Co-ops and you!

Contact Us

University of Wisconsin
Center for Cooperatives
230 Taylor Hall
427 Lorch Street
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 608-262-3981


Introduction to Coops

A cooperative (also known as a co-op) is a business that is owned and controlled by the people who use it. Its primary purpose is to provide goods and/or services to its members for their mutual benefit. Given below are some statistics that address the cooperative diversity prevalent today.

  • 3200 agricultural cooperatives, with a membership of 3 million, account for around $103 billion in net business volume
  • Credit unions have over 80 million members and assets in excess of $100 billion.
  • Rural electric cooperatives operate more than half of the electric distribution lines in the United States and provide electricity for 26 million people.
  • There are approximately one million cooperative housing units serving households with a range of income levels and housing needs.
  • Cooperative health maintenance organizations (HMOs) provide health care services to nearly 1.4 million American families.
  • More than 40,000 different cooperatives provide more than 100 million Americans with a wide range of goods and services and account for $123 billion in net business volume
  • In 2000, there were 213 dairy co-ops of which 157 were pure bargaining co-ops and 56 were manufacturing/processing co-ops.