[LINCOLN, NE October 2, 2023] — A proclamation recognizing October 2023 as Cooperative Month was signed by Governor Jim Pillen. This coincides with the annual recognition of October as National Cooperative Month by the United States Department of Agriculture. This year’s national theme is “Owning Our Identity.”
The proclamation signed by the Governor recognizes Nebraska’s farmer-owned cooperatives and rural electric and telephone cooperatives for the important role that they play in Nebraska’s economy.
Rural agricultural cooperatives serve the needs of nearly 60,000 farmers and ranch owners. With an annual payroll of approximately $370 billion, cooperatives directly employ 6,410 Nebraskans in 401 communities across the state. They also create 12,218 jobs annually through their operations, member payments, and investments
Last year, Nebraska’s agricultural cooperatives made cash patronage and equity redemption payments totaling nearly $97 million to their members and reinvested $200 million in property, plant, and equipment to serve members’ needs. This economic activity arose from total statewide revenues of approximately $8.8 billion.
Nebraska’s rural electric cooperatives serve over 7,000 rural farmers and ranchers with a combined service territory of over 12,000 square miles. Rural telephone cooperatives in Nebraska serve over 9,000 telephone, television and broadband users in Nebraska.
The economic impact of cooperatives benefit all Nebraskans. Nebraska communities were supported by over $23 million of property tax paid by agricultural cooperatives. Nebraska’s farmer-owned cooperatives, governed by their farmer owners, contributed over $2 million to local fire departments, local school and youth organizations, local and statewide FFA and 4-H chapters, and provided numerous scholarships to help Nebraska students continue their education.
Rocky Weber, President and General Counsel to the Nebraska Cooperative Council, stated: “Co-op Month gives Nebraskans the opportunity to learn about the important role Nebraska’s agricultural cooperative system plays in the vitality of our state’s economy. Nebraska’s farmer-owned cooperatives, in addition to providing direct economic benefits to their farmer members, offer excellent employment opportunities throughout rural Nebraska. Farmers support their communities by doing business through their cooperatives, demonstrating the values and principles that make cooperatives a unique business structure. Governor Pillen’s proclamation of October 2023 as Cooperative Month is a welcome acknowledgment of how cooperatives are ingrained in the identity of Nebraska.”