A cooperative is a business that is owned and democratically controlled by its members - the people who use the co-op's services or buy its goods. Cooperatives are as American as apple pie. In fact, the apples in your pie may have come from a farmer-owned cooperative in Washington or Missouri and wheat for the pie crust from a farmer-owned grain elevator cooperative here in Oklahoma. The ice cream you eat with it may have been made in a plant owned by a dairy farmer cooperative. About 30 percent of all farmers' products in the US are marketed through more than 3,000 producer cooperatives.
Producer cooperatives are owned by producers of farm commodities or crafts that band together to process and/or market their products. Producers Cooperative Oil Mill is one such cooperative in Oklahoma. Hiland Dairy is owned by two dairy farmer cooperatives - Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc., and Dairy Farmers of America - whose members are dairy farmers in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Nebraska. Some well-known farmer-owned cooperatives include Land O'Lakes, SunKist, SunMaid, Blue Diamond, Welch's, Ocean Spray and Riceland.
Consumer cooperatives are owned by the people who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperatives. The Oklahoma Food Cooperative is owned by producers and consumers and provides a market for food produced in the state.
Electric cooperatives are consumer cooperatives that provide much of the power for residents in rural areas all over the country. Approximately 900 rural electric cooperatives own and maintain nearly half of the electric distribution lines in the US, cover 75 percent of the land mass and provide electricity to 37 million people.
Across the US, cooperatives are owned by more than 130 million people.