After a hard-fought battle, we regret to inform you that SB281 & AB353, the Cooperative Modernization Bills - passed out of the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate last week, and now await Gov. Walker's signature.
WFU President Darin Von Ruden maps out the next steps for the organization in this recent Wisconsin State Farmer editorial. We pledge to inform and educate not only our members, but all cooperative members across the state about these revisions.
It's now time for cooperative members to be vigilant and mindful of what these changes could mean for their co-ops, and to discuss the changes at their annual meeting or with their board directors.
One action cooperatives can do is pass a resolution opposing the changes, sending a message to cooperative board's and management that the state's cooperative statutes worked just fine the way they were.
The following resolution is ready for you to copy and paste. All you have to do is fill in the blanks with your co-op's name:
Resolution Opposing Wisconsin's Cooperative Statutes Modernization
Whereas, (name of cooperative) believes strongly in the state's cooperative statutes and all they stand for; and
Whereas, we support direct election of board directors by the cooperative's members only, and that each director must also be a member. We oppose the appointment and election of outside directors without direct election by the membership; and
Whereas, we believe only cooperative members should be allowed to vote at member meetings, and that each member has one vote, regardless of the member's degree of financial interest in the cooperative. We oppose any provision that bases voting power on patronage activity; and
Whereas, we support current law that allows a cooperative to be organized with or without capital stock, but if the cooperative issues stock any dividend on the stock, that it cannot exceed 8 percent per year. We oppose the removal of the 8 percent dividend limit for domestic cooperatives and removal of the reference to an 8 percent dividend in the definition of "foreign cooperative;" and
Whereas, we support current law that requires a cooperative to keep correct and complete financial records, and oppose limiting a member's right to examine a cooperative's financial records to financial records covering the current or preceding five fiscal years; and
Therefore, be it resolved that (name of cooperative) goes on record as being opposed to the cooperative statutes modernization bills recently passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly & Senate, and despite the fact these changes are now law, does not support implementing these changes within our existing cooperative structure.
If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact us.
WFU Policy Team
Kara O'Connor & Nick Levendofsky