Cooperatives across Clusters
Anil Hira, Paul Gottlieb, Neil Reid, Stephan Goetz, and Elizabeth Dobis
Most agricultural production is of commodity or undifferentiated products. Producers suffer from a roller-coaster ride of price swings, over- or under-production, weather and pest threats, and the inability of family famers to capture anything beyond a small percentage of the final price.
Cooperatives Across Clusters provides lessons from the cranberry industry, a commodity product organized mostly into family farms in seven different clusters around North America. The industry is remarkable in that it’s substantially organized around one large cooperative, Ocean Spray. The authors examine how the cooperative came to be, the challenges of coordination and industry leadership across the diverging clusters, and the lessons for cooperation for other agricultural industries.
The book provides a multi-layered contribution to agricultural economics. First, it examines location decisions and what factors supersede growing conditions to allow industries to arise around production. Second, it explores pathways available for farmers to try to overcome, through cooperative organization, the natural boom-bust cycles of commodity price swings. Third, it looks at how cooperative decisions are made, and the challenges of providing industry leadership, including research and development and collective marketing, through a cooperative that faces continual defections and new problems. Finally, through in-depth historical, statistical, and field research, it provides a comprehensive study of the cranberry industry and suggests ways farmers can grow the industry. Agricultural policymakers, farmers, industry specialists, and researchers of agriculture and clusters more generally will find this to be an important and informative new resource.
About the author
Anil Hira is chair and professor of political science at Simon Fraser University.
Read more about this author Paul Gottlieb is associate professor at the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics at Rutgers University.
Read more about this author Neil Reid, PhD, is professor of geography in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toledo.
Read more about this author Stephan Goetz is the director of The Northeast Center at Penn State University.
Read more about this author Elizabeth Dobis is a research agricultural economist in the USDA Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Rural Economy.
Read more about this author