Financial Profile of Dairy Cooperatives-Historical Summaries

This series presents the financial profiles of dairy cooperatives previously published in Research Report Nos. 49, 176, 203 and 219. These reports contain the findings of Cooperative Programs surveys of milk-marketing dairy cooperatives for fiscal years 1980, 1997, 2002 and 2007. Returns and net margins are before tax. Blanks in the tables mean data are not available for the particular entries. Over time, dairy cooperatives have adapted their operations to existing marketing conditions. Therefore, the descriptions used to categorize dairy cooperatives have varied over the years and may not have been used in a given year. Liabilities not categorized are included with long term liabilities. Currency units are in nominal dollars.

Not every U.S. dairy cooperative provided complete financial data in any given year. The cooperatives included in the study represented from 39 percent (1997) to 67 percent (1980) of the Nation dairy cooperatives. However, these cooperatives represented more than 96 percent of the total assets of U.S. dairy cooperatives and at least 90 percent of the net milk volume of U.S. dairy cooperatives.


Small: Cooperative marketed less than 50 million pounds of milk annually.

Medium: Cooperative marketed 50 to 999 million pounds of milk in 2007

Large: Cooperative marketed 1 billion or more pounds of milk in 2007.

Bargaining-only: Cooperatives that operate at the first-handler level only, assisting members in the marketplace by negotiating prices, facilitating arrangements between mil buyer and seller, ensuring accurate milk weights and tests and so forth.

Niche marketing: Cooperatives that typically use most or all of their member milk to make specialty dairy products such as artisan or branded cheese and includes those marketing organic or specialty products that accentuate milk production methods. These were called randed cheese cooperatives in 1997.

Diversified: Cooperatives that own and operate plants to make a variety of commodity and/or differentiated products, while also selling a portion as bulk raw milk.

Fluid processing: Cooperatives that focus operations on the fluid beverage market, typically packaging most or all member milk into fluid milk products and some may also make butter, sour cream, ice cream, yogurt or dips.

Commodity manufacturing: Cooperatives that manufactured membersmilk into undifferentiated, commodity dairy products (such as butter, powder and cheese). Some used their plant facilities to balance milk supplies while others used most of their members' milk to make the bulk products. This category was no longer applicable after 2002.

Bargaining- operating: Bargaining cooperatives that did some processing and/or manufacturing of a minor portion of their membersmilk. This category was discontinued after the 1980 report.