April, 12 2007
Contact: Heather Gray  (404) 765-0991
Mississippi Farmer Ben Burkett Describes The Ideal Marketing Cooperative

ATLANTA... In 2006 the Federation/LAF interviewed cooperative members on their marketing practice to develop a "Cooperative Marketing Manual". From that research Federation/LAF staff member and farmer Ben Burkett shared with us his concept* of an ideal marketing cooperative which is described below. Ben Burkett is a member of the Indian Springs Farmers Cooperative in Mississippi.

(1) The Ideal Marketing Cooperative will have 90% (or better) of its members and Board of Directors involved in the following ways: decision making; production issues; the Board of Directors will meet monthly; the membership will meet quarterly; members will have paid their shares.

(2) The co-op will have a nice packing and grading facility in a central location - close to a major highway if possible.

(3) There will be at least one full time and one half time paid management staff.

(4) The co-op will have a computerized record keeping system.

(5) The market for the co-op’s production will be planned at least one year in advance.

(6) Research on marketing trends will have been completed one year in advance. The determination of the crops to be grown will be based on the market research.

(7) Members collectively will decide the acreage of produce to be grown per member with the assistance and advice of the manager.

(8) The cooperative will have adequate operating funds: to pay farmers after delivery to the buyer; for upkeep of facilities; to pay management.

(9) There will be low liability and high net worth.

(10) The co-op will be able to deposit 5% of its gross sales into an equitable fund for future development.

(11) Most important.... the cooperative will be so successful that it will attract young farmer members. They will be knocking at the door!

* The research was thanks to a RME-CSREES Cooperative Marketing Grant

Note: The Federation/LAF, now in its 39th year,  assists Black family farmers across the South with farm management, debt restructuring, alternative crop suggestions, marketing expertise and a whole range of services to ensure family farm survivability.