Are you a small business using online marketing? Learn about legal basics of branding and marketing in our digital world!

Did you know that internet users spend an average of almost three hours per day on the internet? Three hours! In explaining why digital marketing should be a priority for small businesses, one author shared, “even if you are not selling your product or service online, then you likely could still count yon your target audience being on the internet at some point during any given day.” As people spend significant amounts of time online and social media platforms offer numerous opportunities for small businesses as they market their products and services, like the ability to connect with huge audiences for little or no cost, it should be no surprise that an estimated 91% of small businesses allocated resources to digital marketing in 2021.

Graphic of marketing images, including retail storefront, smartphone, online application, and computer.

But have you ever considered the potential legal implications of your online marketing? For example, a 2016 fact sheet, “The Legal Implications of Social Media Marketing & Advertising,” shared the following potential legal considerations for businesses using social media:

  • Social media posts could be considered ‘corporate speech’ and be used against companies in lawsuits, for example in false advertising and other claims. (This is one reason it is important for businesses to identify authorized users and develop written policies about how social media accounts are used or maintained.)
  • Social media activities may be subject to regulatory laws and agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, National Labor Relations Act, and the Food & Drug Administration
  • Issues around content ownership can have important impacts – for example, businesses need permission to use content generated by other users, including content that includes their products or incorporates their brands.
  • Digital marketing spaces create considerations around the use, protection, and monitoring of intellectual property like trademarks and copyrights.

“Legal Basics of Branding and Marketing: What to know in a digital world” seminar to be held in Piketon, Ohio

Entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the legal basics of branding and marketing can attend a free education session in Piketon, Ohio on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. The session is one of three educational presentations by legal professionals as part of the event, “Building Legally Resilient Small Businesses: Quick Advice Legal Clinic for Entrepreneurs,” which will be co-hosted by the Entrepreneurial Business Law Clinic at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law and partner business development programs at the OSU South Centers. During the evening program on Wednesday, August 17, 2022, entrepreneurs can participate in one or all three free public education sessions on common legal issues for small businesses. There is no cost to participate in the program, but registration is required.

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. – “Legal Basics of Branding and Marketing: What to know in a digital world,” taught by Patrick Perkins, OSU Moritz College of Law

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – “Legal Structures for Small Business,” taught by Paige Wilson, OSU Moritz College of Law

7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – “Working with Independent Contractors,” taught by Jacqueline Radebaugh, Jason Wiener p.c.

Entrepreneurs can also sign up for no-cost, one-on-one consultations with volunteer attorneys to explore their legal questions and receive guidance in areas like business structures, employment, contracts, marketing and advertising, worker and other cooperatives, commercial real estate, and more. Sessions will last up to 30 minutes and participants can register for up to two sessions. Entrepreneurs interested in a one-on-one appointment will be asked to submit basic information about their legal question so staff members can try to match participants with a volunteer attorney whose practice area most closely matches their legal question. Please note, space is limited.

Event Details: August 17, 2022, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

LOCATION: OSU South Centers Endeavor Center

1862 Shyville Road, Piketon, Ohio 45661

COST: No cost to attend, but registration is required.

Register by visiting go.osu.edu/legalclinic

Questions? Reach out to Hannah Scott at scott.1220@osu.edu or 614-247-9705.

If you require an accommodation, such as translation, to participate in this event, please contact Samantha Black at black.1156@osu.edu or 614-247-9705. Requests made by August 3, 2022, will generally allow us to provide seamless access, but the university will make every effort to meet requests made after this date.

CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visitcfaesdiversity.osu.edu.

Join Peer Learning Sessions to Grow the Cooperative Ecosystem in Appalachia

Each month the CFAES Center for Cooperatives team hosts Zoom “peer networking calls” as part of the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative. If you’re a community, business, or economic developer, or simply have an interest in supporting cooperative development, you’re invited to join the sessions. Read on to learn more about the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative and peer networking calls and register for calls on Friday, August 19, 2022 from 1 p.m.- 2 p.m. Eastern and Friday, September 16, 2022 from 1 p.m.- 2 p.m. Eastern.

A view of mountains and blue sky backdrop of a green meadow in Moorfield, West Virginia area.

Appalachia has a diverse and long-established cooperative community. For example, Casa Nueva, has been operating as worker-owned cooperative restaurant in uptown Athens since the mid-1980’s (check out this ‘virtual tour’ of Casa Nueva as part of the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience online platform) while Unity Café is a newer worker-owned café and eatery in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Cooperatives are providing vital services to their communities across Appalachia. Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative provides electricity to over 18,000 consumer member-owners in Southeast Ohio and has since the late 1930’s. Today, some communities in Appalachia are leveraging the cooperative model to bring broadband to their rural areas – a topic we explored in the 2021 webinar, “Cooperating for Connectivity: An Appalachian Broadband Webinar” hosted by the CFAES Center for Cooperatives. To learn more about Central Appalachia’s cooperative community, check out “Exploring Appalachia’s Cooperative Economy,” a webinar where experts from our Center explored the region’s cooperative foundations and modern co-op efforts.

An Ecosystem Approach to Co-op Development

Since 2019, the CFAES Center for Cooperatives has led the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative (ACI), a learning network connecting cooperative, community, business, and economic developers and advocates in Central Appalachia. The goal of the ACI is to contribute to the development of a thriving co-op ecosystem in Central Appalachia by building awareness of the co-op model, equipping practitioners with knowledge and skills, and facilitating a connected network of co-op and community developers. The initiative was born out of collaborative dialogue of partners in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

In a 2016 report, lead authors Hillary Abell and Melissa Hoover advocated for an ecosystem approach to building worker cooperative communities, pointing out elements in thriving cooperative ecosystems like access to quality and affordable technical assistance providers and cooperative developers, business advisory services and industry peer networks, cooperative awareness, and integration of cooperatives into entrepreneurship education. Learn more in the report, “The Cooperative Growth Ecosystem: Inclusive Economic Development in Action.”

Learning and Peer Networking Opportunities

As part of the ACI, our team at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives has hosted learning sessions like community workshops, film screenings, and educational webinars where experts and developers from across the region have shared their knowledge on topics like the Mondragon cooperative model, conversion of existing businesses to cooperatives, and more. You can find recordings of selected past ACI learning sessions and learn how to sign up for emails to receive details about future events on our Center’s website.

Graphics of people connected in network graph styleIn 2020, we started hosting monthly Zoom sessions for community, business, economic and other developers interested in the co-op business model. The idea was to build connections among people spread across a wide geography, and potentially working in distinct spaces. Each month, our team hosts a Zoom meeting where practitioners from across the region gather as their schedules allow in an informal but dedicated space.

All participants are encouraged to share updates, ask questions, and engage with the group. Peers can meet one another, share their current projects or expertise, ask for resources, or best practices, and identify opportunities for potential collaboration.

Those who are interested can register for sessions as their schedules allow. Registration details for upcoming calls in August and September 2022 are below. To receive emails with details of future ACI events and peer networking calls, sign up for the Center’s email list here. There is no cost to attend, and sessions will NOT be recorded.

Upcoming ACI Peer Learning Calls

Friday, August 19, 2022, 1-2 p.m. (EST)

To register for this event, click here.

Friday, September 16, 2022, 1-2 p.m. (EST)

To register for this event, click here.

Cooperative Learning Opportunity: Join the Mid America Cooperative Council 2022 Annual Meeting

Cooperatives, like all businesses and organizations, are facing a unique time of change. A 2021 report exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a segment of cooperatives in Ohio highlighted supply chain challenges, changes in governance, and accelerated adoption of digital technologies as some of the impacts of the pandemic. On April 28th, the Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC), in partnership with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives, will host three nationally recognized speakers who will examine current trends in the cooperative community and “ways to implement small practical disciplines to improve your work life,” as part of MACC’s 2022 Annual Meeting.

Meet the Speakers

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) works to advance the “interests of America’s cooperatives and other farmer-owned enterprises.” President and CEO Chuck Connor has led the organization since 2009. With members across the United States, Mr. Connor will share current trends in the farmer cooperative landscape from a national perspective. Learn more about NCFC here.

Financial planning is an important part of the way cooperatives plan for their future. Dr. Phil Kenkel will share current trends in cooperative equity management at MACC’s upcoming annual meeting. Dr. Kenkel is Regents Professor of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University and an expert in the cooperative business model, having taught courses in agricultural cooperatives, published scholarly works on cooperative finance, risk analysis, strategic planning, and more, and conducted trainings for producer-owned businesses across the globe. Learn more about Dr. Kenkel and his work here.

As businesses and organizations experience the impacts of the “Great Resignation” and think about and craft post-pandemic workplaces, it seems like changes in the workplace are top of mind across the economy. Dr. Theresa Glomb is a professor in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Her research, which has included field research in dozens of companies and been published in top psychology and management journals, focuses on worker well-being. Dr. Glomb will present, “Let’s Make Work Better: Evidence Based Practices for Improving Your Work Life,” where she will share “ways to implement small, practical disciplines to improve your work life.” Learn more about Dr. Glomb and her work here.

Register for the Learning Opportunity

The MACC Annual Meeting will take place via Zoom on April 28, 2022 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Eastern. There is no cost to participate, and non-members of MACC are welcome to engage in the learning opportunity. The 2022 MACC Annual Business Meeting will begin at approximately 11:30 a.m. Eastern; only MACC members are eligible to vote during the annual meeting.

Register at go.osu.edu/maccmeeting.

 

What is the Mid America Cooperative Council?

The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State provides management services to the Mid America Cooperative Council, a non-profit association of cooperatives, co-op support organizations, and individuals supportive of MACC’s mission to promote, foster, and enhance the values of cooperatives! Learn more at macc.coop.

CFAES Center for Cooperatives session at WV Small Farm Conference

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives staff will be leading a session on Friday, February 25 during the 18th annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference being hosted online by the West Virginia University Extension Service. The FREE virtual conference is being held February 21-26. The WVU Extension Service Small Farm Center felt strongly that the event should be free this year due to the economic situations that individuals may be facing due to the continued pandemic.

The Center for Cooperatives session, Cooperative Solutions for Farmers and Rural Communities, will be at 11 a.m. Friday, February 25 and focus on how farmers and communities can come together to develop solutions using the cooperative business model to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs. “Participants in our session will learn about ways cooperatives can benefit rural communities and see actual examples of cooperation in rural communities,” said Joy Bauman, Cooperative Program Specialist.

Through the conference, WVU Extension aims to support West Virginia’s 23,000 small farm families and and further develop West Virginia’s food system and local communities by encouraging local production, processing, wholesale and retail marketing, and consumption. Conference participants will have opportunities to engage in a wide variety of session topics throughout the weeklong conference, ranging from meat and specialty crop production and marketing, to high tunnels, agritourism, forest farming, and more. Check out the full conference schedule to find what you are interested in.

Anyone can register for the WV Small Farm Conference via the Extension Service Online Learning System. Log in to the system and enroll in the 2022 West Virginia Small Farm Conference. Then register for the conference.

To learn more about how to register, watch this video recording on YouTube.

Resilience, Cooperatives, and COVID-19

Seedling sprouting in the palm of a person's hand.

 

As 2021 ends, I’ve been thinking about the word “resilience.” Resilience is the “ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens,” according to Merriam-Webster. After 20-months of unprecedented shifts in our society, economy, and daily lives brought about by the pandemic, as well as social grappling with institutional and structural racism, concerns about climate change, and more, perhaps we are all thinking about resilience now more than ever.

Cooperative businesses are built around the globally-recognized principles of concern for community, cooperation among cooperatives, and democratic member control, based on values of self-help and solidarity, among others. As the COVID-19 pandemic impacted cooperative members, communities, and businesses, cooperatives have responded in unique ways that highlight the spirit of cooperation and the resilience of the cooperative community.

Globally, cooperatives have responded to the pandemic by adapting in their businesses and by supporting their members and communities with examples including enhancing home delivery of food, grants for cooperatives to purchase agricultural products, and donations of medical products. In the U.S., cooperatives set up community internet hot spots for their members learning and working from home without stable internet access. Really, the examples are too many to capture in one place.

Like many businesses, cooperatives have also faced challenges from the pandemic. The World Cooperative Monitor’s 2020 report, “Exploring the Cooperative Economy” highlighted that some cooperatives saw major declines in revenues, faced cash flow issues, and had to implement temporary unemployment measures – with impacts varying widely by sector. A recent analysis by researchers at Cleveland State University, in collaboration with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at The Ohio State University, explored how food, agriculture, and rural electric cooperatives in Ohio were impacted by the pandemic. Interviews with cooperative leaders illuminated both positive and negative impacts from COVID-19. Some co-ops saw accelerated implementation of digital technologies. Others experienced serious negative impacts from supply chain disruptions, with one leader sharing that uncertainty has made it “impossible to make decisions on expanding or improving operations.” Importantly, the analysis showed that rural electric, food, and agriculture cooperatives in Ohio employed roughly the same number of people in 2021 as they did pre-pandemic and did not have to lay off workers during the pandemic. Read the full report, “Cooperatives and Ohio’s Economy: Their Contribution and the Impact of Covid-19” here.

Join the CFAES Center for Cooperatives on December 15, 2021 at 1:00pm Eastern for a free webinar discussing the economic contribution of Ohio’s food, agriculture, and rural electric cooperatives and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this cooperative community. Register for the webinar here.

Across the United States, the pandemic was particularly challenging for the restaurant and food service industry. In Los Angeles, a growing community of worker-owned cooperative restaurant and food businesses is building workplace democracy and spaces for community building post-pandemic. As communities consider how to build more resilient businesses in the wake of the pandemic, worker-owned cooperatives and other employee-owned business models may be uniquely positioned to address income and wealth inequality as well as a looming business succession challenges. In Ohio, an estimated 54% of businesses, representing $118 billion in payroll and $690 billion in sales, are owned by baby boomers who are at or nearing retirement age. A recent report, Building Legacies: Retaining Jobs and Creating Wealth Through Worker Ownership, released by the Ohio Worker Ownership Network highlights the potential impact of worker owned enterprises to build wealth, provide stable employment, reduce economic inequality, and provide a viable path for business continuity.

Exploring Cooperative Leadership

Cooperatives, as member-owned and controlled enterprises, are led by a board of directors who are integral to the operation’s success. If you’re considering joining your co-op’s board of directors – or even if you have served as a director for many years – it is important to recognize the responsibilities inherent in board leadership.

Basic Responsibilities of Co-op Directors

A cooperative board of directors is generally responsible for the affairs of the co-op. For example, under Ohio’s cooperative business statute, “all of the authority of an association shall be exercised by or under the direction of the board.” In a cooperative, the board is generally elected from and by the membership, meaning that directors are also co-op members although some cooperatives may have non-member directors.

A specialist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture conceptualized the responsibilities of cooperative directors as “seven circles,” including:

  1. Representing members, including understanding members’ needs and assessing whether the cooperative is meeting those needs.
  2. Establishing policies that guide the operation of the co-op, including both long-range and specific policies.
  3. Hiring and supervising management, often with direct involvement in hiring and supervising top management such as a general manager or chief executive officer.
  4. Acquiring and preserving assets, including establishing policies relating to assets such as oversight and accounting systems as well as monitoring financial performance.
  5. Preserving cooperative character by ensuring the fundamental character of the enterprise follows co-op principles.
  6. Assessing the cooperative’s performance, including financial performance, but also performance related to fundamental objectives like member benefit.
  7. Informing members with a recognition that members are the owners of the cooperative and accurate and complete information helps ensure they make informed decisions.

As directors carry out these important functions, or delegate responsibility to the co-op’s officers and managers, they are expected to uphold basic legal standards because they are considered fiduciaries who have legal duties to the cooperative, the co-op’s members, and the co-op’s other directors. While the concept of fiduciary duties is broad, at the most basic these duties generally require that directors act in good faith, with the care that an ordinarily prudent person in a like position would exercise under similar circumstances, and in a manner they reasonably believe is in the best interests of the co-op. As two co-op attorneys summarized, these duties require that directors:

  • show up,
  • be prepared,
  • protect the board’s process,
  • disclose conflicts,
  • don’t compete with the cooperative, and
  • don’t breach confidentiality.

Exploring Board Leadership Opportunities  

If you are contemplating joining a co-op board, whether through the encouragement of a neighbor, an invitation from a colleague, or after exploring ways to give back to your community, you likely have multiple questions.

As we learned above, directors play a vital role in leading their cooperatives, taking on various legal duties and other responsibilities. As you explore the opportunity to serve on a co-op board, it is important to consider whether you can effectively uphold these duties and responsibilities.

The following questions, based on recommendations for individuals considering corporate board leadership from the American Bar Association’s Corporate Director’s Guidebook, may help as you think about the opportunity.

  • Do I have sufficient time to diligently perform the duties required of a director? For example, do I have scheduling conflicts with the board’s regular meeting schedule? Do I have sufficient scheduling flexibility to respond to unexpected needs?
  • Do I have skills and experiences that allow me to meaningfully participate as a board member?  Are there special skills I should develop to participate in board activities more fully?
  • Do I have a sufficient understanding of the cooperative’s business to be effective as a director? How can I further develop this understanding?
  • Do I have confidence in the cooperative’s current senior management and directors?
  • Do I have a compelling interest in engaging in board leadership?

The Importance of Co-op Principle 5: Education and Training in Co-op Governance

Co-op members exploring future board leadership, and directors who have led their board for many years, can benefit from ongoing education and skill-building. In fact, as cooperative directors face increasing public and legal scrutiny, there is an increasing awareness of the important role of ongoing education and training for directors. Two legal scholars explained, “Directors are now expected to have more than a passing understanding of financial statements, their fiduciary responsibilities to the cooperative, and other essential items.”[1]

Whether you prefer to learn through reading, in-person teaching, or connecting with peers, there are many resources for co-op members and directors to build their governance knowledge and skills. You can ask your co-op leadership what type of training programs they provide for directors, whether they are members of organizations that provide cooperative education, or whether they partner with co-op educators. You can also explore publicly available resources on your own. Below are a few great places to start!

Join the CFAES Center for Cooperatives and Mid America Cooperative Council for the online training, “Welcome to the Board” on Thursday, September 30 from 10a-12p Eastern time. The interactive training will introduce participants to the roles and responsibilities of cooperative directors and the crucial skills directors use in leading cooperatives. Registration for the training is available at https://go.osu.edu/maccwelcometotheboard.

Explore Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101 online at your own pace. The self-directed platform helps learners explore cooperative governance, taxation, finances, and more using videos, narrated presentations, infographics and more! Explore the platform at https://go.osu.edu/coopmastery

Read Navigating Your Legal Duties: A Guide for Agricultural Cooperative Directors from the National Agricultural Law Center. The guide includes five chapters and reviews topics like fiduciary duties, antitrust laws, securities issues, and risk management tools. Chapters are written to stand alone so readers who want to explore a single topic can skip to the chapter or section of interest. Use the self-assessment at the end of each chapter to explore how the concepts apply in your own cooperative.

 

References

Charles T. Autry & Roland F. Hall, American Bar Association Business Law Section, The Law of Cooperatives 60 (2009).

Corporate Laws Committee, American Bar Association Business Law Section, Corporate Director’s Guidebook 5-6 (6th ed. 2011).

James Baarda, U.S. Dep’t of Agric. Rural Bus. Coop. Serv. Cooperative Information Report 61, The Circle of Responsibilities for Co-op Boards 3-5 (2014).

Hannah Scott & Michael E. Traxinger, National Agricultural Law Center, Navigating Your Legal Duties: A Guide for Agricultural Cooperative Directors 11-26 (2021 https://nationalaglawcenter.org/center-publications/busorg/).

Michael W. Droke, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Cooperative Business Law A Practical Guide to the Special Laws Governing Cooperatives 57-28 (3d. ed. 2020).

Thane Joyal & Dave Swanson, Precautions and Protections: Summarizing legal responsibilities of cooperative boards, Cooperative Grocer (Mar. – Apr. 2011 https://www.grocer.coop/system/files/legacy_files/precautions.pdf)  

[1] Charles T. Autry & Roland F. Hall, American Bar Association Business Law Section, The Law of Cooperatives 60 (2009).

Foodpreneur Coaching: Crafting a Blueprint to Grow Your Food and Farm Business

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives is working to help businesses keep things moving forward in these difficult times. Marketing is a key aspect to maintaining or growing any business, including food and farm businesses.

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, OSU Extension Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Team, and Ohio Farm Bureau in Ross, Hocking, Fairfield, and Pickaway counties are hosting a virtual interactive experience for small and medium food entrepreneurs who are eager to grow their businesses. Foodpreneur School Coaching will give attendees an opportunity to engage with experts in marketing and promoting their local food and farm products, and more, to help them learn strategies to meet their growth goals. This educational opportunity will cover marketing locally raised meat, increasing produce sales, and promoting local food and farm retail products.

Foodpreneur School Coaching will be offered over a three-week span, in three sessions, and will focus on ways to grow food and farm businesses. Entrepreneurs can attend one session that best fits their needs or all three sessions. Each live Foodpreneur Business Coaching virtual session will offer small group coaching from industry and university experts.

The first session, Marketing Local Meat, will be offered on Tuesday, September 15th.  This LIVE Foodpreneur Business Coaching virtual session is for farmers and ranchers seeking to increase local and regional meat sales or explore new market channels for farm-raised proteins and local meat products.

Buckeye Valley Beef Cooperative, a southwest Ohio co-op that markets member-farmers’ beef to retailers and consumers, will share results from a recent research project to assess multiple marketing channels to grow sales. Co-op members will share their experiences marketing local meat throughout the region. Additionally, Dr. Lyda Garcia, Animal Science professor at The Ohio State University, will be available to offer insights and answer participant questions.  Garcia specializes in meat science and manages the OSU Meat Lab.  Through her background in meat industry internships, livestock production, training and research in graduate school, and many other meat related experiences, she seeks to bring product value to the meat industry, producers, and consumers.

The second session, Increase Produce Sales, will be offered on Tuesday, September 22nd.  This session will offer insights and best practices for produce growers looking to increase produce sales or explore new market channels such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers markets, farm stands, or specialty stores.

Brad Bergefurd, Ohio State University Extension Horticulture Specialist, and owner of Bergefurd’s Farm Market, will share his expertise built over 30 years of experience in produce education, production, and marketing.  Bergefurd’s education and research at OSU has focused on a variety of produce crops, including strawberries, pumpkins, hops, pawpaws, and more, in addition to research and education on marketing innovations like produce auctions.  Bergefurd’s Farm has specialized in growing a variety of produce that is sold through CSA’s, farmers markets, and an agritourism operation.  In the planning of this session Bergefurd stated that, “Produce farmers have many channels of marketing opportunities available today more than ever. Marketing is less expensive, and online options now allow farmers to reach customers in areas they never were able to reach before these marketing channels became available.  It’s all in how you market yourself, so it’s important to get it right”, said Bergefurd.

The third session, Promoting your Local Food, will be offered on Tuesday, September 29th.In this session, educators and industry experts, will discuss how farm and food producers making products such as cheese, salsa, honey, baked goods, and body items, can expand a farm’s offerings  or serve as a standalone business. During the live Foodpreneur Business Coaching session attendees will learn how to expand their sales and build their brand.

A large part of growing any business is effective marketing to keep customers engaged. Christie Welch, Ohio State University Extension Direct Food and Agricultural Marketing Specialist, and owner/operator of Welch Farms LLC, explains that marketing is key to keeping customers engaged with your business, especially in the current environment of the pandemic. Welch shared that, “Customers are craving experiences and seeking the locally produced foods they have come to love.  Because of the rapid changes in how business is conducted while maintaining social distancing, communicating with your customers is more important now than ever.  They want to know what you are doing to keep them safe while still purchasing the local foods they love. Sharing this information in a manner that reflects your brand is key.”

Christie Welch is the owner/operator of Welch Farms, LLC, a third-generation family farm in southern Ohio.  Christie has been involved in the operation since 1992 and during that time, the farm has diversified.  The farm, which began as a dairy operation, has diversified over the years and currently focuses on u-pick plasticulture strawberries.  The farm also sold at several farmers’ markets and Christie served on the board of the Chillicothe Farmers Market Association for seven years.  Direct marketing to consumers is vital to Welch Farms and provides many opportunities to share experiences with other local food producers.

Foodpreneur School Coaching sessions will all be held online and will be offered over a span of three weeks with each session held on a Tuesday evening.  The cost to attend the Foodpreneur School Coaching is $20 per session for Farm Bureau members, and $25 per session for non-Farm Bureau members. There is a separate registration for each session.  We encourage early registration; each session will have a limited number of seats available. To learn more, go to https://cooperatives.cfaes.ohio-state.edu/events or to register for the Foodpreneur School Coaching you can go to go.osu.edu/foodschool2020.  For additional information you may contact Charissa Gardner at gardner.1148@osu.edu.

2nd Bi-Annual Cooperative Law Conference Will Offer Professionals Opportunity to Learn About the Co-op Economy

Conference registration table.

The 2nd Bi-Annual Cooperative Law Conference convened by Advocates for Basic Legal Equity and co-sponsored by the CFAES Center for Cooperatives will be held online on June 5, 2020.

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives is pleased to be co-sponsoring the 2nd Bi-Annual Cooperative Law Conference in our region on June 5, 2020. The virtual conference will be organized around the theme, “The Legal Life of a Cooperative,” and will feature attorneys and developers sharing their expertise on worker co-op start-ups and transitions, cooperative financing, and regional cooperative development strategies. Attorneys, aspiring-attorneys, and others who are interested in learning more about cooperatives and collaborative enterprises will surely find value in the conference’s eight sessions featuring twelve speakers.

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, along with the Sustainable Economies Law Center, Alliance of Ohio Legal Aids, and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, are sponsoring the event, which will focus on regional efforts in southwest Ohio, but will be applicable across geographies. Attorneys in Ohio will be able to receive up to five hours of CLE credit for the conference (application pending). Registration for the event is $60.

Co-sponsoring the event is another way the Center is helping to build the community of professionals who support cooperatives in our region. In 2019, the Center surveyed attorneys, accountants, and tax professionals who work with cooperative and collaborative enterprises, building a directory to help the cooperative community locate such expertise. Visit the Center’s Cooperative and Collaborative Enterprises Legal and Accounting Directory.

Ready to Grow your Food & Farm Business?

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, OSU Extension Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Team, and Ohio Farm Bureau are teaming up to host an interactive experience for small-to-medium food entrepreneurs who are poised to grow their businesses. Foodpreneurs will engage with experts in branding, sales, marketing, and more to learn strategies to meet their growth goals.

Date: Two-part workshop on September 23rd and 30th, 2019

Time: 2 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Location: Keller Market House, 134 S. Columbus Street, Lancaster, Ohio 43130

Participation is limited to 30 foodpreneurs. Interested foodpreneurs must apply by 5 p.m. on August 20, 2019. Foodpreneurs will be notified of their selection and scholarship availability by August 22, 2019.

Apply to participate in Foodpreneur School!

 

The cost to participate in Foodpreneur School is $125 per person due by September 9, 2019. Ohio Farm Bureau member price is $75. A limited number of full scholarships are also available.

Questions about Foodpreneur School? Reach out to the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at osucooperatives@osu.edu or 740-289-2071 ext. 111.

MACC Board Succession Planning & Legal Challenges Program Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC) will be hosting a Board Succession Planning & Legal Challenges program on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at Ag Credit, 610 W. Lytle Street., Fostoria, OH.

Topics on the program agenda include:

  1. Director Roles vs. Management Roles
  2. Steps of Strategic Planning – Visioning, Alignment
  3. Directors’ Legal Challenges
  4. Regulatory Compliance
  5. Succession Planning in the Boardroom
  6. Director Code of Conduct
  7. Case Studies

A featured program speaker will be Phil Kenkel, professor, Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University. Kenkle holds the Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair and is the editor of the Journal of Cooperatives.  The speaker for the session focusing on legal challenges will be Carolyn Eselgroth, who has practiced law for more than 20 years, assisting with governance, contractual needs, and mergers and acquisitions of agricultural cooperatives, agricultural trade associations, check-off organizations, non-profit organizations, and a variety of farm and other businesses.  Rod Kelsay, Executive Director for the Mid America Cooperative Council will review case studies and discuss succession planning.  During this event, directors will learn ways to build a strong succession plan for their cooperative.

Don’t miss out on this educational and networking opportunity for directors of all cooperative sectors.  The program on August 6 will begin at 8:45 a.m. and end at approximately 3:45 p.m.

The registration fee for MACC members is $210.00, and for nonmembers the registration fee is $365.00.  The registration fee includes lunch.  Scholarships may be available through the Ralph K. Morris Foundation.  For scholarship information, visit:  https://ralphkmorrisfoundation.org/app-guide/

To register for the Mid America Cooperative Council’s Board Succession Planning & Legal Challenges event, or for more information, please visit http://macc.coop/event-registration/?ee=114 or register by email at knowledge@macc.coop and MACC will send you an invoice.