Many people utilize the products and services of a cooperative without becoming a member. That is fine except that members enjoy so many other benefits than simply lower prices on items. A cooperative that operates convenience stores, such as River Country Cooperative, are open to the public. People passing through the area, as well as locals, can stop in for gasoline, snacks, soft drinks, or a needed cup of coffee. They are increasing the profits of the cooperative but will not share in those profits.
Members of the cooperative own and govern it through votes, annual meetings, electing leadership, and helping to create new programs. The members drive changes, services offered, expansion, and policies. It is the key to being responsive to the needs of the community and residents. The purpose of a cooperative is to pool resources to bring goods and services to the community at lower prices by buying in bulk.
If the community as a whole is suffering from poor nutrition due to the high prices of fruits and vegetables, the cooperative can buy local produce in bulk and sell it to families at affordable pricing. People can eat healthier foods, concentrate at school and work better, and spend less money on medications, supplements, and visits to the doctor or clinic. Cooperative membership allows regular people the opportunity to be involved in the community and make a difference.
Members Only Services
There are some services in cooperatives that are only available to members. This is often due to specialization that costs the cooperative more money to provide at a lower price. The Agronomy division of the River Country Cooperative offers seed, chemical, and fertilizer products and application services. Professional services, such as risk management, precision technology, and the assistance of skilled specialists, do not come cheap. Offering those services to the public will result in heavy losses, so participation may only be offered to members.
Becoming a member of a cooperative is not a complicated process. Picking up an application at the feed and grain or convenience store takes no time at all. People can also fill out an application online at the cooperative website. Requirements are minimal, such as living in the county or operating a local farm, and the benefits are many.