These seven principles guide MMPA and co-ops worldwide

Founded by farmers and owned by farmers, MMPA is one of around 40,000 cooperatives nationwide. Though credit unions, housing co-ops, retail stores and milk marketing cooperatives don’t appear to have much in common, cooperatives around the world operate according to the same set of core principles and values. Cooperatives trace the roots of these principles to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844. Here’s the seven cooperative principles that guide MMPA and fellow cooperatives worldwide:

1. Voluntary and open membership

Cooperative membership is open to all who are able to use its products/ services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership.

2. Democratic member control

Cooperatives are controlled by their members who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.

3. Members’ economic participation

Members contribute equally to the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative.

4. Autonomy and independence

Each cooperative is managed by an independent board elected from its membership, and decisions are made that democratically benefit its members.

5. Education, training, and information

Cooperatives provide education and training for members, managers, and employees, as well as information to the general public about the benefits of cooperatives and the products and services they provide.

6. Cooperation among cooperatives

Cooperatives serve their members by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7. Concern for community

While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.


noun | |  \ koh-op-er-uh-tiv \

A jointly owned enterprise engaging in the production or distribution of good or the supplying of services, operated by its members for their mutual benefit, typically organized by consumer or farmers. Cooperatives provide a guarantee of market and payment to their members.

This article was originally published in the September/October issue of the Milk MessengerSubscribe »