on purchasing local food, including produce, some grains, dairy, and meat. They each contribute significantly more to the Maine economy than food stores that get most of their products from outside the state. Also, the Portland Food Co-op and the Gardiner Food Co-op and Café are both expected to open later in 2014 or 2015. That will bring the total of storefront food cooperatives in Maine to eleven, including existing co-ops in Blue Hill, Belfast, Rockland, Norway, and Waterville.
For information on CO-OP MONTH in Maine, check our MEDIA RELEASE.
For a great toolkit thanks to the National Cooperative Business Association and the Cooperative League USA.
Graphics, posters, model press releases, and MORE! …FREE downloads! <<CLICK HERE>>
Bill Nemitz: Don’t suffer with slow Internet, rural Maine
Small towns elsewhere are building their own high-speed networks to avoid sliding into the digital dark ages.
Listen up, rural Mainers. The next time your local selectman or legislator knocks on the door asking for your vote, look them in the eye and ask this out-of-nowhere question: “When are you going to build us an on-ramp to the high-speed Internet highway?”
And then, if they ask with a blank stare what the heck you’re talking about, tell them about Wired West.
It’s a 43-town cooperative in western Massachusetts that is well on its way to bringing fiber-optic Internet service to every nook and cranny of a region that, like much of Maine, is now living in the dark ages when it comes to high-speed, broadband technology.
Paul Sheridan [right, of Cooperative Maine ] and Matt Thompson, Front-End Manager at The Portland Food Co-op – taken at MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair by Gloria LaBrecque, Cooperative Fund of New England. Thanks, Gloria!
MOFGA | Common Ground Country Fair 2014 | SEP 19, 20, 21
VISIT OUR BOOTH on the corner of Social & Politcal Action Tent #2!
CO-OP WORKSHOP| SAT SEP 20 11a-12p | ‘Farm Labor, the Missing Link.’ | Jane Livingston & Jonah Fertig | SPA Speakers Tent
FAIR SCHED ONLINE: http://sched.co/1oN5qIC
CO-OP WORKSHOP | SUN SEP 21 11a-12p | ‘CO-OPS 101‘ | Deborah Hawkins | SPA Speakers Tent
FAIR SCHED ONLINE: http://sched.co/1oMNcqt
Cooperative Maine has a table at this indoor HOPE festival on the Saturday nearest to Earth Day each year.
This year it is Sat. April 26th from 11-4 in the Student Recreation & Fitness Center, Hilltop Road, University of Maine campus in Orono.
Great article about the new generation of food co-ops around Maine! Five New Food Co-ops from Fort Kent to Portland! Great interviews, photos, charts, graphs, & statistics!
March 10, 2014 [ MaineBIZ]
The number of member-owned food co-operatives in Maine is on a course to almost double to 11 this year, leavened by a taste for locally produced food that is safe and healthy.
While these new storefronts still plan to be community venues, they aren’t our parents’ co-ops. Many aim to offer one-stop shopping, carrying a wider variety of goods in addition to the traditional bulk items and “granola-type” fare. And backed by development loans and legions of member owners, they have become a force in the local economy.
“There’s a local economic multiplier,” says Kate Harris, education and publicity coordinator at Belfast Co-op, which started in 1976. “Our bank and payroll are based in the community. A much higher percentage of money stays in the community. We spend as much as we can locally. And the largest contribution is that we won’t leave the state.”
Nationally, every $1,000 a shopper spends at a local food co-op generates $1,604 in their local economy, $239 more than if they shopped at a conventional grocery, according to strongertogether.coop, a consumer website run by the National Cooperative Growers Association. Other metrics: 157 local farmers and producers on average work with a food co-op versus 65 with a conventional store; 20% of products are locally sourced versus 6% for a standard store; and 38% of revenue is spent locally versus 20% for a regular store (see chart, next page).
At 930 & growing, the Portland Food Co-op is nearing its goal of 1,000 member-owners. Show some Principle Six love and join the PFC to help them to open the new storefront retail market at 290 Congress Street in Portland. This community-owned market is expected to create up to 20 new jobs! Help build a democratic economy rooted in community by becoming the newest member-owner and sign up online right now at www.portlandfood.coop! It takes just a few minutes!