by Duane Stjernholm
“Cooperatives have come a long way from their beginnings in the 19th Century. Cooperatives help workers improve their livelihoods and protect their interests. Cooperatives empower workers to own a share of the business and to govern themselves. Cooperatives are organizations of people who have the same needs. In a 1997 article in the ICA Review, J. Langmore says that cooperatives promote “the material conditions and well-being of members through their acting in concert; members [have] a greater say over their lives through their voluntary association in organizations controlled freely and democratically by their members.” “①
“Cooperatives provide a method for farmers to join together in an ‘association’, through which a group of farmers can acquire a better outcome, typically financial, than by going alone. This approach is aligned to the concept of economies of scale and can also be related as a form of economic synergy, where “two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently”. An important strength of a cooperative for the farmer is that they retain the governance of the association, thereby ensuring they have ultimate ownership and control. This ensures that the profit reimbursement (either through the dividend payout or rebate) is shared only amongst the farmer members.” ②
“Cooperatives around the world operate according to the same set of core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance
1. Open and Voluntary Membership
Membership in a cooperative is open to all persons who can reasonably use its services and stand willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, regardless of race, religion, gender, or economic circumstances.
2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Elected representatives (directors/trustees) are elected from among the membership and are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote); cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
3. Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative; setting up reserves; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control as well as their unique identity.
5. Education, Training, and
Education and training for members, elected representatives (directors/trustees), CEOs, and employees help them effectively contribute to the development of their cooperatives. Communications about the nature and benefits of cooperatives, particularly with the general public and opinion leaders, helps boost cooperative understanding.
6. Collaboration Among Cooperatives
By working together through local, national, regional, and international structures, cooperatives improve services, bolster local economies, and deal more effectively with social and community needs.
7. Concern for Community
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies supported by the membership.” ③
Cooperatives are clearly a superior and more equitable business model over other more capitalistic types of business organization. Cooperatives allow Shareholders to share the wealth and can bring economic stimulus to a wide swath of society rather than further enriching just the top few percent like the majority of other corporate business models. However, please don’t confuse the Cooperative Model with Socialism or Communism as the Cooperative Model relies on local control not central control like those more oppressive systems. Cooperatives are voluntary, socialism and Communism are not. Collaboration works because everyone involved initially agrees that they are doing what is best for the Greatest and Highest Good.
Competition Versus Collaboration
So, if the Cooperative model is so superior, why isn’t every business organized under it? There are several reasons, but these reasons may at first seem to be antithetical to modern business thinking. This is because in western capitalistic societies we have been brain washed and programmed into thinking and believing that competition is good. Friendly competition is good and healthy, but when it comes to the cut-throat competition that modern capitalistic businesses have evolved into, the result is that in the quest for the all-mighty dollar precludes doing what is best for all. These shameless entities are doing anything and everything they can to out-perform their competition. The unfortunate reality is that these modern business practices have evolved into a system that is not sustainable. If you look at the current western business practices based on the competition model, they have produced a world where our water is polluted, our air is polluted, our arable farmland is polluted, and we are eating food-like products filled with chemicals, preservatives, herbicides, pesticides and heavy metals. Big Pharma, in its quest for more dollars, creates customers not cures. Big Oil will stop at nothing to squeeze more crude oil out of our planet with fracking that causes earthquakes and water pollution, oil spill pollution, and the release of chemical agents that further befoul our oxygen deprived air. Our forests are being decimated and burned in the quest for the all-mighty dollar and our food has been tainted by big agricultural monopolies that utilize harmful chemicals to kill the microbiome in our soil to the extent that our arable land is rendered useless without the addition of more deadly chemicals. We have fluoride in our water. “In terms of acute toxicity, fluoride is more toxic than lead, but slightly less toxic than arsenic. This is why fluoride has long been used in rodenticides and pesticides to kill pests like rats and insects. It is also why accidents involving over-ingestion of fluoridated dental products – including fluoride gels, fluoride supplements, and fluoridated water can cause serious poisoning incidents, including death.” ④
In addition we have mercury in our vaccines, and aluminum in our deodorants, two metallic elements that have no reason to be in the human body and can end up in the brain. “Aluminum is a known neurotoxin and occupational exposure to aluminum has been implicated in neurological disease, including Alzheimer’s disease.” ⑤ “Many studies show that high exposure to mercury induces changes in the central nervous system, potentially resulting in irritability, fatigue, behavioral changes, tremors, headaches, hearing and cognitive loss, dysarthria, incoordination, hallucinations, and death.⑥ Remember that “Mad Hatters” became that way due to mercury exposure. All of this is a result of modern corporate competition. From first grade onwards we are indoctrinated that competition is good, but modern corporations have taken this to the extreme while disregarding the negative effects on our health and planet.
“In the 1987 movie Wall Street, Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko gave an insightful speech where he said, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” He went on to make the point that greed is a clean drive that “captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”⑦ “As markets rely on trust and cooperation, unmitigated greed has the potential to undermine a free economy” ⑧ as evidenced by current global conditions. This is where we can turn to Cooperatives to reverse this reality because the more evolved voluntary collective mind-set of the collaborators will minimize the greed factor for the benefit of the greatest and highest good for all involved.
Federal Versus Local Control
Another problem with big money monopolies is that they have the resources and lobbyists to influence the Federal Government at the highest level. The Federal Government, unfortunately, is manipulated by these Lobbyists because they can help candidates get elected through campaign contributions and other “perks” that drastically affect how Congress people vote. Whatever happened to anti-monopoly Laws? It is sad that these laws have been so ignored to the extent that they have allowed 4 or 5 big Ag companies the control over the majority of seeds supplied to farmers. This is one area that Cooperatives can be the most effective. Seed supplies should have the option of being open sourced like they were a century ago before the seed industry was hijacked by big Ag. Open source seed frees the seed from non-propagation agreements for growers so they can reap the economic benefits and other positive attributes that are inherent when growing their own seed.
21st Century designed and promulgated Cooperatives can be organized with Local Control so there can be no mandates from national or federal monopolists to govern their use and productivity. Sure, there are Federal Statutes that have to be followed, but Cooperatives can own shares in other Cooperatives so everyone is working toward the same end, and that end is increased economic stimulus for all. Cooperatives are even exempt from some Monopoly Laws because they are not seen as a threat to a national agenda. Cooperatives can develop and distribute open source seeds that anyone can use without the restraints of non-propagation agreements required by big Ag. In addition, Cooperatives can spread and share the most effective regenerative agricultural methods that have the ability to remediate our soils and water damaged by all the chemicals used by big Ag’s GMO seeds. By working together, Cooperatives can share Best Practices, Standard Operating Procedures, cultivars, machinery, sales and marketing of the raw materials they produce, and most important of all, the substantial financial rewards from all of their hard work.
The Positive Future of Cooperatives
The nascent Hemp Industry has the potential to become the next Trillion Dollar Industry in the United States. This is a huge pie, and with collaboration utilizing the Cooperative Business Model the pie will become even larger and Cooperatives will share it to everyone’s positive benefit. The Cooperative Business Model is the most fair to everyone involved. Yes, we need to share the expenses, but we are also collaborating to share the fiscal rewards. In a Limited Cooperative Association the collaborators includes the Patrons (the people doing the work) and the forward thinking Investors who share in this positive big picture vision of the future and the potential (substantial) fiscal rewards.
The current Big Ag monopolized path of 21st Century Agriculture is not sustainable. As forward thinker, inventor and World Citizen advocate Buckminster Fuller has observed, “Cooperation has become the optimum survival strategy”.⑨ If Earth Citizens want to not self-destruct then we must change our thinking from competition to collaboration. The world does not need greater concentrations of power, by multinational banks and the Federal Reserve, but much more widely dispersed power and the shared economic benefits that Cooperative can provide. Cooperatives are the most logical means to achieve this end. If we take a step back, this economic evolution really begins with taking control of the taxes we pay and those taxes deposited into publically owned public banks instead of the biggest Ponzi Scheme in the world, the Federal Reserve. Without local public control over funds generated by taxes a better future is drastically hindered, but that is a discussion for another time.
This is not an empty request for change, it is an imperative that will positively impact the planet and those of us who live here. The best way to minimize the influence of misanthropic companies is to not patronize them. This unprecedented opportunity for our Planet’s Economic Revolution starts now with Hemp and Cooperatives! If you truly want to save the planet for your children and grandchildren you will be intrinsically impelled to collaborate with us. We really do not have another viable choice as positive as a collaborative world powered by the united masses and not being subject to the greed and vagaries of the current big-money monopolists. The local economic stimulus provided by locally controlled Agricultural Hemp Cooperatives is designed to buoy up the economic status of rural America. Rural Citizens across the planet have been marginalized and excluded for way too long from the prosperity they deserve for all of their hard work, a fact that I can attest to from firsthand experience. With Agricultural Hemp Cooperatives as a beginning, we can realistically provide an economic environment that will at last allow rural America (and eventually the rest of the world) to be free from the chains of economic oppression imposed by the current monopolistic corporations and start to thrive. It is for everyone’s (except the greedy monopolists) benefit to begin co-creating our planet into the Edenic Utopia that is has the potential to be. The resurgence of the Hemp Industry coupled with the economic equity of 21st Century Cooperatives is an unprecedented opportunity that we may never see again. Let’s not waste it! We must collaboratively act to fully utilize it for the Greatest and Highest Good for All!
Please Forward and Share this with anyone that wants to help Co-Create a Better World. Thanks!♥
© 2019 CHPC
Written by Duane Stjernholm – Co-Founder and Operator of the Colorado Hemp Processing Cooperative
Now Accepting Shareholders and responding to inquiries at:
② https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/cooperatives-short- history