Please release this announcement as soon as possible, and feel free to
shorten it as necessary.
CREATING SUCCESSFUL GROWER MARKETING COOPERATIVES: CONFERENCE TO TAKE
PLACE ON FEBRUARY 20, 1999
The Regional Farm & Food Project is hosting a full-day conference
entitled "Creating Successful Grower Marketing Cooperatives" on Saturday,
February 20, 1999 in Albany, NY. The blizzard date is set for February
The program is designed for farmers interested in forming
marketing cooperatives; members and managers of existing coops;
agricultural advisors; community development specialists; cooperative
buyers; and the public. It will introduce participants to the real-life
benefits and challenges of cooperative marketing and present a range of
approaches to organizing coops. While the day's focus will be on produce
coops, farmers active in livestock, dairy and herb marketing coop
formation are likely to be in attendance.
Opportunities for grower coop members and managers to learn from
each other's experiences will be built into the conference. The
interactive program will also serve as a much needed forum for those
involved in existing coops to compare experiences, analyze trends, and
look at problems from a new perspective.
Among the issues to be discussed will be management and staffing,
what are reasonable overhead costs, governance, juggling the needs of
small and large growers, quality control, dealing with unfair competition
and downward price trends, transportation arrangement to customers, and
balancing customer needs. One session will focus on the Achilles heels
of various coops, and the entire program will emphasize the elements
necessary for a coop to succeed.
At least seven or eight Northeast organic and conventional grower
marketing coops will be represented at this conference. Some of the
coops are managed professionally while in others, members do all of the
work. They market year-round or for just a few months, selling anywhere
from 80 different crops to just one premium item. The conference
organizers are developing profiles of the participating cooperatives in
order to introduce attendees to diverse working models.
Among the participants will be Tuscarora Organic Growers Coop
(PA), Happy Valley Organics (MA), Deep Root Organic Truck Farmers Coop
(VT), Hancock County Organic Growers Co-op (ME), Finger Lakes Organic
Growers Coop (NY), Berkshire Growers Coop (MA), and Garden State Organic
Growers (NJ). Michael Rozyne, of Red Tomato, an innovative organization
that has launched a product brokerage operation to create new markets for
Northeast farmers, will present the opening address. Brian Henehan of
Cornell's Cooperative Enterprise Program will also contribute his
expertise throughout the day.
The conference fee of $25 to $50 sliding scale (pay what you can)
includes a catered luncheon and handouts. The program is the third in
this winter's farmer-to-farmer series; the first two weekend workshops
sold out in advance. A limited number of accommodations in private homes
will be available for a small fee.
To receive a brochure and registration information, please
contact the Regional Farm & Food Project, 27 Elm Street, Albany, NY
12202, (518) 432-1679 or 426-9331. The Regional Farm & Food Project is a
membership organization of farmers and consumers working toward
sustainable agriculture and a healthy food system in the Hudson-Mohawk
region of eastern New York state.
Liz Callan and Brian Aufderheide