Start a Producer-Owned Cooperative

February 27, 2020  |  10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.  |  La Crosse, Wis.



Kelly Maynard, University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
FL Morris, South Central Hemp Cooperative
Rod Ofte, Wisconsin Grass-fed Beef Cooperative



  • Increase your understanding of what a cooperative can do
  • Steps for starting a new cooperative
  • Strategies for working through challenges
  • Develop a business outline and actionable steps



The cooperative model works well in rural America. If you find that the local infrastructure isn’t supporting your operation the way you need, starting a producer-run cooperative can be just the ticket to getting the job done. To put your cooperative on the path to success, join this team of experienced co-op leaders to learn the fundamentals of cooperative principles, structure, governance, and finances.

Kelly Maynard works for the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives supporting local and regional food system development. FL Morris is a certified organic farmer and founding member of the newly formed South Central Wisconsin Hemp Cooperative. Rod Ofte is an organic livestock producer who helped start the Wisconsin Grass-Fed Beef Cooperative.

They’ll walk you through the steps for starting a new cooperative, including key questions to ask, common stumbling blocks, and decisions you’ll need to make. They’ll look at scenarios from their co-ops and other producer-owned cooperatives to explain the challenges faced by real businesses and the strategies that help cooperative members and boards work through those challenges.

Whether your cooperative is still a dream or something you’re actively planning, you’ll find this class relevant. If you are actively planning a co-op, bring along your plans to “workshop” your ideas during the day and leave with a rough business outline and actionable steps.


About the Presenters:

Kelly Maynard
Kelly Maynard works for the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives supporting food and agricultural enterprises in rural communities. She also works with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems on local and regional food system development.


FL Morris
FL Morris is President and Membership Director of South Central Wisconsin Hemp Cooperative, based in Blanchardville, Wisconsin. FL is a first-generation, certified-organic vegetable and pastured livestock producer who has mobilized quickly with her farming community to approach growing and marketing Certified Organic CBD hemp using a highly collaborative cooperative model of business.

Rod Ofte
Rod Ofte has a 400-acre rotational grazing operation in Wisconsin, where he grass finishes about 100 head a year to sell direct to consumers and through the Wisconsin Grass-Fed Beef Cooperative, which he manages.




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