How are We Different?

Farm & Home Cooperative is unique in Missouri/Kansas. the Midwest, and the United States in its approach to serving rural farming areas by using a rural-tailored multi-stakeholder (or “hybrid”) cooperative model which represents a departure in ownership structure from the more familiar single-class telecommunications, electric power, agricultural producer, and credit /consumer / food / worker co-ops models.

Farm & Home is organized as a cooperative association at the state level and is committed to meeting rural telecommunications needs of its members on a patronage basis while enabling healthcare, education and employment in rural areas which are unserved or underserved by fixed broadband services.

Farm & Home Cooperative’s market activities are oriented toward meeting goals for sustainable quality of life improvements in rural farming areas through its commitment to meeting the needs of all its owners.

On the surface, Farm & Home Cooperative’s stakeholders may appear to have opposing interests. However, Farm & Home Cooperative conducts its business from a holistic approach considering how technology pricing, agricultural demand, local quality of life, local healthcare and employment economy and other decisions impact all its stakeholder groups.

This is especially effective since Farm & Home co-op member/owners may belong to more than one stakeholder group while also belonging to other single-class cooperatives and associations. Farm & Home feels that this cooperative form has excellent prospects of developing a proven track record of long-term stability and financial profits.

A key aspect of Farm & Home Cooperative toward sustainable improvement to the farming communities it serves is that rather than directing profits inequitably to executives and shareholders, proceeds (patronage and dividends) are directed to multiple classes of its community owners. Farm & Home Cooperative has the potential to create a higher level of economic activity in rural areas that it serves and provide higher-value jobs within communities, by ensuring equitable product pricing, transparency in governance, and decision-making that reflects its local member-owners’ values.

In summary, the legal and organizational structure of Farm & Home Cooperative as a multi-stakeholder cooperative — as well as its cultural ethos — generates all sorts of advantages for rural Midwest farming communities. Farm & Home Cooperative can deliver services more efficiently than many conventional businesses and single-class cooperatives. Farm & Home Cooperate can deliver rural services in a more adaptable and responsive way than many government programs. Finally, Farm & Home Cooperative invites active, inclusive participation by members in deciding how rural farming area teleservices needs for farmers and member owners can be met while contributing their own expertise, lessons learned, sage wisdom, teamwork and energy. Farm & Home Cooperative is structured for facilitating participation among a wide range of members with conflicting goals.

What’s exciting about Farm & Home Cooperative is its ability to creatively blend community-level teamwork with its market activity — without letting market forces dominate the agenda. Moreover, we do not merely administer and manage programs in the style of a typical nonprofit or perhaps government organizations; Farm & Home Cooperative is directed and accountable to its members.

Farm & Home Cooperative extends the single-class cooperative’s partnerships to a include a much broader set of active stakeholders. New classes of membership owners can add unforeseen new sources of capital in the community which can help the single-class cooperative member to meet its own goals.

Farm & Home is not intent on replacing single-class rural cooperatives such as telecommunications, electric power, agricultural producer, and credit /consumer / food / worker co-ops.  On the contrary, Farm & Home seeks to add value to the legacy single-class co-op activities while improving its ownership stake in Farm & Home and its success.

[1] The term “Teleservices” has many different uses, for the purposes here it includes but is not limited to broadband, narrowband voice, data and video services delivered for example to a farming area to support agricultural production, development, processing or marketing of new or expanded uses of agricultural products. It may also include Internet and video-conferencing to support farmers use of telehealth, distance education, remote telework, etc.

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