WASHINGTON, April 8, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has helped produce a comprehensive new study and database assessing the national economic impact of cooperatives. The study, "Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives," is the result of extensive research that began in 2006.

It shows that more than 29,000 American cooperatives generate revenues of more than $654 billion and employ more than 2 million workers.

"Because of the hard work that USDA and its partners did, the nation now has a more definitive view of the role and economic strength of cooperatives in our economy," Vilsack said. "Historically, cooperatives have always been extremely important to rural America, serving as economic engines and innovators. This study shows how significant their impact is nationwide."

USDA's Rural Development received a $1.5 million Congressional appropriation to develop the project in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the National Cooperative Business Association and other private-sector associations. The study is the first of what is expected to be a series of reports, analyses and web-based resources stemming from this multi-year effort. Here are some of the key findings of the study:

  • Number of Cooperatives: 29,284
  • Total Revenue: More than $654 billion
  • Income: $133 billion
  • Wages: $75 billion
  • Number of Employees: More than 2 million

  • The data and findings from the study are at: reic.uwcc.wisc.edu. A cooperative is a business mutually owned and democratically controlled by members who benefit from its products and services. Cooperatives are formed to meet the specific objectives of members, and are structured to adapt to members' changing needs.

    This study was led by USDA Rural Development's Cooperative Services Program. Its mission is to promote understanding and use of the cooperative form of business as a viable way to market and distribute agricultural products. USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents.