Board's Eye View

Co-op IQ: Equity

Posted on Mon, Oct 08, 2018 @ 06:26 PM

"The equity of a co-op comes from its membership and serves multiple benefits... Building our equity is an important part of our balance sheet and long term financial health."

Newman_Eric_webDue to my work at CROPP Cooperative (aka Organic Valley), and my longtime work with and dedication to retail cooperatives for my sustenance and community, I am constantly thinking about how we can build and grow a “cooperative movement.” What does that even mean, how are co-ops manifesting themselves today, and what can we do to encourage more?

According to the International Cooperative Alliance,, there are over 3 million cooperatives with 1.2 billion members globally. Vernon County, Wisconsin is a hot bed of co-op business – with many significant cooperatives representing farmers, banking, energy, communications, entertainment, art, health, and retail grocery. The membership and equity structures are different, but there is a common theme as cooperatives are a dynamic economic and democratic engine organized to achieve specific benefits for their membership and the communities they serve.

Cooperative businesses represent a unique alternative to the public market in terms of their long-term goals and their democratic control. The equity of a co-op comes from its membership and serves multiple benefits as it ensures the initial investment needed to capitalize the business and a stake in the success of the enterprise comes from the members. Building our equity is an important part of our balance sheet and long term financial health.

One important financial instrument we wield is our Class C preferred stock. This stock, which only VFC Owners who reside in Wisconsin can purchase, pays a fixed rate of interest when issued by the Board. The Viroqua Food Co+op, in addition to its existing membership equity of over $272,000, has also raised over $1 million in Class C stock in the expansion funding drive (page 11). This is an incredible sign of the commitment from our membership and our community. If you are interested in investing, we are specifically raising funds to finance the installation of a solar array on the building. Contact VFC’s Outreach & Ownership Coordinator Bjorn Bergman for more information at, or call General Manager Jan Rasikas at the Co-op with any further questions.

As I complete my term as a VFC Board Member this fall, I will still be involved with the Viroqua Food Co+op and the global cooperative movement, in my work and personal life. I’m always open to a discussion of co-op principles and business, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your thoughts and ideas.

We invite all owners to the Annual Owners Meeting this Thursday, October 11, to review the past year’s fiscal and operating performance at Rooted Spoon Kitchen Table, 219 S Main Street, Viroqua. All VFC Owners are invited!


  • 5:30-6:30pm: Light meal prepared by Rooted Spoon Culinary
  • 6:30pm: Voting ballots close
  • 6:30-8:00pm: Business meeting

TODAY (Monday) is the last day to RSVP if you plan to join us for the meal. Each owner needs to RSVP separately. No need to RSVP if you only plan to attend the business portion of the meeting.

Tags: Board of Directors, Annual Owners Meeting, VFC Election, Co-op Equity