About TCC

The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC) is a non-profit organization established to promote “the cooperative way of business” through education and promotion of all types of cooperatives.

About Tennessee Council of Cooperatives

The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC) is a non-profit organization established to promote “the cooperative way of business” through education and promotion of all types of cooperatives.

The Council is comprised of member representatives from various cooperative organizations in Tennessee. The TCC has two types/levels of membership including “parent cooperatives” and “individual cooperatives.” The total Council membership is approximately 60 members consisting of eight parent cooperatives and 52 individual cooperatives. The total TCC membership can be further segmented into 23 electric cooperatives, 29 Tennessee Farmer Co-ops, five telephone cooperatives, three financial institutions, two milk cooperatives, one tobacco cooperative, and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

The TCC functions as the state’s flagship organization for coordinating, promoting, educating and extending cooperative development in Tennessee. TCC often serves as a clearings house for the open exchange of information and experiences among cooperative businesses; as a sounding board for new ideas; and as a forum for discovery, discussion, and dissemination.

The Council is also positioned to be a springboard for initiating and implementing plans and programs relevant to cooperatives. TCC sponsors five college scholarships for agricultural students at each of Tennessee’s four-year agricultural programs, and hosts an annual leadership conference with emphasis on cooperatives for approximately 35 young leaders across the state. The TCC also provides leadership, cooperation, and support to various other programs, seminars and conferences.

2012 International Year of Cooperatives

October is Co-op Month. and the United Nations has proclaimed the year 2012 to be the International Year of Cooperatives. “Cooperatives: Building a Better Tennessee” celebrates the contributions of cooperatives by highlighting the variety and value of Tennessee’s cooperatively owned businesses. The video features agriculture, marketing, financing, telephone and electric cooperatives as well as the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

What’s a Cooperative — And Why Should You Care?

A cooperative is a… business financed, owned and controlled by the people who use it.
Cooperatives are made up of citizens with similar needs, goals, and problems. By working together, they combine their investments and influence to accomplish much more than anyone person in the group could accomplish alone. Cooperation gives a group financial strength, greater independence and a stronger voice in their own business affairs. Cooperatives stimulate free enterprise while helping to protect the individuals involved. About 45,000 cooperative organizations are in business today in the U.S., with more than 9 million members.

Co-ops are particularly important to rural Americans.
About 5,000 co-ops are farmer-owned and provide marketing, purchasing and related services for farmers and producers. Cooperatives market about 25 percent of all agricultural products and provide about 25 percent of all production supplies used on American farms each year. Forty million rural people–and their businesses–get their electricity from more than 900 million electric cooperatives and their telephone service from about 250 telephone cooperatives. Dairy producers have organized about 1,100 cooperative dairy herd improvement associations, 30 percent of all irrigated farmland is supplied water by cooperative irrigation associations. Fire and insurance coverage on farm buildings in the U.S. is carried by more than 1,000 farmers’ mutual fire insurance associations. Sound credit is extended to agricultural cooperatives and to farmers to help finance land, crops, livestock and equipment though cooperative banks. Additionally, about 1,000 rural credit unions chartered under federal and state statutes provide savings and loan services to many thousands of their members.

Co-ops should matter to you because…they mirror the very best of the American Way.
Co-ops are a true democracy where membership is voluntary and members have “democratic control” with each member having one vote. They operate not for profit, but at cost to the benefit of their members. They are not in business to make money for their investors or owners – they exist to meet the needs of their members for products and services, as economically as possible. Excess funds are returned to members in what is called a “patronage fund, ” or reserved to purchase new equipment, construct new buildings or acquire property as needed.

Cooperatives are a Tennessee Tradition.
Some of the first cooperatives in the U.S. sprang up in Tennessee. Cooperatives began taking root in the U.S. in the 1920’s, but in 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Administration changed the course of Tennessee history, and power truly came to the people of Tennessee though electric cooperatives. Today, rural electric cooperatives still deliver power to more than three-quarters of all the state’s land area.

Cooperatives may be the key to the future for many Tennessee businesses.
Americans face new challenges. To be a farmer or small businessman in today’s economic and political climate takes large amounts of capitol, polished managerial skills, high levels of information and resources and cooperation. Through the formation of and participation in new co-ops, the American people may once again find the power in themselves through a “new generation” of co-ops to provide for themselves, maintain or improve their lifestyles.

Number of Cooperatives in Tennessee

When the TCC set out to identify the number of cooperatives in Tennessee, we faced several obstacles. We found that several classifications of co-ops have up-to-date and accurate listings of businesses (including TFC, electric co-ops, and telephone co-ops). We also found that USDA maintains a list of cooperative businesses considered “farmer” co-ops and that the Tennessee Secretary of State maintains a list (dating back to 1921) of all businesses legally registered/organized as a cooperative. This list, however, is not updated when businesses dissolve and/or merge. We also found several businesses that include the term “cooperative” in their name but are not actually organized as a cooperative.

Although the most recent USDA data indicates that Tennessee has 79 farmer cooperatives and the list of “cooperative” business formations filed with the Secretary of State shows 160 cooperatives have been formed in Tennessee from 1921 to 1998, only 196 Tennessee cooperatives are included in the TCC “Directory of Cooperatives” published in January 2003.