For more than 50 years member-owned businesses throughout the United States have celebrated National Co-op Month to honor the principles of cooperation and highlight the benefits and values cooperatives bring to their members and to the communities they serve.

Since 1919 Cabot Creamery Cooperative has promoted the spirit of cooperation. Like most cooperatives around the world they operate using The Rochdale Principles, seven guiding ideals established by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in 1844.

1. Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperative Societies must have open and voluntary membership. The Rochdale Principles established important anti-discrimination policies and a system of motivations and rewards to expand membership.

2. Democratic Member Control: The Rochdale Principles mandate that cooperatives must have democratic member control. This gives members the right to participate in the decision making processes of their cooperative. One member = one vote.

3. Member Economic Participation: Members equitably contribute the capital of their cooperative. That capital is common property of the cooperative and members usually receive limited compensation. Surplus economy (i.e. profits) are managed by the members to develop the cooperative, support other organizations, or returned to the members.

4. Autonomy: The Rochdale Principles state that cooperatives must be autonomous and independent. If they enter into partnerships with other organization it must be on terms that ensure democratic control by their members. For instance, if a cooperative enters an economic partnership with another organization, that organization does not gain control over decision making, regardless of the sum they have contributed. Decisions are always made by members.

5. Education, Training, and Information: Cooperatives must provide education and training to their members. Additionally, cooperatives provide information and education to the public about the nature of co-operation.

6. Cooperation among Cooperatives: Cooperatives are autonomous organizations, but they work together to facilitate communication across cooperatives and strengthen the cooperative movement.

7. Concern for the Community: Cooperatives must be responsible partners for their communities. Decisions must benefit the larger community.

During the month of October Cabot is highlighting their Co-op to Co-op initiative, an action plan to help establish robust and successful cooperative businesses in communities around the country. The farm families who own Cabot know that these co-ops have a huge positive impact in their communities, states, and regions. Cabot can help support their success by providing fellow co-ops with guidance on subjects such as wellness, healthy aging, cooperative marketing and other important issues.

Cabot has worked with both national co-ops, like the National Cooperative Business Association,National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the Credit Union National Association, as well as local and regional co-ops.

There is so much to celebrate during National Co-op Month. Here are just a few of the ways Cabot will be celebrating:

  • Working with a local bakery co-op in Buffalo, New York as they form a ‘think tank’ of local cooperatives to be able to harness their efforts collaboratively.
  • Supporting a Member Appreciation Day at a local credit union in Augusta, Georgia, where members will try to win a beautiful Cabot Legacy Cheddar gift box when they visit their local branches during National Co-Op Month.
  • Providing a healthy post-race snack to DC residents who lace up their running shoes and participate in The Cooperative Development Fund’s 5k.
  • Helping the National Cooperative Bank with their Co-Op Month Kick Off Event by providing participants with samples of our famous cheddar.

Whether it’s a food co-op, a member owned credit union, or other cooperative business, there’s a co-op that is sure to suit your needs. Check out the following links to locate one near you:

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