50 YEARS OF MOVEMENT BUILDING
There are four major themes of the Federation's mission, work, and accomplishments over the past five decades. Our performance in these areas is key to evaluating our success and strength over this sustained period. The central themes of our mission are:
1. to develop cooperatives and credit unions as a means for people to enhance the quality of their lives and improve their communities;
2. to save, protect and expand the landholdings of Black family farmers in the South;
3. to develop a unique and effective Rural Training and Research Center to provide information, skills, and awareness, in a cultural context, to help our members and constituents to build strong rural communities;
4. to develop, advocate and support public policies to benefit our membership of Black and other family farmers; and the low-income rural communities where they live.
During the past year, we have had many success stories and significant results that have helped our member-owners save their landholdings, increase income and improve their quality of life. Some examples of our work include:
This co-op which now involves 1,500 breeding goats has helped members to market goats at better prices, buy feed, medicines * Thirty small goat producers in a hundred mile radius of the Rural Training and Research Center, near Epes, have developed the Southeast Goat Producers Co-op (SoGoCoand supplies at cheaper cost and manage herd health in improved and effective ways. The co-op is moving forward with plans for a processing plant in future years.
The Federation supported women worker-owners of Southern Alternatives in south Georgia to reorganize their operation as a regional and cooperatively owned pecan processing facility. We helped the cooperative to purchase and process pecans from its membership and other limited resource landowners with small-holdings of pecan trees for sale on a national mail order basis.
The Federation's legal and mediation staff helped many families in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and other states to deal with heirs' property and partition sale problems. During the past year, we assisted several families to form family trusts/ corporations, which saved the land from being lost in a partition sale. Other staff members have assisted these same families in securing cost share resources from NRCS to plant and manage acres of forestry, which will yield a continuing return to the family over many years.
The Federation was able to step in and stop the foreclosure of the Wendy Hills Rural Rental Apartments in Sumter County, Alabama. This prevented the loss of affordable housing for 36 very low- income families. The Federation staff has been involved in applying for the restoration of HUD housing subsidies for these families and working to organize the families into a cooperative to assume ownership and management of the housing units.
Fifty vegetable farmers who are members of the Indian Springs Farmers Cooperative in Petal, Mississippi sold over a million dollars of watermelons, peas, okra, greens and herbs to farmers markets in New Orleans, Jackson and Memphis; commercial food brokers serving the casino industry in Mississippi and many other buyers including churches, community organizations, food co-ops, tenant organizations in urban areas.
The Federation is not able to do this work alone. We rely on the support of the Federal and state governments for half of our operating budget. The other half comes from foundations, churches, cooperatives, corporations, individual donors and our membership.
The Federation has work to create a strong community to help people build their own prosperity and progress. In many cases, the Federation works in conjunction with various local, regional and national organizations to implement its policy change priorities and agenda.
Learn more about our work and read historical publications here
"The UN declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives because co-ops work as businesses and they work for communities. I managed the US program for the International Year and was able to attend the Federation of Southern Cooperatives annual meeting at their Rural Training & Research Center in Epes, AL. I want to encourage everyone to consider attending one. There is no finer meeting AND powerful singing at the Federation annual meeting.
Chair, Financing Crosscutting Team--Vermont Farm to Plate Network
Chair, Slow Money Vermont
Vice Chair, Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board