Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Completed Competitive Grant

Cooperation: A survival strategy for small and medium-sized farms

Project ID: P2003-16

Abstract

Farm input and supply cooperatives are commonly used with success in U.S. agriculture. There may be potential for similar cooperative strategies to help small and medium-sized farmers share machinery, labor, and expertise.

Key Question: What are the benefits to farmers who act cooperatively?

Findings: The project showed that there are significant potential gains from cooperation among small and midsized farmers in the western Corn Belt. Producers who are able to jointly own one or more pieces of farm equipment can not only reduce equipment costs per acre, but also access newer and more expensive technologies that would otherwise be beyond their reach. The project demonstrates that successful sharing arrangements can come in a wide variety of sizes and forms. There is no one best way. Finally, the project showed that equipment and labor sharing may not be for everyone. Some personal characteristics, beliefs and attitudes can make it difficult for equipment sharing groups to succeed.

Lead investigator: Roger Ginder, ISU Economics

Co-Investigator(s):

Georgeanne Artz, University of Missouri Agricultural Economics and Public Affairs

Year of grant completion: 2008

This competitive grant project was part of the Leopold Center's Policy Initiative.

Topics: Business management, distribution and marketing, Farmer profitability, enterprise budgets