Interest in food cooperatives is growing, due both to increased interest in local, natural, and organic foods and to increased awareness of economic vulnerability in many of our communities.

More and more communities want the products, stability, and accountability that a cooperative can offer. The concept has been put in place in Haiti providing those same benefits.  “The Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP), the country’s largest peasant organization with over 60,000 members, unifies small farmers and rural peasants into farm or craft cooperatives, trains community leaders and conducts agroecological studies. According to a post by their international ally, Grassroots International, the MPP has recaptured 10,000 acres (40.5 sq kilometers) of arable land, planted over 20 million trees and created innovative barriers to mudslides such as stonewall terracing.” (Available at https://foodtank.com/news/2013/06/farming-cooperatives-in-haiti-a-chance-to-advance/).

Cooperatives are businesses owned by their members.

Joel Dahlgren of Black Dog Co-op Law encourages prospective members to incorporate themselves for a “shield” and to learn the relevant laws applicable in their state.

Dahlgren showcases four basic structures available to retail food cooperatives, the choice of which is generally driven by tax, financing, governance and corporate name considerations.

Dahlgren’s table below illustrates these considerations and compares four business structures.

 

 

Sources:

Joel Dahlgren, Legal Primer For Formation of Consumer-Owned Food Cooperatives, available at http://www.foodcoopinitiative.coop/sites/default/files/LegalPrimer.pdf.

(With contributions from Thane Joyal, Bill Gessner, Marilyn Scholl and Stuart Reid)

Publication was made possible through the financial support of Cooperative Development Services, CDS Consulting Co-op and Food Co-op Initiative; with additional funding provided by the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program, through a grant provided to Cooperative Development Services.

 

See Also Black Dog Co-op Law, http://joeldahlgren.blogspot.com/.

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