How Cooperatives Use Their Web Sites

Phil Kenkel

Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair

Oklahoma State University

Eighty five percent of grain, farm supply and cotton ginning cooperatives maintain a web site.  That data comes from our recent multi-state survey on cooperative communication.  Ag cooperatives are slightly behind Farm Credit cooperatives (100%) and rural electric cooperatives (95%).  Of the agricultural cooperatives with web sites, over 90% maintained market information and weather, while 75% had USDA reports and around 70% had industry news stories.

Since managers and board members describe their web site as a key communication tactic, it is interesting to see what is and isn’t being communicated.  Among cooperatives with web sites only 74% provided information about the services the cooperative provides.  Farm Credit System (89%) and RECs (100%) were more active in this area. A similar percentage of Ag cooperatives (73%) included news or updates about the cooperative.  This was also lower than the percentages reported by Farm Credit cooperatives (89%) and RECs (92%.  Those percentages suggest that agricultural cooperatives may be missing some opportunities to update their members about their cooperative’s services and progress.

Only a third of grain, farm supply and cotton cooperatives provide any information on cooperative governance on their web site.  This was much lower than the sister cooperatives where 90% to 100% provided information about the board, voting procedures and how to join the cooperative. The most marked differences between the cooperative sectors was in the area of information targeting youth audiences.  Only 18% of the agricultural cooperatives with web sites reported that they had information targeting youth audiences on their web site.  Ninety percent of Farm Credit System cooperative and 64% of RECs targeted youth on their web sites. Most boards and managers express concern whether the next generation of producers appreciate the cooperative system.  Targeting those audiences on our own web sites would be a good first step in increasing their awareness.

Stay tuned for more communications about cooperative communications!