Book Overview
Released online September 2009
Available for hard copy purchase December 2009

Cooperatives are an enduring institution in the farm and food economy, yet events in recent years have raised questions about their continued relevance and viability. The last decade has witnessed several significant restructurings within the cooperative sector including conversions to, or purchase by, publicly traded firms, bankruptcy, and other significant ownership realignments. Are these isolated events or an on-going trend? What can be learned from the events that can be useful to other cooperatives?

Cooperative Conversions, Failures and Restructurings seeks answers to these questions through a series of thirteen research case studies on American and Canadian agricultural cooperatives. The case studies are the work of twenty two researchers from across the United States and Canada with a keen interest in offering explanations as to why some agricultural cooperatives have failed while others have persevered and thrived through the various challenges that the agricultural industry has faced over the last decade.

This book is published jointly through the Knowledge Impact in Society project, University of Saskatchewan's Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, and the University of Wisconsin's Center for Cooperatives. The book was released electronically through the KIS website in September 2009. It is available for purchase in hard copy (paperback through

Cooperative Conversions, Failures and Restructurings:
Case Studies and Lessons from U.S. and Canadian Agriculture

Edited by Murray Fulton and Brent Hueth
Cooperative Conversions, Failures and Restructurings:
Case Studies and Lessons from U.S. and Canadian Agriculture (purchase in paperback)

The case studies were also published as part of a Special Issue in the
Journal of Cooperatives (Volume 23)
Read the articles

Presentation delivered at 2010 Association of Co-operative Educators (ACE) Conference in Cleveland, Ohio (July 27-30, 2010) View slides

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Book Funders

Financial support for this book has been provided by the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan through the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) program.
Funding for the ACAAFS program is provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

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Co-operative Chair in Agricultural Marketing & Business,
Ellen Goddard

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About the Authors (listed in alphabetical order)


David Barton is a Professor and Extension Agricultural Economist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University. In addition, he is Director of the Arthur Capper Cooperative Center. He has conducted cooperative related research studies on financial performance, equity management, loss handling, governance and unification and has prepared several case studies on cooperative agribusinesses. Dr. Barton is frequently called upon to design educational programs, to prepare education materials and to make presentations on cooperative-related topics. High interest topics recently presented are on governance, finance, strategic thinking and business structure.

Michael Boland

Michael Boland is a professor of agricultural economics and associate director of the Arthur Capper Cooperative Center at Kansas State University. He received both his Ph.D. and Master’s in agricultural economics from Purdue University. Among his numerous teaching awards, Dr. Boland received the 2008 National Association of Land Grant Universities USDA National Agriculture and Food Excellence in Teaching section award; the most prestigious college teaching award in the United States. The majority of Dr. Boland’s work involves food and agribusiness firms where he has co-authored more than 60 case studies on agribusinesses.


Jennifer K. Bond is an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University. As an applied agricultural economist, Dr. Bond's interests lie primarily in analyzing real-world data to determine ways that individual producers and groups can add value to their market offerings and organizations. Past projects include studies of cooperative governance, distributional effects of generic promotion, welfare impacts of marketing order programs, consumer demand for value-added food products, cooperative case studies, and agribusiness feasibility studies. Selected current projects include an investigation into spillover effects of generic promotion on differentiated products, consumer demand for specialty produce, and use of cooperatives to coordinate marketing efforts of small and medium-size fresh and specialty produce growers.


Colin A. Carter is a Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics and is Director of the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics at the University of California--Davis. He obtained his PhD from the University of California--Berkeley in 1980. Dr. Carter's research interests include state trading in agriculture, futures markets, the economics of genetically modified foods, and China's internal grain economy and world market participation.


Paul D. Earl joined the Asper School of Business in 2003, after a 28 year career in the western Canadian grain industry, working for United Grain Growers, the Grain Transportation Agency, and the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association. He became one of the founding members of the Department of Supply Chain Management in 2004.

In mid-career, he undertook doctoral studies at the University of Manitoba, completing his degree in 1992. His thesis was on the farm movement in western Canada from about 1918 to 1935, examining the formation of the three prairie Wheat Pools, and the Canadian Wheat Board, and the way the ideologies held by farmers shaped those institutions.


Murray E. Fulton is a Professor in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and a Fellow in Agricultural Co-operation with the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Fulton received a PhD from Berkeley, a MSc from Texas A&M, a BA from Oxford, and a BSA from the University of Saskatchewan.

Murray’s research and teaching interests are focused in a number of areas, including industrial organization, agricultural and rural policy, co-operative theory, intellectual property rights, and regulatory compliance. He is the co-author of a number of books and reports, including Canadian Agricultural Policy and Prairie Agriculture and Co-operatives and Canadian Society. Dr. Fulton has also written many articles and papers on industrial organization, co-operatives and agricultural policy. He is interested in the changes that are occurring in agriculture and the response of organizations – including agricultural co-operatives – to these changes. He is the leader of a SSHRC Knowledge Impact in Society project designed to create a dialogue between university researchers and partners in agriculture and rural communities on the challenges facing the agricultural sector (see His current research is focused on behavioural economics and its application to business strategy and public policy formation.


Roger Ginder is a professor in the Economics at Iowa State University. He conducts research and outreach programs in agribusiness and cooperatives.

His research includes Specialty Grains, Bio-Diesel, Equipment Cooperatives and Cooperative Finance. Outreach includes seminars for boards of farm supply, rural telephone, and regional cooperatives.

Dr. Ginder has served as Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Agricultural Cooperation. He served on the Land O’Lakes Corporate Board from 1997-2002. He is currently on the West Central Cooperative Board and is Chairman of the WCC Audit Committee.

Ellen W. Goddard holds the Cooperative Chair in Agricultural Marketing and Business at the University of Alberta. She came to Alberta from a position as National Australia Bank Professor of Agribusiness and Associate Dean, Coursework, at the Institute of Land and Food Resources, University of Melbourne. Prior to that Australian appointment Ellen Goddard worked in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Guelph. Over the past 20 years Professor Goddard’s research has been focused on economic modeling of domestic and international commodity sectors for policy analysis purposes, including assessment of the effectiveness of investment in advertising. Current research includes various aspects of food marketing including consumer response to food safety incidents, consumer interest in labels, demand for credence attributes and certification. She also currently leads a national policy research network for Agriculture and Agri-food Canada in Consumer and Market Demand for Food and a major socio-economic research program examining the impact of BSE on Canada.

Getu Hailu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph. Getu’s research interests include agribusiness finance, productivity and efficiency, food policy and demand analysis, risk management, economics of co-operatives and alternative organizations.


Shermain D. Hardesty is an Extension Economist and Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California—Davis, and also serves as Director of the University of California’s Small Farm Program. She is responsible for research, education and outreach programs related to alternative food marketing systems, small farms and cooperatives. Prior to rejoining the University of California in 2002, Shermain Hardesty was principal of a consulting firm, held positions as Director of Financial Planning and Senior Economist at a California rice marketing cooperative and served on the faculty at Michigan State University.

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Himawan Hariyoga is the Director for Regional Autonomy at the National Development Planning Agency of the Republic of Indonesia (or Bappenas). He has a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California--Davis (2004)


Brian M. Henehan is Senior Extension Associate with the Department of Applied Economics and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, where his applied research focuses on agribusiness management, marketing and cooperative business administration. He serves as program leader for the Cooperative Enterprise Program and is responsible for developing and delivering an educational program for senior management, directors, members, and staff of cooperative businesses. He earned a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Vermont where he conducted research on the factors for success in emerging cooperatives. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College.

Rodney B. Holcomb is Professor of Agricultural Economics and the Charles B. Browning Endowed Professor of Food Science at Oklahoma State University. His research interests are in value-added manufacturing and marketing. Dr. Holcomb's responsibilities include identifying economically feasible processing alternatives and business structures for adding value to agricultural commodities, along with determining the economic impacts of these activities. His value-added programs have received awards from commodity and industry groups, Oklahoma State University, and professional organizations. He has also received the USDA Plow Honor Award for Exceptional Service, the highest award given by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Brent Hueth is the Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for
Cooperatives and Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural
and Applied Economics. Professor Hueth received his Ph.D. in
Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics from the University of
Maryland, College Park. Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin,
Brent spent two years at the University of California Berkeley as a
Research Economist, and then eight years at Iowa State University as
Associate Professor in the Department of Economics. His research and
teaching focus on cooperative organizations and agricultural


Phil Kenkel is a Professor in the Agricultural Economics Department at Oklahoma State University and holds the Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair. He teaches an undergraduate cooperative class, and manages cooperative internship and management trainee programs. Dr. Kenkel's recent research activities include feasibility assessment for value-added cooperative ventures, and the development of decision aids that enhance the performance of existing cooperative businesses. Dr. Kenkel has developed numerous feasibility templates and publications for the Agricultural Market Resource Center. Dr. Kenkel has authored more than 200 research and extension publications, presented over 40 papers at professional meetings and conducted cooperative training sessions in 5 countries.


Kathy Larson is the Project Coordinator for the Knowledge Impact in Society project at the University of Saskatchewan. She obtained her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan. Her graduate research was on the the financial failures experienced by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in the late 1990s; Dr. Murray Fulton was her graduate supervisor. She joined Dr. Fulton on his Knowledge Impact in Society project in July 2006 after working for a year with the Western Beef Development Centre as a Beef Economist.


Phillippe Marcoul is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rural Economy at The University of Alberta. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Toulouse, France. Prior to joining the University of Alberta, Philippe Marcoul spent one year at the University of Southern California as a visiting assistant professor, and six years at Iowa Sate University as assistant professor. He is associate editor of the Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization. His research and teaching focuses on cooperative organizations and Industrial organization.


Gregory J. McKee is the Director of the Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives and Assistant Professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University. His research and teaching focuses on how market participants coordinate in order to improve their welfare. Dr. McKee teaches a semester-length course on cooperative business management and a course in game theory and strategy for agribusiness management. His recent research has focused on determinants of profitability for North Dakota agricultural cooperatives and credit unions as well as authoring case studies about significant management decisions made by cooperatives headquartered in the Upper Great Plains.

Frayne Olson joined the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University in September of 2008. He specializes in crop marketing and risk management, with collaborative work in agribusiness management and farm management. Dr. Olson earned his PhD in Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri in 2007. He worked in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University from January 2007 until August 2008, where he conducted outreach programs for marketing and farm supply cooperatives and agricultural producers. For seven years, starting in 1996, Dr. Olson was the Assistant Director for the Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives at North Dakota State University (NDSU). During this time he developed a series of executive training programs for cooperative directors and management, assisted with research studying cooperative financial management strategies and taught a course in cooperative business management. From 1987 to 1996, he was a state level Farm Management Specialist with the NDSU Extension Service.


Todd M. Schmit is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University and Program Leader for the Cornell Program on Agribusiness and Economic Development. Dr. Schmit conducts research in the areas of agribusiness development and agricultural marketing, with current research activities focused on cooperative business structures, local and regional food systems development, and food manufacturing industry competitiveness. Common goals within these areas are to better understand the linkages between agribusiness firm performance, market structure, and agriculture-based industry development, and how various firm, spatial, and market factors can influence agricultural industry growth.


Richard J. Sexton is a Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis. His research focuses on a wide range of issues pertaining to agricultural markets, including the economics of cooperatives, issues of competition, and the impacts of market institutions.

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For More Information


Knowledge Impact in Society
Attn: Kathy Larson

University of Saskatchewan
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Phone: (306) 764-3929

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Murray Fulton, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
Brent Hueth, Center for Cooperatives, University of Wisconsin



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