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Agriculture Co-ops Book

(project status: Book published electronically September 2009)

Co-operative Conversions, Failures and Restructurings:
Case Studies and Lessons from U.S. and Canadian Agriculture

Edited by Murray Fulton and Brent Hueth

In January 2008, the KIS Project was awarded ACAAFS funding for a book on agricultural co-operatives that have experienced some type of financial failure. KIS Principal Investigator, Murray Fulton, worked with Brent Hueth who is the current Executive Director for the Center for Co-operatives at the University of Wisconsin. Twenty academics signed on to author twelve chapters for the book. Each chapter is a case study on a Canadian or American agricultural co-op that has undergone a failure, conversion or restrucing in recent years.

Farmer ownership of businesses in agriculture is widespread. Often – but far from always – this ownership takes the form of co-operatives. During the last 10 years a significant number of farmer-owned businesses have failed or have converted to companies owned largely by investors. These failures or conversions have raised the question as to whether farmer-ownership of agribusinesses is still feasible. The purpose of this book is to address this question. Is management simply the problem or was something more fundamental at work that predisposed farmer-owned businesses to failure? The authors used financial data, newspaper clippings and interview evidence to support a theoretical explanation for the failure.

Sharing research on agricultural co-op failures and conversions can expand the capacity and understanding of co-op failures and conversions and better prepare co-ops for issues and challenges in order to avoid future failures. The book has value for farm leaders, policy makers, co-op members, co-op officials and students.

This book is an information resource for the agricultural sector and for co-operatives. If co-ops can learn which factors have lead to previous co-op failures they can better prepare themselves if similar situations were to arise. The book was released electronically through the KIS website in June 2009.

List of authors & co-ops featured

First Author Co-Author(s) Co-op

First Author



Brent Hueth

Phillipe Marcoul, Roger Ginder West Liberty Foods

Rich Sexton

Himawan Hariyoga Tri Valley Growers

Colin Carter

Jennifer Keeling-Bond, Rich Sexton Rice Growers Association

Michael Boland

Greg McKee Dakota Growers Pasta Co

Murray Fulton

Kathy Larson Saskatchewan Wheat Pool

Shermain Hardesty

  Diamond Walnut Growers

Paul Earl

  United Grain Growers

Ellen Goddard

Getu Hailu Lilydale Co-op Ltd.

Greg McKee

Michael Boland North American Bison Cooperative
Brian Henehan Todd Schmit Pro-Fac Cooperative
Phil Kenkel Greg McKee American Native Beef
Frayne Olson   United Producers, Inc.
David Barton   FCStone

For more information:
Kathy Lang 306-764-3929 or click to email the KIS Project
Murray Fulton: Click to email Murray Fulton
Brent Hueth: Click to email Brent Hueth


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