Farmers & Co-ops: The Perfect Pair

In 2021, I wrote an article about the role of debt in farmer success and failure for Wisconsin Farmers Union News, pointing out how the average farmer must be knowledgeable about more than just putting seeds in the ground and rations for livestock. Success requires an understanding of weather, commodities markets, futures contracts, equipment, inputs, soil, animal health, seed quality, land management, and debt. The expertise necessary to farm successfully in the United States today can be a huge challenge. So often it feels like the world is working against you. If malincentives within the global commodities market and monopolistic vertical integration don’t get you down, how about a pandemic? Maybe 7% inflation? How about we throw in a war between two of the biggest grain-producing countries in the world? Modern agriculture can be a very dark place sometimes, but there are many bright spots on the horizon, Menomonie Market Food Co-op being one of them!

As a farmer and a board member, I understand these challenges, and I also understand how our co-op is part of the solution. Organizations like Menomonie Market Food Co-op are in an important position within the national supply chain. They are able to buy directly from our farmers and form relationships of trust within their local communities in such a way that these communities become partially insulated from the wider supply chain issues plaguing the world. Every time our owners see local signs throughout the stores and purchase accordingly, it is an indicator of community resilience and a financial success for the producer and our local economies. The lower the overhead and transportation costs to the farmer, the easier it is to combat inflation. The more local meat processed by community butchers and slaughterhouses, the more we avoid the major risks within Big Ag’s monopolies. The more local fruit, vegetables, and grains we produce and consume, the more we promote the biological diversity and economic success of our own farming communities. It’s all connected.

I am confident the board will continue to support our communities’ farms through their efforts to fulfill the promise within our Ends Statement, “Menomonie Market Food Co-op will be central to a thriving, healthy community.” As a farmer, it brightens the soul and brings a smile to my face.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2022 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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