Cooperative destiny--it's up to you!


Material Information

Cooperative destiny--it's up to you!
Series Title:
Information / Farmer Cooperative Serivce ;
Physical Description:
12 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Knapp, Joseph Grant, 1900-
United States -- Farmer Cooperative Service
Farmer Cooperative Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Cooperation, Agricultural -- United States   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
by Joseph G. Knapp.
General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
"October 1962"--Cover.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 027382392
oclc - 85242910
System ID:

This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


a -No



i DEC 141962


The Farmer Cooperative Service con-
ducts research studies and service activ-
ities of assistance to farmers in connection
with cooperatives engaged in marketing
farm products, purchasing farm supplies,
and supplying business services. The
work of the Service relates to problems
of management, organization, policies,
financing, merchandising, product quality,
costs, efficiency, and membership.
The Service publishes the results of
the studies; confers and advises with offi-
cials of farmer cooperatives; and works
with educational agencies, cooperatives,
and others in the dissemination of infor-
mation relating to cooperative principles
and practices.

Joseph G. Knappi Administrator
Farmer Cooperative Service
U. S. Department of Agriculture

Cooperative Destiny--

It's Up to You!

By Joseph G. Knapp

Cooperative destiny is a matter of
choice. The future of cooperatives
largely will depend upon what you do
as cqoperators -- individually and

There is an old expression to the
effect that life is what we make it.
This applies also to cooperatives. Co-
operatives are what we make them, and
I would like to emphasize the "we" be-
cause cooperatives are not made by any
one man. They are made by a number
of people working together in different
capacities. The members are, of
course, the foundation of a successful
cooperative, but it's what the members
d in selecting directors, and it's what
the directors do in hiring or firing a
manager, and in their formulation of
policy and evaluation of results, that
is all-important.

When we talk about cooperative
destiny, we are thinking of the factors
that contribute to the rise or decline
of organizations. Perhaps we can

Note: Talk given at Summer Conference of Maine
Cooperative Council, University of Maine, Orono,
Maine, July 19, 1962.

paraphrase the topic something like
this: "How do we build strong, ef-
fective cooperative organizations with
a built-in capacity for growth and
survival ?'

Must Adapt to Change

Here, I would like to bring out the
point that if organizations are to sur-
vive and grow, they must be able to
adapt to change. They must be able
to improve with time. They cannot
stand still in any way.

If we look backward instead of for-
ward for a moment, we shall see that
the major organizations- in existence
today -- the ones we consider im-
portant -- are generally the ones that
have changed quite a good -deal in past

Take, for example, an organization
like the Cooperative G.L.F. Exchange,
Ithaca, N. Y. It's a far different or-
ganization from the rather simple feed,
seed, and fertilizer purchasing asso-
ciation that was established by Ed
Babcock and other New York farmers
just after World War I. It has main-
tained the high principles and objectives
of the original organization, yet it has
adapted itself to changing conditions
and has greatly extended its scope of
operations to meet many problems
that were not even imagined forty years

Another great cooperative, Land
O'Lakes Creameries, Inc.,Minneapolis,
Minn., is a far more complex and

better integrated organization than it
was even a few years ago. I could take
other examples throughout the country
to illustrate how the organizations
which have survived and grown are
those that have been able to adapt to
change. In fact, such organizations
have even initiated and helped bring
about changes in the environments in
which they operate.

Must Meet Needs

Now to continue with my subject.
If a cooperative is to survive, it must
be able to continue to meet economic
needs. It must be able to perform
functions of importance to its mem-
bers -- those who are served by it.

Farmers can't start a cooperative
as a viable organization unless it has
a good prospect of success -- that is,
unless it has a good prospect of at-
tracting the support of those who will
see and obtain benefits from its serv-

We can't expect continuous growth
unless the cooperative finds new and
better ways to serve members' needs.
This calls for research and planning,
provsion for financing new facilities
and services, and many other related
things which I cannot fully discuss

We must always remember that an
organization doesn't exist for itself
alone. It exists because it is of serv-
ice to someone--this is particularly
true of cooperatives. People may join

An organization doesn't exist for itself
alone--it exists because it is of service
to someone.

cooperatives in the expectation that
they will be well served, but if they are
not well served they are going to leave
the organization.

Keeping up with the trends is im-
portant for all kinds of businesses.
A considerable number of organiza-
tions now on the 1962 Fortune maga-
zine annual list of 500 major corpora-
tions were not there a year ago.
Conversely, a large number on the list
a year or so ago are now off. Even a
big organization may lose ground and
finally fail. Think of automobile com-
panies that were once great, but are
now only memories.

When we think of the future of a
cooperative, we must ask ourselves,
this question: Who is responsible for
seeing to it that an organization thrives ?
Actually, the responsibility rests with
all the three elements that make up a
cooperative: The members, the board


i of directors, and the manager and his

Members Must Accept

; *The first requirement is well in-
formed members who will accept re-
sponsibility. We must expect mem-
bers to be responsible in the same way
that we must expect our citizens to be
responsible. We can't have a living
democracy unless we have citizens
willing to accept their duty to vote and
elect representatives capable of guiding
the affairs of the country.

The same thing is true for cooper-
ative organizations. I know an organ-
ization in the West that has the
slogan -- "Every Member a Field
Man." I like this slogan because it
Syndicates the sense of responsibility


..:bLebers become loyal to those things from
which they benefit or whose value they


that is vested in the members and
assumed by them.

We often hear the expression that a
cooperative needs loyal members. I'm
of the opinion that loyalty is something
that is built into people. They become
loyal to those things from which they
benefit or whose value they recognize.
Cooperatives must engender in mem-
bers a sense of responsibility -- a
realization that they must do their share
to help an organization succeed.

On the other hand, I don't feel that
we must ask the impossible of them --
blind loyalty. We must see that mem-
bers are well informed and that they
know what the organization is doing.
They must be given some indication
of the benefits of their participation.
They must be given the feeling that the
organization is theirs, and that it does
not belong to the board of directors,
the manager, or anyone else.

The members must realize that they
are responsible for having able di-
rectors. They cannot ignore this
responsibility. Does your organiza-
tion have a plan to select the best
possible directors? The method by
which the directors are elected often
affects the quality of a director se-

Directors Must Be Well Informed

Let's focus our attention now on
the directors. Certainly if you are a
director, you have a responsibility for
the success of the cooperative you

represent. You have been placed in
your position as director to help main-
tain the strength and vitality of the
organization. You can either contri-
bute to that objective or be of little
value to it.

I think that one of our great weak-
nesses in cooperatives is that, in many
cases, directors do not have a full
understanding of directorial respon-
sibilities. As a result, they do not
make the best use of their opportunities
to serve their organizations. Fre-
quently, there is lack of knowledge on
how a board of directors should func-
tion. We often find directors who
attempt to manage the day-to-day oper-
ations of an organization and this can
blight the spirit of a manager as fast
as anything.

Directors who attempt to take over
the manager's prerogatives do untold
harm. Such directors seem to want a

There must be a reciprocal arrangement be-
tween members, the board, and the manager.
None can operate efficiently without the

rubber-stamp manager rather than a
vital, able man who can perform as a
manager in a satisfactory manner.
No first-class manager is going to
continue long with a board of directors
that restricts him at every point.

If rivalry develops between a board
of directors and a manager, something
is wrong. Either the board or the man-
ager isn't functioning correctly. A
situation of this kind calls for analysis
of the cause of the difficulty and cor-
rective action.

While a board should not allow it-
self to hamstring the manager, neither
should it go to the other extreme and
give the manager too free a hand,- A
cooperative can become subservient to
the manager unless directors exert an
effective role in the total management

Let's turn now to the job of the man-
ager. We cannot expect any cooperative

Managers must not only carry out directives
of the board and members, but must have
creativity and independence.

organization to survive very long if it
does not have a first-class manager
and first-class managerial employees.
I like to think of a first-class manager
not only as a man who carries out the
intent of the board of directors and
endeavors to meet the needs of the
members, but one who also is a man
ao some creativity and independence.
I dom't believe we can expect a person
who cannot think for himself to be a
capable manager.

A first-class manager should give
leadership to the board of directors,
but also he should realize that he needs
the jmgment and counsel of his di-
rectors. They can be his sounding
board to help him know whether the
way in which he is operating is meet-
ing the needs and objectives of the

All Depend Upon Each Other

I hold that there should be a re-
. eiprocal, or reciprocating, relation-
ship between the members, the board,
and the manager. None of them can
- operate effectively without the others.
The members need the board and the
board of directors requires a manager.
A manager needs a board of directors
and a board of directors exists only to
meet the objectives of its members.

IT we could firmly establish this
idea of the reciprocating action of these
three interrelated functioning parts of
the organization, it would help us build
stronger organizations. No one of the

three can function effectively unless
the other two are working well.

I recently talked on the future of
cooperatives at the American Farm
Economics Association- meetings in
New York City. In preparing for
that talk, I gave a lot of thought
to the factors affecting cooperative
destiny and to a number of devel-
opments that are contributing to
a growing importance of cooper-

From this analysis I concluded that
the kind of agriculture we now have,
and the kind we can foresee, requires
that farmers have strong business or-
ganizations to best serve their needs.
How can farmers long survive as
independent business men unless they,
like other independent business men,
join together for their mutual benefit
and protection? To me, it seems
significant that independent grocery
stores have found it necessary to join
together in order to meet the com-
petition of the chain stores. The Same
thing is true of most farmers. They
must join together if they're going to
meet the competition of highly efficient
productive units in a market that de-
mands greater uniformity and steady
supplies of large quantities of high
quality products.

At the present time, department
stores are having a rather tough time
meeting the competition of discount

1Knapp, Joseph G.., The Scope of Farmer Coopera-
tives Present and Future, Journal of Farm
Economics, May 1962, PP. 476-488.


houses and mass market food com-
panies. It is significant that many
department stores now buy together
cooperatively in order to meet such

Cooperatives thus may be viewed
as a way in which people or organ-
izations can join together to compete
better. If we look at them in this
manner, we shall free ourselves from
sentiment, and shall regard them as
a practical method of doing business.,

Co-ops enable people to join together to
compete better.

Without doubt, there are fine social
elements in cooperatives and we should
not lose sight of them. The process of
working together toward a common ob-
jective is in itself something that should
be encouraged. It's also important to
work together for an ideal. In farmer
cooperatives we have the kind of organ-
izations that farmers can rally around
to, protect their own vital interest as
, farmers.

Cooperatives have made a lot of
progress in the last 25 years, but the
evidence indicates that many are just
now learning how to cooperate in an
effective manner.

In the next half century we're go-
ing to find cooperatives becoming the
recognized way through which most
farmers conduct their own business
affairs. There are many reasons why
farmers should have their own organ-
izations in the same way that workers
have their unions or other private
business men-have their own special
types of organizations.

Moreover, a more independent agri-
culture made possible by cooperation
between farmers will contribute to the
best interests of all parts of our society.

We have considered here what indi-
viduals can do to help farmer coopera-
tives be of maximum service to farm-
ers. I have stressed the importance
of being a responsible member, an
able director, or a competent manager.
If all cooperative members, directors,
and managers perform in the .most
efficient manner, cooperative po-
tentials can be largely realized andthe
future of farmer cooperatives will be
bright indeed.

So to sum up -- It's up to you.











3 1262 08500 2243

Other Publications Available

Planned Public Relations -- In Modern
Cooperative Business. Information 10.. -

Co-ops Have a Place in Rural Com-
munity Progress. Information .23.,

Cooperatives in the American Private
Enterprise System. Information .24.

How Farmer Cooperative Seriice
Works. Information 26.

List of FCS Publications. Informa-
tion 4.

A copy of these publications ma be
obtained upon request while a suply is
available from --

Information Division .
Farmer Cooperative Service:
U. S. Department of Agricultur
Washington 25, D. C.

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID EA7E4E46S_Q1AU27 INGEST_TIME 2013-04-08T21:12:05Z PACKAGE AA00013702_00001