Listen to Daniel Smith talk about cooperatives in the states where his Cooperative Network operates – Wisconsin and Minnesota – and you might think this has to be the promised land. Just about every legislator knows about cooperatives. Most belong to some. Just about every citizen does similar – many belong to three or five or more.
But listen closely and what Smith is discussing are the crucial issues cooperatives just about everywhere face: the war for talent, the struggle for support in government, and life and death issues that ag co-ops in particular now struggle with.
Smith’s Cooperative Network is a fascinating organization. It represents co-ops from 12 different sectors – everything from some of the nation’s largest ag co-ops to small Union Cab, a worker owned transportation company in Madison.
They seem diverse – they are diverse – but, said Smith, their cooperative foundation means they have more in common than might initially meet the eye.
Give Smith a listen and you just may hear a blueprint for how to fight for and win more respect for co-ops everywhere, not just the upper midwest. It’s an inspiring talk.