Are you celebrating Co-op Month? We are!
For more than 50 years, since the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture first proclaimed it in 1964, cooperatives have observed Co-op Month in October to reflect on the valuable service they provide to their communities. This year’s theme, “Co-ops Commit: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” looks at how co-ops can meet the needs of underserved communities, which has been the cornerstone of cooperatives since their inception.
As an example, just as co-ops brought electricity to broad swaths of America, they are now answering the call to provide broadband internet to 6.3 million rural American households, a service that has become a ubiquitous part of our everyday life. The pandemic has only underscored the importance of reliable access as millions have shifted to working and schooling from home which is impossible for the 34 million Americans currently without internet connectivity.
Co-ops are once again meeting a need for their members in working to bridge the digital divide and provide an essential service. In addition to providing a vital service to members, bringing broadband to rural America will better enable co-ops to serve their members as it becomes necessary to their operations as well.
Co-ops have lobbied the highest levels of government on behalf of their members, urging them to partner in bringing this much needed service to their members, pointing to the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 as having a similar mission and message: This is a service that is needed – and should be provided – to Americans, no matter where they reside.
So, we want to recognize the commitment of our co-op partners to the welfare of their members and communities. We celebrate Co-op Month, and so should you!