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Cooperatives have a huge impact

By Staff | May 1, 2009

Cooperatives are a big part of the economic life in rural America. The huge economic impact of the nation’s more than 29,000 cooperatives has now been documented by a comprehensive study that the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped produce titled “Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives.”

The study found that America’s 29,284 cooperatives have total annual revenue of more than $654 billion, employ in excess of 2 million people and generate about $75 billion in wages each year.

“The nation now has a more definitive view of the role and economic strength of cooperatives in our economy,” Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, said in an April 8 statement highlighting the research findings. “Historically, cooperatives have always been extremely important to rural America, serving as economic engines and innovators. This study shows how significant their impact is nationwide.”

The former Iowa governor is right to praise this outstanding report.

The USDA’s Rural Development Cooperative Services Program, which took a lead role in making this research project a success, deserves high commendation for the excellent result. According to the USDA, this report is just the first product of a multiyear research effort. This initial study is a superb start. Farm News looks forward to these additional reports, analyses and Web-based resources becoming available in the near future.

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