The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

Cooperative Network (CN), a trade association supporting hundreds of member co-ops through legislative and regulatory advocacy, learning and development opportunities, and creative leadership in public awareness, is expanding its member services portfolio to include an increased focus on export activities.

CN is one 13 entities recently awarded more than $564,000 in Export Expansion Grants by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Aimed at accelerating the growth of Wisconsin dairy, meat, and crop products, the grants are funded by the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports (WIAE) through legislation approved in December, 2021.

CN, which received a $50,000 grant through the program, will use the funds to develop a new agriculture export education portal on the CN website; incorporate export education and awareness into association seminars, webinars and conferences; and direct cooperatives to export education and training events.

“Cooperative Network is very pleased to be awarded an Export Expansion Grant,” said Cooperative Network President and CEO Daniel Smith. “We plan to use the funds to help facilitate increased cooperative engagement in export activities as part of our association’s cooperative economic objectives.”

Smith said, “No single cooperative, business sector or community operates either domestically or internationally on its own. For instance, although Wisconsin is known worldwide for its cheese, the production and exporting of cheese requires contributions far beyond cheese plants: dairy marketing cooperatives, electric cooperatives, livestock genetic cooperatives, financial cooperatives and farm supply cooperatives and many others all contribute to producing the milk that ends up in the cheese cases of countries around the globe.”

Smith said CN “is the only organization that supports, educates, and engages equally with all these sectors, which places us in a unique and valuable position to advance export activities as a cohesive economic strategy for Wisconsin. In addition, because cooperatives rely on Cooperative Network for guidance on industry trends, incorporating export activities into our messaging will be a valuable addition to our cooperative services.”

CN works in support of hundreds of cooperatives large and small from a dozen business sectors in Wisconsin and Minnesota, all of which play an essential role in the economic well-being of each state. These sectors produce goods and services through farm production, farm supply, grain marketing, ethanol production, dairy marketing and processing, financial services, livestock genetics, meat processing, mutual insurance, telecommunications, electrical power and distribution, and other services.

“The cooperative members of Cooperative Network range in size, geographic location, and business services, but they all provide a strong foundation for rural economic development in Wisconsin for farmers and communities,” said Smith. “While Cooperative Network is unique in its support of such diverse business sectors, agriculture is especially important to our cooperative members, as it provides an economic base for rural communities. Cooperatives have historically provided the goods and services these communities depend on.”

Noting that Cooperative Network has a successful track record on leading cooperative awareness on emerging issues and opportunities, Smith said “education and promotion of export activities will be a valuable addition to our existing agenda. We will rely on subject matter experts to present to cooperative leaders on the economic impact of exporting; how export programs are developed and maintained around the world; and the benefits derived from these activities.”

According to DATCP, Wisconsin agricultural exports reached an all-time high of $3.96 billion in 2021. Through the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports, DATCP is working collaboratively with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to build on that momentum.

Cooperative Network – the trusted voice for cooperatives – is committed to protecting and promoting Wisconsin and Minnesota cooperative businesses and their shared cooperative principles by providing advocacy, education, public awareness, and development services. Visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube for more information.