Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing a resolution recognizing the importance of cooperatives in economies around the world. In Washington state, 582 cooperative businesses employ thousands of people across many different industries, including agriculture, rural development, education, and environmental advocacy. In 2007, the gross cooperative business volume for agriculture products in Washington was $2.5 billion.
"Washington state's cooperatives employ thousands of people and make substantial contributions to our economy and local communities," said Senator Cantwell. "Washington state is a pioneer for the cooperative model, with more than 100 years of tradition. Today, Washington serves as the headquarters for successful cooperatives such as Group Health and Costco. Continuing to support cooperatives is vital to our state's economic growth."
The resolution introduced today designates 2012 as the "International Year of Cooperatives" and establishes a year-long theme of "Cooperative Enterprise Builds a Better World." More than 29,000 cooperatives employ two million Americans in the United States. Across the nation, cooperatives have a combined sales value of $652 billion and assets of $3 trillion.
Also signing onto the resolution, led by Senators Tim Johnson (D-ND) and Thad Cochran (R-MS), were Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Al Franken (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jon Tester (D-MT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Max Baucus (D-CA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
The full text of the resolution follows:
Title: Designating the year of 2012 as the "International Year of Cooperatives"
Whereas in the United States, there are more than 29,000 cooperatives with 120,000,000 members;
Whereas cooperatives in the United States generate 2,000,000 jobs and make a substantial contribution to the economy of the United States with annual sales of $652,000,000,000 and assets of $3,000,000,000,000;
Whereas the cooperative business model has empowered people around the world to improve their lives through economic and social progress;
Whereas cooperatives are a major economic force in developed countries and a powerful business model in developing countries, employing approximately 100,000,000 people;
Whereas there are millions of cooperatives, which are owned and governed by more than 1,000,000,000 members, operating in every nation of the world;
Whereas the economic activity of the largest 300 cooperatives in the world is equal to that of the 10th largest national economy;
Whereas United Nations Resolution 64/136, adopted by the General Assembly on December 18, 2009, designates the year 2012 as the "International Year of Cooperatives";
Whereas the theme of the International Year of Cooperatives is "Cooperative Enterprise Builds a Better World"; and
Whereas cooperatives are the businesses of the people, and for more than a century, have been a vital part of the world economy: Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the Senate--
(1) designates the year 2012 as the "International Year of Cooperatives";
(2) congratulates cooperatives and members of cooperatives in the United States and around the world on the recognition of the United Nations of 2012 as the "International Year of Cooperatives";
(3) recognizes the vital role cooperatives play in the economic and social well-being of the United States;
(4) urges the establishment of a National Committee for the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives to be comprised of representatives from each Federal agency, all cooperative sectors, and key stakeholders;
(5) recognizes the importance of raising the profile of cooperatives and demonstrating the manner by which cooperatives build local wealth, generate employment, and provide competition in the marketplace; and
(6) encourages highlighting the positive impact of cooperatives and developing new programs for domestic and international cooperative development.