Cooperatives add value to producers. But all cooperatives are also very involved in supporting the towns where they are located.
We recently talked with Dean Thernes with Farmers Pride Co-op out of Battle Creek. "We spend a lot of time with FFA students and 4H students," Thernes said. "We support scholarships. The Nebraska Cooperative Council offers scholarships each year, and statewide about $1.17 Million in contributions come from co-ops back into our communities."
In many communities, co-ops are the largest employer. "We all feel very strongly about supporting those communities," Thernes said. Co-op employees also give back in a number of ways. "We have some employees in Farmers Pride who are chiefs of their fire departments. Many of them help assist in coaching sports teams, and co-operatives are very involved in the safety of agricultural producers. We have donated some grain cages to help educate producers about grain incidents, and to help avoid them."
Many small projects in communities usually get support from cooperatives, too. "Things like parades, fundraisers, Halloween, and helping kids to be involved and understand where their food comes from. We spend time with kids in northeast Nebraska with an ag day. These are also ways that co-ops give back," Thernes said.
"There are many things that the cooperative system does to help keep agriculture strong, and we really believe agriculture is the backbone of Nebraska. and we need to support it and make it work," Thernes said.