Terence Courtney, the Federation’s Director of Cooperative Development makes presentation at Co-op Symposium.
The Federation of Southern Cooperatives held its annual Co-op Symposium at the Rural Training and Research Center (RTRC), near Epes, Alabama last week on April 21. 2023.
The symposium was attended by fifty co-op members in person and another fifty virtually online. This allowed for more discussions, questions to be answered and greater understanding of cooperative concepts by those in attendance.
The main topic of the symposium was a new Uniform Limited Cooperative Associations Act which has been proposed by the state uniform laws commission and adopted by ten states mostly in the mid-West. This law would provide more ease and uniformity for cooperative development of all kinds: agricultural, consumers, workers, housing and others, across the nation.
Terence Courtney, the Federation’s Director of Cooperative Development and Special Projects pointed out that the uniform law allows for voting membership by both participants and investors. Courtney said the provisions, “could dilute and endanger the democratic nature and quality of cooperatives, embodied in the cooperative principle of one member-one vote.”
Currently investors can participate in cooperative development by purchasing non-voting preferred stock with a set rate of return or other types of investment shares. These investors are not entitled to a vote in the affairs and decision making of the cooperative.
There was a lively discussion at the symposium of the potential impacts of this uniform legislation on future cooperative development supported and assisted by the Federation.
Several Federation state associations were represented at the meeting and gave reports on the status of cooperative development in their states and areas.
Previously this month, the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives and the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives had a training at the RTRC for members of the board of directors on their roles and responsibilities in implementing cooperative development and progress. This training for directors was well received and beneficial to the Federation’s membership.