Yesterday NFU celebrated World Food Day, an annual event hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to encourage attention by all nations to the importance of food security and agricultural production, and to the global struggle against malnutrition and poverty.
World Food Day is always an important international event, but this year’s celebration is particularly exciting for NFU because of its focus, “Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World.” No one understands the economic and social impact of agricultural cooperatives better than Farmers Union members.
NFU, officially called the Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America, was founded in 1902. NFU’s long history of cooperative development began in 1903, when it formed its first marketing cooperatives: cotton gins, flour mills and warehouse operations from Texas to Georgia. Since that time, Farmers Union has had a hand in forming thousands of cooperatives across the country and has been a key driver of public policy changes that foster cooperative development.
Today, Farmers Union members continue to reaffirm their belief in the value of democratic control of a business and are committed to educating a new generation of cooperative leaders both here in the United States and in the Global South, where farmer-owned cooperative development can help poor communities solve economic and food security challenges. Many Farmers Union members have seen this firsthand by serving as volunteers with the Farmer-to Farmer Exchange program, coordinated by the National Cooperative Business Association. The program focuses on agricultural technical assistance and cooperative development in several sub-Saharan African countries by linking American farmers with their African counterparts.
This year’s celebration is particularly fitting, as the United Nations has officially declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, and every October is designated as Co-op Month here in the United States. Additionally, NFU plans to participate in the November 1 World Food Day ceremony at United Nations headquarters in New York City.