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University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Research on the Economic Impact of Cooperatives
Biofuels cooperatives are a form of agricultural marketing cooperatives that have recently developed in response to the emerging biofuels sector of the U.S. economy. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, farmer-owned cooperatives accounted for about 15% of total production capacity in 2007, down from as much as 70-80% of total capacity in earlier years. During the massive expansion that occurred between 2004 and 2007, much of the investment capital came from private investors, rather than farmers. The data we report below come from 2007, although the entire industry is changing rapidly.
Table 4-2 shows that 39 biofuels cooperatives collectively have close to $3B in assets, >$4B in sales revenue, and pay >$40M in wages. There are 20,000 farmer memberships and close to 2,000 employees. As shown in Table 4-2.2, by adding direct and indirect impacts to this activity, agricultural cooperatives account for >$10B in revenue, close to 8,500 jobs, $472M in wages paid, and >$1B in valued-added income.
The sources for the business list of the 39 biofuel cooperatives are the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and primary research. All governance data was acquired in survey work undertaken by the UWCC. The survey response rate for biofuel cooperatives is 69.5% and all reporting cooperatives provided us with 2007 fiscal year-end data. The data collection and survey methodology is discussed in detail in the Data Collection section in the Appendix.
As Table 4-2 shows, we have data on 17 biofuels cooperatives and these firms collectively account for >$2.8B in assets, $4.2B in sales revenue, and pay $6B in wages and benefits. There are approximately 2,000 employees and 20,000 memberships. As Table 4-2.2 shows, by extrapolating to the entire population (39 firms) and adding indirect and induced impacts to this activity, biofuels cooperatives account for close to $10B in sales revenue, >8,000 jobs, $472M in wages paid, and >$1B in valued-added income.