Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Many reasons to celebrate co-ops

By Lucas Frerichs, Kim Coontz and Eric Stromberg

The United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives, highlighting the immense contributions of cooperatives to global socio-economic development. Additionally, October is National Cooperative Month here in the United States.

Locally, the Davis Food Cooperative is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and Davis Ace Hardware is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Globally, more than 1 billion people in 100-plus nations are members of cooperatives that generate more than 100 million jobs around the world. In California, more than 10 million residents belong to a cooperative of some type.

Cooperatives are diverse. Many people do not realize that credit unions are financial co-ops. In the United States, more than 7,250 credit unions supply financial services for 93 million-plus consumers nationwide. Our local credit unions include The Golden1, (the nation’s sixth largest, with assets of more than $6 billion and nearly 700,000 members statewide), USE Credit Union, Travis Credit Union and Yolo County’s locally grown Yolo Federal Credit Union.

At credit unions, the members are the owners. At a traditional bank, profits go to shareholders. Since credit unions are not-for-profit, the money earned is primarily returned to the members in the form of lower fees, better loan rates, etc. Some credit unions do have requirements for membership such as residing or working in a particular county.

An agricultural cooperative, also known as a farmers’ co-op, is usually a purchasing or producer co-op, and sometimes a combination of the two. Agricultural cooperatives are found throughout the food chain, from inputs to marketing to consumption. They help increase economies of scale in production and marketing, enabling members to increase their incomes and quality of living.

In the United States, agricultural co-ops have nearly 3 million members and do more than $100 billion of business. Many leading brands — especially in fruit juices — are cooperatives. Dairy co-ops are also very common, including some major brands. They may look like big corporations, but they are very different in how they distribute profits and control.

These cooperatives are familiar to many of us; Ocean Spray, Land O’ Lakes, Florida’s Natural, Sunkist, Sun-Maid, Cabot Creamery, Organic Valley and Blue Diamond. Founded in 1897 as the Davisville Almond Growers Association, Blue Diamond is headquartered in Sacramento and is the world’s largest tree nut producer, with more than 3,000 members throughout California.

Purchasing and shared service co-ops are often thought of as a way to help small businesses survive, so it may be surprising to learn that some of the biggest name brands are actually marketing co-ops. They may look like a big corporate chain at first glance, but rather than a top-down structure that funnels power and profits to absentee investors, the company is owned and democratically controlled by its members, who operate one or more locations. Examples include Ace Hardware, which has 4,400 stores in a wide range of sizes, and Best Western, which is the world’s largest hotel chain, with 4,000 hotels in 80 countries.

Co-ops also have been successfully utilized as a model for child care across the country, as well as here in Davis. The Davis Parent Nursery School is a longtime Davis institution that has provided outstanding preschool services for thousands of Davis youngsters in its 63 years of operation.

Cooperatives also offer benefits to artists and craftspeople. By working together, artisans can gain marketing advantages, reap quantity discounts on supplies through joint purchasing, and share studio space and equipment. In Davis, The Artery is an artist-owned and -operated cooperative gallery of fine art and contemporary crafts. Founded in 1974, The Artery’s mission is to provide public access to high-quality artisan-made work created by its 70 members.

Cooperative housing is not a new concept. This country’s first housing cooperative was organized in New York City in the late 1800s. Today, more than 1 million units of cooperative housing are scattered throughout the United States. Housing cooperatives make up one of the largest sectors of cooperatives in California. They are set up as corporations and are owned by members who receive services from the corporation in the form of housing. Each member owns a share in the corporation, which entitles them to occupy a unit of housing. Davis also boasts a wide array of co-op housing, including the 60-unit Dos Pinos Housing Co-op, among others.

Retail cooperative food stores number approximately 350 in communities across the United States. Over its first 40 years, the Davis Food Co-op has grown from an idealistic counter-cultural alternative — a buying club that operated out of a garage in Central Davis — to become a Davis community icon. Today, the DFC is a $20 million-per-year business that sells a unique array of organic, sustainable, conventional and locally sourced products, and employs nearly 150 employees in a 26,000-square-foot building that it owns. In turn, the Co-op is owned by its nearly 11,000 members.

In Davis, we are fortunate to have a long and rich history with co-ops across all sectors, whether they represent housing, agriculture, financial, food or art. Many Davis residents are involved with co-ops in their daily lives, whether they recognize it or not. We encourage you to educate yourselves further in this International Year of Cooperatives.

Happy National Co-op Month, and please remember to “go co-op!”

— Lucas Frerichs is a member of the Davis City Council, Kim Coontz is the executive director of the Davis-based California Center for Cooperative Development and Eric Stromberg is the general manager of the Davis Food Co-op.

Special to The Enterprise

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rich RifkinOctober 15, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    "Founded in 1897 as the Davisville Almond Growers Association, Blue Diamond is headquartered in Sacramento and is the world’s largest tree nut producer, with more than 3,000 members throughout California." There is a short online history of the founding of the Davisville Almond Growers Association, which you can read here. While it is true that the DAGA was the first almond growers co-op in California, it was not the case that the Davis growers "founded" the California Almond Growers Exchange. The person who formed the larger co-op (now Blue Diamond) was an almond grower from the Acampo area named J. P. Dargitz. In 1920, Mr. Dargitz convinced the growers from 9 existing local co-ops to join together as one under the California Almond Growers Exchange name (later re-named "Blue Diamond"). Those original growers included the Davis group; and all 9 together grew the majority of almonds in California at that time. ... As an aside, acreage dedicated to almonds declined in this region after World War 2, when tomato canneries were established, and the automated tomato harvester was developed at UC Davis, making that a more profitable crop.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich RifkinOctober 15, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    "In 1920, Mr. Dargitz ..." Correction, that should say 1910.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Hub of activity: DHS newspaper keeps evolving

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    A springtime ritual

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Tom Adams seeks Davis school board seat

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

     
     
    Holy fire ceremony draws thousands in Jerusalem

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Tour renovated YCCC facility Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Tour Davis Waldorf School on Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    The fifth annual Tour de Cluck is soon to be hatched

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Ortiz lawn signs available

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Sign up soon for spring cooking classes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Robb Davis team to rally on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Steadfast in their support

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4, 6 Comments | Gallery

     
    Yolo Hospice offers free grief workshops

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sign up for Camp Kesem caterpillar crawl

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Quilters gear up for annual show

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A4

    League hosts a series of candidate forums

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    KDVS launches fund drive on Monday

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A5

    Calling all Scrabble fans

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Hub webpage is seeing traffic increasing

    By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A8

    Learn Chinese crafts at I-House

    By Sebastian Onate | From Page: A16

     
    Preschool open house set at Davis Waldorf

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

    Birch Lane celebrates its 50th anniversary

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

     
    Hotel/conference center info meeting set

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

    Lescroart welcomes all to book-launch party

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16 | Gallery

     
    DEVO set to serve up 14th annual Winkler Dinner

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Take ownership of your health

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    Not thrilled with lack of symmetry

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Reliving the agony and ecstasy of spring

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

     
    Keep your baby safe

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Road diet? No, city diet!

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 4 Comments

    We’re reveling in our equality

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

     
    Vote no; it’s fiscally responsible

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

    Rick McKee cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A12

     
    Core values on campus

    By Our View | From Page: A12

     
    Bill is an affront to UC Davis ag biotech and local farmers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

    Don’t want to sit in Fix 50 traffic? Consider alternatives

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

     
    .

    Sports

    UCD softball shut out by Santa Barbara

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie men shoot 9-under, lead own tourney

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Stars shine in Woody Wilson Classic

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Devils burn up the track

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    UCD roundup: Aggie baseball swept away by Highlanders

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    A’s score 3 in ninth, rally past Astros 4-3

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    PG&E pays taxes, fees to county, cities

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

     
    Will Davis get an Old Soul?

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9

    Pediatricians, nurse practitioner hired at Woodland Healthcare

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Asian stocks mostly higher after mixed U.S. earnings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    Yolo Federal Credit Union gets WISH funds

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Davis Roots will showcase its graduating startups

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14

    University Honda wins another President’s Award

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

     
    Dutch Bros. raises $19,000 for girl with leukemia

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, April 20, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8