The Cooperative Model - Making a Powerful Difference for You
Darrell Curtis, AgChoice President & CEO
AgChoice’s directors and employees often talk about how to enhance the benefits of our cooperative business model for customer-owners. I’ve often asked myself, are these benefits real to our customer-owners? Do they see tangible differences that help them achieve their business and personal dreams?
We passionately hope that we’re leveraging the power of the cooperative business model to your advantage.
A cooperative is a business entity owned by its customers. The University of Nebraska’s Cooperative Development Center summarizes the model like this:
The cooperative business model has many appealing components at its core that make its use in rural areas generally easily accepted and embraced. The cooperative model is centered on the user-owned, user-controlled and user-benefited concept of business.
Why the Cooperative is Different
Your AgChoice cooperative is different in key aspects and isn’t duplicated by other financial services providers.
• Customers (not a group of investors) own the business. AgChoice exists to help all of our members achieve success. We strive to understand and deliver what you want and need rather than to “push” products or services in the pursuit of more profit. Non-cooperatives typically exist to benefit investors, who are not customers, by maximizing the business’s net income and stock value. Our vision to serve for and with you as expressed in our Shared Purpose statement: Inspiring growth in our families, businesses and rural communities.
• We pay patronage. AgChoice is profitable, but after setting aside the earnings needed to capitalize the business, we return the balance to you as patronage. Why? Because you own the business.
• The Board of Directors consists of customer-owners. All but two of our 12 Board members are also borrowers who are elected by you. As they set the direction for AgChoice, their vision and objectives for the Association should closely align with the best interests of all of our customer-owners. This structure allows you to have a say in the way your cooperative performs.
• We focus on long-term success. Because you plan for your business to be “in the family” for generations to come, we focus on the long-term success of the Association. We understand the future viability of the Association depends on your enduring success and growth. AgChoice develops loan officers, consultants, accounting officers and other service providers who can help advise you toward successfully building your business. We also devote considerable attention to learning opportunities such as the AgBiz programs and AgForums. Our Knowledge Center serves as a hub for information and educational resources to benefit current and future customer-owners.
What should customer-owners do?
I hope you’ll agree that our cooperative business model offers you unique advantages. What responsibilities do you have to help the cooperative grow and thus continue to create value? Here are a few things you can do.
• Vote! Help ensure the Association has a strong group of directors on the Board. They serve a critically important role. Consider running for a Board position.
• Be a good customer-owner. Make loan payments on time and help your Association by providing timely information. Help us keep costs down – the benefits are returned to you.
• Refer new customers to us. We must grow to achieve long-term success.
• Help with the education and development of fellow and future customer-owners.
• Advocate for agriculture to consumers and legislators. Promote our industry and rural communities for the benefit of our future generations.
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