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Cooperative Center awarded $300,000 grant

DENVER—The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) Cooperative Development Center learned that it will have $300,000 to assist producers and other rural citizens in the region to develop cooperatives and other structures that bolster economic activity within their communities. RMFU also joined National Farmers Union (NFU) in signing a partnership agreement with the Colorado office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development to work together for rural business opportunities in Colorado. Both activities took place at a ceremony Aug. 31, at the NFU headquarters in Denver. The memorandum of understanding prioritizes work among the three organizations in promoting job creation, rural business development, cooperative education and economic and cooperative development assistance throughout Colorado.

“We are pleased and honored to again this year be the recipient of this USDA grant, which has served rural citizens and helped Colorado’s farmers and ranchers to succeed and improve their quality of life through the promotion and development of co-ops and other economic development opportunities,” said RMFU President John Stencel. At the partnership signing, leaders expressed hope that they can advance current cooperative business efforts and enhance the economic interests of Colorado farmers and ranchers and their rural communities through more cooperative projects. The three groups signed a similar agreement in 2003. Colorado Director for USDA Rural Development Gigi Dennis said, “Part of Rural Development’s mission is to help improve farm income through the formation of cooperatives and value-added agriculture. Our working relationship with the Farmers Union supports this shared mission.”

Dennis also commended RMFU for the jobs created by the cooperative development projects. “The Cooperative Development Center has assisted with 67 projects since 1996 when the RMFU Cooperative Development Center was established and acquired the first USDA grant,” Stencel said. “We have a successful track record but are anxious to move on to help new groups with additional projects.”

For more information on RMFU and the Cooperative Development Center, contact Bob Mailander, center director, at 303-752-5800.