New statutes added to co-op law library; full launch coming soon

A comprehensive, state-by-state review of co-op law will address the challenge of inconsistent legislative framework for cooperative development in the U.S.

The State Cooperative Statute Library team has released two new additions to its growing database of co-op law: research on New York’s Cooperative Corporations Law and Wisconsin’s General Cooperative Statutes. Other statutes with complete or near-complete research include the Georgia Agricultural Statue, the Wisconsin Incorporated and Unincorporated Association statutes, the West Virginia Statute, and the Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota and Virginia General and Agricultural statutes, bringing the state total to 18.

Bipartisan Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus relaunches in 115th Congress

First established in 2016, the caucus provides greater visibility, education and awareness of the cooperative business model's economic impact nationwide.

First established in 2016, the caucus provides greater visibility, education and awareness of the cooperative business model's economic impact nationwide.First established in 2016, the caucus provides greater visibility, education and awareness of the cooperative business model's economic impact nationwide.First established in 2016, the caucus provides greater visibility, education and awareness of the cooperative business model's economic impact nationwide.The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International is pleased to announce that the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration on Friday formally recognized the bipartisan Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus—co-chaired by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)—for the 115th Congress. 

“We are thrilled that this historic caucus dedicated to advancing the role of cooperatives in the nation’s economy has been continued in the new Congress,” NCBA CLUSA president and CEO Judy Ziewacz said. “We encourage lawmakers to recognize the critical role co-ops play in their districts by joining this bipartisan caucus.”

First established in 2016, NCBA CLUSA helped establish the caucus that has served as an outlet for raising awareness of and advancing the cooperative business model before Congress and the Administration. 

In May, the caucus—seeking to end a decades-long absence of federally reported data on co-ops in the U.S.—asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to reinstate a question recognizing cooperative businesses on the 2017 Economic Census. Since then, the question has undergone feasibility and field testing and is poised for approval by the Office of Business and Management. 

Rep. Royce—who, along with Rep. Pocan, has helped spur movement on this issue and others—said he looks forward to using his role as caucus co-chair to continue highlighting the benefits of cooperatives. “Cooperative businesses provide valuable goods and services, build wealth in local communities and offer their members a piece of their success,” he said in a January 30 press release. 

Royce is a longtime advocate of cooperative businesses—from California’s credit unions and mutual insurers to Africa’s rural electric co-ops. Wisconsin’s Dane Country, which Pocan represents, is home to 80 cooperatives—the highest number of co-ops per capita of any county in the nation. 

“I’m proud that my district is home to thriving cooperatives, from Willy Street Food Co-op to UW Credit Union,” Pocan said in the release. “I look forward to continue working with Rep. Royce to promote greater awareness of the cooperative business model and to advocate on federal policy issues unique to the co-op community.

On Wednesday, February 1, Royce and Pocan are expected to speak at a reception hosted by NCBA CLUSA to welcome freshmen members of the 115th Congress and invite them to join the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus. 

The January 31 issue of Co-op Weekly incorrectly identified Rep. Ed Royce as a Democrat. Rep. Royce is a Republican representing California's 39th District. NCBA CLUSA regrets the error.



Government Accountability Office report recommends continued analysis on Cuba

Camila Piñero, Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy, speaks with U.S. Co-op delegates during the 2016 Cooperative Forum in Cuba.

Camila Piñero, Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy, speaks with U.S. Co-op delegates during the 2016 Cooperative Forum in Cuba.Camila Piñero, Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy, speaks with U.S. Co-op delegates during the 2016 Cooperative Forum in Cuba.Camila Piñero, Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy, speaks with U.S. Co-op delegates during the 2016 Cooperative Forum in Cuba. Analyzing the impact of increased engagement between the U.S. and Cuba, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last week confirming that increased engagement did in fact have an impact in Cuba, but more data is needed.

The GAO consulted with NCBA CLUSA for its expertise on the cooperative sector in Cuba during the writing of the report, including questions on the role of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.

The recommendations from the GAO report echo a memo released by NCBA CLUSA and the Cuba Study Group last week, urging continued analysis and reporting on Cuba before making any decisions about disengagement.

The GAO report examines what is known about the size and scope of the Cuban private sector, the effect of changes to U.S. legal and regulatory restrictions on the Cuban private sector and U.S. businesses, and the extent to which the U.S. government planned and implemented activities to increase U.S. engagement with the Cuban private sector and expand U.S. economic opportunities in Cuba.

Activities like the U.S. Cooperative leaders' delegation to Cuba in July 2016 encouraging private sector links and connections between the two countries contributed to increased engagement. The delegation visited as part of the work of the U.S. - Cuba Cooperative Working Group, lead by NCBA CLUSA.

Although the regulatory changes have created some new opportunities for U.S. businesses and the Cuban private sector, embargo restrictions and Cuban government barriers continue to limit U.S. – Cuba economic engagement, according the GAO report.

The GAO recommendation “that all relevant U.S. agencies have information on the effect of changes in U.S. policy related to Cuba, and should take steps to identify and begin to collect the information that would allow them to monitor changes in economic engagement, including with the Cuban private sector,” supports the recommendation NCBA CLUSA and the Cuba Study Group, along with 16 other organizations, made last week to the Trump Administration.

Read more about NCBA CLUSA and Cuba Study Group’s memo to the Trump Administration on Cuba.

Read the GAO Report: U.S. Policy Changes Increased Engagement with Private Sector, but Agency Information Collection Is Limited.


NCBA CLUSA joins Cuba Study Group urging President-elect Trump to continue engaging Cuba

Leaders of the co-op sector in the U.S. visit Cuba in July 2016 as part of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.

Leaders of the co-op sector in the U.S. visit Cuba in July 2016 as part of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.Leaders of the co-op sector in the U.S. visit Cuba in July 2016 as part of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.Leaders of the co-op sector in the U.S. visit Cuba in July 2016 as part of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.NCBA CLUSA joined the Cuba Study Group and 16 other organizations today, co-signing a letter addressed to the incoming Trump administration on Cuba. Titled U.S. Policy Towards Cuba: The Case for Engagement, the memo urges the president-elect to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of progress made in U.S. – Cuba relations.

The memo outlines the positive gains from U.S – Cuba engagement, including potential U.S. job creation and notes that the risks of disengagement could affect national security and human rights.

One gain is the growth of the Cuban private sector, which now accounts for 30 percent of the country’s workforce. The preferred business model in the Cuban private sector is cooperative businesses, which continue to need support and training. The first export to the U.S. from Cuba in over 50 years, arriving this week, will be from a cooperative charcoal business.

“Cooperative businesses and the private sector in Cuba will continue to grow through engagement between the U.S and Cuba. There is a rich history of the U.S. cooperative sector supporting cooperative business around the world and Cuba is no exception,” said Amy Coughenour Betancourt, head of NCBA CLUSA’s U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group and COO for International Development. “With collaboration through groups like the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group, cooperative sectors from both countries can only advance.”

NCBA CLUSA’s U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group continues to foster cross-national cooperative business collaboration. Next month, NCBA CLUSA member Organic Valley will host Cuban co-op farmers during their MOSES Organic Farming training conference, a partnership that was formed out of the recent U.S. Co-op Delegation to Cuba last July.

Outlining these and other gains, this week's memo is part of an effort to demonstrate that constructive engagement is the best strategy for supporting the Cuban people while also boosting U.S. jobs and exports.

Read the full memo here.


NCBA CLUSA joins 80 NGOs and InterAction to outline priorities for incoming UN Secretary-General

UN Guterres 500 333 cd13fUN Guterres 500 333 cd13fUN Secretary-General António Guterres, left, is sworn in by Peter Thomson, president of the 71st session of the General Assembly. [photo: Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency] In a letter organized by NGO alliance InterAction this week, NCBA CLUSA included its voice in welcoming the incoming United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. The letter, signed by more than 80 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), outlines the priorities of the NGO community and reiterates its support for Guterres' proactive agenda.

In the letter, NCBA CLUSA and other signatories highlight the following goals: re-establish the UN’s role as an impartial peace broker, restore respect for the norms that safeguard humanity—including freedom from fear and deprivation, and gender equality—and enhance the UN’s effectiveness and reputation through increased transparency and reforms.

"You stated that 2017 is to be the year of peace. For this to happen, it must be the year of action," the letter states, recommending "meaningful cooperation" among member states and the establishment of a "new way of working within the UN system" to propel that action. 

As the apex organization representing the U.S. cooperative sector to the International Cooperative Alliance, NCBA CLUSA has long worked alongside the UN to advance the goals of the global cooperative community. The UN has actively sought the inclusion of cooperatives since it named 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. "Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to both pursue economic viability and social responsibility, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during observances that year. 

The UN remains in a unique position to establish global standards and policy guidance that create an enabling environment for cooperative development. 

Click here to read the full letter

InterAction is an alliance of more than 180 NGO members—among them NCBA CLUSA—that partner, share best practices and combine their voices to achieve greater collective impact. InterAction convenes, leads and influences coordinated action to drive policies and practices that advance the elimination of extreme poverty and vulnerability, strengthen human rights, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace and ensure dignity for all people. 


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