2014 Scholarship Winner’s Cooperative Essays Part 3
As Cooperative Month comes to a close, we would like to take one last look at our 2014 Scholarship Winner’s Cooperative Essays and their insight as to why Cooperatives are important to the agriculture industry.
By: Jared Harshman, 2014 Scholarship Winner from Mt. Airy, Maryland
“Today’s farmer (agricultural advocate) is continually facing challenges brought on by numerous factors, whether it be government regulations (federal, state, local), environmental/climate issues or society’s growing population. Cooperatives, like MidAtlantic Farm Credit, allow today’s agricultural advocates to bond together to help educate the public [about] agriculture and the benefits of the modern day farmer for today’s society. Cooperatives help the single voice of a farmer to be joined with others to respond in unison to concerns/issues facing today’s farmers. With the decrease in the agricultural footprint in some states, like Maryland, it is key to have cooperatives align agriculture advocates to preserve the remaining farm land for our future generations. Besides joining the voice of the local farmer with those across the nation, cooperatives also serve the purpose of a capital investment facilitator for the local farmer. Cooperatives are beneficial to the local farmer by allowing them the ability to procure local, low interest business loans for the purpose of investing in their business plan. The agricultural advocate’s ability to procure loans to advance their business plan is imperative as it needs to be aligned with the new regulations being put into place at all levels of our government. Compliance to these regulations almost always requires a capital/financial investment by the agricultural advocate. Having cooperatives that have working knowledge of the agriculture industry and current industry trends within agricultural markets only help to serve the future of our farms. The strength of today’s cooperatives will serve as the backbone for the future of our agriculture industry by aligning the various voices of our farmers to become one voice with one unified message.”
By: Jonah Vincent, 2014 Scholarship Winner from Laurel, Maryland
“Cooperatives are businesses which are used and controlled by the membership. The purpose is to financially benefit its owners-members. In the agri-business industry, cooperatives, over the years, have provided goods and services to farmers that otherwise might not be offered. Many facets of American Agriculture are serviced by cooperatives. Financial cooperatives, such as MAFC, provide their members with dependable and low cost borrowing for their expenses. Supply cooperatives, such as Southern States, work to provide reasonably priced supplies such as seed, fertilizers, and chemicals to their members. Electric cooperatives supply electricity to remote areas that would not be served by for-profit utility companies. Marketing cooperatives provide options for members to profitably market their products Land 0′ Lakes (dairy), Blue Diamond Growers (nuts), and Ocean Spray (cranberries) are just a few examples of the successful agricultural cooperatives. In the future, cooperatives have the opportunity to continue to be the backbone of American production agriculture. As we face increasing development pressure in our rural areas, the quantity of smaller farms will likely continue to fall. Cooperatives, as in the past, will serve to maintain much of the infrastructure that is needed to keep our farmers competitive in a global economy. Cooperative support of youth improvement organizations such as 4-H and FFA extension programs will also greatly serve America’s agricultural future. These groups provide many American youth interested in agricultural careers with extraordinary learning and leadership experiences, that will help them be prepared to compete in the modern economy.”
By: Megan Miller, 2014 Scholarship Winner from Strasburg, Pennsylvania
“Growing up in Lancaster County, I have experienced three different parts of the local economy: farming, tourism, and land development. With a growing population and a concern for health, there is an increased need for quality, locally grown food. Every year I see a depletion of farmland and the progression of new developments in place of the farmland. Because of this, cooperatives are becoming more vital to sustain small farms and agriculture businesses. There are many types of cooperatives that can help, all having a common thread of member ownership. Cooperatives are organized and owned by a group of farmers. One benefit of one type of cooperative is that the group has more of a voice in legislature than a single member or small farmer. Cooperatives can make sure that the opinions of farmers are heard. In addition to more political influence, cooperatives benefit members economically. Cooperatives can provide a secure source of supplies, providing greater purchasing power, and through cooperatives, such as MidAtlantic Farm Credit, provide financing and funding for land, equipment and operations. Cooperatives help market and sell products that would have limited reach of single small farmer. A cooperative can be one of the most beneficial ways for farmers and small agri-businesses in local communities to stay in business. In addition to helping local farmers succeed, cooperatives are beneficial to rural communities. Stronger communities are built due to the encouragement and funding of cooperatives in community events such as fairs, health centers, and fundraisers. By working together, the members gain an understanding of how to solve community problems. Consumers are also among the beneficiaries of cooperatives by providing quality products and services, Cooperatives not only help agriculture in the United States, but are also helping farming around the world, assisting communities in Africa develop local and international markets for their products. By understanding the economy of rural areas, cooperatives help families like mine achieve their dreams and aspirations of a rural life.”
By: Lauren Linton, 2014 Scholarship Winner from Martinsburg, West Virginia
“I have grown up on a local dairy farm and understand the need and importance of cooperatives for a farming business. A cooperative is a group of people that come together for a common goal. Several benefits that come from partnering with cooperatives include but are not limited to bulk purchasing discounts, and large quantity sales. With today’s agribusinesses being more diversified and producing more on smaller tracks of real-estate, financing and equity becomes more difficult to balance and we all have to be more open minded and cost conscious about spending and borrowing. Cooperatives like MidAtlantic Farm Credit understand the business of agriculture. Without cooperatives like this farming would not be as prosperous as it is today. These cooperatives are trusting of their shareholders to make choices that will prolong the agriculture and cooperative relationships for years to come!”
Each year, we are continually impressed with our scholarship applicants and all they have to offer their communities, their potential colleges, and themselves. We would like to extend one last congratulations to all of our 2014 Scholarship Winners and good luck in all of their future endeavors.
We are currently accepting applications to our Scholarship Program for the 2015-2016 school year. The deadline for all application materials is January 16, 2015.