Cabot, VT (July 6, 2012) – Did you know more than one billion people worldwide are members of cooperatives? Did you also know that the domestic and international cooperative movement represents more than $1 trillion in revenues, and that if all the world’s cooperatives were a country, it would be the size of Spain, and rank as the tenth largest Gross Domestic Product in the world? This economic activity is even more impressive because it is generated by people working together, in a democratic fashion, to meet their own needs while benefiting the local economy and the community.
It is in that spirit that Cabot Creamery Cooperative and its partners for the 2012 Cabot Community Tour will celebrate the UN’s International DAY of Cooperatives on July 7 from 10 am to 2 pm at Payson Park in Portland, Maine. The celebration is the only one of its kind in the U.S. on this special day.
“Our July 7 “Celebrate Portland” Festival marks the culmination of our two-month celebration of communities, volunteers and cooperatives that began on May 12 in Miami, Florida, and runs up the entire east coast to Portland, Maine,” said Roberta MacDonald, Cabot Creamery Cooperative’s Senior Vice President of Marketing.“Our vision for the Community Tour has been to bring as much attention as possible to the importance of community, volunteerism and cooperatives, to every city we visit, and I’m proud to say it has been a resounding success and we look forward to our grand finale in Portland.”
Leading up to the Portland event, MacDonald says the Community Tour has already touched the lives of tens of thousands of people up and down the east coastas well as many other parts of the nation, as Community Tour bike riders follow the East Coast Greenway from Miami to Portland - a 2,300 mile journey on the Greenway’s developing trail system, spanning nearly 3,000 miles as it winds its way between Key West and Canada.
In recognition of the value of cooperatives, the United Nations’ declaration of 2012 as the “International Year of Cooperatives,” acknowledges the positive contributions co-ops deliver to our nation and our world. Liz Bailey, Interim President and CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) who recently led a contingent of 150 leaders of the US Cooperative community, to the White House in Washington, D.C. says “In this economic downturn, more Americans are recognizing the benefits of cooperative ownership and business,” Bailey said. “Not only do cooperatives offer consumers affordable choices, but they provide a trusted source of goods and services. Nearly one-third of Americans belong to a consumer cooperative and 72 percent consider cooperatives like credit unions or electric co-ops helpful. That’s a strong base of trust from the American public, and we want to build on it,” Bailey said. “Our meetings with the White House are meant to open the dialogue about how the federal government can make co-op business ventures easier for American citizens to access.”
There are currently 29,000 cooperative businesses nationwide spanning most industries, including agriculture, energy, financial service and credit unions, food distribution, healthcare, housing, retail and telecommunications. U.S. Cooperatives alone account for more than $3 trillion in assets, over $500 billion in total revenue and $25 billion in wages and benefits.
John C. Padalino, Acting Administrator for USDA Rural Development, Rural Business-Cooperative Service points out that co-ops have a major impact that is close to home.
"The Rural Business-Cooperative Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development mission area, is proud of our history of supporting the cooperative business model as a means of improving the economic opportunities in rural communities across America,” Padalino said. “Likewise, it is cooperatives at ground level, like Cabot Creamery, that can truly promote the idea of cooperatives. I congratulate everyone involved for their work on the Cabot Community Tour, which has helped to raise awareness for non-profits and cooperatives and celebrated the volunteers who have given so much of their time to this effort.”
"Today, nearly 2,500 farmer co-ops with 2.2 million members contribute $170 billion in annual business to the U.S. economy,” Padalino continued. “Through our programs, research, information and education materials, technical assistance, and Rural Cooperatives magazine, Rural Business-Cooperative Service serves as a critical source of support for cooperatives both domestically and internationally. Rural Development is privileged to join this year’s celebration of The International Year of Cooperatives in raising public awareness of the invaluable contributions of cooperative enterprises to poverty reduction, employment generation, and social integration.”
Maine is home to 100 Cabot farm-family owners, a number that represents one-third of all remaining Maine dairy farms. Maine Dairy farmer and Cabot Board Treasurer Walter Fletcher will be on hand to address the audience for the Portland Celebration as well as help launch hundreds of special Globes that will cascade from the “Maine Stage” of the event in celebration of the International Day of Cooperatives.
As the 2012 Community Tour heads into Portland on July 7, Cabot hopes to maintain the excitement generated over the past two months and is hopeful a crowd of thousands will be on hand to welcome the Tour to The Pine Tree State.
“The level of support from our partners and the level of engagement from every community we visited on this two-month journey has been amazing,” said Diana Meehan, Cabot’s Director of Marketing – Promotions and Events. “Leading up to our grand finale in Portland, we’ve had seven major city stops that have taken place on each weekend of the Tour and we’ve had dozens of smaller events each day in between as our riders, partners and friends have joined in this unique celebration of community, volunteers and cooperatives. The outpouring of support from everyone involved has been outstanding, and we look forward to arriving in Portland for our grand finale.”
2012 “CELEBRATE PORTLAND” COMMUNITY TOUR GRAND FINALE
WHEN July 7, 2012 from 10am-2pm
WHERE Payson Park, Baxter Blvd., Portland, ME
WHY: The farm-family owners of Cabot Creamery Cooperative are proud of their cooperative roots. Founded in 1919, our farmers have always been an integral part of the communities they serve, supporting the places where they live and do business. The Community Tour coincides with the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives and is designed both to enable Cabot and its partners to promote the virtues of volunteerism—and to support the communities in which we live on a far greater scale. By honoring those who give selflessly to their communities, the 2012 Community Tour aims to encourage others to do the same.
WHO: The 2012 Community Tour was created by Cabot Creamery Cooperative and fellow sponsors and supporters, including 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, AARP Create The Good, Credit Union National Association (CUNA), East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA),HandsOn Network, Marriott, National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA)and National Life Group.
About Cabot Creamery Cooperative Cabot Creamery Cooperativehas been in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919, and we make a full line of cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, and butter. Best known as makers of “The World’s Best Cheddar,” Cabot is owned by 1200 dairy farm families located throughout New England and upstate New York. For additional information on Cabot Creamery, visit: http://www.cabotcheese.coop
About The National Cooperative Business Association The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA)is the national association for cooperative businesses providing cross-sector education, support and advocacy to help start and grow co-ops across a variety of sectors, including agriculture, childcare, energy, financial service and credit unions, food distribution, healthcare, housing, retail and telecommunications. For nearly 100 years, our mission has been to develop, advance and protect cooperative businesses demonstrating that cooperatives are a better business model for advancing economic and social impact. For 50 years, we have supported cooperative development globally through our CLUSA International Program.
About the International Year of Cooperatives 2012 was named the International Year of Cooperatives by the United Nations. A yearlong celebration of the co-op business model and its positive economic impact across the globe, reminding us that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.
For additional Tour details and information on Tour Sponsors and partners, please go to: www.cabotcommunitytour.coop
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