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Building cooperative capacity

May 19, 2011
By Dennis Timmerman , Marshall Independent

AURI?project development director

Minnesota has a long and successful history in developing cooperatives. Whether it is an electrical cooperative, food coop, credit union, telephone service provider or agricultural processing cooperative, it is a business structure that allows for many people to have ownership in a venture.

Owned and governed by its customers, cooperatives often offer opportunities to groups of people that aren't afforded to individuals.

In Minnesota, agricultural cooperatives were among the first developed and they continue to this day in areas such as dairy processing, ethanol production, even aquaculture.

A recently awarded USDA grant is helping AURI boost our capacity for helping agricultural cooperatives in the state.

The Rural Cooperative Development grant will help AURI provide greater scientific technical assistance, project facilitation and organizational development assistance to new and existing cooperatives in the areas of local food marketing and distribution, dairy processing, livestock feed processing, food processing and renewable energy.

AURI is adding capacity to assist in the development of cooperatives with a new level of emphasis on feasibility and business development.

Cooperatives are still a very effective way for producers to collectively organize in order to accomplish more than they could as individuals. Working with cooperatives isn't new for AURI because many of our current clients are cooperatives, but we now have greater resources to assist in planning and development efforts.

Several AURI project development staff members have received additional training in cooperative development. AURI has also joined a network of cooperative development specialists to gain more insight to better serve emerging agricultural cooperatives.

For more information on what AURI can offer to cooperative development or to the creation of new and innovative uses for agricultural products, give us a call at 507-537-7440 or visit us online at



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