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Minnesota Ag News Headlines
Member-Owned Co-ops Make Voice Heard in St. Paul
Minnesota Ag Connection - 03/20/2017

More than 75 cooperative business directors, managers, and staff met in St. Paul for Cooperative Network's annual Minnesota Co-op Day at the Capitol. Nine cross-sector lobbying groups met with agency commissioners, caucus leaders and more than 50 legislators to share how certain proposals would affect their businesses and communities. Participants included Cooperative Network members from agriculture, credit union, dairy, energy, electric, farm credit, food and member-owned cooperatives throughout the state.

"This event brings together members from across the state and across the sectors we represent," says Tom Liebe, Cooperative Network president and CEO. "Cooperative Network prides itself in unifying their voice and this event allows them to become actively involved in lobbying for important issues directly."

Participants met with policymakers to discuss issues related to the regulation of water quality, local cooperative governance, taxation of property, transportation, credit union member communication and support for broadband access. Participants also thanked legislators for the passage of a provision to enable an agricultural cooperative healthcare coverage option that was enacted earlier this session as part of a larger healthcare package.

Agency commissioners and legislative leaders met with the large group to address co-op priorities, hear concerns and answer questions. Among those who spoke with participants were Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle. Also meeting with the group were House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R -- Crown), Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R -- Nisswa), Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL -- Cook), and House Minority Leader Melissa Hortman (DFL -- Brooklyn Park).

"Member-owned cooperatives make significant contributions to improving the quality of life in Minnesota, and it is important that those shaping public policy hear about the positive impact of cooperatives and their members," says Matt Hughes, Cooperative Network vice president and Minnesota managing director. "We are very grateful to all our cooperative members who took time to engage at the Capitol, and to all the lawmakers who took time to be with them."

Cooperative Network serves approximately 400 Wisconsin and Minnesota member-cooperatives by providing advocacy, education, public awareness, and development services to a wide variety of cooperatives including agricultural marketing and processing, credit unions, dairy, electric, Farm Credit, farm supply, health care, mutual insurance, housing, service, telecommunications, worker-owned cooperatives, and more.

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