The project began when Aaron Johnson, a University of Idaho agricultural economist, heard a conversation among his fellow members of the Idaho Cooperative Council.
One said, If growers knew what we really did, there wouldnt be any issues with membership, Johnson said. So the question for me became: What are they doing to promote the value they offer members? How do they communicate with producers?
In agriculture, Johnson says, some co-ops formed to buy fertilizer or fuel. Others formed to market grains. Co-ops provide members with benefits including bulk buying to reduce expenses.
The study is part of a graduate student fellowship funded by the CHS Foundation, an energy, grains and foods company. The $50,000 fellowship supports a masters degree project by applied economics student Hannah Hallock. A separate grant for $30,000 from Darigold will pay the projects expenses.