State Rep. Lee Nerison, R-Westby, announced Oct. 17 that the Wisconsin State Legislature unanimously passed Assembly Joint Resolution 58 that he authored to recognize October 2013 as “Co-op Month” in Wisconsin. The resolution encourages Wisconsinites to recognize the role that cooperatives play in their everyday lives.
According to Cooperative Network, approximately 2.9 million Wisconsinites belong to one of approximately 650 member-owned and operated co-ops. These businesses provide needed goods and services to their members, who live and work in the communities they serve. “Growing up, I saw my dad serve as the president of our local co-op for 30 years. That made me realize from a young age that we live in co-op country,” Nerison said.
Nerison points out that folks tend to think of co-ops as being for agriculture, or maybe their local electric co-op comes to mind. But, co-ops provide many goods and services, including credit and financial services, food, health care, child care, housing, insurance, legal and professional services, telephone and internet services.
Wisconsin was one of the first states to enact a law authorizing co-ops in 1887, spurring the growth of rural electric, telephone, and agricultural cooperatives, and town mutual associations. Western Wisconsin has deep roots in co-op traditions, marked by the formation of one of Wisconsin’s first rural electric cooperatives in Richland Center in 1937 and one of the first telephone companies, the Cochrane Cooperative Telephone Company, in 1905.
“Even though October traditionally marks ‘Co-op Month,’ it’s worth recognizing the goods and services they provide for our community year-round and I encourage folks to do just that,” Nerison said.