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Your Board

Hi, I'm Your Board

Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. Your current Outpost Board of...
Your Board

The Campaign for Cooperation

Board Beet
By Your Board on March 28, 2012


Continuing the theme from the previous installment of Sounding Board, I'd like to summarize one of the board's recent envisioning sessions, on an important piece of legislation currently being considered by the U.S. Congress.


The topic at the February board meeting was the National Cooperative Development Act, a bill currently being debated in Congress that would establish a National Cooperative Development Center. The National Cooperative Development Center would assist groups seeking to form cooperatives with grants, a revolving loan fund, and technical assistance. In addition, it would fund training, support existing providers of cooperative assistance, and establish local centers in areas that are currently under-served.


As usual, the board's discussion went deeper than expected. There was much enthusiasm for the idea of “official” recognition and support of the cooperative model.  Cooperatives have great potential to contribute to economic development and create good jobs, while retaining wealth locally in democratically controlled institutions. Unfortunately, too few communities are aware of the advantages of cooperative structures, and a government supported effort may be just the thing to spread the word among socio-economically diverse communities across the country. As part of the discussion, we were reminded of some of the national cooperative infrastructure that already exists. For example, the National Cooperative Business Association, the National Cooperative Grocers Association, and Cooperative Development Services all have a national reach. We did consider the proper role of the federal government in cooperative development. Doesn't cooperation imply self-help? Would a federal role reduce local control? We took comfort from the fact that the national center would work with existing organizations where they currently exist, and would focus primarily on areas that currently lack cooperative infrastructure. With a $25 million annual budget, the bill may be a very frugal way to leverage community resources in areas that could benefit from cooperatives.


In the end, the board's goal in envisioning is often not to form a unified opinion on a topic, but, rather, to educate ourselves on relevant issues and bring them to the attention of owners. What is your opinion of the National Cooperative Development Act? Let us, and your U.S. Representative, know! 


For complete details on the bill, check out the page and links on Outpost's website, under Resources > Food Issues and Action.


                                                                        In Cooperation,



Will Kort, Director, Outpost Natural Foods



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