On the Menu in Salem: A Reminder of What Makes Oregon Co-ops Vital

NWCUA President/CEO Troy Stang (right) joined Ted Case, CEO of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and John McCulley from the Agricultural Cooperative Council of Oregon in celebrating the state’s cooperative movement at the 10th annual Oregon Co-Op Lunch.

Oregon co-ops served up a pretty good example of the strength of the state’s cooperative movement when they sat down for lunch last week with Oregon legislators in Salem. And they didn’t even have to wait for dessert to make their point.

From the prime rib and potatoes to the vegetables, hazelnuts and butter on the rolls — and yes, even the Tillamook ice cream — everything on the menu at the 10th annual Oregon Co-op Lunch was provided by farmers and ranchers who own cooperatives in Oregon and the farmer-owned co-ops that provide crop and livestock supplies, equipment and credit.

More than 80 people attended the event on the campus of Willamette University, right across the street from the state Capitol in Salem. Although Gov. John Kitzhaber proclaimed October as Cooperative Month in Oregon, the lunch was moved to November to coincide with the state’s Legislative Days so that as many legislators as possible could attend.

Twenty-five of them did.

“Ten years ago, leaders from the Northwest Credit Union Association, the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the Agricultural Cooperative Council of Oregon and the Oregon Telecommunications Association came together to plan an event that would highlight the unique principles of cooperatives in Oregon,” says Jennifer Wagner, the NWCUA’s vice president for legislative advocacy. “The event has grown over the years, with more legislators attending this year than ever before.”

The lunch gave co-op executives — including NWCUA President/CEO Troy Stang and Chief Operating Officer Denise Gabel — a chance to share with legislators the principles that define and unite the cooperative movement. Regardless of the industry they represent, they told lawmakers, co-ops are guided by seven common principles:

  • Co-ops are voluntary organizations open to anyone able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership;
  • They are controlled democratically by members who actively participate in setting policies;
  • Their capital is democratically controlled by members who contribute equitably;
  • They are autonomous and independent organizations controlled by their members;
  • They provide education and training for their members so that they can contribute to the development of the cooperative;
  • They strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, regional, national and international structures; and
  • They work for the sustainable development of the communities they serve. 

In his official proclamation, Kitzhaber noted that more than 40,000 cooperatives operate in virtually every industry nationwide, from agriculture and financial services to energy and telecommunications. Those cooperatives not only generate economic growth in their communities, he said, but they also give to charities that meet the needs of underserved populations; invest in community development that generates jobs and helps create vital services; and support innovative projects that protect the environment, improve children’s health and welfare, and support quality education.

They also serve up a pretty tasty lunch, including:

  • Prime rib from Country Natural Beef in Burns;
  • Apples and pears from Diamond Fruit Growers in Odell;
  • Butter from Farmers Cooperative Creamery in McMinnville;
  • Hazelnuts from Hazelnut Growers of Oregon in Cornelius;
  • Potatoes from Malin Potato Co-op in Merrill;
  • Vegetables and toppings from Norpac Foods in Stayton;
  • Dried cherries from Oregon Cherry Growers in Salem; and
  • Ice cream from Tillamook County Creamery Association in Tillamook.


Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Events.