In July of 2012, the United States Senate passed a resolution declaring 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. In September of 2012, the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan proclaimed October 13-20 as 2012 Cooperative Week.

International years are declared by the United Nations, to draw attention to and encourage action on major issues. The International Year of Cooperatives is intended to raise public awareness of the invaluable contributions of co-operative enterprises to employment generation, and in assisting individuals in producing their products and collaboratively purchasing their inputs. Collectively, cooperatives have more strength than individuals. The Year will also highlight the strengths of the cooperative business model as an alternative means of doing business, in providing services and sharing in the benefits.

Cooperatives are a different approach to reaching a common goal. Members work together to achieve goals that they would not be able to achieve individually. A cooperative is a user-owned and democratically controlled business in which benefits are received in proportion to use. There are numerous cooperatives in your community, some of which include:

1. Credit Unions – These comprise the largest number of local cooperatives.

2. Rural Electric Cooperatives – These cooperatives provide electricity to consumer members who not served by investor utilities.

3. Farmer Cooperatives – There are farmers who market their products through cooperatives and by banding together, have a stronger voice in the marketplace.

4. Supply Cooperatives – Many farmers purchase their inputs (fertilizer, seed, crop protection) through supply cooperatives.

5. Retail Food Cooperatives – Members include numerous local farmer markets and food cooperatives.

The Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC) is an association that educates these cooperatives’ employees, directors and members about the benefits of cooperatives; in the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan. In 2012, MACC has had approximately 1,000 registrants for its cooperative education classes.

Please join the Mid America Cooperative Council in celebrating 2012 Cooperative Week, by patronizing your local cooperatives and supporting your community.