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Ag students attend conference

By   Union Farmer
03/26/2014

By North Dakota Union Farmer

March 2014, Volume 61, Number 3

About 140 students from across the nation gathered in Minneapolis Feb. 14-16 for National Farmers Union’s (NFU) College Conference on Cooperatives (CCOC).

Participants learned how cooperative businesses operate for the benefit of their customers. The annual event focuses on how and why cooperatives succeed in America’s competitive business environment.

“This was an opportunity for Farmers Union and the cooperative community to teach young people about cooperative business principles and history, to introduce them to a wide variety of co-ops, and to show them that there are great careers in strong, ethical and community-minded businesses,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Cooperatives continue to be viable and successful business models in almost every sector of the U.S. economy.”

North Dakota Farmers Union Member Relations Specialist Amanda Martin attended the event and said, “The students toured various cooperatives including REI, Mississippi Market, CHS, 7500 York Housing and Mill City Museum to learn about the history of the flour industry in Minnesota.”

The participants heard from cooperative leaders, farmers and government experts who explained current challenges facing member-owned cooperatives.

Presenters ranged from members, directors, employees and managers of traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives; speakers from electric, housing, and worker-owned co-ops; as well as consumer cooperatives such as credit unions, REI, and natural food co-ops. Representatives offered insights on cooperative development here and abroad including efforts involving the Peace Corps and the Minnesota National Guard, which completed a mission to Afghanistan to work with farmers and their cooperatives.

“Our own history is very closely tied with the cooperative movement,” said Johnson. “Farmers Union has a strong commitment to providing cooperative education not only to our own members, but also to the general public, and especially to young people.”

The CHS Foundation, CoBank, Farmers Union Industries foundation, National Farmers Union Foundation and others sponsored the conference.