The Role of Cooperatives in Forestry

Lead Author: Harry Groot

Publish date: 07.13.2015


The ability to pool resources, lower unit cost and increase revenues can be key to any business, but especially to the forest and agricultural sector. Cooperatives provide a business structure that facilitates the ability of farmers and foresters to generate the volume of material necessary to economically create value-added products, increase market access, lower cost to individuals for goods and services, and ultimately better manage the resource.


In 2012 agricultural cooperatives generated $4 billion in revenues for their owner-members. Famous Cooperative brands include Sunkist, Ocean Spray, and Welch’s. In total there are over 100 million people belonging to 47,000 Cooperatives across the U.S. today. The role of U.S. Forestry cooperatives surged modestly in the 1990s and early 2000s, but waned with the recent recession.  Lessons learned from that experience, from the ongoing success of international forestry cooperatives, and from other cooperative ventures illustrate the potential of cooperatives in forestry. Greater use of the cooperative business structure offers opportunities to the forestry community to increase the achievement of individual goals while maximizing the benefit to the marketplace and to the forest.